Shipping in blankets a hit

October 20, 2008
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Shipping in boxes is as ordinary as a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. But Haworth Inc. and Perkins Logistics are doing something out of the ordinary: Instead of boxes, they are using blankets for packaging.

The new method of packaging and shipping products that are wrapped with reusable blankets adds about 15 percent to the cost because of additional labor and reusable equipment. Still, the increase in the number of items that can be shipped per load averages 65 percent, which offsets the other added costs.

Perkins Logistics implements straps, bars and plywood tiers to ship the blanketed products. Because there is such a large increase in the amount of product shipped per load, the blankets-instead-of-boxes method also reduces carbon dioxide emissions by 20 percent per pound shipped.

A two-month study was done at Haworth’s Bruce, Miss., plant to determine if and how the reusable blankets would be effective.

“Packaging methods play a significant role in shipping efficiencies,” said Henry Oosterhouse, global transportation manager for Haworth. “But only after conducting a thorough investigation did we determine that a few fundamental changes in this area could also help reduce one element of the total carbon footprint of our products, taken over their useful lives.”

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