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Santa gets packing

Santa gets packing, by S Claus

As Founder and CEO of the world’s oldest global home delivery service, I have always taken a keen interest in how our gifts are packaged. After all, the magic of a gift is all in the presentation, and I’m sure that each and every one of you will remember the excitement of receiving one of my gifts. Remember that wonderful train set, that teddy bear with the twinkle in it’s eyes? Ah yes, of course you do.

Well, I have to be frank with you. Over the last 25 years, or so, packaging has become quite a monumental task, requiring more and more elves, and each year the numbers are growing. It’s ever since the World Wide Web and all those emailed ‘letters to Santa’.

Increasingly, it was becoming difficult getting the right sized boxes for an ever-wider array of gifts – clothes, toys, home-goods, tools… the list was endless, and I’ve checked it twice! My SKU numbers were going through the roof and I was ordering so many different types of boxes I had nowhere to put them all.

Anyway, having read a very informative article, in this very publication, on how fit-to-size automated packaging machines can miraculously make a perfectly sized box for each and every gift at incredible speeds, I decided it was about time to embrace progress.

After due deliberation with Ms. Claus and the elves, I recently invested in the CVP Automated Packaging Systems from Quadient, which certainly ticks all the boxes, ho ho ho!

These very clever machines use 3D scanning to cut, fold, glue and label corrugate boxes ‘to size’ around single or multiple items – a toy aeroplane, a rag doll or even something appropriate for Mum and Dad. This not only pleases my ‘customers’ (who, except for the tiniest, want presents, not cardboard) but it cuts our board use by up to 50% and eliminates void fill – especially those ghastly polystyrene beads. And that’s a big plus for the environment too.

Cutting out waste reduces our costs, and as a ‘not for profit’ service I have to have rigorous cost control, but it also furthers our longstanding green agenda as well. Of course, there’s a little self-interest here as we certainly don’t want the Polar ice sheets melting any further!

Although I personally visit every home, I actually contract out a lot of the ‘heavy lifting’ to conventional carriers. I don’t want to pay them to ship fresh air, and they need to maximise productive use of the ‘cube’ if they are to meet their green targets. Also, smaller, perfectly sized packages have helped boost our brand image and the number of parcels that we can carry by sleigh.

What’s more, right-sized packaging has really helped me in negotiating ever-narrower chimneys. Whatever was I thinking of, using those oversized boxes filled will polystyrene!

Operationally too, Quadient’s CVP has been a boon. We are of course the very definition of a seasonal industry. At full flow, a CVP Everest can make 1,100 boxes an hour, which is truly impressive, but I am still seeing a healthy ROI even in what counts for us as the off-season. It’s just what I needed to confidently meet peak volume. Otherwise, I could have an awful lot of disappointed children looking into empty stockings and that just wouldn’t do.

Productivity is as important to us as every other enterprise operating in the peak Christmas season. A single CVP Automated Packaging line replaces up to 20 elf packing stations, so I’ve been able to redeploy many of the elves into more value-adding and enjoyable roles, like toy making.

So Quadient’s CVP Everest and CVP Impack have helped us achieve economic and environmental goals while ensuring that, whatever you read in the papers, as far as we are concerned Christmas will definitely not be cancelled.

Merry Christmas to you all!

Santa

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