Posted on May 24, 2011 by Dennis Salazar

Reducing Corrugated Use through Proper Design

Many people believe the only way to reduce corrugated usage is by buying and using fewer boxes. While that is certainly one approach, a better and more effective one is making sure you are packing and shipping the best style of container for your product and application.

When RSC Boxes Are NOT the Best Design

Recently, we have encountered several applications for large, relatively low profile products such as unassembled furniture and picture frames. In each case, people were shipping product in oversized, low profiled RSC style boxes with large overlapping layers of redundant corrugated board.

The problem, of course, is that the four flaps on top and bottom of any RSC style box typically do little but add cost. You could almost excuse the extra cost if it delivered better protection to the product, but sadly, in most cases it does not. The two large major flaps coming together in the middle of the box essentially create a weak joint on the box, especially if they are not taped well. The large spans of unsupported corrugated also make the design very susceptible to crushing and corner damage.

The Advantages of End or Side Load, Full Overlap (FOL) Boxes

Low profile RSC style boxFar less board is required for a side or end load box, making it a very green and very economical design option. We recently reviewed an application for a customer using a 30” X 30” X 4-1/2”-high RSC style box. That design uses almost 30 square feet of corrugated board per box. By converting it to an end load, FOL box with dimensions of 30” X 4-1/2” X 30”-high, we were able to reduce it to less than 19 square feet. This results in a whopping savings and corrugated reduction of more than 36%.

What is often lost in a comparison like this is the fact that a low profile FOL box is much stronger than an RSC of the same dimensions. The narrower flaps completely overlap, creating what is essentially a double wall box that provides extra strength on the two ends where you most need it. This overlap also provides increased support on the corners where a low profile package is most vulnerable.

In addition, please keep in mind that every corrugated box is only as strong as the tape used to seal it, and an FOL box is much easier and quicker to seal, usually with much less tape. So you can add lower labor and tape cost to the comparison as well.

As always, we suggest a complete application review because there are most certainly situations when an RSC style box may be advantageous, such as when the product would be difficult to handle or end load. However, in MOST cases you can save money and deliver a greener, low profile package to your customers if you are able to utilize an end or side load FOL shipping box rather than a standard RSC style container.