Optimizing your corrugated boxes to find the perfect balance between protecting your product and minimizing excess packaging (i.e., excess costs and environmental impact) is a science. The science involves using empirical data from testing the corrugated board that makes up the box. Two standard tests are the Mullen Test and ECT or edge crush test.
The Mullen test is named for the instrument used to conduct the test, which was engineered by John W. Mullen in 1887 and sold to the Parsen Paper company. Although using corrugated for boxes didn’t become mainstream until the early 20th century, the Mullen burst test would become the method for testing corrugated strength for a while.
Why is it used?
The Mullen test is indirectly related to a carton’s ability to withstand internal or external pressure. For example, an item might puncture the box, or a sharp edge of the product might protrude from the box during handling.
The Mullen burst test is used if boxes will experience rough handling, are manually taken off and put on trucks, or may move around during shipping. Most importantly, the Mullen test is used when burst is the primary concern for performance in the supply chain.
How is corrugated tested?
The testing instrument has two platens with circular openings in their centers. A sample of the corrugated board is clamped between them. A diaphragm is hydraulically expanded, distending through the lower platen and pressing on the sample until it bursts. The maximum hydraulic pressure reached when the sample ruptures is recorded as its bursting strength and is measured in pounds.
Edge Crush Test (ECT)
In the 1990s, corrugators started using a higher percentage of recycled material. The fibers of virgin paper are long and bind together, giving it more strength than the shorter fibers of recycled material. It was noticed that although the burst test results were lower, boxes were still being stacked with no noticeable issues. The edge crush test became an industry standard for strength when stack is the primary concern for performance in the supply chain.
Minimum basis weight is required for the burst test, but ECT does not have this requirement, so lighter weight materials can be used while still providing a higher crush resistance. When comparing two cartons – one burst test rated and one ECT rated, the ECT box will weigh less.
Why is it used?
ECT is directly related to stacking strength and how much weight can be applied to the corrugated per square inch.
This test helps determine if a box can withstand other loaded boxes’ weight when shipped on a pallet.
How is corrugated tested?
A sample of corrugated board is placed on edge (flutes perpendicular) between to platens, and force is applied until the sample buckles. The results are recorded in pounds per lineal inch of load-bearing edge but represented as ECT. For example, you may see a box rated as 40 ECT.
Contact Progress Container & Display for all your corrugated needs
Whether you are shipping through e-commerce or have large pallets of product, the best way to ensure your packaging is optimized for your product is to work with professionals that have the expertise to ensure your product makes it to its destination safely. With an in-house structural design department and more than 45 years of experience, we have the knowledge and capabilities to ensure your product arrives as intended and help you reduce your total costs of packaging. Call us today to get started.
Can a Packaging and Supply Chain Assessment Save You Money?
If you are choosing a packaging vendor based on only unit cost, you might be costing yourself more
money. Looking at the total cost of ownership, through a packaging and supply chain assessment, can help
you reduce your opportunity and variable costs.
A packaging and supply chain assessment can save you money through increasing pallet yield, SKU consolidation, or design improvements. It starts with listening The most critical step in a packaging and supply chain assessment for a vendor is listening.
Your packaging vendor should spend more time listening to you than pitching to you. Progress Container and Display creates impactful solutions by listening to customer’s pain points and becoming familiar with their journey— why companies do things a certain way, what solutions they have tried, and why other solutions didn’t
Saving customers money
When an assessment is conducted, Progress looks to provide suggestions to impact costs associated with the following:
Supply Chain Management. Starting at the pallet, Progress Container evaluates the pallet yield with regards to warehouse storage, trailer utilization, and distribution.
SKU Management. Progress Container will evaluate where SKUs can be consolidated
Packaging Optimization. Progress Container creates economically and structurally responsible corrugated solutions. Progress Container will study your processes evaluating if a packaging change can improve process flow.
Supply Chain Management
Maximizing pallet yield has an impact throughout the supply chain and influences opportunity and variable costs for the company’s finished goods inventory. If the packaging doesn’t fit on a pallet, whether it has overhang or too much underhang, the customer’s finished goods inventory and transport costs can suffer.
Progress Container looks for ways that SKUs can be reduced. A formal assessment is conducted reviewing how packaging is used within the facility, and similar size boxes will be consolidated where applicable. By consolidating and reducing SKUs, Progress’s customer’s can take advantage of higher quantity pricing and thereby reduce costs.
Product and Packaging Optimization
Progress Container evaluates your packing process to see if there are opportunities to improve efficiency. For example, an assessment revealing a design change could save considerable time with packaging assembly or product packing.
