Furniture Packaging


Meeting a global demand, the brand relies on in-house expertise in product and packaging engineering.

A leading provider of furnishings and building products to a global marketplace, this client interest represents a family of brands in workplace and residential furnishings. Many of these top-of-the-line products are headlined by brand names well-known to the architecture and interior design industries for their elegant sophistication, durability, and versatility. From a headquarters in Muscatine, Iowa, these products are fabricated at 17 different U.S. manufacturing facilities and one in Mumbai, India, and sold worldwide through many different distribution channels.

Corporate processes are aimed at providing maximum leverage and flexibility to create value within each of their brands while centralizing key functions including manufacturing, logistics, purchasing, and IT. They rely heavily on automation of process, high volumes of quality product, ease of use, and practical commonalities that can be uniformly applied across many different lines and product types. Understanding the particulars of a multi-channel distribution process is an ongoing effort that requires reacting to a wide range of circumstantial challenges deriving from the increasing demands of an ever-changing global economy.

Molded polystyrene from Atlas Molded Products plays a significant role in the big-picture logistics of routinely shipping thousands of units of furniture all over the world. Molded polystyrene foam, well-regarded for its capacity to serve as protective packaging, is used product pack-outs for transport over a wide range of shipping solutions.

Challenges

Packaging high-end furnishings for damage-free distribution to a global marketplace is a process that can be as intense as fabricating the furniture itself. Importantly, like all commercially packaged products, each of the company’s many packaging configurations must pass material drop tests following guidelines established by the International Safe Transit Association (ISTA). These tests are designed to challenge the strength and robustness of the package/product combination through simulated environmental occurrences like accidental drops during transit. Proving that packaging meets these objectives through independent or validated in-house testing provides claims protection against bulk shippers in the event of damaged product.

Since virtually all of this client’s products are distributed by others, the challenge of damaged product due to shipping, unfortunately, can also lead to a damaged reputation for the brand behind the product. Successful transit solutions rely on precision packaging to counter the impacts of what can be less than ideal handling. To secure the payload, packing inserts must be created to correspond to both product and container to eliminate movement by making voids solid. As new products are developed, existing products modified, and the broader business and transit environments continue to evolve, packaging becomes ever-more specific to a singular application.

With an immense volume and array of desks, chairs, tables, wall units, and many other products derived from a family of eight different furniture lines, distributors are challenged to maintain a steady supply of packaging materials for on-the-hour deliveries that facilitate just-in-time pack-outs.

Finally, as the world’s virtually connected, global economy continues to grow, there are small but significant shifts in business processes and transit tactics that have upstream consequences. More and more, products are reaching a first-buyer destination, only to be resold through a secondary market like eBay or Amazon. Many of these secondary transactions involve additional shipping processes, possible product repackaging, or other circumstantial variables that had not been accounted for in the original packaging specification. In some cases, this is leading to excessive volumes of damaged product and possibly broader consequences in brand degradation.

Solutions

Molded polystyrene foam from Atlas Molded Products is an ideal packaging material for a wide range of products and applications. Well-known as a protective packaging and thermal insulation material, molded polystyrene is a closed-cell plastic that can be custom molded into intricate forms to create a durable protective shell that will fit snugly around virtually anything.

Working with the client and distribution partners, Atlas Molded Products serves as a packaging design resource dedicated to understanding specifics. Solid model drawings are used to develop precisely fitted foam inserts for everything from file cabinets to disassembled desks, chairs, and wall units. Creating inserts with the right cushioning properties requires consideration of the product’s specific size, shape, and weight, as well as distribution channels and drop tolerances. Passing transit testing for a pack-out is an iterative process typically requiring multiple test prototypes settle on the exact right solution.

Atlas is supplying a steady stream of material for every conceivable combination of multi-part SKU’s custom-fabricated pieces, and high-volume orders on a weekly basis to the distributors who move this client’s products. For each item, analysis and solution-building involve multiple considerations including size, weight, transportation method, and distribution network.

As the world reacts to a changing global marketplace and multi-tier distribution channels, the shipping game changes constantly, and pack-out solutions become increasingly critical. Balancing costs and quality control in response to increases in damaged products, Atlas is using specialized technology to further reduce product damage. Atlas’ ARCEL® material is made from an advanced combination of both polystyrene and polyethylene resins. Atlas’ ARCEL is exceptionally tough, flexible, durable, and lightweight. It creates a resilient foam that can be molded into intricate forms yet allows manufacturers to reduce the volume of packaging required to protect a product by as much as 40%. Decreasing the volume of protective packaging can begin a domino effect that cuts energy consumption in manufacturing, decreases fuel consumption throughout the supply chain, and reduces the final waste stream.

Atlas’ broad U.S. footprint of 16 facilities facilitates this client’s production and distribution processes nationwide to decrease travel times, shipping costs, and logistical complications wherever possible.

Conclusion

Product manufacturers of all sorts are challenged to react to a changing global marketplace where variables may be known or unforeseeable. For this large volume, multi-brand furniture manufacturer finding commonalities across the entire production and distribution cycle is imperative to offering premium products at competitive prices in a crowded market. Atlas Molded Products enters the equation as a reliable resource for effective, affordable, protective packaging able to be produced in large volumes or to custom specifications as part of a broader business solution. Atlas takes pride in helping clients think globally about shipping logistics to devise packaging that makes sense for today, tomorrow, and whatever is next.

ARCEL® is a registered trademark of NOVA Chemicals Inc

Large Protective Packaging Pieces