Commodity EDGE, Concluding the Festivities: Packaging, Indirect Spend and Beyond (Dispatch 14)

We're live blogging Commodity EDGE today and tomorrow. If you can't join us at the event, join us virtually on Spend Matters and MetalMiner.

It's been one crazy day here at Commodity EDGE. I've written something like eight dispatches so far and have spoken twice. Fortunately, we got the coffee service working today (somehow we dropped the ball on that yesterday). In total, approximately 100 delegates have showed up over both days, with roughly 80 today by my count today. Not a bad showing, but I would have liked to have even more folks attend (I'd say the same thing if we got 200 people mind you). Next time we'll hopefully double the size -- or more. Still, for our first event it's not bad, and the companies in attendance have been great. As important, the content has completely rocked. I'm biased, but I go to a million events where 50% of the material sucks. Here, maybe 10% has. And I mean it.

I'm currently sitting in on Bill Stotzer's session on packaging (and co-presenting with an indirect materials and labor forecast in a few moments behind him). Not only has Bill provided a forecast and outlook for the packaging market and examined the underlying trend drivers, but he's paraded a bunch of corrugated boxes out on stage to highlight how to reduce packaging by changing dimensions, structures and the like. The man could moonlight in a box folding competition. Great stuff. And I'll cover it fully later this week.

What types of results are possible from value engineering with corrugated boxes? By optimizing for load requirements, standardized liners, eliminating heavyweight liners and eliminating unbalanced board combinations, companies can save 5%. Add increasing scented flaps, and 3% more savings is possible. Swapping width and depth dimensions can bring 3% savings with minor equipment modification or 4% with supplier capital investment involved. So through value engineering, 15% savings is possible without touching raw material (e.g., linerboard) inputs.

Cool stuff. And a great event thus far. Thanks for reading (and attending, if you made it). We'll continue to cover a number of the presentations and break-outs later this week and next, including corrugated and indirect spend commodity pricing and demand forecasts.

- Jason Busch

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