Inside Logistics

Cartonizing software for dimensional pricing

Algorithm determines shipping carton size for packing efficiency and lower shipping costs


August 12, 2015
by MM&D Online Staff

Woodridge, Illinois—The Numina Group has released cartonization software that includes an advanced algorithm to determine the optimal shipping carton size for packing efficiency and low shipping costs. The software also works as an audit tool to detect discrepancies in planned versus actual dimensions on outbound shipments, a common source of expensive carrier charge backs.

Before order release, Numina’s cartonization software analyzes order data and calculates the optimal shipping carton size before orders are picked, making it possible for warehouse staff to pick directly into the final shipping carton rather than an interim picking tote. “This is the leanest pick method for the majority of picking applications,” said Dan Hanrahan, Numina Group’s CEO. “When shippers can eliminate the use of totes and the redundant repacking of orders, the efficiency gains and cost savings are tremendous.”

Numina’s intelligent carton cubing software can also verify full case pick to conveyor applications to validate picking and reduce shipping costs. According to Hanrahan, “One company with a large retail distribution operation estimates they will save over $300,000 in shipping costs by using our new cartonization software.”

Most legacy cartonization software is based on the fluid model, which simply adds up the item volumes and compares the sum to the total volume of the carton. “This software model typically requires specific rules for some SKUs so it requires higher software support and customization to produce reasonable results,” said Hanrahan. “For example, setting the fill factor too high will yield inaccurate cartonization results and expensive extra steps in the pick-and-pack process.”

Numina’s new cartonization software is based instead on a bin modeling algorithm that eliminates these limitations. It produces only SKU selection results that can truly fit into the selected carton size. It also much more closely achieves 100 percent fill ratios than fluid modeling solutions. The software can perform cartonization over any set of available containers and will optimize the total number and size of cartons to minimize shipping costs.

In addition to its “pick to carton” capabilities with built-in SKU and count validation, the software also works well to monitor planned versus actual dimensional weights on outbound shipments, and detect discrepancies due to pick errors or SKU changes. The software can be integrated with an in-line weighing and dimensioning system to verify expected carton size and weight as shipping cartons travel to the pack lines for document insertion, void fill and taping. This method can be used for split case picks and is extremely valuable for verifying full case picking.

The software, when integrated with an order fulfillment system, delivers real-time order inspection and results in more accurate LTL and parcel shipping costs. Shipping cost calculations are based on actual dimensional weight measurements, eliminating the risk of expensive charge backs or lost revenue.

Companies that ship a high percentage of full-case SKUs can use the software’s “learn mode” to on-line capture and learn full case SKU cube and weight. This eliminates the labour-intensive tasks of manual dimensional weight data collection. Additionally, once the SKU characteristics are learned, the software performs pick validation and can catch miss-picks in orders. This data can also be used to manage print and apply labeling of carrier or retail compliance shipping labels and improve other operations such as staging, storage space planning and cubing trailers for LTL or full truckload shipments.