• ParkinT (cs)

    I have one word for this post: Screwy

  • Eric (unregistered) in reply to ParkinT

    If you think this is bad, try working in a partsroom that stocks Caterpillar parts. One proprietary, non-standard O-ring? One 14-digit part number and its own sealed plastic baggie

  • JamesQMurphy (cs)

    The real WTF is that only the first picture contained a wooden table.

  • Dumble (unregistered) in reply to Eric

    Ive recived Zip Ties in their own seperate plastic bag........

  • Simon (unregistered)
    Comment held for moderation.
  • Simon (unregistered) in reply to Dumble

    Please say that each bag was sealed with a zip tie.

  • CGP (unregistered)

    Recently I was to return a cable tv-box after ending my subscription. I recieved a letter stating that I would soon recieve a address label to put on the original carton. A few weeks later (speedy people...) I got a notice that I had a package to pick up, sent by the tv company. This package had a volume of approx 3.5 liters, and contained one 10x5 cm sticker. Also, about 3 liters of packing material. Wouldn't want the sticker to get wrinkled!

  • Forumtroll (cs)

    Really? This IS green. I've seen vendors supply one small replacement zip-bag insides a another bubble-plastic bag, being put inside a cardboard box with foam coating, which then was placed inside a freight box made of reinforced cardboard padded with tiny styrofoam pellets. This monstrosity was then delivered overseas with a personell courier as this was a customer requirement.

    I tendered my resignation that day when the CEO and CTO was unable to explain why that was necessary.

  • steenbergh (cs)

    MWOAHAHAHAHAHA!

    That's really all that comes to mind... I mean, a 3"x5"x10" box for a screw, 60+ times over?

    MWOAHAHAHAHAHA!

  • Bill Higgins (unregistered)

    I commend Dell on their savvy business decision. Studies show that it's not cost effective or "green" for every company designed a custom package to compactly contain all hardware. Instead, Dell courageously just uses the package the screws already come in from their hardware supplier.

    William Higgins

    President- Packaging Manufacturers of America

  • Philipp (unregistered)

    Postal services and couriers should start to charge based on volume instead of just weight. That way there would be an incentive to use more efficient packaging.

    I am pretty sure the limiting capacity of most parts of the transportation chain is rather volume or number of packets instead of their weight.

  • Blragh (unregistered) in reply to Eric

    How is that bad? Of course the part number would be a big number, considering the sheer number of spare parts for all Caterpillar machines. Would you prefer they threw all different O-rings in a big box and just write a post-it note and slap it on the side which says "pick one that kinda fits"? I'm sorry, but I work in a manufacturing business and when keeping track of spare parts, best to be on the safe side when labelling and packaging. A slight difference in O-ring hardness (shore) or diameter can mean a lot of wasted time, (a potential) messy working environment (if something starts to leak) and if you're really unlucky, personal injury. OK I'm done now. :)

  • Bill's Kid (unregistered)

    TRWTF is somebody ordering screws from Dell.

  • ZPedro (cs)

    Now be careful Alex, I think you're now stepping into territory claimed by El Reg. One or two was fine, but now you're treading dangerous ground… I don't think you'd like to see the vulture when it's angry…

  • XXXXX (unregistered)

    Yo Dawg, I heard you like to have packaging in your packaging, so I put some packaging in your packaging so you can open packages while you open packages.

  • DaveyDaveDave (cs)

    Are cardboard boxes are more environmentally-friendly than wooden ones? Discuss...

  • dkf (cs)

    I remember one time signing for a large (approx 5' each side) box from HP that, after removing the matryoshka-like packaging, contained a small piece of paper saying we had a software license. It could have been sent by email. It could have even been sent by post as a letter (like some of the correspondence relating to tracking this thing was) if a piece of paper absolutely had to be sent around. But no, we had to have the full multi-layer dose of heavy cardboard and polystyrene peanuts…

  • brazzy (cs)

    This is brilliant. It wouldn't even have to be a computer manufacturer to be relevant to programming.

