Looking Beyond the Box – Supply Chain challenges

Looking Beyond the Box – Supply Chain challenges

When we decided to enter the new line of “end of the line packaging”, we sent out a few packaging technology students powered with their smart phones to go and take pictures of shipper cartons ; where ever they can see them. On the road – loaded on to trucks, getting unloaded at the ware houses, at retail shop storage area – and so on.

The pictures we got were shocking, to say the least. The shipper cartons, designed by brand owners to sustain all challenges of storage, transport, weather – and the load of the products inside them; were always seen either crumpling under loads or totally damaged. That’s definitely not the way they left the plants.

Among various causes for the same, including wrong design of boxes, poor handling in transit, what came out as the largest cause of destruction of these boxes was the “wrong method(s) of stacking”. Boxes are supposed to be stacked in a columnar fashion, so that the load rests on the strong walls. The factor of safety that needs to be built for a different stacking method, like “interlock” can be as high as 1.66 Times. (The box compression loss is about 60%).

The question is : how much can the box design and the compression values help when you are discussing major challenges in transit ?- excessive handling, pallet patterns, pallet deck-board spacing and box overhang and so on. The compression strength is merely an indicator of the strongest part of the box – the walls. Can this help, when the load is coming on to the face of the box – and not on the walls? The requirements of the retail is that “retrieval” is easy – and the brand owner cannot expect them to stack the same sized boxes, on top of others in a perfect columnar fashion. Is it not time to think beyond BS, ECT and BCT ?
These are some of the unanswered questions, which I hope my learned colleagues from the industry will help answer. Because packaging is supposed to prevent wastage ; but there are still a lot of damages, spoilage and pilferage in the supply chain -typically in countries like India.

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