How to package large items for shipping?

4 January, 2022
3 minute read
Share article
Image: ship

While freight rates, storage and port fees all play a major part in the cost of ocean shipping, in many ways the key component for optimising container usage is the packaging, which affects shipping costs, product quality and Co²-footprint, among other aspects.

In the global distribution chain, automotive packaging is normally made for one-way ocean transport because of the prohibitive costs of returning it. Given the effective protection offered at a relatively low cost, wooden pallet crates and boxes, or corrugated boxes or sleeves on pallets, are most commonly used. While wood is both cheaper than metal solutions and highly resilient, stackable and suitable for various climate zones, it has several disadvantages over corrugated solutions, which are generally suitable for top loads of up to one ton.

Heavy duty corrugated board is the most lightweight solution for this kind of application and is very durable. For one-way shipping concepts, it is the most cost-efficient and space and resource-saving material for packing and shipping goods. Overall, it is the most customisable and easy-to-handle solution. Nevertheless, identifying the type of packaging that best fits your needs requires an analysis of your product, distribution complexity, relevant climate zones and mode of transport.

Another important consideration apart from the type of packaging itself, however, is often its impact on the load factor – the ratio between the actual or average amount loaded in a container and the maximum amount that can be loaded. The expansion of international supply chains, which has recently given rise to backlogs in ports, has increased the pressure on managers to maximise the use of ocean containers when shipping automotive and machine parts around the world.

Corrugated board is fully customisable and, even within standard dimensions, can help to increase the number of items shipped in the same space, so that it can tap the full potential of possible freight cost reduction. Corrugated is also a sensible solution for particularly heavy items because with other materials the maximum gross weight is often reached before the container is full, which rules out stacking. Thanks to wet strength gluing of the board, in sea freight applications, corrugated solutions retain the structural integrity of the packaging over a period of weeks in moist climates and when exposed to condensation.

Wood or corrugated, or even a hybrid solution?

Hybrid crates consisting of both corrugated board and wood can help to reduce costs without compromising protection, even with relatively large top load weights. For certain items and specific journeys, we can create a sturdy wooden base and use corrugated fibreboard for the sides (sleeve) and top. Sometimes a plywood panel is used to provide additional stability. Another solution is to reinforce a corrugated board construction with wooden slats placed around it as an additional frame.

One example is Mondi’s stac-pac solution. It is a hybrid crate that minimises gross weight – particularly cost-effective in air freight – and is capable of reducing material costs as well. Many of our customers are surprised to learn that corrugated board can be used in multiple supply cycles without sacrificing protection. In some instances – again in air freight in particular – wooden pallets can even be replaced by corrugated pallets, which further reduces costs and eases the supply chain complexity within your shipping system.

Wooden boxes and crates either occupy precious warehouse space before use or, if purchased in a ready-to-assemble condition, increase labour costs. They also entail the risk of injury, typically when they are being lifted or assembled using nails. Although corrugated CKD designs can be fairly large when packed, clever design allows them to be delivered as slim kits for easy assembly in a short time and with little resources.

Packaging solutions for large or heavy products.

More on industrial packaging

Discover our easy to use, lightweight and recyclable packaging for large or heavy products. See industrial packaging in a whole new light.

Products & Solutions
Corrugated packaging
Flexible Packaging
Share article

You might also be interested in...