Best business practice – Optimization in transport, food and medical sealed packaging to reduce operational costs.

a man carrying a corrugated box

As we start winding up the first quarter of 2021, every industry in the global economy is still in the process of adapting to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. The sealed packaging sector is no different. With demand for packaging supplies generally on the rise, NPP Ireland examines the trends likely to dominate the industry in the coming years, and looks at ways to optimise sealed packaging. 

The supply chain interruptions that have arisen during the pandemic, together with an increased emphasis on health and cleanliness, have resulted in an overall increase in demand for vacuum sealing products. Perhaps more than ever, wholesalers, retailers and end-users are demanding packaging that extends the shelf-life of goods and makes for easier, cleaner transport. 

Packaging optimisation is not only crucial for the food and medical industries. E-commerce is rapidly ascending to the pinnacle of the retail sector. Shipping practices in the online shopping arena make it particularly reliant on optimised packaging. As e-commerce across all industries continues to boom, its packaging and logistics methods are rapidly transforming to improve efficiency and to keep with the post-COVID safety requirements. The seemingly unstoppable growth of e-commerce is manifesting in two key trends:

  • Stronger regulatory guidelines: Particularly in the food industry, health and safety guidelines have always been stringent. They are now even more so. At the same time, customers are demanding faster delivery, which means that retailers need to improve the practices and technology they use in their packaging and transport to increase speed and respond to health and safety requirements simultaneously.
  • The rise of e-commerce in the food and beverage industry: Ecommerce has already established itself securely in various sectors. The COVID-19 pandemic has sped up its adoption in the retail sector, as buying online has become the safest and most reliable way for many consumers to purchase their groceries. The resulting growth has necessitated new and optimised business practices in the design and management of e-commerce platforms, as well as in packaging and transport. Click-and-collect shopping has made sealing an increasingly important practice in retail, as products are packed and prepared for customers to pick up. Sealing machines that work quickly and efficiently, and are easy to operate, are essential pieces of equipment for retailers. NPP’s range of power sealers, lidding machines, tray sealers and tabletop sealers are perfect examples.    

Optimisation is the name of the game. Logistics and packaging practices need to be upgraded, alongside all other business practices, in order to meet the new industry trends. Optimisation in any area of business, be at a management level or in the details of product packaging, involves three essential strategies:

  • Rely on technology: The secret to success in any business is to use the right tools for the job. Making use of the latest technology – whether that means using the latest e-commerce tools or the latest and best packaging solutions – will enable you to future-proof your company and operations and keep you ahead of the trends. 
  • Keep your current processes under constant review: Always know exactly where your current practices stand in relation to the relevant trends. A thorough understanding of the links between the various aspects of your production line will enable you to see clearly what actions can be taken to improve them.
  • Commit to continuous improvement: As you regularly review your production line, make a commitment to improving it as and when necessary. Upgrading and optimising your processes as you go will help to keep your supply chains moving in tandem with market demand, and prevent you from having to undertake expensive and time-consuming large-scale improvements in practice and infrastructure.

These are all great tips for optimising production and supply processes in general, but how does the concept of optimisation translate into the specifics of packaging? Every business requires its packaging to serve several different roles, from product protection to brand representation. Optimised packaging is that which is carefully designed to serve all its purposes at once in a way that completely satisfies the demands of your market and supply chain, as well as environmental and regulatory requirements. We are talking about smart packaging that contains and protects your products while moving them from your warehouse or fulfilment centre to your customers’ homes or places of business. Optimised packaging also fulfils these roles with minimal waste and is designed with the environment in mind. To optimise your packaging, you need to do the following:

  • Choose the right materials: Before you choose your packaging, you must understand the potential vulnerabilities of your product, i.e. how perishable or fragile it is. You can then decide what the correct primary, secondary and tertiary packaging will be for your purposes.
  • Select the right amount of packaging for your supply chain: With almost any product, there is a risk of either over-packaging or under-packaging. Using too little packaging can make the product susceptible to damage, while over packaging can increase supply chain costs unnecessarily. 
  • Choose the right packaging design: After having chosen your packaging type, the next step is to design and engineer it for your product. As you plan your design consider whether your vendor can supply the packaging you require and/or what is possible within the limits of their equipment and material capabilities. Consider your own operations and make sure your packaging is suitable for them. How would the chosen packaging affect your production speed? If it slows down production, is the reduced output a worthwhile trade-off, or should you opt for packaging that won’t affect output or may even help it run faster?
  • Think carefully about your product count: You could optimise your packaging by rethinking your product count. Do you normally ship in six-packs? You may want to consider the possibility that switching to a 12-pack could give you more pallet space or improve your overall shipping density. Think about ways in which changing your product count might help you fit more product on retail shelves and reduce inventory.     
  • Make sure you are giving your product the right kind of protection: In addition to transit or stacking protection, an effective packaging solution offers several other kinds of protection. You might need barrier protection to extend shelf life in food or medical products, for example, or shock protection to prevent damage in the event of impacts or drops. Think about your product and consider ALL the kinds of protection it needs.   

