Automotive Customer

DS Smith Packaging Division, strategically located for the automotive industry, specialise in providing innovative automotive packaging solutions for the car industry. We design and manufacture a wide range of packaging products which are supplied to most of the major vehicle manufacturers

Automotive packaging problem to solve;

A manufacturer of automotive steering columns supplying to the OE (Original Equipment) and Aftermarket sectors, throughout Europe and Asia, was packing in traditional metal edged plywood boxes. 36 steering columns were packed into each box in a horizontal "cradle" arrangement, supported by internal foam and polystyrene fitments. Whilst the container was providing effective protection for the automotive parts during transit, occasional damage was incurred during the loading and unloading process at the manufacturer and their customers. The damage was caused, as by its very nature, steering columns are flexible so manual handling meant that sometimes operators would pick them up in the middle and the ends would drop down – sometimes coming into contact with other products and the rigid metal edged packing box itself.

DS Smith Packaging Division Automotive packaging solution;

A fresh design approach was required to improve upon a packaging design that had been used for many years and where a level of damage and returns was just accepted as "normal" but which was actually costing our customer a lot of money, both actual and hidden, due to wasted time and remakes.

Our automotive packaging solution was to study the packing and unpacking process and fully understand how damages could be eliminated and how we could also help our customer by streamlining the packing process and also making it easier for their customer to unload.

A radical design was proposed whereby the columns would be packed vertically instead of horizontally, suspended by a top die cut cardboard pad, from which individual steering columns would be suspended within their own cardboard cell structure. Allowing the steering columns to bend naturally during transportation and yet containing them within individual cardboard cells also meant that scuffing damage and marking of the product was eliminated, which had been a consequence of packing them horizontally within a rigid box design as before.

DS Smith Packaging Division Automotive benefit for our customer;

The packing and unpacking process has been reduced by 23 minutes from 45 minutes to 22 minutes, which means a significant increase in production output is now possible, as the packing "bottleneck" has now been opened up.

Packing and unpacking damage has now been eliminated and when the product arrives at the automotive manufacturer, the columns are simply lifted out individually from their cardboard cells of the bulk package, without the need to remove layers of foam and polystyrene packaging in between.

Waste packaging of different types has been reduced down to one component – heavy duty corrugated cardboard, which means the waste stream and recycling process has been made significantly more efficient. Previously, our customers customer had to dispose of Plywood, Metal, Polystyrene, cardboard and foam packaging!

The price of our heavy duty cardboard packaging solution was 4% cheaper than the plywood box it replaced, but the improved packing benefits, packing time reduction and opportunity to increase production output are the real advantages and outcomes of us listening to our customer, understanding their problems and developing an effective automotive packing solution.