The increased efficiency on your line could translate into significant savings. Progress looks at the packaging itself.
It’s known that too little packaging can cost you money in returns and product damage, but too much packaging can also cost in excess materials and waste. Progress Container can help you find the right balance.
Request a Packaging and Supply Chain Assessment Contact us if you would like the opportunity to assess:
Supply chain utilization
Total landed cost related to assembly time with your packaging
If your vendor isn’t meeting your needs, it may be time to make a change. Below are some topics for consideration regarding your current vendor vs. Progress Container and Display.
Supply Chain Inefficiencies
We provide suggestions to reduce supply chain inefficiencies, including:
Supply Chain Management. Starting at the pallet, we evaluate utilization with regards to warehouse
storage, trailer yield, and distribution.
SKU Management. We will evaluate where SKUs can be consolidated.
Packaging Optimization. We create economically and structurally responsible corrugated
solutions, and will study your processes evaluating if a packaging change can improve process flow.
Quality issues with print, misregistration, poor slotting, inferior or false scoring, and excessive glue end up with inferior packaging in the supply chain or at retail. Lost time and money is the result, and it impacts your brand’s image.
We have invested heavily in state-of-the-art equipment. Glue monitors and cameras ensure the ability to consistently execute without fail. We are ISO 9001/14001 certified, employing color management and information systems controls to monitor everything we do, so your packaging arrives exactly as expected.
If your vendor isn’t listening to your needs or isn’t communicating with you regularly, it may be time to find a new packaging vendor.
Communication is key to any relationship. Listening is the most critical component. Has your vendor ever asked what your company’s goals are and listened to what you’ve told them? Are they just showing up to make the sale, or are they looking to provide solutions consistent with your company’s goals?
Progress believes relationships start with listening. We want to know what your company goals are and what areas in your packaging processes are causing you pain? Progress Container collaborates with customers, helping reduce or eliminate their pains as well as reduce the total landed costs of their packaging.
Long Lead Times
If your current vendor isn’t consistently hitting your requested delivery date, it may be time to change your packaging vendor.
Extended lead times can cost you money. Our lead times are about 5-7 days for industrial repeat orders and about 10 days for retail display box repeat orders.
Is Progress Container the vendor for you?
If you are looking to partner with an experienced packaging vendor having:
insight into current industry/retail trends,
an interest in understanding your needs, and
the ability to execute consistently and on-time without fail
It may be time to consider Progress Container as your vendor. With an in-house structural design department and more than 45 years of experience, we have the knowledge and capabilities to help you reduce your total costs of packaging and reduce or eliminate some of the current pains you are feeling. Contact Progress Container to learn more.
If I asked you what your packaging costs are annually, you might total up your invoices for the year to come up with your annual costs. You may even think you are doing pretty good, having negotiated a great unit price. However, the total costs, not the unit costs, could be throwing your budget off and costing much more than is necessary. Those boxes that saved you a few pennies could actually be costing you thousands of dollars.
When you buy based on unit price while not considering the optimization of your corrugated packaging and supply chain, you end up spending more in other areas, which raises your total costs. Here is a breakdown for general corrugated packaging costs:
Unit costs – what you pay to your vendors per unit
Total costs – which includes unit costs and may include excess costs related to:
Product damage and loss
Product Damage and Loss
If you see a lot of product returns or customer complaints, your packaging may not be optimized for the type of conditions it experiences. Obviously, you will want to ensure the product is adequately packaged, but have you considered environmental factors? Fluctuations in temperature and humidity during transportation and storage can be an issue. Corrugated board will naturally try to reach equilibrium with its environment.
High humidity. If high humidity increases moisture content in your corrugated packaging, the bonds within the cellulose fiber can weaken, leading to failure. Also, any glue used in the packaging can fail.
Low humidity. If humidity is low, corrugated can become dry and brittle over time. Preferred
moisture content is 5 percent to 7 percent at 72° F, 50% RH.
Material waste can occur in several ways that can be avoided.
Purchasing large quantities. If you are buying in large numbers to get a discount, ensure you will use them quickly. Obsolete packaging is an unnecessary waste. Also, about 40 percent of stacking strength is lost after 90 days.
Over packaging. Never seeing product damage from shipping and handling may sound like a good thing, but using excessive dunnage and over packaging a product is nothing more than waste. Ensure your packaging is optimized for the product. It’s also better for the environment.
Excessive SKUs. If you have several similar product types, it may be possible to reduce and consolidate the number of box SKUs, which can save you money.
Excessive materials. Ensure that you are only using the amount of stretch wrap and strapping needed to keep a pallet intact during storage and transportation. Is it possible to adjust the load on the pallet so that fewer materials are required?
