In practice: this is how important FMEA is in product development

Corné van de Voort
Key Account Manager
More articles by Corné van de Voort

Thinking about packaging options at an early stage

Recently I was pleasantly surprised by a question from a customer. He was designing a new product and asked me to think along about the packaging possibilities.

I think it’s great that a designer is looking ahead and thinking about the packaging at such an early stage. All in accordance with the FMEA approach, which also provided surprising insights in this project. And prevented a major setback. What do I mean by FMEA? You can read about it in this article.

About FMEA

The term “FMEA” stands for “Failure Mode and Effects Analysis”. It is used to make a systematic risk analysis when designing a product. You map out the risks step by step and then take measures to minimise or prevent them.

Everything can be packed, but is it also handleable?

My customer was working on the design of a tube 10 cm wide and up to 4 metres long, which had to go into the clean room. The question was whether we could pack a tube this size. Of course, was my response, everything can be packed. But I immediately asked a counter-question. What happens when the packaged product enters the chain? Is the handling of such a large size really feasible? That turned out to be the key question, because handling turned out to be a major stumbling block in the chain.

‘Not practical at all…’

Step by step, we looked at the handling process in the logistics chain. Moving such a large package proved to be problematic even internally, let alone with the carrier. He would have to open the lorry on the long side in order to transport this length. Not practical at all. The customer, too, was not equipped for packaging of this size. The customer works in logistics with forklift trucks, which are not able to lift a 4-metre wide package. Let alone that you can drive it around. Or getting the product into the clean room.

Around the table with the logistics chain

Together with my customer, I will now talk to his colleagues in logistics, the logistics parties he works with and his end customer. To find out what is needed to handle this product. What logistics arrangements can be made for this? Can we modify the packaging to make handling easier?

If we really can’t work it out together, the customer will have to go back to the drawing board to adjust the design. In terms of design, it may be better to make the part in one piece, but it must be workable in practice. Because if the handling of your product is not possible in the chain, you have a big (logistical) problem.

Preventing high costs and damage

This project showed once again how powerful the FMEA process is as an instrument. By mapping out all the risks at the start of the project and coming up with solutions, you can prevent a lot of misery. Often, these kinds of logistical problems only come to light at the end of the product development process. Or worse, in practice. The question is then whether a solution can be found without too many costs. And what that does to customer satisfaction. Now we are well on time to prevent this! Together, we set to work to prevent unnecessary costs, delays and product damage.

Often, these kinds of logistical problems only come to light at the end of the product development process. Or worse, in practice. Then it is questionable whether a solution can be found without too much cost.

Corné van de Voort | Key Account Manager at Faes

5 packaging tips for product design

I would like to give you 5 tips to consider in product development.

#1 Map the supply chain

Consider the route your product will take as early as the design phase. What risks are involved in the transport? What measures can you take to reduce those risks? FMEA is a powerful tool for this.

#2 Use the standard logistical dimensions in your design as much as possible

Transport is fully equipped for standard pallet sizes. Common sizes are 800×1,200 and 1,000×1,200. If the packaging of your product is larger, then transport will be more complex and more expensive. Sometimes, of course, there is no other way, but more often it turns out in retrospect that the design could and should have been one centimetre smaller.

#3 Is this not possible? Discuss the handling with all parties involved

If your packaged product is larger than the standard logistical dimensions, this has consequences for the handling of your product. During the product development phase, check whether all parties involved can handle your packaged product. For example:
– Internal logistics department
– Clean room
– Subcontractors who finish the product (lacquering, staining, etc.)
– Transporters
– End customer

#4 A small adjustment can sometimes save a lot of money

With a clever adjustment, the packaging may be easier to handle. For example, for a package of 800×1,200 it is better to choose built-in handles rather than surface-mounted. This keeps the packaging within the standard dimensions. It may be possible to make special arrangements with the carrier to keep extra costs within limits. In extreme cases, an adjustment in the design may be necessary.

#5 Engage a packaging expert

With smart packaging you can save a lot of money in transport, storage and handling. Moreover, you can prevent damage to the product. A packaging expert helps you during your product development process to analyse all risks in the logistics process and devises smart solutions to prevent or limit these. And the, after the entire FMEA process has been finalized and the product is developed and produced it needs to be transported in the right packaging. We have an easy checklist for you to follow to help you out with that. Simply fill in the form below and download it to learn more.

Do you have a packaging question for us? The Packaging People are happy to help you out! Contact us directly by calling or emailing us!

Download the checklist and choose the best transport packaging

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      Relations manager