Packing or packaging can be as simple as putting something in a mailing envelope or as complex as loading crates that weigh tons. The latter is an example of items handled by the industrial packing industry. Given the range of materials and products that are transported each day, it makes sense that the requirements for industrial packing are very different from those of packaging for individual consumers. Materials must be more heavy duty and varied to accommodate the nature of the items transported.
Those who work in the industrial packing industry must be experts so that they can propose the best solutions for the needs of their customers. They must design plans for transporting products with different characteristics using various modes of transportation. They often work with the manufacturing, research and development, and marketing departments to ensure that the plan is sound. The priority is always product protection, regardless of the type of product, the method of shipment, and the distance travelled. There are times though when the packing must also help sell the product, so it not only needs to protect but also to be visually appealing to stimulate consumer interest.
In any case, industrial packing needs to guarantee that products get from one place to another without loss. This means that the package must form a barrier against things like impact, air, and water. To do this, packagers use a variety of flexible and rigid materials.
- Containers – Examples are wooden, metal, fiberglass crates, cardboard and other shipping boxes, mailing bags and tubes, and plastic and poly bags.
- Cushioning materials – The item needs to be cushioned within the container. This is done using materials like peanuts or molded foam, bubble wrap, corrugated sheets, and edge protectors.
- Securing materials – Packers use various adhesives, stretch and shrink wrap, strapping, and brown packing tape.
The industrial packing industry is projected to grow internationally to become a $980 billion business by 2022. Among the trends fueling this growth are the revitalization of cities, growing housing construction, and increased sales of healthcare and cosmetic products. The food industry is one in which packing, and shipping needs have grown rapidly. Protecting food items against spoilage adds a level of complexity to the packing process. Whether shipping to wholesalers, retailers, or directly to homes, experts in this industry must understand how to accommodate the safety needs of each customer. One method that is growing in popularity because it has proven to be successful is flexible packing. This is the type of packing in which the interior and exterior of the container can be easily manipulated to match the product. This method combines the advantages of the most protective materials with efficiency that minimizes overall costs.
People will always have the need to pack things and as general commerce grows, industrial packing businesses will expand. It will be up to the experts in this field and the latest technologies to determine how successful that expansion will be. They must also determine if packing and transport operations can keep up with the complex needs of the future.