High security market - high-performance packaging

Packaging Professional magazine
16 Jul 2012

High-performance packaging has so far escaped the onslaught of sustainability pressure and recession woes. Matthew Dobson of specialist protective packaging design and manufacturer GWP Group runs through the recent trends.  

The packaging industry is not alone in having been affected by the global economic crisis, not least because companies can only be as busy as their customers. However, not every sector is feeling the crunch, and where there is growing business, buying trends continue to emerge and develop. 

Over the past 12 months, packaging buyers have become smarter buyers. They are looking for cost reductions that do not affect levels of quality or protection and they want innovative solutions. This can only be done by skilled designers with materials knowledge – for example using engineered or corrugated composites instead of foam. 

There has also been an increased call for performance packaging that is able to withstand extreme environmental conditions such as shock, vibration and humidity. The demands placed on this kind of packaging are much higher than usual, and so the necessary engineering needs to be more sophisticated. Customers want manufacturers to take away some of the strain of packaging – particularly with regards to stock control and ordering. Reducing customer stock holding and associated costs is a popular and increasing demand at present. 

There has been a progressive rise in enquiries and orders for protective case solutions for high value, delicate equipment. This goes hand-in-hand with a rise in the productivity of industries that manufacture this equipment – currently the offshore, automotive and metrology sectors are performing very well. Many UK manufacturers operating in these sectors are now seeing growth in their businesses, which pack producers also benefit from. 

The packaging of scientific products for metrology is one of the sectors that is growing the most this year. This equipment requires the highest performing protective packaging as the delicate parts can be easily damaged through mishandling in transportation. The more forward-thinking companies are seeing the ongoing cost benefits of specifying engineered packaging at the early stages of product development in order to reduce costly breakages and unhappy customers later on. 

An opportunity in the protective case sector lies in the lack of certified water-resistant flight cases. The standard injection-moulded cases are excellent at what they do, but there are dimensional limitations. As a result, we have been working with Protechnic to bring a new case system to market that will provide an ideal answer to the protection of moisture sensitive equipment in the offshore, defence and aerospace markets. 

More recently, a leading UK defence company needed to transport fragile electronic equipment between the UK and USA. Despite having specified bespoke protective packaging for this equipment, many items were arriving at their destination broken, creating extremely expensive and time-consuming customer complaints. To optimise performance of the packaging, while maintaining the original outer packaging case, a redesign of the inner-engineered foam was needed to provide a precisely engineered level of shock protection. This could well be a repeated request for defence companies in the coming year.