One of the most common problems in the packaging industry is under-filled cartons. An under-filled carton is any parcel, package, or box that lacks adequate filler packaging to ensure that the item(s) being shipped arrives to its destination damage-free.

An under-filled carton that has been received is usually easy to spot. Boxes that are under-filled tend to become dented and bent out of shape during the shipping process, making them look bad to the receiver and sometimes damaging the goods inside. Not only that, but they also compromise the strength of the seal and make it very easy for the box to open, subjecting it to product loss, pilferage, and further damage.

A few of the most common reasons why cartons end up under-filled are:

  • Packers are improperly trained or in a hurry
  • Companies or packers are trying to cut costs by using less filler packaging
  • Using “one size fits all” boxes that are too large
  • Using the wrong type of filler packaging

While it might save money on packaging initially to under-fill a carton, it can potentially hurt costs in the long run because of damaged goods and dissatisfied customers.

Some practical ways to avoid under-filling cartons are to:

  • Provide consistent instruction for training and re-training packers on best practices
  • Use the smallest box possible that can safely transport the item being shipped to minimize empty space needed to fill
  • Test boxes by gently pressing down on the taped seal of the box. The flaps should keep their shape and not cave in, but not bulge upwards from over-fill either.

If some under-filled cartons are inevitable, a few ways to improve the security of the cartons are to:

  • Ensure that a robust packaging tape is being used; hot-melt adhesive, thick film gauge, and a greater width of tape such as 72 mm are good qualities.
  • Always apply adequate wipe down pressure on the tape used to seal the box. The stronger the seal, the less likely even an under-filled carton will come apart.