    Think about it for a second: it's an exact physical equivalent of the N+1 query problem of badly applied O/R mappers. Or an Enterprise Application that does a separate SOAP RPC call to set each property of a business object that has 50 properties.

    And the best thing: it's even happing for exactly the same reason: mismatch of API granularities. The spare parts ordering "interface" was obviously implemented with individual parts in mind, but is being used for bulk orders. There might even be a way to do sensible bulk orders, but it was not exposed (or exposed but not used) at some point in the "call stack".

  • MeBerserk (unregistered)

    Do you realize they still make a profit from this somehow (atleast I assume that) =P

  • redtetrahedron (cs) in reply to Blragh
    Blragh:
    How is that bad? Of course the part number would be a big number, considering the sheer number of spare parts for all Caterpillar machines. Would you prefer they threw all different O-rings in a big box and just write a post-it note and slap it on the side which says "pick one that kinda fits"? I'm sorry, but I work in a manufacturing business and when keeping track of spare parts, best to be on the safe side when labelling and packaging. A slight difference in O-ring hardness (shore) or diameter can mean a lot of wasted time, (a potential) messy working environment (if something starts to leak) and if you're really unlucky, personal injury. OK I'm done now. :)

    I guess that would make sense if the screws were different. But the order slips clearly show these are all the same part number. At least these could've been all put in the same packaging. I mean, heck with being green, what about some plain ol' common sense?

  • no2trolls (unregistered)

    it is no doubt cheaper and more efficient for Dell to purchase packaging materials in vast quantities covering a smaller range of sizes than a smaller quantity of a larger range of sizes. The price for the extra material in a larger envelope is outweighed by the savings in having a smaller range to manage. These savings are then spent to plant trees, breed unnicorns and manufacture rainbows, so you hippies can all be thankful that they do this.

  • Rob Y (unregistered)

    Noticed the same thing last week. I had ordered a couple of SCSI drives from Dell, I was surprises to see them come in 2 separate boxes, each big enough to hold at least the 2 drives.

  • WW (unregistered)

    Friends don't let friends buy Dell.

  • gef05 (unregistered)

    So... I'm the only person reading this that is shocked by the waste? Look at all the excess packaging for one screw! - bloody appalling.

  • gef05 (unregistered) in reply to no2trolls

    Ha ha. Yes, because being efficient is all about being useless drug addled hippies who believe in unicorns. Efficiency is TEH STUPID.

  • Safely anonymous (unregistered) in reply to Philipp
    Philipp:
    Postal services and couriers should start to charge based on volume instead of just weight. That way there would be an incentive to use more efficient packaging.

    I am pretty sure the limiting capacity of most parts of the transportation chain is rather volume or number of packets instead of their weight.

    Actually, most do. Generally, it's a minimum weight per cubic foot so that they don't go broke hauling styrofoam.

    Realistically, packages like that will fall under minimum charge (the fee you get regardless of size) anyway.

  • Sudo (unregistered) in reply to JamesQMurphy
    JamesQMurphy:
    The real WTF is that only the first picture contained a wooden table.
    The REAL real WTF is that there's a wooden table in the third picture as well, and possibly the fourth. Not that wooden tables are relevant here in any way, shape or form...
  • DaveyDaveDave (cs) in reply to Philipp
    Philipp:
    Postal services and couriers should start to charge based on volume instead of just weight. That way there would be an incentive to use more efficient packaging.

    That's how Royal Mail do charge here in the UK. I agree it makes far more sense. Of course, everyone over the age of about 25 was completely outraged, and they undoubtedly did use it as a stealthy way to increase prices. It's mildly annoying because you can never be quite sure how much something's going to cost you, and the definition of whether your package does or doesn't fit through the handy measuring slot differs depending on the post office you're in (some say it has to fall through freely, others give it a little nudge and say it's fine).

