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The overpackaging and underpackaging of products in the United States represent two sides of the same coin within the packaging industry, and both have profound impacts on the environment and the economy. In production environments, the best solution is packaging optimization with transport simulations and testing solutions to find greater profitability.

Plastic is present throughout the United States. While China is the largest producer of plastic, the United States generates the most plastic waste in the world.

packaging-optimization

Most people rely on plastic, and although some used plastics can be reused multiple times, we are talking about single-use plastic. Plastic utensils, plastic plates, cups, straws, plastic bags…

Packaging optimization: what is overpackaging?

‘Over packaging’ is a new technique that brands are increasingly using to make the product offered to consumers more attractive and unique.

In this regard, it is important to consider that the cost is quite substantial, which not only entails a significant monetary investment by companies but also results in significant wastage of raw materials.

Furthermore, it is worth emphasizing that the vast majority of packaging is made of plastic, adding another issue: environmental damage.

overpackaging
Resource Waste: Overpackaging involves the excessive use of packaging materials such as plastic, cardboard, and paper. This contributes to the waste of natural resources and the increase in solid waste, which can have a negative impact on the environment.
Additional Costs: Excessive use of packaging materials increases production and packaging costs for companies. Additionally, the transportation of overpackaged products can be more expensive due to the additional weight and volume.
Consumer Reaction: Consumers are increasingly aware of the environmental impact of the products they purchase. Overpackaging can be perceived as unnecessary and environmentally unfriendly waste, which could deter some customers and affect sales.
Environmental Regulations: In the United States, there are regulations and restrictions related to packaging and plastic waste, for example. Overpackaging can lead to legal issues or fines if companies do not comply with these regulations.

Packaging optimization: what is underpackaging?

Underpackaging it’s the practice of packaging a product insufficiently or inadequately. In other words, it refers to the situation in which a product is not properly protected or packaged, which can lead to damage, losses, or issues during transportation, storage, or handling.

Underpackaging can have various negative consequences, such as product breakage, contamination, loss of quality, or customer dissatisfaction.

Product Damage: If a product is not adequately packaged to protect it during transportation and handling, there is a significant risk that it will arrive damaged to the customer. This can lead to returns, replacements, or refunds, increasing costs and decreasing customer satisfaction.
Negative Brand Image: Insufficient packaging can make a company appear careless or unprofessional. Customers may associate damaged or poorly packaged products with poor quality, which can damage the brand’s reputation.
Logistical Issues: If products are not properly packaged for transport, they may occupy more space than necessary in warehouses and trucks, increasing storage and shipping costs.

It is important to find an appropriate balance in product packaging to ensure its safety and quality throughout the distribution process while minimizing material waste and considering environmental impact. The choice of the type and amount of packaging depends on the specific product and the conditions of transportation and storage it will be exposed to.

How can overpackage and underpackage be avoided?

Packaging Audit:

To begin with packaging optimization, an audit is the best practice to start. This involves examining your current packaging methods and materials to identify opportunities for improvement, with the goal of reducing waste and ensuring that products are appropriately protected.

Overpackaging can lead to unnecessary waste and increased costs, while underpackaging can lead to product damage and customer dissatisfaction. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to conduct a Packaging Audit to avoid both:

Inventory and Catalog Your Current Packaging:

  • Identify and list all the different types of packaging you use boxes, envelopes, padding, wrapping, etc.
  • Measure the size, weight, and materials of each packaging component.

Review Product Types and Requirements:

  • List the different types of products you ship and their packaging needs. Do fragile items receive enough protection? Do small items get shipped in oversized boxes?

Analyze Material Usage:

  • Determine if the materials you use are recyclable, reusable, or biodegradable. The more sustainable the materials, the better.
  • Assess the amount of filler or void-fill materials like bubble wrap, paper, or foam. If there’s too much, you might be overpackaging.

Evaluate Packaging Efficiency:

  • Examine how efficiently products fit into packaging. Is there a lot of empty space or unused material?
  • Consider alternative packaging designs or systems that reduce material use without compromising protection.

Examine Customer Feedback:

  • Look into returns and customer complaints. If products often arrive damaged, you might be underpackaging. If customers complain about excessive packaging, you might be overdoing it.

Compare to Industry Standards:

  • Research best practices and standards in your industry. Are there guidelines or benchmarks for packaging?

Cost Analysis:

  • Determine the cost of your current packaging. Overpackaging wastes materials and increases shipping costs due to added weight.
  • Compare potential savings from reduced materials and shipping weights to the cost of damaged goods from underpackaging.

Test New Packaging Designs:

  • If you identify opportunities for improvement, test new packaging designs or materials on a small scale.
  • Monitor product protection and customer feedback closely.

