Product packaging is an integral part of supply chain management, but it’s often given less importance than needed. But when you consider that packaging can impact your entire supply chain, the need for optimizing it – the way you do any other aspect of your business – just becomes obvious!
Why is packaging so important? The right packaging can protect your products from the environment and human error while streamlining shipping and storage. The wrong choices, on the other hand, can leave goods open to the risk of contamination and damage.
Here are 5 things you should consider for packaging optimization:
1. Packaging Material – There are a lot of choices for packaging material, but that doesn’t mean it needs to be complicated. The material needs to be strong enough to contain the products, but that’s only the first consideration.
Study every step of the supply chain and identify things that could damage the products. These could be environmental factors or mechanical ones, both during transportation or storage. Then there’s cost; durable materials tend to be expensive, so you need to weigh the risk of damaged packages against the cost of higher-quality packaging.
2. Space Optimization – Wasted space means higher costs for transportation and under-utilized warehouses. By making sure that packaging is compact, you can reduce your logistics spending. Fewer gaps also reduce the chances of damage in transit, since the contents can’t bounce around.
Palletizing packages for larger volumes before transporting limits the movement of individual packages and makes loading and unloading easier. It can significantly reduce the time and resources needed for transportation and storage.
3. Packaging Dimensions – Carriers have various methods of calculating shipping charges and often use dimensional weight for bags or boxes above a certain size. This is based on the volume of the shipment, rather than the actual weight.
Dimensional weight is calculated by first measuring the volume (Length X Width X Height) and multiplying it by a dimensional (DIM) factor. That means that if your shipments are packaged efficiently and you reduce unused box space, you can save money on shipping.
4. Packaging Design – Apart from the functionality aspect of packaging, the visual and design elements are critical to branding and marketing, so take the ease of customizing packaging into account.
When you’re optimizing packaging design, think about where your products will be displayed and how they can attract customers visually. The next factor is ergonomics; how will your customers open the package? Is it easy, or frustrating? Is there a chance the product might get damaged while unpacking?
The material you choose will also play a role here. Consumers are becoming more conscious of the environment and many companies are making the shift towards reusable packaging and biodegradable materials.
5. Packaging Testing – Before you start ordering your packaging materials, you need to ensure you’ve made the right choice. There are many methods to test your packaging solutions, depending on the material and the conditions you want to test for.
You can test performance under mechanical strains by simulating the forces the packages will be exposed to, e.g. applying pressure to the top and sides to test compression/stacking. Based on the modes of shipping, your packages should undergo vibration and shock tests as well.
Environmental stress tests will gauge how well the packaging holds up in varying humidity and temperature for prolonged periods. Spraying can be used to test for liquid damage and penetration.
Product packaging is a constant factor throughout the supply chain and the right solution can help your business succeed. While the wide variety of options can be daunting, all it means is that there are many solutions that could work for you. Take the time to find exactly what you need.
‘Form follows function’ has never been truer than it is today, and once you’ve analyzed your supply chain, choosing the right packaging is very easy and rewarding!
Guest blogger – Abhijeet Shah
Abhijeet Shah is the head of digital marketing for Packing Supply, a leading name in the packaging supply industry. He believes that its not only what’s on the inside that matters, but how products are packaged is just as important. Abhijeet stays updated with the latest trends and innovations in the industry and is quick to share them with his readers. He loves travelling and is often tempted to buy products that he comes across with unique packaging from all over the world,which he then adds to his ever-expanding collection of “bags and boxes”.
Header photo: Shawn Hempel/shutterstock.com