11.12.2009

IKEA Designs Products for Easy Shipping

Lean advocates often focus on linking the design process to manufacturing, with ease of manufacturing an important consideration when a product is being designed. I’ve also heard that ease of servicing should be (and for some companies, is) a consideration for some products, such as automobile engines.

But have you ever considered ease of shipping as part of your design process?

I saw a demonstration of this concept while watching a recent episode of the “Ultimate Factories” program on the National Geographic channel.

This particular episode focused on IKEA, the Sweden-based furniture manufacturer and retailer that makes and sells nearly 10,000 items in about six factories and 296 retail stores.

IKEA makes inexpensive furniture, often in pieces that the retail customer must assemble at home.

The company is constantly developing new products. And one of its requirements, the program noted, is that not only must the product meet IKEA’s standards of quality and affordability, but its components must fit into a flat box for shipping. This makes shipping easier both for IKEA and for the customer who purchases the product and takes it home.

I believe some food companies take this approach as well – not with the food products themselves, but with their packaging, so that the products can be easily shipped to, and displayed in, supermarkets.

Do any of you have experience with making shipping considerations part of the design process? Share your experience below.