Educate and Train Staff:

  • Ensure that everyone involved in the packaging process understands the importance of avoiding overpackaging and underpackaging.
  • Proper training can lead to more consistent packaging and fewer errors.

Regularly Review and Update:

  • The business world is dynamic, and products, shipping methods, or customer expectations can change. Regularly conduct packaging audits to ensure you remain efficient and sustainable.

Transport Simulation and distribution packaging:

Transportation simulation machines can replicate the stresses and conditions that packages might face during shipping and handling. By subjecting packaging to simulated transport conditions, these machines can help determine if a package is adequately protected (avoiding underpackaging) or if it’s over-engineered and can be simplified (avoiding overpackaging). This allows companies to:

Logistical Issues: If products are not properly packaged for transport, they may occupy more space than necessary in warehouses and trucks, increasing storage and shipping costs.
Reduce Costs: By using just the right amount of material, costs can be cut down.
Minimize Environmental Impact: Overpackaging results in more waste. By optimizing packaging, the environmental footprint can be reduced.
Improve Product Safety: Ensuring that a product can withstand transportation stresses reduces the risk of damage and subsequent returns or complaints.

What packaging tests should be conducted for packaging optimization?

Transportation simulation machines play a vital role in ensuring packages are appropriately designed for the rigors of shipping and handling.

Through systematic testing, companies can strike the right balance, ensuring products are adequately protected without wasting materials or incurring unnecessary costs.

Drop tests for packaging optimization

Drop tests are designed to mimic the real-world falls a package could face during transit and handling, with the aim of ensuring that its contents stay intact.

In this procedure, the package is elevated to various heights and then let fall onto a rigid surface. This is not just a straightforward drop; it’s done from several orientations, including the package’s edges, corners, and flat faces.

Once the test concludes, a thorough inspection of the product is carried out. If any harm has been inflicted, it’s a clear sign that the packaging approach needs refining.

Vibration tests for packaging optimization

Vibration tests are conducted to replicate the vibrational stresses a package might experience from various modes of transportation, such as trucks, airplanes, and ships. For this, the package is positioned on a specialized vibration table, meticulously calibrated to mimic the diverse frequencies and severities typical of actual transit scenarios.

Following the vibration exposure, the package undergoes a detailed evaluation, with particular attention to its overall integrity and the state of its contents. Observations of wear, damage, or any compromised areas of the packaging highlight the need for potential refinements.

Compression tests for packaging optimization

Compression tests serve a vital purpose in assessing a package’s resilience, especially for goods that are destined for palletized transport or stacked storage.

In this test, a steadily increasing force is exerted on the package until it either changes shape or breaks down. The maximum force the package can bear prior to deformation becomes a key metric, shedding light on its robustness and overall structural soundness.

This information is instrumental in ensuring that goods are both efficiently and securely packaged for their journey and storage.

Tilt  tests for packaging optimization

Tilt tests are crucial for products that demand an upright orientation, serving to evaluate a package’s equilibrium and its vulnerability to tipping.

In this evaluation, the package is stationed on an adjustable platform. This platform is methodically tilted until the moment the package succumbs and tips over.

The specific angle at which the package loses its balance offers valuable insights, revealing its inherent stability levels during various handling and transportation scenarios. Such information is pivotal in ensuring that products remain upright and secure throughout their transit journey.

Impact/Shock tests for packaging optimization

Impact or shock tests are designed to gauge a package’s fortitude against unexpected and powerful forces, reminiscent of the jolts from sudden halts or accidental collisions.

To execute this, a swift and forceful impact is delivered to the package using dedicated equipment, ranging from basic pendulum setups to intricate hydraulic systems. After undergoing this abrupt force, the package, along with its contents, undergoes a meticulous inspection.

The focus of this assessment is to detect any harm, be it to the product within or any structural compromise to the packaging itself, ensuring that the goods are suitably protected against such unforeseen events during transit.

By utilizing transportation simulation machines and conducting their specified tests, companies can emulate the real-world challenges that packages might encounter during transit. These machines play a pivotal role in accurately assessing how packaging would respond to various stressors.

By conducting these tests, companies can gather valuable data on their packaging’s performance, ensuring products are protected during transportation while optimizing material use and costs. This comprehensive evaluation, facilitated by the transportation simulation machines, directly addresses the concerns of underpackaging and overpackaging. As a result, businesses can strike an optimal balance, ensuring that goods are neither overly protected with wasteful materials nor inadequately shielded, leading to potential damage.

If you want more information or have specific queries on how to optimize your packaging strategies, contact us! We’re here to assist.

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