Other techniques to consider include the use of slip sheets in lieu of pallets or stretchwrapping instead of strapping. Pallets can be costly to manage and store, while stretchwrapping may avoid damage from strapping. Conversely, some companies may find stretchwrapping and slip sheets inappropriate and expensive and instead may look for new ways to optimize existing strapping and palletizing processes. Only by closely examining dozens of variables that effect material handling can the best solution be found.
- Warehousing Efforts to optimize the warehouse can include creating packages that can stand up to the demands of the warehouse environment and make efficient use of warehouse space.
High humidity, storage time and stacking height can all erode the integrity of a stored package over time. The degree to which these factors affect box performance depends on individual package characteristics. Whereas the solution to compression failure for one company may be to reduce stacking height, the answer for another may lie in the use of a Bliss box over a traditional RSC to provide added strength that allows packages to be stacked even higher.
- Transportation The road to improved sustainability, rather appropriately, is often connected to transportation itself. This is because many of the sustainability improvements made farther back in the supply chain are realized during transportation.
More efficient, lighter-weight packages help reduce the number of truckloads, which result in reduced fuel usage and greenhouse gas emissions.
Equally critical to reducing shipments is cube utilization. In some cases, mixed products on pallets can contribute to poor use of space, while in others unit load height is not as high as it could be. Placing pallets in a "pin wheeled" position can maximize cube utilization and prevent excessive load movement in the truck.
CPG companies can gain a significant sustainability advantage by optimizing their distribution operations. This is reinforced by the fact that cube utilization and general transportation factors together will account for 25 percent of a CPG company's total score using Wal-Mart's packaging scorecard.
Top Of The Scorecard
If CPG companies are to stay competitive in a world of shrinking margins, rising costs and pressure to outscore other suppliers on Wal-Mart's packaging scorecard, they will have to leverage sustainability efforts into a profitable advantage. Opportunities to improve efficiency exist across the packaging supply chain, CPG companies need only find them.
Georgia-Pacific offers a program called Packaging Systems Optimization (PSO) to help CPG companies optimize these nine areas of the packaging supply chain. By providing quantifiable cost savings and measurable sustainability impacts, the program enables CPG companies to simultaneously realize sustainability and profitability goals.
With more than 15 years experience in the consumer products and packaging industries, Smorch leads Georgia-Pacific's Packaging Systems Optimization (PSO) program. Based at the company's Innovation Institute in Norcross, GA, he is responsible for delivering supply chain savings and measuring sustainability through PSO for both national and local packaging customers located across the United States.