July 27, 2017

How Do You Know if Your Packaging is Outdated?


How do you know if your packaging is outdated? How long have you been using the same packaging methodology? Odds are if you have utilized the same packaging since Bush was President there might be an opportunity for improvement. Does your packaging optimize product protection against the total cost of transit? Have you looked at your total product transit ecosystem to determine opportunities for reuse and recycle?


These are things we do every day at EPE.


I understand it’s what we do and live for, but you can follow the same basic guidelines we use at EPE to accurately ascertain if your packaging is current with today’s packaging materials, testing, and environmental obligations to our planet.


You’ve heard me talk about the Perfect Package™ and how packaging can be ideally optimized for any product and transit mode, and the process is similar when evaluating your current packaging methodology.


Below are five simple steps to follow to determine if your packaging is providing your products the best transit value. That’s what you should consider every time you evaluate your packaging–are you optimizing your product protection against the total cost of transit?


1. Has Your Product Evolved?

The first thing to consider is your product. Has it changed the form, fit, or robustness since the original packaging was created? I have seen products evolve (they all do) as improvements are made to the product since its launch, and it’s especially prevalent in products that have a long-life cycle, or greater than three years.


Products that initially might have fragility issues that have been improved in later revisions or changes to the product form factor are significant events that require a review of the original packaging as well. Opportunities to reduce the amount of cushioning material and overall carton size often are possible when the product changes during its life.


A basic rule of thumb here is if the product specifications change with new revisions and enhancements, then you need to review the product packaging as well to ensure it’s still providing the optimized protection versus cost.


2. Factor in the Transit Environment

The second major factor to determine if your packaging is current is understanding your product transit environment. The transit modes utilized in today’s world keep changing, with new routes, ships, and handling equipment being developed annually. Transit hazards also change when new processes are introduced, and understanding them and how they impact your product protection is critical.


How can anyone really know the hazards packaging sees during transit? We do.


In fact, at EPE we know them better than anyone. How do we know them better than anyone? We map the transit lanes daily, and have been doing so for years. We use data loggers, which tracks shock, vibration, temperature, and the humidity of your packaging product throughout any transit lane.  Knowing the environment your product is exposed to during transit is a key to understanding what level of packaging is needed to product your product during said transits.


3. Align Your Product with its Unique Transit Needs

The part “B’ to the transit analysis is to determine if any changes have been made in the transit routing, handling, or configuration of your products since launch. Have you changed carriers, mode of transit, or method of shipment?


We live in a dimensional world (and I’m a material girl) where packages are often charged by overall size more than the weight of the package. Any changes to these factors require a relook at your packaging as changes in transit and how your product is moved is a direct correlation to how your packaged performs. Going from single packs to palletized loads or vice versus are key changes. Moving from airfreight to ocean freight mode of transit, or vice versus, are also key changes to your packaged product and need to be reviewed. Again, aligning your packaging needs to the transit environment is the goal to ensure optimized costs and protection.


4. Packaging Tailored to Your Product

Packaging materials and design philosophies have changed drastically over the past five years, let alone the changes in transit modes. Long gone are the days of filling the box with foam to protect your product against unknown transit hazards – we know the hazards now and can optimize protection to prevent product damage.


The keywords here are “optimized protection”.


Historical packaging solutions utilized the old mentality of “the more packaging material shoved in the box the better is must be protected”. As you can imagine, this thinking is antiquated at best, and probably contributed to the mountains of landfills we have around us today.


Not probably – have.


At EPE, this is what keeps us up at night – not contributing to the landfills anymore. The good news is we can sleep knowing that there are packaging materials and processes we developed to address the mountain building, and at the same time reduce costs for product protection. No more boxes filled with white gobs of expanded polystyrene that heads straight to the dump, or the still ever so present cartons filled with white peanuts or bubble wrap that seemingly reproduce as you try to unpack the product from within them (I’m sure history will look back on the use of these materials as one of lack of environmental awareness and concern, and overall laziness to find a better solution).


Reducing packaging materials and to protect products intelligently while improving product protection during transit is being done every day at EPE. I don’t know about everyone else, but at EPE we are still hell bent on saving the planet one package at a time.


5. The ECO Transit System

The last factor to consider in determining your packaging worthiness is your product transit ecosystem. Yes, every product has an ecosystem whether it’s the egg transit from the chicken to your frying pan, or the new dress made in Indonesia, shipped to the USA in bulk, repackaged for single transit to the end customer, sent back to the distributor because she didn’t like the color, and then shipped out again to someone else to try on, every product has a transit ecosystem.


Do your products get returned and repackaged? Do your products get refurbished and sent out again? Do you collect and reuse your packaging where feasible?


These are all things that need addressing in the process of optimizing your product packaging ecosystem. At EPE, we evaluate all of these factors and more to discover opportunities throughout the ecosystem to reduce, reuse, and recycle every package we make. Reduce, reuse, and recycle are also names for lower costs when done right, and lower costs go right to the bottom line.


The bottom line is the bottom line, and packaging optimization is key to reducing your overall product costs. By not addressing your packaging ecosystem on a regular basis can leave money on the table as well as needlessly contributing to the ever-growing mountains of packaging waste is filling up our planet. EPE is committed to helping Mother Nature all we can.


Are you?