Knowing how to optimize transportation costs is of great importance in sectors such as the food industry, since due to the globalization of the economy, food products are increasingly transported over longer distances. This fact has led companies in this sector to implement strategies to improve the efficiency of logistics processes.
Among them, several strategies are focused on achieving optimal transportation costs. In this article, we analyze how to optimize transportation costs and the role of packaging in reducing these costs.
Besides, a look at a case study in which we explain how Safe Load Testing Technologies has helped a banana company to optimize its transportation costs.
The importance of transportation in the food packaging industry
Transportation for food companies today presents at least two specific problems:
- Price increases in logistics, derived from a transport industry under continuous stress (with the added problem of lack of personnel for road transport) and rising fuel prices.
- Increased and more complex consumer demand for shipping. It is estimated that 10% of food purchases will be made through online modes by 2022. This is forcing major adaptation efforts on the part of food production and distribution companies.
These current problems are compounded by the complexities arising from the food products themselves. These loads are particularly sensitive to the threats of the distribution cycle, such as physical-mechanical forces (vibrations, shocks, falls…), atmospheric changes and biological factors (mold, pests…).
Moreover, the lack of protection for food commodities has led to an unsustainable situation in terms of food waste: the UN Food and Agriculture Organization estimates that around one third of food intended for human consumption is lost or becomes waste (around 40%). This represents an annual loss of $940 billion dollars for companies.
Moreover, these figures are not only economically inefficient for companies, but also have a significant environmental and social impact that companies are working to address.
In this sense, transportation cost optimization in the food sector involves designing a system capable of protecting the load against these problems, using the right resources and reducing costs.
At this point, the question is how to optimize transportation costs without putting the transported goods at risk. Some of the actions that companies can take to achieve optimal transportation costs include
- Testing new modes or routes of transport: shipping is generally cheaper than air transport, while rail routes can sometimes be cheaper than trucking. It may also be worthwhile to study intermodal transport models (combining several different modes).
At this point, it is important to take into account the periodically updated ATP agreement, which regulates the regulations regarding the transport of food products to ensure their safety.
- Studying other modes of transport: space optimization in transportation can play an important role in transportation cost optimization. Therefore, other shipping modes such as less-than-truckload (LTL), full-truckload shipping (FTL) or groupage of goods can be considered to make transportation cost-effective.
- Greater transparency in logistics and supply chains: it is estimated that more efficient supply chains could help reduce food waste by 240 billion euros.
- Packaging optimization: the right packaging is able to ensure cargo safety and avoid food waste. In addition, solutions such as smart packaging can play an important role in enhancing the visibility in logistics mentioned in the previous point.
How to optimize transportation costs thanks to an efficient food packaging system
Whether you decide to choose new transport modes or routes, or especially if you decide to redesign your packaging solutions, it is essential to carry out transport simulation tests on the packaged product to be transported.
The testing of food packaging allows verifying that it is able to withstand the hazards of the distribution cycle and provides adequate protection to the products during this process. Therefore, it allows optimizing inefficiencies such as an inadequate choice of packaging, an incorrect pallet arrangement, wasted products and thus to achieve transportation cost optimization.
Some of the transport simulation equipment that allows to perform these tests and achieve optimal transportation costs are:
> Drop test
The drop tester simulates flat drops, edges and corners that can affect the packaging during the distribution cycle, jeopardizing the safety of the goods.
> Clamp test
The clamp tester system measures the protective capacity of the packaging when it is subjected to horizontal pressure forces, typical of automatic storage systems.
> Vibration test
During transport and distribution, packages are subjected to vibrations that compromise their integrity. In order to prevent these problems and design a packaging capable of resisting these vibrations, it is essential to carry out vibration test protocols, whether they are international associations such as ISTA, or own tests. To carry out the vibration tests, vertical vibration systems or vibration + Pitch & Roll systems can be used, capable of carrying out simulations closer to reality.
> Inclined test
The inclined impact test evaluates the ability of the packaging system to withstand horizontal impacts or compression forces. These tests are carried out with inclined impact equipment that, thanks to the force of gravity, simulates the impacts suffered by the load during the distribution cycle.
> Compression test
Thanks to the compression tester, it is possible to check the ability of a package to withstand the compression forces that occur during the storage and transport of stacked goods.
How to optimize transportation costs: a customer case study
More and more companies are concerned about improving their logistics processes in order to reduce wastage and other costs associated with the transport of food products.
Thanks to transportation simulation tests, many of these companies are able to obtain information on how to optimize transportation costs and how to optimize their packaging to improve the protection of their products by using the right packaging.
Safe Load Testing Technologies has been involved in several packaging optimization processes with customers from different sectors such as stretch film, ceramics or beverages.
On this occasion, we would like to share the significant improvements achieved by a company dedicated to the production of bananas thanks to the optimization of its packaging, using the transport simulation equipment manufactured by Safe Load TT.
Packaging optimization process using transport simulation equipment
The packaging optimization process carried out by the banana producing and marketing company started from an initial situation in which losses were occurring due to the use of inadequate packaging. After an analysis of the packaging used, the truck and the distribution route, it was concluded that the packaging was not able to withstand the vibrations produced during road transport.
In this initial situation, the costs of a box of bananas amounted to 13.87€. If we add to this the 5% losses plus the 5% replacement cost, the cost of the losses per box amounted to €1.387 (amounting to €1.017 in costs per kilo).
In order to reduce packaging losses and achieve optimal transportation costs, it was decided to modify the packaging and perform several vibration simulation tests to check its protective capacity.
The new packaging system entailed a small increase in the cost per case due to the use of slightly more expensive packaging materials, which in turn had an impact on the cost per case, which increased to €13.92. However, this increase was more than offset by improvements in food safety due to the new packaging. Thus, the amount of losses was reduced by 3%, as were the replacement costs (3%). The cost of losses per case fell to €0.835, while the cost per kilo was €0.984.
These figures translated into significant annual savings:
- Waste costs declined from 3.7 million to 2.2 million
- The company achieved savings of €1,300,000 per year, increasing its profit margins by 2.8%.
Benefits of Vertical Vibration System to optimize transportation costs
In the study on how to optimize transportation costs, we detected that significant damage was occurring to the goods due to the vertical vibrations produced during the transportation of bananas.
Therefore, transportation cost optimization necessarily involved providing adequate protection against this threat through the right packaging system.
To test the suitability of the chosen packaging solution, a vertical vibration system was used. Among the advantages of this system are:
- Possibility to obtain a customized design
- Independent controls
- Potential installation of the Pitch&Roll system, including pitch and roll motions
- Possibility of use in a climatic chamber
- Ability to reproduce the PSD of the actual distribution cycle vibrations recorded by the Data Recorder system
Do you want to know more about how to optimize transportation costs thanks to packaging optimization? Safe Load Testing Technologies has more than two decades of experience in the research and development of new methods and equipment to optimize packaging systems through transport simulation. Contact us and let’s talk about how we can help you.