Reduce Packaging Costs and Plan For Every Part

Packaging is one of the most essential parts of manufacturing. An inefficient packing process not only wastes time, but it can also be a waste of valuable resources. When looking at the plan for every part, or PFEP, there are some simple ways you can optimize the supply chain and work toward using less packaging, which will reduce your manufacturing costs. When you implement PFEP into your manufacturing process, you will reduce your costs related to receiving, producing, storing and even shipping your parts and products.

Design and Develop a PFEP Template

It can be beneficial to appoint a team to work on creating a PFEP template that works best for your business in particular. These individuals will look at how to optimize the packaging within your plant, as well as how to optimize the packaging on the materials and other products that come from your suppliers. For many companies, it’s easier to start with implementing a plan for your internal processes first since you have more control over these processes. The good news is there is automated PFEP software available that can help streamline this process and guide your team in making the right decisions. This software clearly defines your inventory, keeps track of inventory usage and recommends supply chain adjustments. All of this is done automatically with little or no input from your team, freeing up their time to focus on other aspects and allowing for fast adjustments that start saving money faster.

Gather and Organize Data

It can be time-consuming to gather data on packaging processes, especially when you’re dealing with multiple systems. This is particularly difficult at the beginning of the process, which can lead to frustration and a lack of motivation. You can help motivate your team by celebrating the identification of accurate data sources and tracking the overall data input the team makes. One of the ways you can improve the effectiveness of this process is to utilize formulas designed to calculate pull signals and planned maximum inventory costs, levels and days. Your goal is to better understand your inventory, particularly the parts purchased. It’s unnecessary to plan or act on the data at this stage in the process.

Maintain and Optimize the Data

The third step in the process is to optimize your packaging. For instance, you can work with a supplier to optimize the packaging on your inbound shipments to reduce those packaging and inbound logistics costs, as well as improve the inventory space in your plant and keep inventory at an appropriate level. When you input this information in your automated PFEP software, it will identify standard packs, container weights and inbound logistics costs, calculating your future state PFEP. Minor adjustments can then be made to identify where you can save money. When you work with your suppliers on this matter, you not only improve your own bottom line, but you can also help them save money in the process. It’s a mutually beneficial task that can help both businesses reduce costs and improve profits. Many companies can save up to 20% of their costs using this process.

Actively refining your PFEP should be a continuous process. While it may seem overwhelming and difficult to implement in the first place, once the above steps are completed, you will be able to more easily make adjustments and ensure your business is operating with lower costs for a higher rate of return.

Nestable Pallets Can Transform Racking In Your Warehouse Space

The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in a major shift towards online-only sales and the need for fast, widespread shipping. Warehouses all over the nation are bustling, and many are struggling to keep up with both increased shipping demands and unsold store goods piling up in corners. But your warehouse space is as large as you make it. With clever storage solutions, you can double or even triple the amount of rack space as well as prevent things from getting disorganized.

Nestable Pallets Save on Storage Space

If you go back 100 years, wooden pallets were just starting to transform warehouses and making stackable storage efficient. Now, the next wave of innovation is here. Thanks to their lighter, slimmer, even more stackable design, nestable pallets take traditional storage to the next level. Warehouse workers can even them securely together when not using them and save even more space. In fact, stacking plastic, nestable pallets usually takes up only half the space of the same amount of stacked wooden pallets.

And while they are lighter and easier to move, a major draw is that nestable pallets are also more durable than their traditional wooden counterparts. While wooden pallets have a limited life span and are often damaged by weather and heavy use, nestable pallets can be used over and over again from production right on through packing and distribution. It’s also worth noting that they can also support more weight than wooden pallets. Even today’s light duty nestable plastic pallets can hold up to 2,200 lbs (when designated for dynamic use; static loads can hold up to 3,500 lbs). Heavy duty designs can hold 5,000 lbs while moving and even more when static.

