Once the product is built, it is equally important to consider how the product will be packaged and shipped.
The Product Packaging is an important component of the product.
This is sometimes overlooked, but seldom does a product meet requirements for handling without being in a properly designed carton or crate.
Product Resources considers the product packaging such an integral part of the product, that our top-level Bill of Material and product description is the “product”, packaged for shipment and ready to be placed on a truck.
- Product packaging – eventually, everyone realizes that the product needs a “nice” box to contain the product and ancillary material. It is also a good branding opportunity. We list this item here because we find that the packaging can have an impact on the product design and should be considered much earlier in the design phase. Waiting until the last minute to design the packaging or simply wrapping the product in bubble wrap and a standard cardboard box may miss an opportunity. In the case of heavy instruments or equipment, this may be a crate. Since the first time a customer sees their product will likely be in the shipping carton or crate, if it is easily damaged or torn, the first impression is “Uh Oh!”. Even perfect performance once unpacked is always tainted by potential hidden damage.
- Packaging inner supports – this is part of the packaging, but also considers the ancillary material that goes with the product. If the product needs protection during shipment (some products should be able to be dropped 1 meter onto concrete and remain undamaged), this part of the packaging needs to be designed and tested prior to use. ISTA testing of the packaged product to show that the package is sufficient to protect the product is recommended.
- Shipping Box / Pallet / Crate – this item addresses how the product will be shipped to the customer or to a warehouse. Most products are packaged in a box and then stacked on a pallet and wrapped. Some are placed in a crate. These methods cause the products to be handled with a forklift instead of a person lifting (and dropping, tossing, etc.). For small items that can ship individually (e.g., overnight to a special customer), is the Product Packaging sufficient, or should it be overpacked to protect the product from rough handling?
Another consideration is service for the product. Depending on the type of product, it may need to be shipped back to the manufacturer for calibration, service, or repair. It’s unlikely the customer will save the original packaging so you should consider a shipping container as a spare part to be shipped to the customer for the return of a product undamaged. Reusable shipping containers work well for this purpose. There are many plastic “suitcase” style containers on the market which can protect the product in custom foam cutouts within the container and can be shipped dozens of times without much damage.