The amount of time that employees spend handling your packing and the ergonomic risks associated with it can drive up costs.
Complex box configurations. Fitting your product to standard packaging could be creating inefficiencies. Look
at your packing lines and ask if a redesign can make packing and handling of your boxes easier, faster and safer
for your employees?
Line inefficiencies. Are inefficiencies in your packaging line causing excessive handling or reducing throughput? From material replenishment to finished goods evacuation, your line should flow to reduce extraneous steps and reduce ergonomic hazards.
From storing your packaging materials to storing finished goods, your warehouse space can take up a large portion of your facility. There are a couple ways that you can uncover savings in your warehouse.
Keeping a large inventory of packaging materials. In addition to the potential for waste from keeping the large inventory of packaging supplies that was mentioned above, the excess inventory takes up valuable real estate in your warehouse that could be used for revenue generating activities. Working with a just-in-time vendor can help you reduce the footprint required for packaging storage.
Product stacking. If your pallets are optimized for strength and stability, you will need less space for the same number of boxes.
Transportation and Freight
Part of your packaging costs are associated with transportation and freight, but if your packaging and pallets aren’t optimize those costs may be much higher than they should be.
Package weight. Optimizing packaging can reduce the overall weight. Those small amounts can add up and can reduce your freight costs.
Number of products on a pallet. Optimizing pallet stacking can save you money by reducing the number of pallets required and may also offer greater protection to the product. Redesign of your corrugated packaging may be one option to increase pallet utilization. The configuration on the pallet is another. Interlocking stacking, for example, isn’t more stable if the box contents aren’t rigid enough to support it. Slip sheets between layers on column stacked boxes can provide increased stability, and with column stacked boxes, the corners, which are the strongest point, bear the weight evenly, which allows it to maintain 100 percent of the engineered compression strength.
Number of pallets in the truck. Optimizing the pallet utilization allows you to get more pallets on the truck, which will reduce your shipping costs.
For years, sustainability has been a big buzz word that was casually mentioned on websites and pushed out on social media, but now companies are increasingly moving from talking to doing. Finding the balance between profits and sustainability is critical, and business executives are finding the two goals are not mutually exclusive. One sustainability survey revealed that eighty-two percent of business leaders and senior executives who responded felt that sustainability is a long-term investment rather than a cost, and eighty-three percent described it as a business opportunity to be exploited.
Companies Respond but Say Packaging is a Challenge
Companies are responding by looking at how things they do are impacting the environment and how they can contribute through the use of sustainable products and packaging. Sustainability is driving R&D for thirty-seven percent of the respondents and new product development for thirty-three percent, but packaging was cited by more than two-thirds as being the most challenging sustainability practice to implement.
Consumers Demand Sustainability
The pressure to implement sustainable practices and deliver sustainable packaging is being driven by consumers. Consumers were also surveyed and responded with the following:
Sixty-one percent expect brands they buy to have clear sustainability practices.
Half of the consumers reported that in the past six months they’ve purchased a product specifically because it had reusable or biodegradable packaging.
Forty-five percent have refused to purchase a product that had unsustainable packaging.
Slightly more than half have paid more for a sustainably sourced product or service, while only twenty-two percent felt that companies should cover any additional costs associated with producing sustainable products.
Corrugated is the Ultimate in Sustainable Packaging
The Sustainable Packaging Coalition has established international guidelines and defined sustainable packaging as meeting the following criteria:
Is beneficial, safe & healthy for individuals and communities throughout its life cycle
Meets market criteria for performance and cost
Is sourced, manufactured, transported, and recycled using renewable energy
Optimizes the use of renewable or recycled source materials
Is manufactured using clean production technologies and best practices
Is made from materials healthy throughout the life cycle
Is physically designed to optimize materials and energy
Is effectively recovered and utilized in biological and/or industrial closed-loop cycles
Sustainable packaging considers the packaging’s full life cycle, including the energy and processes used its manufacture end-of-life recovery.
Companies can look to corrugated for help with the sustainable packaging challenges they face. Corrugated packaging easily meets the established criteria when you work with a packaging supplier who recognizes the importance of implementing these guidelines from cradle to cradle.
More companies are beginning to realize that moving from less sustainable packaging options to corrugated packaging can positively impact their triple bottom line – people, planet, and profits.
Turn Corrugated into Affordable Marketing Material
When many people think of corrugated boxes they think of the ubiquitous box used to ship product. And while that is an important function, corrugated can also be used to drive brand awareness and attract customers.
