Package engineering has long been the least glamorous element of manufacturing. It isn’t as snazzy as marketing, is less glorious than production, and not seemingly as challenging as transportation. But package engineering is emerging as a sought after degree in business schools, and the impacts of smart package design go beyond purely functional, playing into the public’s perception of the product, the product damage losses of the company, the cost of transportation, and much more, according to Brian Wagner of Packing & Technology Integrated Solutions, as reported by Supply Chain Digest.
Packaging is part of many trends in the manufacturing industry, including green initiatives, profit margins, streamlined transportation, efficient warehousing, and consumer perception. According to Wagner, the industry norm is now green practices, which means packaging engineers have to strive for the most sustainable packaging possible. Sometimes this means converting to more recyclable materials or less wasteful materials. For products that are transported within a company, instead of being shipped to customers, this might mean creating reusable containers in lieu of traditional packaging.
Overseas shipping is also an issue, as the United States shifts away from being primarily and importer of goods and toward being a major exporter. Virtually all foreign countries present a perception challenge to packaging engineers, as these developers must be able to understand how a particular package is going to be perceived by a customer in different cultures, such as those in Asia and the Middle East.
Furthermore, developing nations do not yet have the infrastructure for transport that most developed nations enjoy. This means that packaging designed to be shipped to countries like Brazil or Afghanistan has to be able to withstand long transport in inferior vehicles across many miles of substandard roads. The packaging that is perfectly adequate for a trip from Indiana to San Diego isn’t going to necessarily withstand the same number of miles in these situations.
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