The following methods can be used:
- Damage analysis. For instance by documented maximum allowed complaint percentage from the market regarding the packaged goods.
- Test transports
- Functional tests
- Scientific calculation and testing.
One way to optimize your packaging is to bring a packaging system into the market and record what happens in practice. In this case you record which damages occur.
- If the complaint percentage is below the stipulated maximum, the packaging can be reduced further.
- If the complaint percentage exceeds the stipulated maximum, the packaging needs improvement.
The documentation can be reports from the internal meetings where material consumption is adjusted in either direction. A special challenge is to stipulate an acceptable complaint percentage. This is an essential strategic key figure which the company can use as a directing tool, but it can also include a number of customer deals.
Another way is to send newly developed packaging on a test transport in order to test the quality. This method contains the following:
- The company defines the wanted test transport (= the most difficult distribution route).
- 2-5 packaging systems as close to the most optimal solution as possible are developed.
- 2-5 prototypes are sent on the test transport route.
- By receipt you record the state of all test packagings according to predetermined, critical criteria.
- If the maximum limit is exceeded, the packaging is improved. In the case of no damages you evaluate whether to reduce the packaging.
- Through specifications, photos and reports from the test transports you are then able to document that the packaging just meets the predetermined, critical criteria. This way you can document in an overall report that the packaging has been optimized.
The principle in a functional test is, that you stipulate and record which impacts you will protect the product from. By testing for instance drop height, shock, stacking pressure, temperature, humidity etc. you determine whether the packaging is proof against these impacts. You develop 2-5 packaging systems as close to the optimal solution as possible and test all these systems. If some hold and others don’t the closest solution will be in the critical area.
Scientific calculation and testing
The scientifically correct method is based on the packaging designer’s 6 commandments:
- Measurement of distribution impact
- Measurement of product durability
- Evaluation whether the distribution can be improved
- Evaluation whether the product can be improved
- Construction according to engineering principles
- Test whether the new packaging system is working
This apparently simple work plan includes large quantities of scientific theory, which cannot be described on the limited space available in this guide. For further information please refer to the literature list in the final section of this guide.