How to Switch Over From Wood to Plastic

Another bonus of nestable pallets is that they can help bring down operational costs considerably. Plastic pallets cost less time and money to produce traditional wooden pallets, and so they tend to cost less individually. Nestable versions are even more affordable than standard plastic designs (usually a third of the cost). That said, you may need to spend a bit more upfront while converting your warehouse over to a plastic nestable pallet system. A lot of older shelving racks are slotted for wooden pallets only, so they will need to be converted. However, the good news is that forklifts can still work with both, and many packing assembly lines can already accommodate newer pallets.

It’s also worth pointing out that nestable pallets vary in design depending on your needs. For many, traditional vented (latticed) deck pallets are ideal, but other products may require solid decks. It’s important to evaluate your warehouse’s specific needs and order pallets accordingly. You may need a mix of plastic/nestable styles, but the good news is that many are cross-stackable.

Nestable Pallets are the Future of Warehouse Storage

Even if you choose not to switch over your warehouse at this time, it’s important to consider that you likely will have to in the future. More and more warehouses are converting over to plastic pallets in general, and many are well on their way to using all nestable options. Just as wooden pallets eventually took over the industry a century ago, this is the next level in storage and distribution design. The future is here!

7 Fulfillment Tips For Times Of Need and Demand

The novel COVID-19 virus has changed the economy as we know it. Many businesses have shut down entirely, while others have been forced to adapt quickly to changing demands. For those who work at warehouses and fulfillment centers, the sharp rise in online orders and the hastening need for essential items has caused unprecedented challenges.

Complicating things further, there is no telling exactly how long these current events will last, nor do most have the means of expanding their warehouse facilities and/or operations with such short notice. That said, there are various steps that can be taken to improve efficiency and meet growing demands.

While different business needs will vary, most can benefit by following these seven fulfillment tips in these times of great need and demand:

1. Promote Collaboration and Working as a Team

No one person is going to be able to take everything on by his or herself. Now more than ever, it is crucial that team members feel supported and nurtured. Leaders must be willing to go above and beyond, even if it means helping out with tasks they are normally “above”. Even if done virtually or from a physical distance, it’s a good idea to have regular meetings (at least weekly) to check in with team members and let their concerns and ideas be heard.

2. Make Health and Safety Guidelines a Priority

Since fulfillment centers are essential business, shutting down is not an option for most (and it would be financially devastating anyway). All workers will therefore feel more comfortable and driven to work each day if you make health and safety their top priority. Keep tabs on the ever-changing CDC and WHO guidelines, as well as local rules going into effect. Equip workers with face masks and gloves, and try to keep everyone at least six feet apart.

3. Reassess Supply Needs

Along with safety supplies for fulfillment staff, your other product needs have likely changed. You may need to reorganize supplies so that workers have quick access to everything they need. The types of packing materials needed may have also changed.

4. Look at Changing Customer Habits

The amount and type of products you are sending out have also likely changed. This is a prime opportunity for reorganizing and assessing your inventory and how it is stored, as certain products will likely need to be accessed much more frequently than they previously were. Going along with this, it’s also a good idea to re-prioritize your inbound items. Look at what is going out first (and landing first) now, and focus on getting those items processed and turned over to outbound as quickly as possible.

5. Starting Picking and Packing from Receiving Docks

In order to meet fulfillment demands faster, do what you can to trim down extra steps. Especially when you have a lot of packages requiring a variety of different items, you can save time by picking, packing and shipping right from the receiving dock.

6. Stop Doing Huge Orders, or Take Them Offline

Massive orders can bog down the entire system. You can both discourage them and make the process simpler by taking them offline and requiring customers to call directly for them.

7. Offer Full Cases and Ship Alone Orders

Many boxes consist of different SKUs with different inbound and outbound items. But especially when it comes to essential items that people need for daily life, this just won’t do. You can quicken the shipping process (helping both you and the recipients) by offering full, one-SKU type cases and even individual ship-alone orders that don’t wait for other SKUs.