Cost reduction is a critical part of ensuring business survival, increased profitability, and growth in every company. When it comes to product development, the cost components are usually around the material, processing, tooling, and finishing. Other costs like freight and shipping are not usually given much consideration till the price becomes significantly overbearing. Even then, businesses look to transform the product or tooling itself rather than explore solutions to optimize packaging.
This year, Giant smartphone manufacturer, Apple, has cited Eco-friendliness as a chief driver in shipping its new iPhone 12 models in a smaller box without a charging brick or earphones. This is one of the ways the company intuitively sheds costs and reduces wastes. Today, Firstpart looks at product packaging and gives valuable insight into how you can trim packaging and shipping costs. What’s more? You can also help conserve the environment and reduce waste. Let’s get right into it!
Step 1 – Ask the right questions.
Before you can redesign and optimize your product packaging, you will need to ask your team-specific questions. Your considerations should span from the answers around the following:
i. What type of packaging do I need?
ii. Can the packaging be smaller?
iii. What material is required?
iv. Are there standards that my packaging must meet?
v. What is the handling of the packaging?
vi. What environment will the packaging be exposed to or used?
The answers to these questions will help you know where to focus your design efforts. You can also immediately begin to see cost savings around the material type to be used, the volume of the material required, and whether or not you need something as rigid as what you currently have.
Step 2 – Consider your alternatives.
The next step is to start looking or thinking “outside the box.” Start by considering the latest solutions in product packaging. Does it even involve a carton box? Check online and see the latest trends. While trying to lower cost, remember that whatever alternatives you pick must be able to endure the rigors of several journies – Air, rail, sea, or road.
When considering alternatives, ponder the substitute material cost, material strength, resistance to moisture, pest and storage hazards, ease of handling, and how the aesthetics complement the product itself. Remember, you cannot ship a $1000 iPhone in a cheap-looking box just because it costs less.
Step 3 – Determine what’s necessary and what isn’t
What exactly should be inside your box? Apple took a bold step by deciding to remove earphones and charging bricks to lower shipping and packaging costs. The rationale behind their move was that older iPhone users already owned charging bricks and earphones or Airpods. However, they come under serious fire for new iPhone users who will need to buy and ship other accessories separately.
For your packaging considerations, ask yourself what you deem critical or necessary for the product’s usability and what customers will not miss. If you do not find any cost or form saving answers there, consider breaking your packaging components into protective and purely aesthetic components. Ask the following questions:
i. Does one carton successfully ship my product, or do I need both inner and outer cartons?
ii. Is there a genuine need to print on the packaging box? Can I limit the information to essential information only?
iii. Must I expend money on beautiful colors, or does a simple, minimalist black and white approach suffice?
iv. Is my brand popular enough to get away with a photo on the box, or must I offer clear view packaging?
v. Do I need a label or tag, or can I print this information directly on the box?
Step 4 – Could you be overpackaging?
In case you didn’t know, overpackaging is a thing. To ensure that products arrive safe and sound, many product developers overcompensate on the product packaging. Sometimes, items that are not so prone to breakage could be over-padded. Lightweight materials may be contained in heavy-duty packaging materials.
When trying to save packaging costs, focus on keeping the product inside protected. Once you achieve that, all the cost savings will kick in directly or indirectly. Consider:
i. What is the size of the inner cartons?
ii. What is the size of the outer cartons?
iii. Do I need a carton dunnage/padding?
iv. What is the current product stacking in the carton? Can it be remodeled to make the box smaller without compromising protection?
Remember, software like SolidWorks can help you estimate impact force and corresponding packaging strength required.
Step 5 – Test, test, and test
Want to know just how much packaging you need? Invest in testing. One of the ways to drive down packaging cost is actually to experiment with the packaging. This is particularly important when you are going to be shipping millions of parts globally.
To test, you can have various models or prototypes of your packaging and put them through strength, impact, and shipping evaluations. This may take some time but will be worth it in the end. You can evaluate the following parameters from prototype to prototype:
i. Vibration – Evaluate the reaction of the box to motion in air, sea, rail, or land
ii. Shock – Check the extent of damage (if any) of the product when dropped, impact, rotated, kicked at various distances and inclines
iii. Weather – Observe the effect of weathering, climate, temperature, humidity, and pressure on the packaging material.
iv. Compression – Observe how the carton compresses, deforms, and returns when stacked or packed along with other materials.
Step 6 – Bulk production
Another way to save money on the packaging is to make bulk quantities and take advantage of mass discounts. Most printing companies and suppliers offer high volume discounts. If you are not looking to keep your inventory low, you should inquire how you can save money by ordering in large quantities.
Eco-friendliness & Recyclability
Lastly, consider the replacement materials and their impact on the environment. Select environmentally-friendly materials and packaging components that are easily disposable. Consider the area where your products will be used, the pollution issues they currently face, and how your chosen materials may affect recyclability.
FirstPart Rapid Prototyping & Low-Volume Manufacturing in China
Looking to make your ergonomic parts with optimal packaging design? FirstPart is one of China’s leading manufacturing hub for Additive, CNC and conventional manufacturing techniques. In our array of manufacturing techniques, we carefully optimize our systems to achieve tight tolerances and make parts that adhere to client specifications for improved fit, functionality and overall quality.
We boast of excellent in-house capacity, labor force and logistics while delivering exceptional value for money. Our array of services include CNC machining, CNC turning, CNC milling, 3D printing, Rapid Tooling, Die casting, Rapid prototyping, Plastic Injection Molding, Urethane Casting, Aluminium Extrusion, Post-machining/Finishing services and much more. We also handle global logistics, and will deliver your parts within 7 days of manufacturing and finishing operations.
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