Whether your corrugated box is sitting on a warehouse shelf, used as primary packaging for retail, or is being shipped directly to the consumer a fundamental goal of the packaging should be to gain your customers’ attention.
If you think packaging design doesn’t influence buyers, think again. One example that clearly demonstrates this is Australia’s Tobacco Plain Packaging Act , which bans logos and distinctively-colored cigarette packaging in favor of green packaging with brand names printed in small standardized fonts.
Not only have the sales of cigarettes dropped since the law was enacted, consumers have complained. They taste worse even though the product itself hasn’t changed.
Here are three reasons why corrugated should be part of your design:
Flexibility. Corrugated is a relatively inexpensive material and gives you the flexibility to print designs
and colors exactly how you want them. Plus, choices in printing and finishing techniques means there are
a variety of options available to help your product stand out.
Lightweight. It is a light material, so it’s cheaper to ship and easier to load and stock in stores then other
Sustainability. Corrugated is renewable, reusable, and recyclable. In addition, with the right structural design you can reduce the amount of packaging needed while still protecting the contents.
Make Your Corrugated Stand Out
Know your customer. Make sure your brand speaks to your audience and you know what your customers’ expectations are regarding packaging. Older customers may need an easy open design or may be moved by
nostalgic design, while a younger customer may be more attracted to forward-thinking and environmentally friendly designs.
Use of color. Your brand can be defined by the colors you use. Colors can be used to evoke emotion and human response, so use color strategically. For example, black can denote power and is a common color for power tools.
Consider the season. Work the season or special event into your design. Design your product so it can be used as unique display or end cap in retail for example.
Need Help Designing Packaging that Sells?
Progress Container & Display has a full-service in-house graphics department that can use your
artwork or create unique graphics to help create packaging that sells.
Whether you need retail packaging, point of purchase displays, branded shipping packaging or all of the above, Progress Container can deliver with attention-grabbing graphics and economically responsible packaging solutions. Contact us today to learn more.
Corrugated is one of the most versatile materials when it comes to product protection and presentation. From shipping boxes to specialty packaging and displays, corrugated is the number one choice of materials. With the right partner, corrugated has the ability to help drive sales. Below are three ways that corrugated can be used to increase your bottom line.
Corrugated packaging provides a blank canvas for your brand to showcase its artwork and grab a customer’s attention. Research has shown that first impressions take only 7 seconds. With just seconds to make an impression and get the sale, an appealing design can increase product turns and strengthen brand equity. With corrugated, you have many printing options available to you, including:
Direct flexographic printing
Your brand is represented by your product packaging. Choosing the right printing option will allow you to appropriately reflect your brand.
Corrugated packaging that is designed properly will maintain its integrity, and its contents will arrive to the end-user exactly as intended. Happy customers mean repeat sales. Corrugated provides tremendous flexibility in the design of packaging and displays. The packaging or display can be customized to the product and exceed your customers’ expectations. Unique packaging configurations for consumer products can increase the pleasure of the unboxing experience. POP displays that stand out from the ordinary will capture your customer’s attention and wallet.
Corrugated is a sustainable choice. It is recyclable and made from recycled materials. It is from a renewable resource. It is reusable, and
it is compostable. Many consumers are looking to reduce the amount of plastics they consume and look for brands that share this value. By working with the right packaging partner, you can take it a step further by optimizing your packaging and reducing materials used without compromising the integrity of the packaging. When you support the values of your customers, you can see an increase in repeat purchases.
Progress Container Can Help You Reduce Your Total Packaging Costs
With an in-house structural design department and more than 45 years of experience, we have the knowledge and capabilities to create packaging that drives sales.
Whether you need retail packaging, point of purchase displays, branded shipping packaging or all of the above, Progress Container can deliver with attention-grabbing graphics and economically responsible packaging solutions.
When it comes to packaging, you have many options available to you, but the one that stands out for many companies is corrugated. Worldwide corrugated is the primary choice of packaging with over 90 percent of retail goods in developed nations being shipped in corrugated. Aside from being readily available, there are several reasons why corrugated is the first choice for many.
Corrugated is highly customizable, allowing boxes to be designed in a variety of shapes, sizes, styles, and levels of complexity. Depending on your application and strength required, single, double, and triple wall, in addition to a variety of flute sizes, provides great flexibility in customization. Internal corrugated components can be designed in countless configurations.
Protecting your product is imperative. The rigidity, strength, and cushioning properties of corrugated combined with an optimized design offers the highest level protection during handling and shipping.
Corrugated is made from a renewable resource—trees. Millions of acres of forests are responsibly managed with new trees panted annually to ensure a continuous source of primary fiber. 90% or 25 million tons of corrugated materials from pre- and post-consumer use are recycled annually, generating a renewable source of secondary fibers.
