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Logistics & Fulfilment

Australia pushing the boundaries with bubble wrap innovation

Australia is the first large-scale test market for a new inflatable bubble wrap, which its makers say will disrupt the freight industry.

Sealed Air, the original seller of bubble wrap, has developed Bubble Wrap IB, a packaging solution which can be inflated on site.

The product made headlines last year such as “Revamped bubble wrap losing its pop” and, more dramatically, “The powers that be are taking the pop out of Bubble Wrap because they hate us”.

“We really do believe it is the reinvention of bubble wrap and it’s delivering a lot of value,” Ken Chrisman, global president of Sealed Air product care division, told Internet Retailing.

“We still make the traditional stuff, but the new product really is revolutionary for all the right consumer reasons. It may not be as fun to pop but it is extraordinarily efficient and effective and it really reimagines air cellular technology, which was the technology which enabled small parcel shipments to begin with.”

Sealed Air is currently testing the product with Australian clients. As opposed to pre-inflated bubble wrap, Bubble Wrap IB is “packaging on demand” which can be inflated the warehouse or store prior to shipping.

According to Chrisman, 47 truck loads of regular bubble wrap equals one truck load of the new un-inflated bubble wrap.

Chrisman was in Australia earlier this month meeting with e-commerce clients to discuss methods to keep shipping cost as low as possible in proportion to the order value.

“When we are talking to e-commerce customers much of what we are talking about is automation, because obviously labour is expensive in Australia and we want to make sure they use the optimal amount of labour to support fulfilment, particularly when you are talking about peak season,” Chrisman said.

One example of automation is Sealed Air’s B+ equipment which adjusts the height of a packing box based on the size of items in the box.

The size of boxes not only tells a sustainability story, but also insures against any change from the carriers to introduce DIM pricing – calculating shipping costs based on weight and product dimension.

“We are starting to see some inkling that local carriers might get into DIM weight pricing, where you are actually looking at the weight and the dimension of an item to determine what that freight weight would be,” Chrisman said.

He added that unlike Europe and the US, DIM weight pricing “isn’t as critical here yet because e-commerce is not straining the small parcel network yet.”

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