    Of course, even though folding a letter costs several pence less than sending it flat in a bigger envelope, lots of companies are still sending huge A4-sized envelopes with a single sheet of paper in.

  • Mr Green (unregistered)

    The packaging costs more than the thing it's packaging.

  • DaveyDaveDave (cs) in reply to gef05
    gef05:
    So... I'm the only person reading this that is shocked by the waste? Look at all the excess packaging for one screw! - bloody appalling.

    Congratulations! You understood the point of the story. Award yourself one pat on the back.

  • Sudo (unregistered) in reply to gef05
    gef05:
    So... I'm the only person reading this that is shocked by the waste? Look at all the excess packaging for one screw! - bloody appalling.
    How can this possibly be shocking? Are you honestly saying you haven't noticed this kind of thing happening all over the world, all of the time, since forever?

    Angered maybe, but shocked? Seriously, you need to start paying more attention to the world around you.

    Besides, I'm sure Dell would gladly start hugging trees if they could work out how to turn a profit for it. In the mean time they'll keep fleecing folk for screws at such a high price that they can afford to thrown in a couple of bits of paper and cardboard as a free gift.

  • WhiskeyJack (cs)

    It is kind of head-shaking, but clearly nobody at Dell thinks being green is worth the added cost of having a person look at the order, say "Hmm, I think I can repackage these all in the same box" and proceed to do so. It's probably a result of some automated inventory and shipping process.

  • Mr Green (unregistered)

    If the packaging is worth more than the screws, this has got me thinking...order a very large quantity of screws from Dell and start a business selling padded envelopes/jiffy bags = profit!

  • DaveyDaveDave (cs) in reply to Mr Green
    Mr Green:
    If the packaging is worth more than the screws, this has got me thinking...order a very large quantity of screws from Dell and start a business selling padded envelopes/jiffy bags = profit!

    **with a FREE screw!!!

  • Power Troll (unregistered) in reply to Sudo
    Sudo:
    JamesQMurphy:
    The real WTF is that only the first picture contained a wooden table.
    The REAL real WTF is that there's a wooden table in the third picture as well, and possibly the fourth. Not that wooden tables are relevant here in any way, shape or form...
    TRRRWTF is that you commented so late. Alex changed the picture, which is what James was referring to.
  • error_NoError (cs) in reply to dkf
    dkf:
    I remember one time signing for a large (approx 5' each side) box from HP that, after removing the matryoshka-like packaging, contained a small piece of paper saying we had a software license. It could have been sent by email. It could have even been sent by post as a letter (like some of the correspondence relating to tracking this thing was) if a piece of paper absolutely had to be sent around. But no, we had to have the full multi-layer dose of heavy cardboard and polystyrene peanuts…

    A few years ago I ordered some replacement parts from HP (for switches I think) and the day after I got them, I got another set of large boxes from HP. Each box was about the size of a standard tower computer and had a single piece of paper in it with like a manual correction or something similarly useless.

    At the time we had a guy working with us that was an ex-HP manager of some sort. He said they were notorious for doing this because it was far cheaper to create a new product with the corrections than to make the correction on the current product's paperwork because it would require having change/update everything in the chain.

  • willdye (unregistered) in reply to brazzy

    +1 to brazzy's post. The inefficient packaging described in the article is very, very relevant to programming -- on several levels.

    The general idea of inefficient packaging may also be useful in explaining software performance issues to non-technical people. Why does memory and disk space become fragmented? Why does block allocation size matter? Why should we pay expensive programmers to spend time "tuning" the performance of a web site instead of just buying another server? The next time you have to explain such things, consider using the packing problem described in this article as an analogy.

    A while back I tried describing disk fragmentation issues to a non-technical person, using the analogy of packing eggs into several egg cartons. The egg analogy went over pretty well, but if I have to do it again sometime,those pictures of Dell shipments might be a useful visual aid to describe some of the problems.

