A conversation with Steve Brandt on the CVP Automated Packaging Solution and how it is evolving to keep up with today’s fast-paced market
Today we hear a lot about the Amazon Effect and its popular two-day shipping policy, but what we don’t hear is how companies are keeping up with this instant-everything expectation and how warehouse automation affects shipping outcomes. Whether it’s shipping automation or packaging, every process plays its role in today’s top goals of decreasing costs, improving efficiencies and impressing customers.
In our effort to get companies up to speed on the dynamic and ever-changing packaging landscape, we are joined by ProShip’s Steve Brandt, Director of Automated Packaging Solutions, North America. Steve offers insight into today’s parcel packaging issues and shares advice for third-party logistics (3PL), e-commerce, wholesale and manufacturing companies on how automated packaging is advancing to stay ahead of the fast-paced fulfillment industry.
Q: Warehouse automation is everywhere we look nowadays. Why are many engineering groups exploring parcel packaging process automation and what are the benefits?
Brandt: Automation isn’t coming, it’s here. It’s in our homes, our cars and now an integral part of warehouse operations across the world. As demand for quicker, leaner and more efficient production continues, automation is an important competitive advantage that engineering groups are starting to explore.
In the search for cost savings and opportunities to meet the increased customer demand, parcel packaging automation is one of the fulfillment processes that isn’t as clearly recognized. Traditionally, companies have focused on automating order picking using put walls and shuttle systems to remedy the high amount of labor and accuracy needed.
In reality, parcel packaging can be the most manual and labor-intensive part of the formula, leading to higher overall costs. On average, companies manually pack at rates anywhere between 20 to 50 boxes per person per hour, which is a fraction of what an automated packaging solution can produce.
If you can automate this process, there is tremendous labor savings, especially as the skilled warehouse labor force continues to dwindle. Even if companies employ the minimum number of laborers required to operate the distribution center, there is still the issue of accuracy while maintaining a high output. Automating the packaging process will lead to more efficiencies, accuracies and reliability. It is important for companies to focus on these three perspectives when thinking about automated packaging solutions:
- Customer perception – Numerous social media channels display customers dissatisfaction with inefficient packaging they have received from eCommerce orders. Astoundingly, the average box shipped is 60% air! This is bad publicity and can lead to a negative brand image. Leaving the guessing work of selecting the perfect box size up to the associate who packs the parcel(s) just doesn’t make sense nowadays.
- Shipping costs – If the perfect snug box size is not selected, many companies are charged Dimensional Weight (DIM). The shipping carriers calculate the measurement of the box verses the weight of the box, which results in higher fees and shipping charges that are absorbed into the bottom line.
- Corrugate Usage – Like customer perception and shipping costs, the associate plays an integral part in choosing the perfect box size for the parcel(s). If this isn’t chosen accurately, additional corrugate costs are realized due to a larger box than needed.
Q: The CVP Automated Packaging Solution streamlines the packaging process with one single operator. What additional benefits does the CVP provide to its users?
Brandt: The CVP Automated Packaging Solution is engineered and proven to alleviate many pain points within the parcel packaging process. The CVP significantly reduces the labor required for parcel packaging, combining 10 parcel packaging steps (from selecting the box to labeling an order) into one single step. The solution creates a fit-to-size box around every parcel and can handle single or multiple item orders at a high hourly rate. The CVP scans each parcel(s), cuts the perfect sized box, autoboxes the contents tightly, inserts an invoice or promotional material if desired, verifies the package weight and can apply a shipping label. This entire process reduces labor, shipping charges and corrugate usage. On average, customers see a very quick return on investment from these savings alone, in about 12 months.
There are also other benefits:
- Greater purchasing power – ability to purchase one standard sized fan-fold corrugate to replace many different box inventory SKU’s
- With the reduction in different box inventory SKU’s, there is less box inventory to manage
- Sustainability improvements
- Using less corrugate
- Using less or eliminating dunnage
- Using recyclable corrugate versus plastic based packing
- Less labor = less supervision, human resource and training support
ProShip realizes each customer and business is different. We strive to understand their processes using real data. This data helps us to determine if the CVP Automated Packaging Solution is the right system for your business.
Q: In 2017, global e-commerce sales grew 24.8 percent compared to the previous year, and 2018 is predicted to grow 23.3 percent. How does The CVP Automated Packaging Solution enhance e-commerce companies, and will it support other industries?
Brandt: Online shopping has never been easier for today’s consumer. With the swipe of a button, customers can purchase items and expect them to show up on their doorstep just a few days later. Because of this, e-commerce, 3PLs and wholesalers need rapid fulfillment options to keep up with this demand. Furthermore, this demand creates challenges with labor shortages, shipping cost spikes and increased corrugate usage.
With this combination of challenges, e-commerce companies must investigate all parts of the order fulfillment design to stay competitive. The CVP Automated Packaging Solution is an in-line autopacker that creates a custom fit-to-size box in seven seconds with only one operator.It ensures all steps of the package fulfillment process are optimized, including labor, shipping and corrugate costs.
E-commerce is not the only industry facing the labor, shipping and corrugate issues. We have seen several other industries benefit from packaging automation, including manufacturing.
ProShip partnered with CNB Computers, Inc., an electronics refurbishing company. CNB’s major road block was their ability to fulfill the large amount of daily orders that were received. With the limited ability to grow because of this, CNB invested in a CVP Automated Solution to package their orders and increased output by 200%.
Currently, we are partnering with another manufacturing company who is faced with the challenge of supplying their product in individual units versus cases to the end user. As it would be too costly to re-engineer their production facility which packages orders by cases, they are exploring incorporating a CVP Automated Solution to run individual SKUs. The CVP would package each SKU individually, and then they will rerun all 12 individually boxed packages through the CVP again to create a master case.
The order fulfillment process is the lifeblood of many different industries, and an automated packaging process can change everything, including transforming your packaging function from a cost center to a profit center. The CVP Automated Packaging Solution ensures all steps of the package fulfillment process are optimized and helps you stay ahead of the competition. It is an investment with huge returns.
Q: The newest most innovative version of the CVP was recently released (Version 5). What were the advances and how will these changes help companies stay ahead of the fast-paced fulfillment industry?
Brandt: The last two version releases of the CVP Automated Packaging Solution focused on unit reliability and serviceability. When a CVP is incorporated into the distribution center function of a business, it must work, no ifs ands or buts. We have had very good uptime with our current CVP users, but always strive to do better.
For the 5th generation CVP Automated Packaging Solution, we further increased the unit reliability and serviceability of our taping unit, cut and crease unit, folder and inserter section. In addition, we implemented several important software/firmware updates to further decrease the box size of each box created and designed a more user-friendly controls architecture.
These improvements continue to demonstrate ProShip’s dedication to our client’s success. We value each CVP user, and our support team makes a personal commitment to deliver the best customer experience in the industry. Our number one priority is to ensure customers meet or exceed their production and service levels with the CVP while cutting costs and increasing productivity. The future looks bright for the CVP Automated Packaging Solution, and we look forward to supporting many businesses in today’s challenging market.
Interested in learning more about the CVP Automated Packaging Solution?
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