Consumers often underestimate all the work put into efficient packaging design.
Packaging is needed in virtually every industry, including the food industry, durable consumer goods, medical field, e-commerce, and more.
Packaging engineers play a very important role in this process, but what exactly do they do?
What does a packaging engineer do?
Packaging engineers design, develop and produce packaging for various types of goods, all while keeping the client’s needs and an efficient use of raw materials in mind. They are also sometimes hired to help develop or modify machinery used for packaging operations.
Packaging testing is also done under various conditions by simulating real shipping and handling scenarios. This ensures packaging durability to avoid any losses as a result of product damage.
Finally, packaging engineers can focus both on primary packaging, which is closest to the product and designed to appeal to the end consumer, and secondary or tertiary packaging. The latter is usually the transportation packaging, but the primary and secondary packaging can also be the same.
In every step of the process, packaging engineers have a lot of key considerations and factors to take into account.
Key considerations of a packaging engineer
Experienced packaging engineers can optimize any packaging using different materials in terms of the following factors.
Client’s needs and priorities
Packaging engineers must first speak with the client to know their needs and priorities. They must know if the package will be for display purposes, if it will be subjected to storage or harsh shipping conditions, and more.
Other specific practical features should also be known. For example, if they are working on secondary packaging that is also primary packaging, they need to make it visually appealing yet also durable.
Different industries may also have different regulations that must be complied with.
Packaging engineers also help you reduce packaging costs without reducing their quality.
This can involve material costs but also costs applicable throughout the entire supply chain. For example, storage is more expensive if your packaging is bigger, which is why it is ideal to have it custom made specifically for each product.
Experienced packaging engineers can also analyze your current packaging solutions and let you know which areas can be optimized for cost-efficiency.
There are many external factors to consider, such as if the packaged product will be handled by conveyors or other specific machinery. Based on these conditions, different protective packaging may be appropriate depending on how fragile your product is.
Temperature control may also be needed based on the product and on shipping and handling conditions.
Different packaging systems also combine versatility with maximum space when shipping and storing products. These systems can be adapted to the shelf life of your products.
Safety factors will depend on your products but can include governmental guidelines and regulations whenever applicable.
For example, packaging must follow specific appearance and handling regulations if used for toxic products.
Trends in packaging industry
Packaging trends can also go hand in hand with marketing trends, so packaging engineers may need to work with graphic designers and a team of other professionals.
Environmental concerns have also grown in the last few years, but perhaps the biggest change has been the growth of e-commerce industries. More companies are selling their products online, which has many benefits but also increases the risk of product damages. Packaging must therefore sustain all transportation shocks while also keeping your brand image.
Education and qualifications
Becoming a packaging engineer usually requires a bachelor’s degree in science, engineering, design and/or a related field. Specific certification may also be needed to practice in some regions.
Some personal skills you should have are critical thinking and problem-solving abilities. You should also have good leadership skills since you will manage several projects while dealing with many different people throughout the packaging design and development process.
Some fields or specializations may also encourage continuing education throughout your career to help you learn new skills or technical information for advancement in the field.
Packaging you can trust
Packaging is a critical component for the success of your product. A qualified packaging engineer can help you throughout the entire packaging development and design process to help you with packaging durability and damage control.