Packaging is ubiquitous, but it is far from static. The packaging sector is rapidly changing for a number of reasons, and consumer tastes are far from the only reason. Here are four trends that are transforming the secondary packaging sector the most. We’ll also discuss the factors driving these changes in the secondary packaging industry.package-1511683_960_720

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Automation

Automation is bringing efficiency, labor savings and dependable quality to all levels of the supply chain, and secondary packaging is no exception. Companies like INSITE Packaging Automation make case formers that are easy to set up, work quickly, square cases every time, and are not hard to change over to another configuration when necessary. INSITE Packaging Automation makes case sealers as well.

Shifts in consumer preferences are also driving secondary packaging automation. Selling through major online sites requires suppliers to carry out extensive packaging, and automation makes it possible to save on the labor and material required to do so.

Biodegradable Plastic

Biodegradable plastics are plastics that will decompose when exposed to the elements. This is in contrast to conventional plastics that could adversely impact the environment for centuries. Packaging manufacturers are switching to biodegradable plastic to become more environmentally friendly and be able to advertise that fact to consumers.

Minimal Packaging

Biodegradable packaging isn’t always an option, but consumers want to see fewer resources used; so do manufacturers, since they have to pay for packaging materials. There is a definite trend towards using the minimum of material needed to effectively store, transport, display and sell products. When you use less material, you probably save on manufacturing and packaging. Less material used generally means less weight per item and lower shipping costs.

Less packaging typically allows you to put more items in a box and ship fewer boxes, and this can lead to fewer trucks on the road and fewer shipments overall. A prime example of this is the stand-up pouch; a trailer full of flattened pouches could replace a dozen trailers full of bottles.

Another variation of this trend is the integration of primary and secondary packaging. The integration of primary and secondary packaging may take the form of designing them as a single system to maximize performance or trying to design the primary packaging to serve all necessary functions, protecting the product while helping sell it when it is sitting on the shelf.

The Integration of Distribution and Packaging

Many companies are outsourcing packaging to third party logistics firms. The products are then packaged at the warehouse or distribution center. By combining distribution and secondary packaging, this reduces warehousing, packaging, and shipping costs by up to a third.

For example, packaging the items together and shipping them to the warehouse in final form requires extra manpower and generally requires more boxes to ship. This trend also fuels the rise of automation, since contract packaging in particular wants to replace machines for labor as much as possible. The outsourcing of packaging to distributors gives those companies a say on the packaging, too, since packaging that doesn’t fit with downstream supply chain logistics wastes time and money.

Packaging is no longer a discrete function in many supply chains. And it is becoming far more complicated than dumping finished packaged products in cardboard boxes for shipment to the store.

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