Lionel Case Study

Lionel, a 120-year-old company, trusted Spire Pack with their Oracle NetSuite logistics systems to build an automated packing system that reduces costs and improves efficiency.

Average Automated Packing Time: 18 milliseconds. This is the average time it took Spire Pack to virtually pack a shipment for Lionel.

3/4 of the shipments that Spire Pack processed yielded carton utilization of 70% or higher. Our best pack for Lionel in 1 month consumed 94% of the carton’s space.

What we did

Improved Packing of Shipments, Reducing Dimensional Weight Fees

The Problem

You can buy or make more of almost anything—except time. That is why time is the most valuable commodity you have. And that is why it pays to examine any part of your shipping process that wastes time. Packing is one component of shipping that can be a particular time-waster. Most importantly, when you save time, you also reduce costs.

Lionel Trains had been celebrating 120 years selling model trains. Their ecommerce operation was extensive, but logistics operations are always looking to reduce costs and improve efficiency. Lionel knew that if they could improve the packing of their shipments, they stand to save significantly in the items they sold and shipped all over North America. Workers packing orders had to assess visually which box was appropriate for which order. Selecting the boxes took time—and there was an extra charge for larger boxes. On top of that, if a packer realized part-way through packing that the selected box was too big or too small, everything would have to be dismantled and repacked. 

Many of Lionel’s products are small and relatively lightweight.  Since the larger of the two: actual weight or dimensional weight is used by the carrier for pricing, they were more likely to be rated by dimensional weight as opposed to actual weight. For Lionel, it was even more important to ensure their shipments were packed effectively.


  • Saved time

  • Improved efficiency
  • Reduced costs

  • Reduced Dimensional Weight Fees

The Solution

Lionel uses NetSuite for order fulfillment, and asked Spire Pack to devise a way to work with the NetSuite system. Lionel required an expert in both NetSuite and automated packing (cartonization) to find a  new, more efficient way to execute packing. 

As NetSuite experts, Spire Pack were able to customize Lionel’s system according to their needs and specifications. A major component of this customization was fitting boxes to specific shipping methods. Spire Pack was able to suggest a box that corresponded to a shipping method defined in the order—for example, a Fedex order would be packed in one of the available Fedex boxes. 

Lionel’s orders came from their web store, through NetSuite itself, and via Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) orders from a variety of systems. Spire Pack was able to capture and integrate all of these. Coordinating orders from different systems posed no problem.


Picking Tickets

Aside from the typical information a picking ticket will usually contain, such as item quantities and customer info, the picking tickets designed by Spire Pack for Lionel also indicate the following:

  • Which box or boxes should be used for the order
  • How many boxes will be required
  • The order’s net weight
  • The maximum weight the selected box(es) can hold
  • The item number and quantity


Pack a Better Box 

What does the above mean? It means that Spire Pack is doing more than just making the packing process less wasteful. It’s providing instructions that allow for maximum precision and efficiency right across a client’s different streams and systems. In short, it takes the guesswork out of packing—and helps clients pack a better box.


  • NetSuite system customization
  • Fitting boxes to shipping methods
  • Enhanced picking tickets
  • Precise packing instructions
  • Automated packing (cartonization)
  • Coordinating orders from 3 different systems: web store, NetSuite, and Electronic Data Interchange (EDI)

The Results

Spire Pack values adaptability because we know that it is not efficient to reinvent the wheel. Instead of replacing Lionel’s systems, Spire Pack simply adapted and accommodated to craft a solution that would work with multiple shipping methods. This kind of thinking resulted in the following:


1. Reduced Shipping Costs

Spire Pack matched boxes to shipping methods and item size. It thus reduced both the number and size of boxes Lionel used. This, in turn, reduced dimensional weight fees.


2. Improved Efficiency

Packers are often part-time or seasonal workers, rather than full-time professionals. It is down to the supply-chain manager to supervise packing and keep it flowing smoothly—and that can be tricky with an inexperienced labour force. The picking ticket Spire Pack designed for Lionel smoothed out that bumpy road with its clear, exact instructions, eliminating the need for packers to guess, pack, and sometimes repack. They are able to simply look at the picking ticket and go. 


3. Reduced Waste

More efficient packing means less wasted cardboard, reducing the environmental impact of the packing process.


Spire Pack automates, streamlines and optimizes processes to reduce costs, save money and add value.


  • Average Automated Packing Time: 18 milliseconds. This is the average time it took Spire Pack to virtually pack a shipment for Lionel.
  • Multiple shipping methods
  • Matched boxes to shipping methods and item size
  • Exact instructions on picking ticket 
  • 3/4 of the shipments Spire Pack processed yielded carton utilization of 70% or higher. Our best pack for Lionel in 1 month consumed 94% of the carton’s space.
  • Reduced number and size of boxes
  • Reduced dimensional weight fees
  • Less waste

Lionel Case Study

"Spire Pack is working well. We are very happy with the help it is giving."

RR Donnelley Case Study

Spire Pack enables RR Donnelley to pack over 10,000 items in 8 seconds.

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