Pallet Alliance has partnered with American Mask Alliance to create a safe, cost effective and efficient transport system for facemasks and all other PPE supplies. In this three part blog series we will review how analyzing the pallets, cases, boxes and unit load system lead to producing packaging and transport designs that work in unison to provide the lowest overall cost to palletize.
Part One: Background, Assessment, Identification and Analysis
American Mask Alliance approached Pallet Alliance with a need for pallets to ship cartons of masks to different sites across the U.S. Because this was a newly formed company that built a manufacturing presence and emerged in 2020, Pallet Alliance had the rare opportunity to help optimize their packaging and efficiency before they started shipping product. With no set pallet specs or shipping tendencies for the new product line, Pallet Alliance was free to help develop these with the customer.
Instead of just quoting common pallet sizes, we had the chance to dig deeper and consider many palletization options for the customer. We were able to examine the entire packaging spend, rather than focusing on sourcing the most inexpensive pallet.
The Pallet Alliance took the approach of evaluating the whole packaging spend by investigating the individual components of the unit load of masks (pallet, cartons, shipper boxes and material handling) to see how one change would affect the other components.
Specific Case Details:
American Mask Alliance sells surgical masks that are shipped to their customers through full unit loads. Masks are packed into cartons, cartons are then packed into a shipper box, and then shipper boxes are arranged on a pallet to be loaded into a truck for shipment.
Step one for the Pallet Alliance was to assess the above supply chain requirements and limitations. This helped us determine what packaging could be adjusted within the unit load. To find out this info, we asked questions like:
- What are the stacking height limitations in your supply chain?
- What regions are you shipping too?
- What warehouse storage methods do you use?
- Are there special customer requirements?
This information helped determine:
- The total weight the pallet will have to carry.
- The size/features the pallet would need to have.
- The total weight the bottom shipper box would have to hold.
- The safety factor that should be applied for stacking corrugated boxes given the customers supply chain.
This step created the engineering requirements the unit load would have to meet to ensure no product damage or unit load failures would occur. Having identified the performance requirements, Pallet Alliance had a framework to begin designing solutions. To identify potential design options to safely and cost effectively ship surgical masks, Pallet Alliance established we could change 1) pallet size; 2) box stacking pattern; and 3) corrugated box board grade.
In part two of blog, we will review engineering findings and potential solutions, compare pricing, and discuss TPAI’s perspective on the spend big picture.