a man carrying a secure package

NPP’s packaging solutions are designed with all of these factors taken into account.  Here are some of the ways that we can help you optimise your packaging.

Effective reduction of damage to goods in transit

One of the most important functions of sealed packaging – secondary and tertiary packaging in particular – is to keep your products safe and protected while in transit. It is essential to secure large shipments to guard against falling and impact. The best way to do this is to wrap your pallets before they ship. NPP provides several pallet wrap options, including Eco Fiber Film, Fiber Film, Air O Film as well as pallet wrapping machinery.

Case handling machines from NPP

Case and tray handling machines increase the efficiency of your packing lines exponentially. NPP’s machinery can build your cases and prepare them for filling at far greater speeds than you can achieve by hand. Consider incorporating our Lantech case erector, case sealers, tray erectors and lid applicators into production lines. These devices enable precise case and tray management and 100% control of cases and trays throughout the entire erecting and sealing process, ensuring your cases perform as designed and are produced with maximum efficiency.

What can go wrong when transporting goods?

The moment your shipment leaves your fulfilment centre, it is vulnerable to various environmental hazards resulting from vehicle vibration, handling problems, temperature fluctuations and moisture. The best way to mitigate these risks is to employ the many packing solutions at your disposal, such as those supplied by NPP – from various kinds of pallet wraps to wrapping machines. Protection starts with the design of the primary packaging and then extends to tertiary packaging. 

The significance of sealers in the medical and food industry 

Food products have a limited shelf life. From the moment they are packaged, their exposure to oxygen causes them to decay. This has made sealing a vital part of food packaging. Effective sealing displaces the oxygen from the food, keeping products fresh for longer. This has always been important in the food industry, but it is particularly relevant when there are supply chain delays, as has occurred from time to time during the COVID-19 pandemic. NPP’s sealing solutions allow fast and efficient sealing to keep products airtight and protected against contaminants.

The critical role of sealed packaging to support COVID-19 needs

Freshness preservation became all the more important during the COVID-19 pandemic. Recall the long queues of cargo trucks stuck for hours at the UK-France border, for example. Such breakdowns in the supply chain could result in massive amounts of waste. For this reason, sealed packaging is more important than ever. NPP’s sealing machines and wrapping, and our range of custom packaging solutions provide from life-extending, waste-eliminating sealing to keep your goods safe and fresh even during extended periods of transit and storage.

Pallet wrap protecting loads and the environment

Pallet wrap and other transit packaging solutions protect your shipments as well as the environment. NPP offers pallet wrap that is both eco-friendly and an effective barrier against impact, temperature changes and moisture. Our wrap is strong and robust, encouraging minimal use and preventing waste. 

MAP and film packaging explained 

Modified Atmosphere Packaging (MAP) is an alternative to traditional sealed packaging. Instead of sucking the air out of a container and sealing it against outside oxygen, the MAP process displaces the oxygen in the container by injecting an inert gas mixture which slows the ageing and decaying process of the product. MAP sealing prolongs shelf life, preserves the taste, smell and texture of food and drastically reduces product turnover.

Advantages of pallet wraps 

Pallet wraps are an effective way to prepare large shipments of multiple containers for storage and transport. They are stretchable plastics that bind items tightly together, preventing them from moving around while in transit. Pallet wraps are also waterproof and protect boxes against moisture from the surrounding air or from spills. Pallet wraps can reduce the loss of products, prevent load tampering and theft and protect from water and dust. NPP supplies a variety of pallet wraps, as well as wrapping machines.

Based in Dublin, NPP is Ireland’s leading supplier of flexible packaging and machinery; and also the supplier of choice for many of Ireland’s leading brands. The company supplies packaging solutions to the food, industrial, agricultural, pharmaceutical industries and other companies throughout Ireland. Contact us for more information about our sealed packaging solutions.