Supply Chain Packaging
Packaging has a significant impact on each stage of the supply chain and is critical not only to protecting your product during transport, but to reducing inefficiencies, material usage, and waste.
When companies take the time to properly design their packaging with the supply chain in mind, they are able to streamline their packaging operations with automation, reduce transportation costs through warehouse and pallet storage optimization, as well as support their sustainability and environmental initiatives.
Functions of Packaging
To fully understand the impact that packaging has on the supply chain, it is worth noting the functions of packaging. These functions are varied but when you understand the overarching roles of packaging, you will be better equipped to design packaging that supports the supply chain without setting it back.
First and foremost, packaging needs to protect the product. Effective packaging will contain a product so that it can be stored and transported without being damaged or broken. Additionally, if the product is a food or medical item, it needs to be protected from spoiling. This may include tamper-resistant packaging to verify a product’s security. In the case of potentially dangerous products (like lithium batteries), your packaging will need to protect the environment as well.
Before and after a package has been processed, it will likely need to be held in storage. That means that the packaging you choose should be easily stored within the storage facilities you are using. Maximize space to minimize the cost of storage by designing effective packaging. It should be noted that products may be stored across a variety of different locations and so your packaging may need to meet different requirements depending on storage location. Consider optimizing packaging design in order to fit more products on a pallet, container, or truck. This also significantly reduces storage costs.
Packages will need to be transported efficiently, maximizing space to save time and money. Whether you are transporting via a truck, cargo ship, or other transportation method, think about the transportation process when designing your packaging.
Another important aspect of packaging is branding. The packaging is the first thing a customer will see before viewing the product. Ensure your packaging is on-brand and attractive to the customer.
Depending on the type of product you are packaging, there may be necessary product information required on the packaging. Be sure to take this into account when designing your packaging so that it meets necessary specifications required by law.
Besides a product’s primary packaging, there may need to be additional packaging to further protect the product. This tertiary packaging may also serve an organizational purpose if there are multiple components to a packaged product. Be sure to take this into account when selecting packaging materials for your product.
How to Develop a Packaging Design Strategy
Because packaging has such a strong impact on the supply chain, it is essential that organizations develop a packaging design strategy to mitigate potential challenges that can arise. Ultimately, when it comes to developing a packaging design strategy, organizations should invest time and resources in understanding the needs and goals of their packaging.
- What will the final product look like? What is your end goal?
- Is the product fragile? Sturdy?
- What are the sustainability goals we need to meet?
- Will there be multiple components within the packaging?
- Will the packaging have multiple uses?
- How will the packaging be displayed?
Questions like these are great ways to direct your strategy. It is also helpful to talk to your packaging solutions provider early on in this process as they can lend insights into the entire packaging process and better direct you towards the right packaging style, material, etc. After all, packaging solutions providers understand your needs as well as their own capabilities and can help bridge the gap to ensure you get the most out of your packaging strategy.
Industry analysis is also an important part of a successful packaging design strategy. Make sure you understand the current and future state of your product’s packaging to enable you to make informed packaging decisions during the design process as well.
8 Factors to Consider When Designing Packaging
There are many factors to consider when designing your product’s packaging, from a design aspect to the functionality of the packaging. Below, we highlight 8 factors to watch out for when designing your packaging.
Safety relates to any potential risks the product could have on the end user if not packaged correctly. This is most relevant with packages containing food items, medical supplies, or products containing potentially harmful materials. When designing your product packaging, be sure to take this into consideration and account for any necessary safety precautions including child resistant packaging.
Ultimately, packaging serves a very important function: keeping the product intact. When designing your product’s packaging, consider how functional the design will be. In the case of food products, for example, does the packaging serve its function by maintaining freshness?
While packaging needs to protect the product, it also needs to be convenient for the end user. When designing your packaging, consider how convenient it will be for consumers to open, re-close, and even dispose of the packaging.
Is your packaging different from your competitors? It is important to differentiate your packaging design so that you stand out from the competition. Your audience should easily be able to pick your packaging out from other similar products.
Branding and Messaging
Brand messaging plays into the degree to which your product packaging is different from the competition. Packaging is often the first thing a consumer sees when interacting with a product. Because of that, when designing your packaging be sure to consider the graphics, imagery, colors, fonts, messaging, and any other branding elements.
To fully understand the level of protection your products will need, look at the entire supply chain journey of the product. This will help inform design choices as you create packaging that protects and promotes the product, without over-packaging.
Budget and ROI
One of the other factors to consider is your budget. Determining how much you can spend on packaging will inform the design you select and materials you choose. At the end of the day, packaging needs to be cost effective. Compare the total cost of production with the ROI of each product.
Eco-conscious consumers are demanding more sustainability in the products they purchase. This extends to a product’s packaging too. Organizations need to embrace sustainable packaging by using eco-friendly materials, limiting the amount of materials used, designing multi-use packaging, and using recycled or recyclable materials in their packaging.
Mistakes to Avoid When Automating Your Packaging System
Automating your packaging system is a great way to streamline your packaging process and increase efficiency while reducing costs. It’s also a sustainable alternative to manual packaging. And with an increase in consumer demand, having a streamlined packaging process is essential. Whether you are implementing an automated palletizing system or another type of automation, here are a few mistakes to avoid when automating your packaging system.
Mistake #1: Not understanding the capabilities of the facility
Different facilities have different capabilities. When implementing an automated system, be sure that it will function properly within the facility of your choosing. At Group O, we offer custom packaging and packaging solutions to meet the unique needs of our clients. We complete a SMART Audit to provide you with insights into your packaging material usage and equipment efficiencies. From there, we are able to guide you in the right direction so that you can make the most of your packaging process.
Mistake #2: Not understanding the capabilities of the automated system
Automated systems come in many different forms and serve a variety of different functions. Because of this, it is important to set realistic expectations of what your automated system can and cannot do for your packaging process. The deeper your understanding of your own needs, the better positioned you are to select the right type of automation. Group O can help you determine the best solution for your organization’s needs.
Mistake #3: Not looking at the bigger picture
Automated processes often have a higher initial cost when first installed. Because of that, many often incorrectly assume that automated systems are too costly. However, automated systems help organizations save money in the long run as they cut down on inefficiencies and errors. Instead of focusing on the upfront costs, it is a good idea to look at the full picture to see how an automated packaging system would benefit your company for years to come.
Mistake #4: Not maintaining your automated process
Your automated packaging process is not as simple as plugging it in and walking away. Automated processes need to have routine maintenance to ensure that the automation is functioning as it was designed. Group O’s experts provide routine maintenance services so you can package products with confidence.
Be Strategic with Your Packaging
Since packaging impacts all aspects of the supply chain, it is important that organizations strategically design their packaging to benefit them. That means taking into account the different functions of packaging as well as branding, messaging, and ROI.
Group O offers comprehensive packaging solutions for organizations looking to save money, time, and resources throughout the supply chain. We offer automated packaging solutions and we complete a full SMART Audit to help us provide you with the best automated packaging options for your operation.