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Writing Good Box Specifications (Part 1)

Each month during our Packaging Workshop, users of corrugated packaging will invariably raise issues of boxes collapsing in the warehouse, jamming up in automated case erectors, or exhibiting visible defects such as warp and skew.  Sometimes a box from one supplier works well, while another supplier's box with the same certification stamp might perform marginally or fail miserably.  More often than not, the discussion migrates its way into a complaint session about corrugated industry quality in general.  

While corrugated quality is an issue that can demand considerable time at these seminars, attempts are made to steer the conversation toward more productive avenues ... in particular, packaging specifications.  Well-crafted specifications are, in fact, a user's front line of defense against corrugated packaging that doesnథrform, and against recurring quality problems that elevate the cost of using corrugated boxes.  Proper use of good specifications can also improve the purchasing process by eliminating me-too salesmanship and focusing the process on actual performance needs.  The worst mistake many purchasing agents make when entertaining new suppliers is giving the corrugated salesperson a box sample from which to quote.  A single box sample given to five different corrugated sales people will likely yield five different box quotes, most of which will fall short of actual performance needs in one respect or another.

Having bantered about quality issues and box specifications with several hundred users over the last few years has provided a pretty good starting point, a sort of template for corrugated specifications.  This template is built on a few rules, enumerated below, which should not be ignored ....

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Revised: November 10, 2002 .