Optimised cardboard box designs: a quick guide

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Cardboard boxes are one of the most popular packaging products in the world. Over 12 million tonnes of cardboard and paper are used each year in the UK alone. There are lots of different styles of corrugated cardboard boxes to choose from, as well as different board types and grades – so how do you know which cardboard box designs are best for your business?

It can often be easy to stick to what you know – if you’ve been using the same range of corrugated cardboard boxes in your operation for a while, it might seem like hard work changing them. Yet, optimised cardboard box designs can offer significant benefits. Well designed packaging can be the key to unlocking lower operating costs and reducing your impact on the environment…

In this article, we’ll explore the basics of cardboard boxes design, look at packaging optimisation and how the right box can transform your packing operation.


The basics of cardboard box design

Before we get into the nuances of packaging optimisation, let’s consider the basics of cardboard box design. What are the important things to consider?

  • The size –you’ll need to know the length, width and depth of the box you want. This is usually specified in millimetres.
  • The FEFCO box style – it’s great if you know the style of box you want, this is called a FEFCO code. FEFCO is the European Federation of Corrugated Board Manufacturers. They assign specific numbers to different styles of box such as 0201 for a basic corrugated carton and an 0247 for the “pizza” style boxes you’re used to getting with a takeaway. 
  • The product it needs to hold – the dimensions, weight and fragility of the product(s) you’ll be packing is important, as it can impact the type of box you need, as well as any in-box packaging you require.
  • The board grade & fluting – this is the type and weight of the corrugated paper used to make a box. Fluting is the wavy bit of paper you see when you dissect a box. Different waves help create different strengths of cardboard.

Even at a basic level, there is a lot to think about! More information about cardboard box essentials can be found in this free guide.

What is packaging optimisation?

Packaging optimisation is when both a packaging design and a packing process are as economical, sustainable and efficient as possible. But what does packaging optimisation look like?

Some examples of packaging optimisation include:

  • Swapping to performance engineered packaging materials – an example of this would be switching the type of board being used to make your box. Performance boards are often engineered to be lighter and more space efficient but offer the same durability and strength as heavier boards.  
  • Reorientating packaging specifications – this is when you might change something like a dimension on a box. For example, the size of the box might stay the same but changing which dimension is the depth is could offer cost and storage benefits.
  • Upgrading packing processes and using automation –  optimisation doesn’t have to be about materials, it can be about process too. Implementing packaging automation can offer a host of productivity benefits and control the material you’re using.

Advantages of optimised cardboard box designs

So, why should you optimise your cardboard boxes? There are lots of advantages of a well-designed cardboard box. Let’s consider an optimised 0427 that works with our rapid assembly frame. Compared to a standard 0427, the unique box design offers:

  • Increased strength – a 14% improvement in load bearing
  • Reduced material – 13% less material is used to make the box design
  • Less waste – there was 35% less waste from the blank board sheet during manufacturing
  • Better pallet yields – up to 100% more boxes could be stored on a pallet
  • Lower transport CO2 – improved palled yields resulted in 50% less CO2 created during transport

Remember – this is just one example. Other optimised cardboard box packaging designs can offer enhanced security, improved packing speeds and help you reduce your packaging costs!

Cardboard boxes quick tips

Get help optimising your packaging designs

At Macfarlane Packaging, our experts can help you with custom made corrugated boxes or any packaging design for that matter!

Our approach to packaging means that we’re always looking for ways to improve packaging designs and make sure each of our customers has the optimal packaging solutions for them. To support this, we have facilities like our Innovation Labs and our exclusive Packaging Optimiser software.

Get in touch today to learn more.