25 Jan 2011 Globe Guard “Packaging 101” Lesson: Don’t Let Under Filled Boxes Create Overwhelming Problems (Part 2)
Now that we’ve covered what usually causes under filled boxes and what mistakes are made in an effort to solve the problem, let’s get into the solutions
The #1 Most Common, Correct Solution
Please note that the list of ineffective solutions for under filled boxes provided in part one of this post does not include the item that is most frequently the problem, which is the void fill product being used. Most packing operations have been using the same void fill and packing method for years, and in many cases it is the wrong material and/or it is incorrectly being used. New void fill products are constantly being created or improved, so what may have been the best and least expensive product just a few years ago is rarely still the best answer.
Another common mistake people make in regard to void fill is focusing on the price rather than the cost. If the box is sized properly, the correct void fill is used and it is applied correctly, the void fill cost should decrease, not increase.
Correct Solution #2: Remember – the box is only as strong as the seal
There are times when under filling of boxes is tough to avoid or eliminate, so in those situations an often underutilized solution is the use of paper based, water activated tape. The most commonly used tape is plastic pressure sensitive and it is the pressure requirement that often creates the problem. It is almost impossible to apply pressure on the tape being applied to a box that is under filled. We have all witnessed when days after a box has been sealed you can apply minimal pressure to the top major flaps and they pull away cleanly and easily from the tape being literally suspended above them. Even a great quality tape requires enough pressure to activate the adhesive and that is rarely possible on an under filled shipping box.
Water activated tape cannot be automatically applied, but other than that it has just about every other performance advantage over plastic tape. Yes, it is green because it is made of paper and features a natural adhesive and it bonds to corrugated board with minimal pressure. If properly applied, it literally fuses to the board and actually makes the box stronger because it minimizes the twisting and torque that create a weak, not square structure and often results in product damage.
When a Simple Solution Does Not Work
There are times when the problem is more complicated than what I describe above, such as trapped air escaping, especially on soft goods such as clothing or shopping bags. We occasionally have to resort to more expensive, sophisticated solutions such as vibratory or vacuum stations, and at times even over head pressure platens, but those solutions and hardware are rarely necessary.
In most situations, a simple and painless review followed by minimal changes will usually result in a simple solution to this common problem that may even reduce your costs as it minimizes packaging related damage and customer complaints.
For more information, read Part One of this post on under filled boxes.