Corrugated boxes are a great tool for marketing and offer greater printability over rigid plastic containers. Whether you choose to pint just your logo and company information or cover the box in vivid graphics, corrugated packaging provides the perfect canvas to convey your branded message.
Because corrugated is customizable to your product, you can maximize space on pallets, trucks, and warehouses. In addition, corrugated is lighter than plastic, which typically means the truck won’t weigh out before it’s filled. Corrugated makes the most efficient use of space, which saves you on transportation costs.
Progress Can Create the Perfect Corrugated Packaging for Your Product
Progress Container can design, print, and manufacture your structurally sound and aesthetically pleasing industrial packaging. With in-house engineers and designers, we provide industrial packaging supply chain solutions with total landed costs in mind.
Ideation and design
Single wall; double wall; triple wall; and B, C, and E flute corrugated options
Years ago, when your plain brown box arrived, you opened it with no expectation other than the contents were not broken in transit. Today, a quick search of social media demonstrates the unboxing is as much a part of the experience as the contents in the box.
In fact, a study conducted on behalf of the Paper and Packaging Board showed 72% of respondents felt the design of a product’s packaging often influences their purchase decisions, and when buying a gift, that number jumps to 81%.
In eCommerce, if you are using your packaging only to protect your product during shipping, you could be missing out on these opportunities:
Tell Your Story and Brand Your Box
Your brand’s personality should be reflected in your packaging. If you value sustainability, if your product has a connection to a particular industry, or is intended for a particular demographic – whatever it is, it should be clearly reflected in your packaging. If you have a story to tell that can elicit emotion from your customer, find a way to include your story.
Your brand should speak for itself. When a customer sees your packaging, they should know without opening the box it comes from you – think of Tiffany’s iconic blue box.
Create a Viral Experience
Consumers are obsessed with unboxing videos. Popular unboxing videos can have millions of views – one popular Play-Doh product has over 850 million views! Do all these views help drive sales?
According to a Google survey, 62 percent of people who view unboxing videos do it while researching a product.
A positive unboxing experience could potentially drive them to make a purchase.
Create Brand Loyalty
First impressions matter. When you create a memorable branded unboxing experience, your customers will return to experience it again. A 2018 eCommerce survey showed 23.65% of Millennials and 23.33% of Gen Z said branded, gift-like packaging would make them more likely to purchase from a brand again.
Need Help Taking Your Unboxing Experience to the Next Level?
Progress Container & Display has a full-service in-house graphics department that can use your artwork or create unique graphics to help create a memorable unboxing experience. To learn more, contact us today.
Every unboxing experience will evoke some sort of emotion. However, you want to ensure you are creating a rich experience that evokes positive emotion—excitement, anticipation, pleasure. Implementing emotional design elements into your product packaging will create a connection between the product and the consumer. A positive experience can lead to increased sales.
Below are some general things to consider when creating your unboxing experience:
Know the Intended User
Know what gets your user excited and try to incorporate that into your packaging. For example, an engineer may prefer packaging that fits together cleanly and has a clear progression to unpacking it, while an artist may prefer more abstract designs and unique configurations.
Choose an Appropriate Box Style
Your style of box will make a difference in how the product is perceived. How the box opens and closes, it’s complexity, weight, construction, coatings, and of course, printing will all tell a story about your product and brand.
Make sure it is easy to open. Nothing ruins a great unboxing experience like struggling to open the box.
When shipping direct-to-consumer use the shipping box as a branding opportunity. The excitement of the unboxing starts as soon as your customer sees your brand on the box.
Pack for presenting
Everything included should have a space in the box that has been deliberately chosen. Nothing should be loose in the box.
Create packaging that places emphasis on the main component. Don’t stick the invoice, directions, or marketing materials on top. For many products creating an obvious progression for unboxing works well.
Any product that requires charging for use should be charged or charged prior to boxing. No one wants to wait two hours or more to use the product once they open it.
Internal Packaging Materials Matter
Internal packaging components are necessary to ensure the product and components are not moving around loose in the box. Beyond functionality, they should be aesthetically pleasing. Avoid using packaging peanuts and anything that will make a mess or detract from the unboxing.
Internal packaging materials provide additional branding opportunities for you to engage with your customers.
Quality materials will suggest a luxury product.
Need Help Taking Your Unboxing Experience to the Next Level.
Progress Container & Display can develop and execute the perfect solution for your product.
With structural designers and a full-service in-house graphics department, Progress can help create a memorable unboxing experience for your customers.