July 8, 2021

Packaging and how the size of your package matters more now than ever!


Packaging and how the size of your package matters more now than ever!

In “normal” times, designing packaging to optimize freight costs is a key consideration to minimize freight costs. Optimizing packaging for lower ocean freight costs has long been a science for those trying to get as many parts in a container as humanly possible and optimizing the container space for lower freight costs. For domestic freight, optimizing packaging for freight cost is a crucial design aspect for all three transit modes of TL, LTL, and e-commerce. In all instances, shipping density over volumetric loads and squeezing one more part onto each pallet means lower costs and a lower cost of packaging.

As I said, in “normal” times, reducing your packaging size is a huge factor in minimizing freight costs. In March of last year, “normal” left the building, and the resulting freight world has not been the same since. From ocean freight to FedEx overnight deliveries, the freight and transit world is changing daily, if not hourly. Since March of 2020, ocean freight containers from Shanghai to the Long Beach port near LA have more than doubled in costs, and in some cases that included premium service, costs have more than tripled in the past year. This is all predicated on the assumption you can even find a container to pay 3X times the old price as the availability of containers is a hit or miss, and getting a container booked and on the ocean at any cost seems like winning the lottery versus just shipping product. Welcome to the new normal!

For domestic freight, truckloads from Memphis to California costs three times more than last year, with regional and local freight costs the following suit. Long hauls, short hauls, LTL, and TL, have all jumped on the cost increase train and are riding it as fast as long as they can, with the same lack of reliability, on time performance, and daily prices hikes like everyone else in the transit world is doing. Oh yeah, that availability issue I touched on with ocean containers. Yup – even more so with finding a truck in some regions. More of the new normal.

Overnight shipments that positively must be there overnight? Yeah, not so much anymore. How about, “ship it overnight, and hope and pray it gets there in a week” seems to be the prevailing sentiment right now. The e-commerce transit world is as crazy, if not crazier, than the other transit modes if that is all possible. The increased cost of packaging, the increased costs to handle it, higher fuel costs, and higher demand all result in insufficient trucks to move the product. Here is a new normal that might be around for a while, too. Yikes!

So how do we deal with the new normal? Fight back!

Reducing your product packaging size is more critical than ever right now. Every cubic inch you can reduce your overall package and pallet size results in critical savings in freight and the ability to transit more product per package or pallet. From ocean freight to e-commerce shipments, reducing your package size by any means lower costs, and in some cases, the ability to get your products to market at all. What does “any means” mean? I will tell you.

At EPE USA, optimized packaging design means maximizing product protection using the least and lowest cost materials available and in the smallest form factor possible. And we make sure it is all 100% environmentally sound, as we are not giving up our fight in saving the planet one package at a time. We have found that adding costs to your packaging to reduce the weight and size of the overall package has resulted in substantial freight savings that are enough to offset the higher cost of the packaging, resulting in net savings overall. It is math-based, but it’s also a way to ensure your company saves every freight dollar you can.

Normal by definition means “standard, usual, typical or expected.” I laugh because nothing in the world of freight right now meets this definition, and the foreseeable future does not hold much hope for normal to return. Fighting back is all we have right now, as we are determined to save our planet…one package at a time.