Think : Thermal : Part 1: Testing in the Packaging Industry

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Packaging material is essential for shipping products around the world. Preventing damage is one of the primary functions of packaging. Packages must be durable enough to withstand complex and sometimes rough-and-tumble shipping that can damage expensive or fragile cargo.

Packaging plays an essential role in ensuring product safety. Effective packaging is particularly important for the delivery of temperature-sensitive products requiring effective thermal packaging, products sensitive to vibration and for products with specific regulation and compliance needs. Vaccines and clinical drugs require thermal packaging that maintains tight temperature parameters across a number of shipping platforms, for example, while temperature-sensitive packaging keeps human organs safe during their transport from donor to recipient. Testing helps ensure the safe transport of precious cargo, and helps organizations meet strict regulatory standards.

Between 7 and 10 percent of all e-commerce packages arrive to consumers with some damage, according to statistics presented by the American Institute for Packaging and the Environment (AMERIPEN). All this damage adds up to about $6 billion annually in the United States alone. Damaged product returns require return shipping, administrative costs and reissue or reimbursement. Depending on the product, replacing a product damaged during shipping can cost the shipper up to 17 times more than the original cost to ship. Some damaged products can even inflict environmental harm, as toxic chemicals or other biohazards leak from damaged products.

In an attempt to reduce shipping damage, some retailers and manufacturers go overboard with packaging by investing in the largest, most expensive packaging available along and secure it with too much fill. With the costs of shipping materials, additional weight, and increased size, over-packaging can be expensive. Over-packaging can also be ineffective if the packaging cannot sustain the rigors of shipping.

Check back next month to read more about the types of testing and equipment that is involved in making the packaging industry more successful.