An organization’s packaging operation provides an excellent starting point for driving warehouse efficiencies and should be considered as a major contributor to your supply chain performance. Packaging inefficiencies often lead to a number of issues that can quickly accumulate into a hefty bill. Here are a few steps your organization can take to avoid costly setbacks:
Step #1: Understand your packaging process
Taking a deep dive into your packaging operation allows you to identify where productivity issues may be occurring in your warehouse or distribution center. Manual picking and packing operations often lead to these inefficiencies. By using automated processes in your packaging operation, you can greatly increase your packaging efficiency through increased throughput. When time is money, every second matters. By implementing certain packaging machinery such as case erectors, conveyors, palletizers or semi-automatic stretch wrappers, you can increase you packing efficiency while cutting costs through both waste and damage reduction.
Step #2: Reduce package touches
It is always important to assess all damage risks and supply chain hazards that may occur throughout a product’s journey. With constantly shifting SKU numbers, personnel, production volume and sales volumes, an organization must keep in mind that its supply chain is an ever-evolving beast. Reducing touches and streamlining your warehouse’s packaging operation can significantly minimize damage while simultaneously increasing productivity. Conveyors are a great tool for moving products through every stage of warehouse distribution and they drastically reduce the risk of accidental drops and damages. Let’s be honest, humans are imperfect and mistakes happen.
Step #3: Manage and track damage rates
This critical step allows your organization to stay in front of the numerous costs and consequences associated with damaged products including markdowns, customer dissatisfaction and returns. By monitoring damage rates, you can measure packaging, suppliers and logistical issues as they arise, allowing your company to take action before the bills accumulate. Oftentimes, simple packaging designs and handling procedures can go along way to improve your damage rates.
Improving your packaging efficiency not only assists with cost reduction, but also serves as an opportunity for organizational growth and improved service levels. The implementation of automated processes and minimized handling techniques allow your organization to redirect supply chain resources and staff into other areas of the business. The combination of increased efficiency and decreased damage rates will allow you to move more product out and worry less about how much product will come back in the form of a return. For more tips on how your organization can elevate its packaging strategy, seek the expertise of certified packaging professionals with extensive experience helping supply chains provide additional value to their organizations.
Alex Turner is a Consultant in the Packaging Optimization competency at Chainalytics. In his role, he provides end-to-end engineering support for packaging optimization projects, working to help our clients improve supply chain costs and reduce product damage.