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Looking Beyond the Box: Challenges with supply chain

By P Sajith,

08 May 2016

P Sajith of Welbound Worldwide says, 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 smartphones to take pictures of shipper cartons ; wherever they see them. On the road - loaded on to trucks, getting unloaded at warehouses, at retail shop storage area - and so on. The findings, Sajith says were frightening., Associations

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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 these boxes left the plants. 

There are innumerable causes for the same, including wrong box design, poor handling in transit, what emerged 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 (Editor's note: Usually, the box compression loss is about 60%). 

Therefore the question is: how much can the box design and compression values help when you are discussing challenges in transit which ail converters and brands in India?

After all, excessive handling, pallet patterns, pallet deck-board spacing and box overhang and so on play their part. The compression strength is merely an indicator of the strongest part of the box: that is, the walls. Can this help, when the load is being borne 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 the workers to stack the same sized boxes, on top of others in a perfect columnar fashion. Is it not time to re-think? And  think beyond BS, ECT and BCT?

These are some of the unanswered questions, which I hope my learned colleagues from the industry will help address. Because packaging is supposed to prevent wastage; but there are still instances of damages, spoilage and pilferage in the supply chain - which is a typical problem in a country like India.

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