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PS5 shows knowing your cube size matters

23 November 2020

PlayStation 5 supply problems shows that 'size does matter' in logistics, says Professor Richard Wilding OBE, Professor of Supply Chain Strategy at Cranfield School of Management.

With demand outstripping supply, newspapers reported PS5 units with bids on eBay for up to £4,900.

Wilding said: “Size does matter. The bigger the item the more logistics capacity is consumed. A large item such as a games console consumes more space and logistics providers need to understand the size of items to optimise logistics.      

“In logistics, we talk about ‘cube’. The smaller the ‘cube’ the more items can be packed on a pallet and loaded onto a vehicle. If the item has a large ‘cube’ less items can be carried. For example, if you can get only one item on a lorry then all the capacity of the vehicle is consumed, all the costs of running that lorry and all the CO2 generated are assigned to that one item. However, if one thousand items are loaded on a lorry then it consumes 1:1000th of the capacity and all the costs and CO2 are divided by 1000.   

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"Making products logistics and supply chain friendly is increasingly critical and linked to this is the science of packaging which impacts both profitability and the environment. For example, Apple has just shrunk the box on the new iPhone 12 to both improve logistics and help the environment. 

“Controversially plastic should not be seen as an evil in all situations, plastic packaging can be better for the environment than using paper and cardboard, for the same level of protection the plastic package may have a smaller “cube” and reduced weight so more items can be placed in containers and on lorries without damage, which therefore reduces the amount of pollution and resources consumed through logistics. These are just many complex trade-offs both consumers and companies need to consider.”