In a world shifting more and more toward eCommerce, packaging is increasingly the first tangible experience that someone may have with your brand or business. With that in mind, how is your packaging delivering your brand’s promise to your customers?
Designing the “perfect” packaging operation solution for your business can be a daunting task. After all, there are many different types of equipment, materials, and processes that can be combined in a seemingly infinite number of ways>
What's really important is that the solutions you decide on work for your business. Working with a supplier that understands that no business is the same and a solution that works for one customer, no matter how similar, may not work for yours.
Plus, packaging must fill two important functions:
1) Your solution needs to protect your product, while 2) serving as an important customer touch-point. After all, packaging is often the first thing about a product that customers notice. Packaging should reflect a brand and a business as well as the quality of product it contains. It needs to be functional, sufficiently protective, and deliverable so that the packaging and contents both can be shipped without damage or other issues.
While there may not be one “perfect” packaging solution to suit every situation, there is certainly a solution that is right for your products and customers.
Our Free Download: The Packaging Machinery Pre-Investment Checklist will help identify that solution for you. In this article, you will learn 7 tips that will help you design a packaging solution that is perfect for your business.
1) Form And Fill Or Pre-Formed: Choose Wisely
Form and fill equipment almost simultaneously forms and fills the bag with product. This option is available in both vertical and horizontal equipment to suit a variety of packaging needs, and is typically best for consumer packaged goods.
Pre-formed, on the other hand, fills a pre-made container with the right amount of product. This includes valve bags, open-mouth bags, boxes, pails, drums, or intermediate bulk containers (IBCs).
Selecting the right package for your product will help determine the initial design of the equipment as well as the downstream accessories of your system, to include palletizing.
While form and fill is capable of much higher volumes and at a high speed, those aren’t the only considerations. Faster isn’t always better for business. While a faster packaging process offers less flexibility in bag shapes and styles, it also creates more scrap and waste than when using pre-made containers.
Ultimately you need to consider what your marketing department, and consumers, require as well as the logistical experience and budget of your organization to determine whether you should use form and fill or pre-formed packaging equipment.
2) Listen To Your Product
In the end, it doesn’t matter what you think is best, because your product will determine the feeding technique that is needed for your packaging. For example, gravity, augers, vibratory trays and belt feeders all have use cases.
If your product has size variation (i.e., waxy chemicals, coal, cereals, or cheese shreds) a belt feeder or vibratory tray is best, whereas if your product is dense and flows freely like corn, grains, or sugar, a gravity bagging machine may be a better option.
Auger machines are used for flakes, powders, and any other material that can be heated or ground. They are commonly used for ground coffee, calcium carbonate, brown sugar, and many other applications.
Regardless of the type of product and packaging solution needed, don’t forget about shipping, delivery, or storage needs, as it is key for each product to arrive at its destination and sustain the proper shelf life without issue.
Because there are so many variations of product, each product’s unique characteristics dictate the best technique to move your product into its packaging container.
3) Decide To Be Fast… Or Accurate.
That’s not to say you have to be the turtle or the hare, but increases in feed rate almost always come at the cost of accuracy. To ensure as much accuracy as possible while being practical, it’s critical that you define the performance criteria that will be used to measure success. Our Packaging Machinery Pre-Investment Checklist is a great tool to help with this.
For example, if speed is most important to you, consider net weight feeding systems that weigh product in a bucket within the equipment for measuring while the next container is being put into place. If accuracy is your greater concern, then consider gross weight systems that zero out the weight of the bag and equipment and ensure the weight of the packaging is accurate.
4) Don’t Forget About Your Facility
When looking for the perfect packaging solution for your customers and products, it’s easy to forget you also must consider the facility housing the equipment, and the technical experience of the workers within that facility. If your equipment doesn’t fit well in the space, or isn’t operated properly, you will have more headaches than the investment is worth in the long run.
5) Remember The Golden Rule Of Packaging
>Wasted space is wasted money. If you don’t maximize the efficiency of the space in your packaging solution, you are leaving money on the table. That being said, over packing containers can lead to downstream issues. To marry the best of both worlds, consider adjustable options that allow you to ensure a good fit.
6) Install (And Maintain) The System Properly
Equipment is only as good as its installation, and its maintenance. Too often, “perfect” packaging systems are designed but corners are cut during installation and regular preventive maintenance is neglected, derailing the success of the entire system.
To combat this and ensure peak operation, every part of the system must be consistently verified and tested to ensure it is running at optimal performance and safety.
7) Integrate Before You Buy
The perfect packaging solution is greater than the sum of its parts. When designing your system, ensure you can harmoniously integrate the different equipment together before implementing your solutions. There are ways to improve efficiencies and reduce costs by considering ways to connect each part of your packaging line to one another for a more seamless process, reducing the amount of hands required to touch the product throughout production.
Packaging isn’t one size fits all. Find the right solution for your product, customers, and facility by making strategic decisions about what you really need from your solution. As you gear up to purchase new machinery, this checklist we’ve put together will ensure you ask all the right questions of your business, your needs, and your supplier.
About David Roberge
Part of the outstanding Industrial Packaging team. I'm lucky to hang out with some of the most knowledgeable folks in the packaging industry. I feel even luckier to be able to share our knowledge with you. I love learning about and helping readers grow their brand through unique, flexible package design from the birth of the product idea, through the supply chain and to the launch and placement on the shelf or at the consumer's door.