Engineering Better Shipping Boxes for Holiday Shoppers

At Georgia-Pacific’s Innovation Institute, corrugated boxes are stress-tested to handle the pressure of holiday deliveries using less shipping material.

November 27, 2017

Your Black Friday is getting a little browner.

That’s because, last year, more Americans did their Thanksgiving weekend shopping online (108.5 million) than at traditional brick-and-mortar stores (99.1 million).* And more online sales creates a growing need for strong, reliable brown boxes to get all those holiday gifts from retailers’ distribution centers to your doorstep.

With the 2017 holiday shopping season set to take off after Thanksgiving, Georgia-Pacific, a paper company owned by Koch Industries, is actively working with its customers to use less of the very shipping material it makes. 

Just outside of Atlanta, scientists at Georgia-Pacific’s Innovation Institute are putting corrugated boxes through packaging boot camp for some of the world’s biggest retailers and e-tailers. The objective is to develop the toughest boxes possible for Georgia-Pacific’s customers’ unique needs without overpackaging. By using less material, boxes are naturally lighter and can be designed to take up less space while maintaining strength, two critical elements that factor into fuel usage, storage fees and shipping costs.

In a controlled lab, the team can simulate the vibration of a cross-country trip in a matter of hours or analyze the structural integrity of a box in a delivery truck through the harsh elements of its trip to your doorstep. The facility also has three different environmental chambers that replicate freezing cold conditions or extreme heat and humidity to assess how packaging would hold up in varying conditions.

“Our customers are trying to use less packaging material yet still protect their products across the entire supply chain. So, it’s about providing them with more opportunity to use less material, but with a better box,” said Pat Smorch, director of packaging technology at Georgia-Pacific.

To further help customers improve shipping efficiency, Georgia-Pacific even developed its own proprietary algorithm called CubeLogic®. This algorithm analyzes a customer’s shipping data, then determines the optimal size and quantity of boxes needed to ship products most efficiently and cost-effectively.

To learn more about Georgia-Pacific’s dedication to packaging innovation, click here.

*National Retail Federation, "Retailers Made Black Friday Irresistible for Consumers with Great Deals, Online and In-Store" 2016.