After the Secondary Packaging Sample Test – What’s Next?

11 September 2015 //

Packaging System UpgradeSamples

In my initial post, I covered why sample testing is critical to the packaging industry, when it’s appropriate to conduct sample tests, and how to plan the tests and determine their parameters. This post will address how to review the information you’ve gathered and what your next steps should be after your sample testing is complete.

Compiling Your Data

Once your sample tests are completed, you should be able to gather the information about the different test parameters and analyze the findings. Here are a few examples of test parameters and the related findings that will determine your package requirements and influence the packaging line equipment design:

Parameters: How long did it take to seal the film? What was the temperature setting? Were different times and temperatures tested? How long was the package exposed to heat in the shrink tunnel? What was the temperature and were different settings used?
Finding: The ideal temperature and dwell time required for film sealing and shrinking.

Parameter: What throughput rate was attained during testing, or could be calculated as a result of testing.
Finding: Conveyor speed, timing and throughput rates.

Parameter: What film types, blends, and gauges were used?
Finding: Film specification that is best suited for packaging your product.

Parameter: Was corrugate used during testing? If so, what type was used and in what direction were the flutes within the corrugate positioned?
Finding: The type of corrugate that should be used and the best flute direction.

Parameter: What were the material costs for the packaging?
Finding: The estimated cost per package, based on materials used during testing.

Parameter: What were the comments or criticisms of the sample’s appearance?
Finding: An accurate impression of the package’s appearance from customers and/or marketing.

Parameter: If packaging samples were shipped, did they perform as intended? How were they sent? Were multiple carriers used?
Finding: Packaging durability.

Parameter: How well did the sample packages perform in drop tests and loading tests?
Finding: Packaging strength and durability.

Analyzing the Findings

After you have reviewed all the results, you can go back to the original goals of your sample testing and evaluate the information. Remember, the goal of completing samples isn’t simply to have them sit around, but rather to use the information from their creation to make an informed decision about the best way to move forward.

Turing your initial list of goals into a question check list can help you determine if the sample testing was successful.

  • Did any of the different packaging materials (i.e., film and corrugate) or a combination thereof create a package worth taking to the next level?
  • Are the settings used during testing achievable in a real world situation?
  • Did any of the different package styles (e.g., bull’s eye wrap vs. tight wrap) provide a clear direction to proceed in, including cost-effectiveness?
  • Will the samples create a good impression with the customer?
  • Does the package sufficiently unitize the collation of product?
  • Did the package survive shipping tests and/or other durability requirements?
  • Was the package acceptable for downstream equipment (e.g., palletizer)?

Moving Forward

Once you have compared the results against your original test goals, you can confidently determine if the test sample packages were a success, a failure, or if the results were inconclusive.

A successful test will always have positive attributes associated with the questions noted above and will tell you whether your original ideas are worth taking to the next level. However, negative results should not be viewed as a failure, but rather as information that can be used to revise the original concepts tested. Likewise, if the testing was deemed inconclusive, it can provide insight into what you ought to try next.

When you identify if samples are needed, and test up-front, you can confidently prepare a Request for Proposal (RFP) for your new packaging equipment and avoid unnecessary challenges down the road. Information gathered from successful tests, including testing parameters and findings, along with package specifications should be communicated clearly in your RFP. Including information such as package style, film gauge/blends, inclusion (or exclusion) of corrugate, and confirmed pack configurations will significantly improve the accuracy and efficiency of your proposed packaging machinery.

Are you ready to move forward with your next project, or need help determining the best packaging for your product? Contact EDL Packaging to discuss your project in more detail.