Paper, corrugated sheets, cartons, plastic bags – there are many different types of packaging materials available today. Each material has its own advantages and disadvantages. For example, paper bags are eco friendly but not very strong or durable. On the other hand, plastic bags are not eco friendly but are much stronger. If you need to pack something that’s heavy, neither would be very useful. For your packaging to be effective, you must choose the right material for your products.
Let’s take a look at some of the key things to keep in mind.
The first factor to consider is the type of product being packed. Packing a product with sharp protrusions in paper or plastic is a bad idea. Instead, you would need something like heat shrink plastic film. This is a material that when exposed to heat, shrinks and conforms to the silhouette of the product being packed. Thus, it holds the cargo safe while keeping it visible for marketing purposes. Similarly, let’s say you need to pack heavy machinery and transport it from one city to another. In such cases, visibility is not critical and wooden crates would be the best solution as they are strong, durable and can take heavy weights.
Items that are fragile need special packaging materials. Here, you need to think not just of the material that will hold them but also a filler material to fill up the negative spaces. Using fillers ensures that the product does not move out of place and minimizes the chances of damage. A large fragile item may be packed in a carton with molded Styrofoam to hold it in place while a small fragile item may be packed with bubble wrap as the filler. Ofcourse the value of the product also influences the type of packaging.
Weight is a very important factor to be considered. Each material has a certain limit of weight it can carry. Within the same category of materials also, there may be variations to account for different weights. For example, plastic is often used to package food grains. The thickness of plastic needed varies based on the weight of the grains.
Sensitivity to the Environment
Iron appears to be very strong and indestructible but if it is exposed to moisture, the material can rust. Thus, it wouldn’t be enough to simply pack it in a wooden crate – you would need to pack it in a material that creates a barrier between the metal and the air around it. Similarly, when chemicals come in contact with air, some of their properties may change. Thus, they need specialized packaging.
When you buy a samosa from the street vendor, he may pack it in a sheet of newspaper. This is great as long as you know you’re going to be eating it in the next few hours. But, if you need to keep it for a few days, newspaper is not going to work. Hence, the duration of time, a product needs to be kept packed is an important consideration. Even with cargo like furniture, if you know the piece is going to be in storage for a while, you may want to look into packing it with corrugate sheets and then wrapping the whole package with stretch film.
Lastly, at a time when global warming is not just a theoretical term but something we’re experiencing on a day to day basis, you may also want to consider your carbon footprint. Materials like paper, cardboard and wood are considered ecofriendly while plastic and Styrofoam are non-biodegradable. Many companies have pivoted from using bubble wrap to using shredded paper or paper cut in a honeycomb pattern to give it added flexibility and strength for their fragile goods.
Thus, it isn’t enough to simply have access to all the different types of packaging materials, you must also know how to match the materials to your product packaging needs. It is also imperative for the material being used to stand up to a high quality standard. If you want to be efficient with your packaging, it is always best to outsource the task to a professional. There are many packaging professionals so ask for quotes from multiple vendors and start working with the person who inspires your trust.