Efficient Packaging Methods in a Warehouse

A worker moving pallets with forklift in warehouse.

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Almost every product we purchase as a consumer or a business is packaged. The packaging was initially intended to provide protection for the item as it is being handled in the warehouse or when the item is being shipped. Packaging can be extremely elaborate, and for the consumer, it can be an art form to entice you to make a purchase. For businesses, the packaging on an item should be sufficient to limit any damage to the item as it is moved in the warehouse.

Packaging and Pallets

Moving and storing items in the warehouse is very important for a company. To maximize the storage capacity of a warehouse, the company should develop their packaging so that the items can be stored easily on pallets. By developing packaging that allows a certain number of items to be stored safely and efficiently on a pallet, the cost of materials handling will be reduced. Having packaging that reduces the number of items on a pallet will increase costs not only in the warehouse but also all along the supply chain. Customers who will be purchasing items at the pallet level will also benefit from efficient packaging.

Packaging and Minimizing Damage

The primary task for packaging is to minimize the damage that could occur after an item has left the production line. In the warehouse, the item is subject to a variety of situations where damage could occur. Forklifts can drop materials, they can fall from conveyor belts, or fall from broken pallets.

In each of these instances, the packaging has to be designed so that it will protect the item from damage, but light enough so that it does not increase the weight of the finished good so much that the shipping costs are significantly increased. In addition, the packaging must protect the item from environmental damage, such as extreme temperature, water damage, contamination with other goods, or damage from static, which is important for electronic items.

Packaging Types

There are different types of packaging that are used for finished goods; internal packaging, which the end consumer sees, and external packaging, which is for industrial use. The internal packaging is developed usually to appeal to the consumer and has all the information required by law.

The external packaging must be sufficient to protect the internal packaging as well as the finished item. It must also have enough information so that it identifies the contents, in text and often with barcodes for use with RF technology in the warehouse. The external packaging should have dimensions that allow a suitable quantity to be stored on a pallet most efficiently.

Efficient Packaging

With space and weight being the logistics managers primary concerns, it is important to develop packaging that is small, but sufficient to protect the finished item. In turn, the packaging must be light so that the shipment of the product can be as low as possible. When companies are developing packaging solutions they often turn to the lightweight materials initially, paperboard, aluminum, and plastic.

Paperboard and plastic are very lightweight and can protect finished items quite well. In addition, the recycling aspect of paper, cardboard, and some plastics can help reduce the amount of waste going into local landfills. Aluminum containers are excellent for some food items as the material is strong, but light, as well as recyclable.

Corrugated cardboard is a very popular product used for efficient exterior packaging, mainly due to its strength, lightweight, and recyclability. It can easily have information printed on it, as well as barcodes, and RFID tags can easily be applied. The corrugated cardboard container usually contains organic material, paper, and starch glue, and can be up to 80 percent recycled product. It is also 100 percent recyclable so there is no need to dump the leftover packaging material in the landfill.