The many considerations when designing custom packaging solutions
Many factors need to be considered when designing and fabricating a custom packaging solution for an industrial or commercial product. Below are some of the criteria that we review before recommending a solution.
Function/use: How is the packaging to be used? Will the product get stored in a warehouse on pallets; is it a reusable solution such as tradeshow cases? Does is strictly get shipped by some carrier or is it hand carried by your personnel? We try to do a detailed review of the application. Common applications are industrial shipments, shipping cases, tradeshow cases, carts, and inter plant transport.
Shipping Methods: How is it transported? If it goes by air freight then crate dimensions can make a huge difference in what type of aircraft can be used. If it is shipped by sea, then salt sea air and moisture will come into play. Will it be shipped by any number of methods such as truck, train, plane or boat? Does it get handled by forklifts as well as overhead cranes? Each transport method can present a unique set of handling challenges that need to be considered when creating the best packaging solutions.
Volume (one time build or high production): Is it a onetime build and ship or is it high volume. A variety of solutions come into play or gets eliminated based on these criteria. For example, liquid foam may be ideal for a one time ship, but may not be viable for volume. Whether the requirement is to build just “a handful” vs. thousands every month would determine what type of tooling and automation should be used as well as material selection.
Product Characteristics: What is the size, shape and weight of the product? How susceptible is it to shock, vibration, pressure changes, hot and cold temperatures and moisture/humidity. How expensive it the product? What is the cost of product damage? How easily is product failure detected? Is the product susceptible to corrosion? Obviously one needs to create a solution that protects the product within a viable budget.
Efficiency and Productivity: It takes time for material handlers to load and unload product. Many times clients come to us initially because their existing packaging solution requires too much time and energy. Packnet prides itself on package designs that save time.
Ergonomics: Material handling involves a lot of stress on the human body; often poorly designed solutions are awkward and require excessive lifting or handling, which can result in accidents or undue muscle/skeletal strain. A good design can minimize the stress on the human body as well as reduce the risk of accidents.
Regulations: International shipments are subject to ISPM 15 rules; there may other restrictions or regulations that come into play depending on what method and what country you are shipping to. Not complying with international and local regulation can results in delays, fines and added taxes.
Cleanliness /Contamination: Many packaging and crating materials shed particles, if the product is used in a clean room for example, then the packaging material must be compatible with cleanroom requirements.
Reusability: Solutions that can be used then returned to be used again are often the most economical and environmentally friendly solutions. A reusable container may need to be made out or a more robust material and have a different configuration.
Often the upfront analysis of the customer needs takes time, but in the long run it is worth it because it results in a solution that works the first time without excessive redesign and rework and ultimately saves time and money for all.