How can you make the best possible use of your warehouse space? With demand for industrial space having increased substantially in recent years, this question is one that a growing number of warehouse managers are having to address.

Scott-Byrom[7]Scott Byrom, Key Account Manager at Antalis Packaging, investigates further.

Space constraints can arise from any number of factors, but are most commonly the result of excess inventory or inefficiently utilised space. For many businesses, the packaging materials that they use for protecting and distributing their products can contribute significantly to both of these factors.

Packaging alone is rarely the only culprit, but Antalis Packaging frequently encounters businesses whose overwhelming inventories of packaging supplies are taking up space, making it difficult to locate inventory, reducing labour productivity and sometimes even resulting in a safety hazard.

In our experience, taking time to reassess your packaging needs and rationalise your packaging products not only frees up space, but can save money and labour time too. If the materials that need to be stored require less space, this could deliver savings on rental costs. In addition, a packaging rationalisation programme can also have the added benefit of reducing the time your workforce spends unloading, storing and managing your packaging materials before use, as well as time spent locating materials when they are needed. Some solutions can even reduce the amount of space needed during your packing operation, either through automation or by removing a step from the process.

For some, the drive to optimise operations is less to do with freeing up space than with keeping up with the ‘on demand’ trend that has come to dominate the consumer landscape. With an ever-expanding range of choice for almost every kind of product, people increasingly expect to be able to tailor packaging cartons to meet their preferences and also to get what they want when they want it. Consequently, keeping the right stock levels for every product and its packaging is becoming increasingly challenging.

Our team of packaging specialists regularly work with clients to rationalise their packaging with a view to optimising how they use their space. Through this work, we’ve identified four main areas in which potential savings are most frequently found.

1. Cartons and boxes

An automated base tray and lid system can be introduced to fit your entire product range. The item is placed inside the base tray and the machine then determines how much space remains in the carton before creasing and folding in the flaps to remove the void and then finally apply the lid. This makes it possible to reduce the amount of void-fill that would otherwise need to be used and stored, as well as potentially reducing packaging volume and distribution costs. More importantly, it also cuts down on the number of different sizes and shapes of boxes that you would otherwise have to keep in stock.

Self-erecting ‘crash-lock’ boxes are often introduced to reduce time and improve throughput rates, but they can save space too. Packing operatives only need to push the bottom of these cartons into place to assemble them, which means they can reduce the floor or workstation space needed for assembly.

Because they have a compact footprint and need little manual intervention, automated and semiautomated case erectors can also cut down on the space needed for assembling cartons, while simultaneously increasing assembly speed.

2. Void-fill

Automated, on demand void-fill systems, such as paper-based or airbased solutions, make it possible to reclaim the valuable space taken up by bulky traditional products such as polystyrene chips. These automated inflatable and crumpled paper voidfill solutions offer quick and convenient alternatives, reducing space and the need for manual intervention while still providing suitable product protection.

Paper-based void-fill systems integrate easily into most packing environments. Portable and easy-touse, they make it possible to create effective filling material on demand to prevent products from shifting around inside their boxes.

Air cushioning systems make it possible to instantly create void-fill at the touch of a button by inflating film pockets with air. Because they rely only on air and compact rolls of film, these systems make it possible to dispense with storing large volumes of pre-formed void-fill.

3. Protective packaging

Inflatable cushioning systems convert in to bubble cushioning material on demand and on site. A roll of the film will yield more than 850 m² of inflated bubble cushioning, while a large roll of traditional bubble wrap yields only 75 m². This means you’d need to store more than 11 rolls of bulky bubble wrap to achieve the same yield as one small roll of plastic film.

Foam-in-bag protective packing systems rely on a chemical reaction that takes place when two substances meet, causing them to expand inside the bag. The bag is then placed into a box where the foam continues to expand around the item, before curing to form a solid protective casing.

4. Purchasing

When buying packaging materials, many believe that it is necessary to place large orders. This perception usually stems from the minimum order numbers in place when ordering bespoke packaging direct from the manufacturer, as well as from the idea that larger orders lower per-unit costs. However, it is possible to order smaller volumes of both standard and bespoke items either for regular delivery or as they are needed. The space savings that can be made when shifting to this model are tremendous – some Antalis Packaging customers have freed up entire floors.

To find out more about how rationalising your company’s packaging solutions could optimise space or to arrange a free packaging consultation and assessment, just ask Antalis Packaging by emailing pkteam@antalis.co.uk, call 0370 241 1466 or visit the team at Foodex on stand R301.

Tel: 0370 241 1466

Email: pkteam@antalis.co.uk