Lean Manufacturing and Packaging

What does packaging and crating have to do with lean manufacturing?  To answer that question one first must consider what lean manufacturing is.   There are many tools that tend to fall under the umbrella of lean manufacturing such as 5-S work place organization, total productive maintenance, statistical process control,  kan ban and single minute die change over.   Perhaps the universal definition of lean manufacturing is the prevention and elimination of waste, where waste is any material or activity that does not directly contribute to the value of the product.

Materials used for packaging, storage and transportation are to a large extent waste. The packaging, while extremely important does not add to or enhance the functionality of the product.  But in most cases eliminating packaging is just not feasible.  However, there are several principles that can significantly reduce the cost:

  • Combining functionality:  What if you had one container for pre production storage, another container for in process manufacturing, another container for final storage and yet another container for shipping?  What if you could combine the functionality of all those containers in to one container?  You would save money on containers and even handling.  Furthermore, you could review what your customer does to the container when they receive it.  Are there opportunities to combine functionality and eliminate handling? 
  • Reusability:  Does the packaging container get thrown away when it reaches it shipping destination?  Why not reuse it?  Some packaging containers are expensive, so using them over makes sense both from a cost and an environmental standpoint.  Packnet has a large selection of standard and custom design reusable packaging solutions.
  • Design optimization:  Simply stated the packaging cost can be reduced by design and engineering a better solution.

Packnet knows that while you will never be able to eliminate packaging, the potential for cost reduction can be significant.