Plated



Background

Plated is a subscription that makes it simpler and more fun to cook at home by delivering everything you need to create chef-designed recipes right in your own kitchen. With fresh and seasonal ingredients that arrive pre-portioned, customers worry less about meal planning and spend more time exploring new cooking techniques and flavors. Each week, Plated offers nine vegetarian, meat and seafood recipes perfected by their in-house culinary team. You can choose your own recipes, or let their chefs make recommendations based on your taste profile. A Plated subscription is flexible and allows customers to change delivery days, swap recipes, or skip a week at any time. Plated had thirty-two (32) different packaging configurations with five different geometries to meet these flexible customer requirements:
  • Two, three, four, five and six meal kit configurations
  • 11-inch, 15-inch, and 21-inch box sizes
  • 32-ounce and 48-ounce gel ice refrigerants in multiple combinations
  • Mylar and 1” environmentally sustainable insulation materials (i.e. LIFEPACK)
The Plated team wished to better understand the capabilities of their shipper configurations, simplify their pack outs, and optimize their packaging configurations. The first step was characterization performance of their current shippers.

The management team identified some key goals for the process:
  • Determine capabilities of shipper configurations without complete testing
  • Identify optimization opportunities and simplification on packaging configurations
  • Review recommendations on a path forward based on data
 
Objectives
The focus of the engagement was to:
  • Design test plan for a sample of configurations and temperatures
  • Write protocols for test execution
  • Conduct constant temperature testing on configurations
  • Create heat transfer model and calculate results
  • Complete a report on the results of the testing protocol and modeling
  • Present findings and make recommendations for path forward
 
Value to Plated
The value to Plated was in several areas.
  • Understand the capabilities and limitations of the container configurations
  • Have a tool to analyze the possible areas of shipping expansion for their product
 
Methodology
The detailed approach that Modality Solutions provided to Plated for shipper configuration testing follows:
  • Create test plan.  A test plan that included both insulated and non-insulated shippers in multiple configurations that maximized efficiency of chamber testing was created and approved by management team.  The test plan gathered all necessary data required to draw conclusions on shipper performance using thermal modeling techniques. 
  • Write protocol. A protocol for test execution was written and approved by the Plated team for data collection for thermal modeling. The planned testing protocol was ten (10) configurations at two constant temperature ranges.
  • Conduct thermal testing. Thermal testing at two constant temperatures with 10 different configurations was tested to gather data for thermal modeling.
  • Populate thermal model and calculate results. The data from thermal testing was used to create the thermal model to predict the performance of the remaining 22 shipping configurations. These predictions were used to assess current performance, identify gaps, and make optimization recommendations.
  • Prepare technical assessment report. A technical report detailing the results of the testing and the expected capabilities for all shippers (total of 32 configurations) across a constant temperature range from 50°F to 110°F was written for review and approval by the Plated team.
  • Recommendation optimization opportunities and any required gap closure. Based on the findings of the technical report, recommendations and gap closure strategies were developed. These findings were presented to the Plated team.
  • Present findings. Current shipper capabilities were presented, an assessment of gaps was discussed, a path forward to optimize packaging configurations and a strategy to close those gaps was prepared for review with the Plated team.
Results
The thermal model that was generated, as well as the assessments prepared, allowed Plated to better understand the capabilities of their shipping containers. The Plated team revised their shipping solutions and managed to reduce the number of possible shipping configurations. The Plated team was also able to use the results from the thermal model to understand where they would not be able to ship, revise their shipping solutions, and make a configuration that would allow them to ship in more extreme conditions. These changes resulted in lower shipping and material costs for the company, as well as the capability to expand their client base.