LEAN packaging strategies

Where inefficiency lies, so does opportunity

Warehouse employee using a computer tablet

Built on the 5S methodology of Sort, Set in Order, Shine, Standardize, and Sustain, LEAN is an operational excellence methodology that focuses on value through elimination of waste. This includes both surface-level and hidden waste in all areas of your operations – labor, effort, space, transportation, defects, processing, and more. Innovative companies in manufacturing, fulfillment, and retail leverage LEAN to optimize packaging materials and labor. The result? New efficiencies, decreased costs, long-term growth, and value creation.1

Looking beyond material cost

Material cost reduction is a by-product of LEAN, but that is certainly not the sole benefit.1 Jarrad Krueger, Certified LEAN Advisor with Veritiv, states, “LEAN helps you look beyond packaging material costs to uncover inefficiencies. It’s about using the right materials while ensuring that waste, in its many forms, is expelled from the supply chain. Emphasis is put on reduction of complexity, motion, and inventories, to name a few, by utilizing the right product for each application.”

SKU consolidation is a primary avenue for material waste and cost reduction. Krueger says, “We seek to thoroughly understand a company’s manufacturing or handling processes. We then identify common denominators in the packaging and handling of these products to drive larger volume amongst fewer SKUs. This exercise identifies ways to reduce the complexity of an operation, lower inventory on hand, and leverage larger orders to hit lower price points.”

Paying the price for wasted space

In addition to addressing labor waste, reducing on hand inventory through just-in-time delivery helps make the production or warehouse floor easier to navigate and frees up space for more important items. Taking a fresh look at what is in stock and what that space could mean for a company is an example of a LEAN opportunity. Rent and freight space cost increases can shift a company’s focus to maximizing every square foot of a facility.

Formatted text representing a point made in the contentThe trickledown effect of overproduction

Producing too much during the manufacturing process can lead to warehouse space issues and challenges moving other materials throughout the location. As excess inventory sits idle it is also more susceptible to breakage, damage, and loss. And it’s often a by-product of the batch processing mentality. A company that has significant raw material inventory is more likely to process it all instead of level-loading production to match demand. If a just-in-time philosophy is adopted, production will naturally start to eliminate overproduction.

LEAN packaging yields a variety of long-term benefits that are not always apparent.1 Looking at things from different perspectives, and working with a packaging partner with LEAN expertise, is key to uncovering waste throughout your operations. 


IndustryWeek: The Unseen Advantages of Adopting LEAN Manufacturing Principles (2018). Retrieved from http://www.industryweek.com/leadership/unseen-advantages-adopting-lean-manufacturing-principles