  • Julian (unregistered) in reply to Philipp

    Most couriers do charge based on the greater of actual or "volumetric" weight (an artificial figure of so-much weight per unit of volume).

  • Paolo (unregistered)

    Cisco does(did) this as well. Ordering licenses for a PIX router. A big box came via Fedex. Inside the box was a padded envelope. Inside the padded envelope was a regular envelope. Inside the regular envelope containing a piece of paper with a URL on it to get the license key.

    And we got an email saying the package shipped - so I imagine that email could have had the url in it instead of a tracking number.

  • AMusingFool (unregistered)

    Well, with all those bags, at least you don't need to worry about the screws being crushed during delivery.

  • Coyne (cs)

    This is efficient in the same way as running to the wrong goal in football.

  • trtrwtf (unregistered) in reply to WhiskeyJack
    WhiskeyJack:
    It is kind of head-shaking, but clearly nobody at Dell thinks being green is worth the added cost of having a person look at the order, say "Hmm, I think I can repackage these all in the same box" and proceed to do so. It's probably a result of some automated inventory and shipping process.
    • having a human being pack orders is inefficient. If they haven't eliminated this, they're working on it.
    • having a human being capable of thinking "I can repackage these in one box" is inefficient: cheaper to use less-educated workers.
    • having a human being who is allowed to think is inefficient: when people use their brains, they defeat the purpose of having executives to do the thinking for them.
    • having too many box sizes is inefficient: cheap workers can't make a lot of decisions, and keeping lots of different packaging materials in stock is expensive. Cheaper to just use a big box for everything.
    • An ordering system that works is inefficient: one that works, kinda, right now, is making money for the company. One that has features like facilitating bulk orders would take some unpredictable amount of time to develop, and the one that works now is working, kinda.
    • Not using the leverage of being among the top buyers from any given supplier would be inefficient: it's a safe bet that Dell is paying about the same per screw whether they're in individual baggies or boxes of a bazillion.
    • Not making the customer pay for shipping is inefficient. The customer doesn't see the shipping cost until they've already committed themselves to the purchase. They'll pay it, and they won't even remember that they paid it.

    So you see, this is the most efficient system possible - truly, we live in the best of all possible worlds.

  • trtrwtf (unregistered) in reply to DaveyDaveDave
    DaveyDaveDave:
    Mr Green:
    If the packaging is worth more than the screws, this has got me thinking...order a very large quantity of screws from Dell and start a business selling padded envelopes/jiffy bags = profit!

    **with a FREE screw!!!

    That was yesterday's WTF.

  • frits (cs) in reply to DaveyDaveDave
    DaveyDaveDave:
    Mr Green:
    If the packaging is worth more than the screws, this has got me thinking...order a very large quantity of screws from Dell and start a business selling padded envelopes/jiffy bags = profit!

    **with a FREE screw!!!

    Good plan for legalized prostitution.

    "I'll take one of those $25 used bags, please."

  • Nagesh Kukunoor (unregistered)

    A large package is not a WTF. A large package certifies as to the importance of the recipient. My cousin in Mumbai sent me one lakh of bindis for my daughter, and the box was so small the postal clerk laughed at my expense. I beat the bhai chod bhayee chod with a stick, and when I next visit my cousin I will eat palak paneer then squat on his floor to show my displeasure.

  • boxcutter (unregistered)
    Comment held for moderation.
  • Michael (unregistered) in reply to Simon

    Except that those boxes are meant to be reused and those boxes are used many times before they are recycled.

  • Bill (unregistered)

    I see absoutely nothing wrong here.

    Bill. CEO, The Lumber Cartel. (TINLC)

  • BentFranklin (unregistered)

    I hope you found a good reuse for all that packaging, Mr. Green!

  • Patrick (unregistered)

    Looks like something went wrong with the ordering system in that last one.

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