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How To Protect Your Packages In a Supply Chain Environment

How to Protect Your Packages in a Supply Chain Environment

Packaging can be quite the investment for a company. Often, many purchasers find themselves focusing a lot on the design and look of the package rather than focusing on its durability and strength. This creates many issues for companies as it opens the door for potential product loss, delayed product launches, product shortages, and other issues when products are damaged throughout the supply chain, specifically during shipment.

In a supply chain environment your packaging will be getting pushed, pulled, dropped, and pushed against each other. Products and packages on a pallet can begin to shift and move if not properly secured. There is always going to be wear and tear on packaging throughout the supply chain, however with the proper packaging techniques, you can minimize product loss.

Overview: 9 Ways To Improve Your Packaging Protection

Receiving damaged packages and products can be quite disappointing, inconvenient and costly. As a result, we have created a list of 9 ways to help you improve your packaging protection throughout the supply chain.

Consider Packaging Inserts, Partitions and Dividers

One important factor for you to consider is whether or not your product needs to be fitted into an insert cavity or supported by a divider or partition. Inserts are used to hold an object in place and prevent it from shifting. Dividers and partitions are designed to prevent your package from shifting upward or sideways by restricting the object’s space.

Inserts, partitions, and dividers are an extra layer of protection for your product. They are the buffer between the outer layer of your package and the product. 

If you notice your product is moving freely within a package, whether it is pushed, pulled, dropped or pressed against, then you probably are going to need one. Depending on your budget, packaging space, and how fragile your product is will play a role in what type of insert, partition or divider you will use, as they can vary in size and material. Popular materials include: corrugated, foam, thermoform, chipboard, and paperboard.

chipboard insert

Optimize the Structural Design of Your Packaging

Structural design is how your packaging is shaped and sized, which will impact how your product is protected. Optimize your package to your product needs, which may warrant you to size and shape your packaging to fit cushioned materials, inserts, dividers or partitions. In addition, extra empty space within the package can lead to damage as the product can shift, move, and be unsupported.

Generally, for your package to have the proper structural design you will need it to be custom made, as the packaging needs to be retrofitted to your product. Standard or stock packaging products are not designed for your product, which can make your product vulnerable to damage if you do not carefully cushion or protect your product.

custom packaging services

Don’t Cut Corners on Quality

Everyone wants to save on price, which often leads them to overlook or sacrifice on the quality of the packaging material. Quality plays a huge role in the structural integrity of your packaging. It can help you prevent product loss and can give you a better chance of getting all your packaging to end users at your desired level of satisfaction (clean, not torn or ripped). 

It is important to mention that not all packaging material is created equally, as some material is designed to hold up to a specific amount of weight, with each having its own advantages and disadvantages. We recommend you work with a packaging professional that can consult with you on the different types of packaging materials and what would work best for you. You may find that they might be able to help you save on cost without sacrificing on quality by providing your packaging product options.

Utilize Edge Protectors for Extra Support

Edge protectors, often used with stretch film and strapping materials, are used to help protect the product while it’s on the pallet. They provide the pallet with extra support by holding all the packages on the pallet still. This prevents products from falling off the pallet or from damage to the stretch film. In addition, it also helps the pallet get uniformed and straight edges which is ideal for preventing damage or shipment issues.

The most common materials used for edge protectors are paperboard and expanded polystyrene.

custom edge protectors

Use the Right Tape for Your Application

There are so many different tapes to choose from, which can make room for error in using the wrong one for the wrong application. The purpose of tape is to hold the contents of your packaging from opening. It is best to use tape that is designed closely to your packaging needs. This may require you to get tape based on strength, environmental conditions capabilities or other features.

Since tape is so complex with the different strengths, types, and features, we recommend you reach out to your packaging specialist that can help you select the best tape for your application.

Packaging tape

Select and use the Right Stretch Film

Like tape, stretch film can come in a variety of different types and strengths. The purpose of stretch film is to hold all of the content on a pallet together by wrapping plastic film that stretches around it. This will prevent the products from shifting or falling to one side as a whole. However, it is imperative to select the right stretch film as there is no one size that fits all. 

For example, cast film and blown film are processed differently, which gives them different strengths. Factors such as this can influence how much content stretch film can hold without breaking. In addition, depending on your product may warrant extra protection with additives. Additives may be essential in preserving your product in the supply chain.

Stretch Film Hand Roll Onto Pallet

 Label Your Packaging

Packaging labels make life easier for workers in the supply chain all the way to the end user. Labels can provide useful information such as product handling directions and cautions. This can help minimize human error throughout the supply chain of your product.

Consider Cushioning Products

There are many different ways to add extra protection to your package to make it more durable during a supply chain environment, which is why you should always consider adding cushioning products. Cushioning products are designed to provide non-abrasive and lightweight protection and security for packaging in a supply chain. 

Cushioning products consist of loose fill material, bubble and foam rolls, foam in place pouches, paper void fillers and other products.

Test Your Packaging Material and Product

One way to achieve peace at mind and certainty is to put your packaging efforts to the test. International State Transit Association (ISTA) and American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) are organizations that have created standards for packaging. These standards hold your packaging to meet a certain level of durability and resilience during a supply chain environment. 

Tests include: drop, compression, vibration, and many other environmental conditions that help stimulate a real distribution environment. If a test is passed, your packaging will be accredited, which means it will be recognized as quality packaging amongst other businesses.

Ultimately, you want to test your packaging before you mass produce it and have it run its course through a supply chain. Product and material testing can help you prevent product loss and supply chain issues.

Summary: How To Protect Your Packages in a Supply Chain

There are many different ways to protect your product in a supply chain environment. You can get extra protection internally and externally from your package. Internal packaging solutions include: inserts, dividers, partitions, cushioning products. External packaging solutions include: edge protectors, tape, stretch film and labels.

By securing your packaging internally and externally, without cutting cost on packaging material quality and design needs, your packaging will be in top shape to undergo a supply chain environment. However, if you are still hesitant on making a huge investment upfront, then we recommend you test your product and packaging material in a supply chain simulator.

If you are interested in packaging and protective solutions, then contact Brown Packaging today to get started.

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