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How to Improve Supply Chain Performance By Improving Packaging

Having the right packaging design will maximize consumer value, sales, and profits.

Packaging doesn’t just refer to the box that contains the product. It is a coordinated system of preparing goods for efficient, safe and cost-effective movement through the entire supply chain. Having the right packaging design will maximize consumer value, sales, and profits.

Achieving Perfect Packaging

One effective way to improve supply chain performance is by improving packaging. Remove all unnecessary materials and steps in the packaging and shipping processes. Inappropriate packaging includes having too much protective material encasing the product. It won’t just cost you more but will also slow down the processing and delivery times for customers.

Creative packaging gives you the opportunity to engage with your customers. Look for a design that increases product safety and security while reducing the materials used. Invest in unique packaging designs which focus on efficiency and resource reduction.

3 Factors Affecting Packaging Design

Three functions interact with each other in supply chain management: market, flow, and environment.

  • Market function: This is fundamental to the packaging system. It takes into account various aspects like design, layout, ergonomics, and communications to add value to the product and brand. The objective of the market function is to increase sales and satisfy customers.
  • Flow function: This takes into account all the packaging features which contribute to easy handling during distribution. This function includes internal material flows, packaging logistics, distributions, disposal, unpacking, and return handling.
  • Environment function: This aims to lower the negative impact of the packaging system on the environment. This is achieved by using fewer inputs while getting the same outputs, reusing materials, and facilitating packaging recycling in supply chain management.

Understanding the role of each function will help you develop a better packaging design strategy.

Tips to Improve Packaging and Optimize Supply Chain 

Eliminate Design Deficiencies

Consider industry best practices to design a smart package that is based on consumer insights and requirements. You can improve an existing package or design a new one by studying consumer insights which can drive tear-down. Analyzing pack functions enhances efficiency and reduces the cost of goods.

Packaging Procurement

How you source the packaging components also plays a huge role. You can streamline the operation from an expensive part of any given packaging component and consider standardizing raw materials. You may benefit from using suppliers with a global footprint if your business has a global presence. Look at inventory management and working capital as important requirements while sourcing materials and components.

Standardize Sizes and Equipment

By having standardized package sizes which can be used for multiple products, you can reduce change-over times and produce higher line utilization. You could standardize packaging equipment as well. Optimize pack layout for higher throughput and apply lean manufacturing-related tools for continued improvements.

Optimize Packaging

In order to optimize packaging, you can make design changes such as shaving off a few millimeters from a package or using lighter yet durable materials. The key elements are to reduce weight and include the package's aspect ratio during your design. Involve employees who understand material sciences. You can use technology like computer simulation and finite element analysis to optimize packaging.

Identify Bottlenecks to Increase Line Speed

Identify all the bottlenecks that are present in the production line at every step — this includes leaflet insertion, labelling, packaging material choices, sizing, and end-of-line processes. Consider removing bottlenecks by modifying conveyor length or using longer or helical conveyors to help in reducing space and increasing line efficiency.

End-of-Line Solutions

You can increase efficiency by setting up the end-of-line solutions properly. Minimize constraints by including hand packing, case forming, and semi-automatic case tapers and full automation of case erectors, case packers, case taping, and stretch wrapping.

Aim for Sustainability

Use more recyclable and energy-efficient packaging materials in order to reduce your carbon footprint. For example, if you use materials that require lower manufacturing temperatures, you can reduce the overall energy use in the supply chain.

Increase Warehouse Management and Transport Efficiency

Some ways to increase efficiency in transport and warehouse management include using reusable and standard pallets, understanding that the shortest distance is not always the most efficient distance to route vehicles through, and using floor space as well as height effectively.

By making even small packaging improvements, you can make a significant difference. As a business owner, you must constantly look for easy and creative ways to improve supply chain management and production by examining opportunities throughout the entire process.

Abhijeet Shah is the head of digital marketing for Packing Supply.

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