Brain Food: Look after the pennies - pushing the envelope

Who said size doesn't matter? For a cost-conscious global overnight courier firm like Federal Express, every millimetre of its specially designed envelopes counts. The smaller and lighter, the better. The size and makeup of its envelopes come under constant scrutiny by its management team. FedEx has pulled apart and examined every component of the humble envelope to eliminate any over-generous aspect of its manufacture. A particularly successful measure has been to gradually reduce the thickness of cardboard used to make the stiff backing in its letter-sized envelope. Over the past 20 years, FedEx has cut the amount of paper required to make it by 40%. The company also estimates that it has cut envelope printing costs in half over 10 years. Combined with savings from lighter weighting, the redesign of other paper and polyethylene shipping containers, FedEx has achieved cost savings of $20 million a year. It seems that cutting corners pays off after all.

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