Store Wars

Stuart Pritchard March 30, 2016

Scott Byrom


SCOTT BYROM, Key Account Manager at Antalis Packaging, outlines how taking the time to reassess your packaging needs can save money and cut down on labour time too…

With e-commerce expected to account for almost 16% of all UK retail sales this year, the secure and efficient packaging of goods is becoming more important than ever for retailers looking to maximise efficiency and profitability. If businesses are to take full advantage of rapid growth in ecommerce, rather than being left behind, they must take the time to reassess their packaging needs and ensure that they are making every effort to cut down on waste and make the best use of limited space and resources.

Selecting the right cartons and boxes is the crucial first step in ensuring product protection and warehouse space optimisation, as well as speed, efficiency and cost. 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 that they can reduce the floor or workstation space needed for assembly. The time and labour saving over the long term can be substantial.


The Emba TrayTec saves both time and space

The Emba TrayTec saves both time and space

Although it is one of the primary goals of every organisation, business growth is also a common reason for depleted warehouse space. When it comes to packaging, many companies make the mistake of assuming that every new product requires a new kind of package. Not only does this require the storing tens or even hundreds of different packaging types, it also creates stock-management challenges, which may even result in a need for additional training for packing operatives.

Conversely – an overreliance on void-fill can result when retailers rely exclusively on one or two box sizes for multiple product sizes, shapes and weights. This creates its own problems with storage and wastage. By introducing automated solutions, such as an automated void reduction system however, it is possible to reduce the range of cartons that need to be kept in stock, as well as reducing the need for void-fill. These systems involve the use of identical base trays for a wide range of products, with any unused space being removed by creasing and folding in the carton’s flaps to eliminate it. 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 would otherwise need to be kept in stock.


I-Pack® is one such corrugated automated packing system. The machine measures the height of the contents in each box and then reduce its size to match by folding down the box flaps. Not only does this save time, but folding in and gluing the flaps also increases box strength. Moreover, because the machine detects the volume of each box’s contents, the need for void-fill material is drastically reduced.

Another space-saving and time-saving automated packing system is the Emba TrayTec machine. A highly innovative product, available in fully automatic and semi-automatic varieties, TrayTec guarantees perfect product protection, a fast, efficient packaging process, and a cost-effective solution. With products automatically retained by film to corrugated trays before boxing, TrayTec eliminates the need for void fill and ensures that the packaging process always remains the same, even for dramatically changing items with different product heights and weights of up to 150 kg.


The I-Pack automated packing system

The I-Pack automated packing system

One simple but effect way that modern retailers can save on packaging storage space is by requesting on-demand delivery of cartons rather than storing large quantities in the warehouse – thereby optimising warehouse space. Many retailers bulk buy as traditionally this would enable them to buy at a much lower price per item, however retailers need to weigh this saving up against the inconvenience of reduced storage space, as well as the added risk of damage and deterioration when cartons are stored for longer periods of time. Smaller, on-demand and more frequent ordering is fast becoming the norm – and packaging merchants are now well set up to meet this increasing demand.

As more and more products are purchased online rather than in store, retailers – in consultation with specialist suppliers – should carefully evaluate all aspects of their packaging processes in order to make efficiency and cost-savings wherever possible. Most will find that with the introduction of a few small changes, increased automation or savvier purchasing practices, there are substantial savings to be made.