Perforated Transport Cartons Provide Greater Efficiency and Reduce Product Damage for Apparel Brands

Apparel brands that manufacture products in Southeast Asia (SEA) for shipment to Europe or North America benefit from working with highly efficient distribution centers (DCs) to accelerate order fulfillment. Perforated transport cartons improve DC efficiency by improving workers’ access to inventory for pick and pack order fulfillment. Additional benefits of perforated cartons include minimizing product damage and avoiding injury to DC personnel.

Improved Worker Safety and Reduced Product Damage


The perforations provide a consistent location on each transport carton that DC workers can easily identify to know where to open the box.  With perforations, workers can create carton openings using less force than when creating openings on solid corrugated boards. (Perforated corrugated board provides less resistance than a solid corrugated board when workers initially create a box opening.) This reduced cutting effort helps prevent both garment damage and worker injury. (When using excessive force with a box cutter, the potential for workers to accidentally cut themselves increases.)


Box Cutter Standardization

Here is an example of three different box knives used at a customer DC.

Some non-perforated cartons used printed dotted lines to indicate the preferred location for creating an opening.

Other non-perforated cartons do not provide guidance to workers regarding the preferred location of the opening.  

In either situation, non-standardized cutting instruments introduce uncertainty and a lack of predictability when a worker creates an opening in a non-perforated carton.


Use of non-identical tools means workers may lack certainty regarding the best way to grip the tool, the directional path of the cut they should create, and how much force to apply to the cut. All of the ad hoc decisions workers must make can lead to both product damage and worker injury.


Perforations Can Eliminate the Need for Using Box Cutters


Sometimes it is possible to design transport packaging with perforations that eliminate the need for using box cutters entirely. In the video below, you can see just how easy it is for a worker to use only their hands when creating a box opening via perforations.


It is important for the length of the box cutter blade to match the depth of the carton’s corrugated walls. If the blade is too long, you risk damaging the garments. If it is too short, you may not cut completely through the corrugated board.


Experienced packaging solution experts can help you design transport cartons with consistent board thickness. Standardized corrugated board depth, in conjunction with a box cutter precisely matched to your particular needs, ensures precision in the cutting process – worker injury and apparel damage will be greatly reduced.


Better Ergonomics for DC Personnel


Improvements in worker ergonomics is another benefit of using perforated cartons. Awkward body positioning for repetitive pick and pack tasks can occur when carton openings are made in suboptimal locations on the transport carton. Over time this can cause worker injury from body misalignment. Thoughtfully designed perforated transport cartons make ease of garment access a priority. When using these perforated cartons, workers can maintain appropriate body positioning while filling pick and pack orders.


Right-Sized Apparel Transport Carton Openings


Perforated transport cartons are designed to make sure the carton opening is sufficiently large enough to easily access individual garments but not so large that garments begin to fall out of the carton.


Space is at a premium at DCs. Staging areas, whether on the floor or on racks, benefit from being free of debris (like garments that have inadvertently fallen out of a carton with too large of an opening) for order fulfillment. Garments that fall unintentionally out of cartons can cause tripping hazards on the floor or create unintended congestion and confusion on racks. Garments that are in the wrong location need to be manually identified to be returned to their designated locations. This additional garment touch point increases labor costs.


How Do You Optimise the Design of Perforated Transport Cartons for the Apparel Industry?


Perforated transport cartons will have the needed strength and reliability to withstand the stresses they will endure during shipment from SEA to North American and European DCs. Experienced packaging solution professionals can create design specifications and testing plans for manufacturing perforated transport cartons that will be customized to your specific apparel and supply chain needs. Design considerations range the gambit from determining where to locate the perforation on the carton through how much of a bridge to maintain between the carton opening and the edge of the carton.


Perforated Carton Design is Customised for Your Specific Needs


Perforated transport cartons are designed to meet the particular needs of each brand’s products. For example, full length winter coats are quite bulky and may have relatively few garments in a transport carton. In contrast, perforated transport cartons containing summer T-shirts might have 40-50 individual garments in each carton. The location and shape of the perforations can be customized for your individual needs.


Determining the Location and the Shape of the Perforation


The designer will decide which style of perforation to use. The style of the perforation is determined by the shape, size, and placement of the intended opening.


A bridge is the area kept between the perforated cut line. Perforation line creation considers what size the bridge needs to be in relation to the cut length to maintain carton strength. It is also important that the perforation lines are not placed too close to the carton edge due to carton strength loss.


Designing Perforated Apparel Transport Cartons for Strength


Perforations, especially if located in a suboptimal location on the carton, can weaken transport carton strength by about 10 to 20%. Through the process of implementing carton programs at some of the world's largest apparel brands, we've learned to increase carton strength through design modifications that compensate for any loss of strength that could be associated with perforations. Design elements that we consider include:


Testing the Strength of Perforated Cartons


Historically brands have been concerned whether perforations cause transport cartons to fail in the field. Failure modes may include either a carton collapsing or a perforation spontaneously popping open at an unintended time.

In our laboratories, we are able to simulate field conditions to perform strength testing on perforated transport cartons and can run a full battery of standardized tests that conform to ISTA protocols and ISO testing regulations.


Box Compression Test


A Box Compression Test (BCT) performed in the Billerud Portland lab.

A Box Compression Test (BCT) is an ISO regulation. This image shows a BCT test conducted on a perforated carton in our lab.  This particular carton is beginning to buckle due to compression force. This is just one example of the battery of tests we are capable of performing in house on perforated cartons.


Heat Map Testing


This heat map test reveals potential weak spots in a perforated carton. If a weak spot is detected, the carton design can be modified to improve carton strength.

Heat mapping uses an infrared camera to reveal weak spots in a perforated carton. This data helps us enhance our design to ensure perforated apparel transport cartons have sufficient strength to perform well throughout your entire supply chain.


Humidity Chambers


In this humidity chamber cartons are subjected to the same atmospheric conditions they are likely to experience throughout the supply chain journey.

We have two types of humidity chambers that allow us to simulate humid conditions found in both SEA and during ocean container shipments. Humidity testing allows us to determine how perforated transport cartons are likely to withstand the intense humidity they may experience during their transit journeys.


In our walk-in climate chamber we are able to conduct long term performance testing and measure the materials' resistance to withstand static loads over a longer period of time (creep resistance). The walk-in climate chamber has several testing machines. The climate of the chamber can be set to different temperature and relative humidity levels. Iterations of temperature and humidity allow us to simulate what happens to a carton over extended periods of time.


Controlled Buckling Testing


To conduct controlled buckling testing, perforated cartons are filled with balls to simulate a fully packed carton. (The balls allow us to simulate how a carton full of apparel will behave.) Cartons full of apparel very seldom buckle inwards because the garments on the inside of the carton prevent internal buckling.


Controlled buckling testing helps us determine whether a perforated carton design prototype will have the strength to withstand the stresses of the journey to the DC or if it needs to be redesigned.


For a detailed description of our comprehensive transit testing capabilities, please review our article “How Transit Testing Saves You from High Returns and Damage Rates”.


In the past, some brands had concerns whether perforation would have a negative impact on the performance of apparel transport cartons due to a loss of strength. With decades of experience behind us, we have learned how to design perforated cartons that will perform seamlessly throughout your entire distribution channel. The benefits of perforated cartons include increased logistical efficiency at your DC, reduced product damage, and improved worker safety.


If you'd like to improve the efficiency and lower the cost of your transport packaging, we're happy to provide you with a quote.
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