How do I choose the best transport packaging for my product?

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Robert Verboven
Account Manager
More articles by Robert Verboven

These 4 questions will help you determine what your packaging needs to meet

Choosing the right transport packaging for your product can be quite a challenge. These four questions will make your search for the best packaging a lot easier. In the video below, our account manager Robert Verboven gives you an insight. You can read more in this blog.

Every packaging question is unique and requires a unique solution

Why is the search for a suitable packaging so difficult? Every product is unique, just like the route the product takes to reach its final destination. At Faes we therefore consider it very important to look not only at the product and its characteristics, but also at the logistical process. What does a packaging encounter on the way? Only then you can find the packaging that best suits your application and the product. You can also be sure that it complies with all applicable laws, regulations and logistic standards.

Make a list of all the ins and outs of your product, and then you can decide what you need transport packaging to do to protect your product.

Robert Verboven | Account manager at Faes

Four important questions to ask to find the best transport packaging

These questions will help you find the best transport packaging:

  • For which product are you looking for a transport packaging?
  • What are the starting points for this transport packaging?
  • What route does your product take while in the packaging?
  • What should the transport packaging cost?

Let us explore these questions more in depth.

1. For which product are you looking for a transport packaging?

Your product is the starting point, of course. Important points of attention are:

  • The type of product
  • The number of products in the package
  • The dimensions and weight
  • The vulnerability of the product
  • Sensitivity to climatic influences, such as heat, cold, moisture, dust and radiation

List all the ins and outs of the product, which helps to determine exactly how the transport packaging must optimally protect the product. The weight and dimensions clearly define the initial conditions that the packaging must fulfil.

Transport of fragile products

For fragile products, the right buffering and cushioning during transport are of vital importance. There are all kinds of solutions for this. From padding material, cubed foam and compartments to custom-made interiors. Custom made interiors are usually preferred because they are the most durable and offer optimal protection to the product. Made-to-measure interiors are available in various materials.

Sometimes a product does not seem so vulnerable. Take metal products, for example, such as a gear wheel. You would think that it would be impossible to break it during transport. Until moisture gets to it and corrosion starts. That is why climatic influences are also an important aspect to take into account when choosing the packaging.

2. What principles apply to transport packaging?

The principles help you determine your direction and formulate your priorities clearly. Some are determined by law, others are individual choices. Do you want to prevent transport damage at all costs? Or do you have a tight, fixed budget as a buyer? Two starting points that will both lead to a different solution. These are a number of starting points:

2a. Legislation and regulations for packaging and handling

Strict rules apply to the packaging of hazardous substances. Do you pack a drill only, or also the battery? That makes quite a difference in the choice of packaging.

  • A UN approval is required for the transport of Lithium Ion batteries. The same point of attention applies to the packaging of hazardous liquids, for which a UN approval is also required.
  • Another criterion in the choice of packaging is the working conditions legislation. In order to prevent physical complaints among employees during handling and transport, the set of requirements may stipulate that the packaging must comply with health and safety laws and regulations.
  • Furthermore, different regulations apply to different sectors, such as military specifications. As specialists, we know the relevant standards and regulations and ensure that our packaging fully complies with them.
  • Don’t forget the clean room standard. Do you supply products to a company that assembles in a cleanroom? If so, ask them whether the packaging for your product will also be used in the cleanroom. If so, the packaging must comply with the client’s cleanroom standards.

What do you consider more important in a package; the price or that it arrives at its destination undamaged at all costs?

Robert Verboven | Account manager at Faes

2b. Purpose of transport packaging

Are you looking for packaging that will get your product to its destination without damage? Do you need a presentation case? Do you want packaging that does both? Or are you looking for cheap packaging and will you accept the risk of damage? In short, what do you want the packaging to add to your product?

And how important is the look of the packaging to you? Does it matter if the packaging gets a few dents along the way? Or does that also dent the image of the product and your company? Does the transport packaging have aesthetic value (used as a marketing/branding tool)? For example, do you want to have your logo milled into the panels of the packaging or have it printed with a logo or text?  The choice of material also plays a part in the appearance. For an expensive machine of a few tons, a flight case or profile case will give the recipient a better feeling than a wooden crate

2c. Environment

What role does environmental impact play in your considerations? Are you looking for packaging that is as environmentally friendly as possible? Then choose reusable packaging. Suitcases and crates are much more sustainable than one-way packaging.

2d. Other criteria

Do you set a maximum weight for the product and the packaging together? Or on the dimensions of the packaging? For example, to save on transport costs? All these criteria will guide your choice.

3. What route does your transport packaging take within the chain?

What does packaging encounter on its way to its destination? This plays an important role in choosing the right transport packaging. Another blog I wrote on this subject is: ‘why transport is an important aspect of your product and packaging development‘.

3a. Type of transport

By land, sea or air, every type of transport has an impact on what is the best choice of packaging. For example, each type of transport has its own logistical standards to take into account. If you map out the complete route your product will take in its transport packaging, you will know what you need to protect your product from. And which requirements your packaging must meet.

