Following the first-ever all-digital ProMat experience, Global Trade Magazine had the opportunity to learn about the companies changing the way the supply chain is optimized. We talked with Sean Webb, Director of Automated Packaging Solutions in North America for Quadient to discuss how the company’s CVP models are supporting businesses of all sizes. Quadient’s machines showcased at ProMat include the CVP Impack and CVP Everest Automated Packaging Systems – each offering solutions dependent on specific applications each customer has.
What operations challenges do the automated packaging solutions solve for the supply chain?
“Operationally, the ability to keep up with fulfillment has been a challenge for companies. Associated with that comes the productivity factor and labor. Some are throwing more labor at the issue to manage this environment, which creates more of a challenge. Having the right-size box is critical and has become a big issue. Many companies are getting hit with DIM weight charges, while transportation costs increase and are becoming quite significant. Additionally, there is the customer unboxing experience to consider as well. Having the right-size box without a lot of the dunnage to fill empty space becomes important.
This, along with material costs, are challenges in the market. We are seeing raw materials increase, so any way we can minimize that spend is critical – including the dunnage I spoke about previously. There are also negative environmental issues tied into the dunnage people are putting into those boxes as well.”
Discuss the eco-friendly benefits of automated packaging solutions.
“There are a few different ways the solutions affect the sustainability issue for customers. First, the materials themselves are biodegradable with corrugate that breaks down over a shorter period of time in a landfill versus indefinitely as seen with plastics. Once the dunnage is eliminated, it is no longer ending up in a landfill. Lastly, when you create a smaller box, you can put more in a truck, for example. This allows for fewer trucks on the road to carry products which translates into a smaller carbon footprint overall.”
Discuss the cost savings aspect businesses can benefit from with this solution.
“When we look at the three main areas from a savings standpoint, we break it down into labor first and foremost – you’re looking at automation that allows you to have a higher productivity level versus the manual approach. There is about an 88 percent savings on average per our data analysis from that alone.
In terms of transportation savings, when rightsizing the box, customers can see an average of 32 percent savings. We certainly see that vary with some customers depending on their applications, with savings that can be significantly larger.
Then you have material savings. If the customer is putting in void fill, there are significant savings that add up. On average, there is a 38 percent materials savings for our customers that make the transition to an automated packaging solution. In addition, by switching to fanfold corrugate rather than the standard RSC boxes, there is an average 29 percent less corrugate used.
The CVP Impack is designed for up to 500 parcels per hour, while the CVP Everest auto-boxes up to 1,100 parcels per hour and would meet the needs of high volume fulfillment or e-commerce companies. For either single- or multi-item orders of soft or hard goods, these automated packaging solutions do not require additional equipment, boxes or operators to eliminate or reduce the need for void fill materials.”
How do the solutions support employees?
“Certainly, these solutions support being able to fulfill the orders and meet the timeframes customers are expecting. By adding this automation, it allows companies to repurpose their workers and reapply them to different areas within their warehouse, making them even more efficient. Part of the challenge from a labor perspective is finding the workforce with the flexibility that businesses need and are looking for. For example, 10 people could typically support a normal order volume situation but 40+ people are needed for peak periods. Finding that labor force and space becomes a big challenge, and the automation allows for the flexibility required when it’s needed, without added costs.”
What size business is this solution for? Can smaller businesses benefit from this?
“There’s really no standard application. What we have seen are companies with a lower throughput number that we thought would be challenged to justify this kind of automation actually finding that they are able to use it and remove a bottleneck in their operations. Lower productivity numbers are essentially doubled or tripled because they are now able to get more orders out. These companies can increase efforts in driving product demand.
For larger operations, there is a need to put out many orders each day and this type of solution is great for them. It allows companies to meet high demands seamlessly. Both large and small companies can benefit from this solution and there is no “ideal customer” as it is extremely broad even on the industry level. We serve manufacturing, 3PLs, technical wholesalers, and really any company that is shipping products out to customers.”
Sean Webb is the North American Director of Automated Packaging Solutions by Quadient. With over three years of industry experience, Sean is passionate about helping shippers relieve their daily challenges with automation to optimize their efficiencies, productivity and bottom line. Sean previously held partner and senior level positions in the financial sector.