Packaging Corner: Move from component-based to system-based design

Unit-load design software can improve the performance of an entire packaging system while simultaneously reducing cost and modifying the pallet design as needed.

By ·

After more than 30 years of applied research, Marshall White—professor emeritus and former director of Virginia Tech’s Center for Packaging and Unit Load Design—developed Best Load, a design and structural analysis tool that allows users to optimize unit loads.

“Whether that be from a structural standpoint by predicting the unitized stress distribution, or the compression strength of the packaging, or the strength and stiffness of the pallet, Best Load models an existing or a prototype unit load and identifies any areas of under- or over-design,” explains Braden White, executive director of Marshall White’s packaging research and consulting firm, White & Company.

The software, offered for annual lease, allows supply chains to focus more sharply on the performance and cost of the packaging system, as opposed to considering solely pallet performance and cost, White continues.

“Best Load applies a variety of methods to improve the performance of an entire packaging system while simultaneously reducing cost and modifying the pallet design as needed,” he says. “There’s been a movement among companies away from component-based to systems-based design—designing multiple elements in unison to create the optimal unit load prior to field trialing and implementation.”

Using sophisticated 3D space-frame finite element analysis (FEA) models, the tool predicts the mechanical interactions between the packaging system, pallet and storage/handing conditions, and the compression stress distribution at the pallet deck interface. The lower the stress, the greater the opportunity to bolster performance and reduce costs, White adds, noting that users typically reduce packaging costs from 8% to 18%.

In addition to providing a greater understanding of a given pallet design’s strength and stiffness, Best Load also predicts the strength of corrugated distribution packaging options and how each will react under the intended, compressive load.

“It can also be used to maximize the efficiency of packaging orientations on pallets and unit-load layouts inside any shipper,” White adds. “Once the container style is selected, Best Load sets a default load limit—which can be modified as needed—then cubes out or weighs out the chosen shipper with multiple layout solutions. It also displays the dimensions of any void spaces within the layout, making it easy to specify dunnage.”

About the Author

Sara Pearson Specter
Sara Pearson Specter has written articles and supplements for Modern Materials Handling and Material Handling Product News as an Editor at Large since 2001. Specter has worked in the fields of graphic design, advertising, marketing, and public relations for nearly 20 years, with a special emphasis on helping business-to-business industrial and manufacturing companies. She owns her own marketing communications firm, Sara Specter, Marketing Mercenary LLC. Clients include companies in a diverse range of fields, including materials handing equipment, systems and packaging, professional and financial services, regional economic development and higher education. Specter graduated from Centre College in Danville, Ky. with a bachelor’s degree in French and history. She lives in Oregon’s Willamette Valley where she and her husband are in the process of establishing a vineyard and winery.

Subscribe to Modern Materials Handling Magazine!

Subscribe today. It's FREE!
Find out what the world’s most innovative companies are doing to improve productivity in their plants and distribution centers.
Start your FREE subscription today!

Latest Whitepaper
Southworth Brouchure Shows Practical Applications of Ergonomics
This little booklet done in comic book style uses simple illustrations to take readers on a walk through a hypothetical, yet typical, plant where the plant manager, safety director, and controller point out a variety of problems that were solved through the practical application of ergonomics.
Download Today!
From the January 2019 Modern Material Handling Issue
One of Canada’s largest retail brands took bulk handling to new levels of automation and efficiency at its new Ontario DC.
Inside Canadian Tire Distribution Center: Design for flexibility
Continuous improvement in action
View More From this Issue
Subscribe to Our Email Newsletter
Sign up today to receive our FREE, weekly email newsletter!
Latest Webcast
The Impact of e-Commerce on an Organization’s Fulfillment Operations
This exclusive research study, conducted by Modern Materials Handling on behalf of Honeywell, investigates the consequences e-commerce has on an organization’s fulfillment operation.
Register Today!
Systems Report: Bulking up at Canadian Tire
One of Canada’s largest retail brands took bulk handling to new levels of automation and...
Resilience and innovation at Gap Inc.
Just months before the start of the 2016 holiday season, one of Gap Inc.’s distribution centers...

System Report: Luxottica keeps it simple
Simplification and consolidation drove the design of a new 1.1-million-square-foot logistics campus...
Goya Foods’ secret ingredient: Lift trucks
The leader in Hispanic food and beverage products puts a variety of lift trucks and racks to work in...