Do you want to transport dust- and waterproof packaging by plane? Then this type of packaging needs an air valve to prevent it from being inflated or pulled into a vacuum. Container transport by sea exposes the product and its packaging to enormous G-forces and salty air. We know exactly which packaging your product needs for the right protection on the road.

Some of the risks are:

  • Vibrations
  • Air pressure
  • Shocks
  • Salt air
  • G-forces
  • Moisture
  • Temperature

3b. Package dimensions

Every means of transport has its own logistical standards. You therefore need to take this into account when choosing your transport packaging. If the packaging exceeds the pallet, you pay unnecessarily high transport costs and run an extra risk of damage. Or your product might not fit through the door or in the lift. Not very convenient.

In any case, take the following into account:

  • Pallet dimensions
  • Collomoduul
  • Dimensions of trucks and trailers
  • Lifts
  • Stairs
  • Doors

3c. Shipping frequency

How often do you ship the product in the packaging? A “one way” package for one-time shipment does not have to meet as many requirements as a package that is sent back and forth regularly. For example, because your customer uses the packaging for a return shipment.

Do you regularly send products to the same destination? Maybe you can consider reusable packaging, which you can have retrieved for a next shipment. And does your (consumer) product travel from destination to destination? Then it is obvious to choose a reusable and more sustainable packaging.

3c. Handling

Each transport has its own handling requirements:

  • Will your product be manually handled? If so, choose extra handles on the packaging. And make sure that the total weight complies with the working conditions guidelines. Would you rather not have to deal with any tossing and turning with your packaging? Then choose, for example, a flight case with pallet provision underneath. Stickers with ‘This side up’ or ‘Fragile’ do not always prove sufficient in practice. With the right packaging, you can control how the carrier handles your packaging.
  • Will your product be moved with forklift trucks or cranes? Or do you want to make the transport packaging stackable or tiltable? There are also additional provisions for this that simplify handling.
  • Apart from the dimensions, the lifting weight also plays an important role. This, in turn, is related to the working conditions guidelines mentioned earlier. Of course, the product must still be manageable during the entire transport route. For a product of 100 kg, plastic packaging is not an option, but a flight case with wheels or a pallet system mounted underneath is.

3d. Destination

What is the destination of your product?

  • Is the location where you send the order also the final destination? Or will your customer send it on in the same packaging? Shipping to and from a warehouse means different requirements than shipping to an exhibition floor.
  • If the packaging ends up in clean rooms, it must also be easy to clean, for example. In addition, not all materials are permitted.
  • Shipment to an end customer, who in turn also makes demands on the appearance of the packaging.
  • The end customer may not have a pallet truck available. So packaging on wheels might be wiser for a heavy load.
  • Will the product be outside in the transport packaging? In what conditions? Heat, moisture, cold? In the desert it gets so hot that liquid glue is not an option for bonding the foam inside the packaging. It just liquefies again in those extreme temperatures. A mechanical attachment, such as a bolt or a screw, is a better choice.

What does good transport packaging cost and what does it cost in the whole chain if you don't make the right choice?

Robert Verboven | Account manager at Faes

4. What should the transport packaging cost?

In the final choice of packaging, the cost price plays a role, of course. Practice teaches us that some buyers look primarily at the short term; the cost price of the packaging. Our tip is always: look at the total costs of your transport packaging in the chain. This prevents you from incurring extra costs further down the chain and ending up even more expensive.

These extra costs are often related to:

Damage

What does it cost you when the wrong packaging causes your product to arrive at its destination damaged or unusable? Think of return costs, replacement of products, downtime (failure of machines or systems) at the customer and even image damage for your company. Defects-on-arrival (DOA) is customer annoyance number one!

Time

With well-designed transport packaging, the effective time for packing and unpacking is reduced considerably. Do you opt for customised packaging with inlays for the various items? Then you can see at a glance whether the packaging is completely filled. That way you save time and money. Fully in line with the 5S principle.

Re-use

One-way packaging is often cheaper than reusable packaging, but is this also true in the long run? My experience is that the investment in sustainable packaging pays off quickly. Especially if you often send products to the same destinations and also have products coming back to you from the destination.

A calibrated tool can be sent in a wooden crate if you want to save costs. But it does not offer optimum protection. If the calibrated tool gets an external impact during transport (by bumping or falling), it can immediately become unusable. Then you have to take the tool back, recalibrate it and send it to the customer again, which costs a lot of time and money. But trust can also be severely dented. Because what does the customer actually think about you deciding to send a calibrated tool in such a simple package?

Tip!

Consider the costs of the packaging itself and the costs of the packaging choice along the chain as a whole. Only if you do this it will be possible to determine the right packaging for your product.

Also looking for the right transport packaging? Download the checklist using the form below.

Download the checklist: Choose the best transport packaging

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