As an essential aspect of supply chain management, packaging offers opportunity as well as necessary function. This service not only functions as the key element of preparing a completed product (or kit of products) to ship to the customer, it also provides an occasion to implement improvements in branding, quality and customer satisfaction.
Quality and cost-effective packaging can be hard to find. The most successful contract packaging partners use both cutting-edge practices and materials and guide projects from start to finish. Since each packaging initiative is one-of-a-kind with regard to size, scope and lifespan, flexibility is a critical requirement that a contract packaging partner must be able to accommodate. Along with flexibility, there are four additional elements of successful contract packaging services.
Five Elements for Successful Contract Packaging
The goal is to maximize the impact of each element of packaging operations. The greater your contract packaging partner’s capacity for flexibility, the more streamlined, cost-effective and generally successful their operations will be.
Flexibility is also important to a successful packaging project with regard to the demands of today’s customers. They expect convenience factors such as bottles that are easier for arthritic hands to open and packaging that is designed for portability. Increasingly, on-the-go consumers prefer smaller, more portable packages or individual use packaging within the primary container. For example, consumers prefer single-serving airtight pouches of protein powder to large tubs. While some consumers still enjoy value size products, smaller portions are favored. This is a major, growing trend in packaging as a whole.
The packaging process offers an additional opportunity to double check orders for quality control. After assembly and kitting, the packaging stage is where shipments can be checked again for accuracy before they are completed, wrapped up and shipped. Accuracy is vital not only for customer satisfaction, but for numerous additional costs caused by inaccurate orders:
- Returns management costs when inaccurate products are shipped
- Reversal in the supply chain for replacement
- Shipping costs are tripled when inaccurate product is shipped, returned, and accurate replacements are shipped
Packaging procedures must center on accuracy for the most optimized, cost-effective service. The extra step may seem redundant in the short term, but offers far greater benefits for preventing costly mistakes overall.
Although the security of a package is important regardless of the contents, security in contract packaging for healthcare, dietary supplements, and other products is particularly vital to success. These bottles and other packaging must protect their contents until the consumer opens them, which requires:
- Structural durability to withstand transport
- Protection from elements such as oxygen or moisture, which could contaminate or damage the contents
- Where necessary, child-proofing packaging
Security isn’t just applicable to the product’s immediate enclosure, either. Some products need to be packed with styrofoam encasings, bubble wrap, cardboard covers and other protective materials to further protect the items during transport to the end consumer or retail facility.
Throughout all areas of supply chain management, traceability and tracking technology are becoming commonplace. For the most optimized and efficient operations, constant visibility of product provides the greatest opportunity to streamline when possible, redirect shipments if necessary, identify inaccuracies, and more. Effective management and application of this data is incredibly important for successful packaging operations.
With a start-to-finish approach to packaging, supply chain management processes can be streamlined to minimize failures caused by piecemeal inefficiencies or silos. How packaging processes are structured can make or break order fulfillment on many levels, so these must be carefully planned, tested, adjusted as necessary and consistently reviewed for success.
Technology offers plenty of ways to increase process efficiency and effectiveness, while expanding visibility and reducing mistakes in packaging. For example, technologies such as robotics, artificial intelligence, RFID and others can navigate processes far faster, better and more strategically than manual labor in some areas. Meanwhile printed electronics, nano-coatings, augmented reality, light-weighting and biopolymers have completely transformed packaging development from a design perspective.
Things to Expect from the Ideal Contract Packaging Partner
Best-in-class contract packaging service providers have several things in common that manufacturers should expect. Of course, their priority may vary based on specific or unique needs, but generally these expectations include:
- Engaged project consultation (particularly before or at the commencement of a project)
- Innovative solutions that set them apart or offer increased capacity or servicing
- Ability to meet or exceed standard packaging guidelines or industry regulations that apply to packaging
- Reliable turnaround and/or responsiveness
- Dedicated Project Management to ensure the manufacturer’s specific needs are met
- Balanced price-to-value ratio, allowing the manufacturer to deliver their product at a price point the consumer will accept, while still maintaining margins on cost
Hollingsworth is a leading provider of contract packaging and other logistics services, with a proven track record of excellence. Our clients span a wide range of industries, from retail and consumer electronics to healthcare and automotive. We are uniquely suited to support any range of contract packaging needs, including assembly and kitting services. Contact us to discuss your needs or to learn more.