Thinking Outside the Box

Photo by Ndungukamau via Wikimedia Commons

Boxes have always been a primary to any successful business. Whenever you have to move anything from one place to another and you want it to arrive in the same condition that it was sent, a box usually offers the ideal solution.

The problem is that today there aren’t just one or two kinds of boxes. There are literally hundreds of box types that can be used for transporting products or parts. And the difference isn’t just size. It’s always material type, shape, and more.

Cardboard Boxes

When most people think of boxes, they usually think of the ordinary brown cardboard box. And the cardboard box is probably still the most common type of box used by businesses. Companies that delivery a lot of different kinds of materials lots of places — such as Amazon, UPS, or DHL, for example — go through literally millions of cardboard boxes per month.

Cardboard has the advantage of being recyclable, which is of primary importance to a lot of business and customers. But generally, cardboard boxes can only be used once before they have to be remade as a brand new box. This recycling process takes a lot of steps — from the baler to the recycler to the cardboard box plant — that can take a long time before the box is reintroduced into the supply chain. And each step requires more energy, which undercuts the original purpose of recycling.

Other Types of Boxes

As a result, many businesses today are using sturdier more rigid boxes that can be used again and again without having to be put into the recycling process. Boxes made of hard plastic can be used to ship materials in all directions in the supply chain, from the manufacturer to the distributor, from the distributor to the retailer, and from the retailer back to the manufacturer.

They also are often stackable and lightweight, reducing shipping costs and saving costly truck space.

Wooden boxes are another option for some types of businesses. While wood is more costly than cardboard or plastic, it has absorbing properties that make it ideal for transporting delicate and fragile materials, such as glass bottles.

Wood is also tough. It can take a beating and still be used multiple times as it passes through the supply chain.

Boxes aren’t going anywhere anytime soon. They are an effective and important tool in transporting materials. But the types of boxes used by businesses is always evolving.

 

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