This paper investigates the irregular shape packing problem. We represent the problem as an ordered list of pieces to be packed where the order is decoded by a placement heuristic. A placement heuristic from the literature is presented and modified with a more powerful nofit polygon generator and new evaluation criteria. We implement a beam search algorithm to search over the packing order. Using this approach many parallel partial solutions can be generated and compared. Computational results for benchmark problems show that the algorithm generates highly competitive solutions in significantly less time than the best results currently in the literature.