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Auto supplier Yanfeng saves millions with resusable cardboard

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Cardboard boxes are delivering more than parts to Yanfeng Automotive Interiors’ North American plants — they’re also delivering millions in production savings.

Humble cardboard cartons, among the lowliest commodities in the long auto manufacturing supply chain, have gotten an innovative new design from a third-party supplier that allows Yanfeng to reuse them repeatedly back and forth between plants.

By reducing the volume of packaging material it consumes, the company has saved $10 million over the past 24 months, according to David Colclough, Yanfeng‘s senior buyer for North American packaging. The new cartons have stronger construction with greater stacking strength, but can be easily flattened and returned for use when Yanfeng ships components from Mexico and among its 21 North American plants.

“Corrugated boxes have been used for a hundred years and people have always perceived them as a disposable material,” Colclough told Automotive News. “But we found a product that’s a lot more durable. It’s still basically paper, so it’s not going to last forever. But we’re finding that in some cases, we can get 10 turns from a single box.”

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