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16 ista views • February 2016 • Adapting to the Re-configuration of the Retail Supply Chain > CONTINUED FROM PAGE 15 Corrugated Material – In the early 1990's the corrugated industry began a shift to lightweight corrugated and focus on allowing ECT to replace Mullen burst testing (Fibrebox Association 1999). Much of this push was due to the fact that many existing US supply chains were designed with stacking and warehousing in mind. In some cases, vertical compression was the most essential component of packaging performance. However in today's e-commerce environment, most product does not spend a lot of time stacked in a warehouse. Often the most stacking involved is only 8 foot in a trailer for a short journey. And it's far more likely the product being shipped along with its corrugated box is from Asia. In an e-commerce channel, the demands placed on a corrugated box today are more likely to be related to handling impact than long term vertical compression. From that standpoint, two things become critically important. First, the box itself has to be capable of withstanding the rigors of transport. And it's recommended that utilizing burst testing specifications be used for corrugated box design, rather than ECT. This is especially important for imported Asian corrugated, or highly recycled corrugated boxes. Secondly, it's of critical importance that the internal structure of the package is well designed. Very often a moderate amount of well-placed dunnage in a box, can vastly improve box and package performance. Patio Furniture Example: To provide a specific case of where these factors come into place, let's examine a situation related to patio furniture. Historically, the sales of patio furniture were a very seasonal program – early spring items were sold in the retail store, and by mid-summer they had sold through and were out of the store. However, it was very clear that no customers appreciated trying to move large boxes full of furniture home from the store. And with the introduction of "buy online, ship to home – for free", the demand for home delivery of patio furniture soared. However, multiple challenges presented itself from this: 1. Seasonality disappeared and product was sold year round online. 2. Online sales demanded replenishment volume from the stores. 3. Third Party Delivery requires improved (and costly) packaging. All of this forged a need for more durability in packaging performance. In particular, after several studies were performed it was determined that both vertical and horizontal compression performance lacked, as well as overall corrugated durability. To improve this situation, the following changes were successfully made: 1. Moderate corrugated board improvements were made on products with high density. (Small size, high weight). 2. Internal structural changes were made to better provide compressive support. 3. Solid fiber corner boards were added both vertically and horizontally to most of the larger boxes to improve compressive performance. 4. Adjustments were made to the ISTA Testing procedure. Of particular note, there were increased to the vertical compression compensating factor as well as the process of clamp testing. Conclusion: As you can see with the example from the Patio project, not every case requires the package be completely redesigned in order to meet the new demands of the e-commerce channel. Identifying specific issues within a shipping environment can allow you to selectively modify your design standards and improve you survivability, without overly elevating your packaging requirements and costs to a level that affects financial competitiveness. Of course much of this requires a package designer to do a significant level of research and testing to achieve an appropriate level of performance. But through testing that considers the right level of standards and requirements, the final design can set the performance standard for the package that costs no more than the competitive packaging, but performs at a level better than its next closest competitor. References 1., 2014 Data, "Retail e-commerce sales in the United States from 2002 to 2013 (in billion U.S. dollars)" 2. Kim Souza, 2015 "The Supply Side: Welcome to the supply chain revolution,", page 1. 3. Rich Lindgren (originally published chart – Tom Blanck), "Considering Product and Packaging Shipability", Packaging-Matters-Blogspot, April 10, 2014. 4. The Fibrebox Association, Fibrebox Handbook, 1999 Edition, page 73.

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