From an Engineer's Viewpoint
Nefab has been delivering packaging solutions for customers in North America for over 30 years. Carey Leung, Packaging Design Manager in Canada, gives us an overview of how we design and validate the right transport solutions for our customers.
Carey, what types of transport packaging solutions do we help our customers within North America?
In North America, our designs range from small-to-large. We package products from small aircraft components all the way up to 80+ meter (260+ feet) tall wind towers. Our approach to the packaging solution is to consider a full range of costs associated with material handling and product protection. We apply our creativity, experiences in the industry, and engineering know-how into our designs.
What sets the packaging requirements?
The main goal of packaging is to protect and assist in the movement of a product from shipper to receiver. Therefore, it is important to understand the type and level of damage the product may be susceptible to (such as shock, vibration, abrasion, and corrosion). Handling, shipping, and storage methods also play a big role.
Mode of transportation affects greatly on expected shock as well as the blocking and bracing (or lashing) method. For example, in rail and truck shipments, the main shock is from the longitudinal direction (stop and go). While in sea shipments, the lateral direction is most critical due to sea waves.
What are the important factors to consider when deciding on a packaging solution?
Size, weight, and protection level are key factors. Production quantity is also an important factor as certain types of designs may require high tooling cost. Additionally, logistic flows of the product shall not be overlooked.
To what degree can the packaging design affect the environmental impact caused by transport packaging?
An over-designed packaging solution can affect the shipping weight, thus requiring more energy to produce and to ship. Over-designing will increase the amount of waste at the end of the product lifecycle. With our tool GreenCALC we can help our customers to understand the environmental impact of their solutions. Optimization in material usage and reduction in energy used, are our typical design considerations. While environmental sustainability is an important subject during packaging design, we cannot disregard the overall cost and function. Our design must balance all these factors.
How does packaging engineering add value to our customers?
Through Nefab's "Cost Take Out" method. The six elements include: transportation, handling, product protection, administration, warehousing, and environment. The end-customer benefits from lower transportation costs, easier disassembly, less damage claims, and the lowest waste disposal cost.
Through the use of Finite Element Analysis (FEA), we can effectively evaluate strengths and weaknesses of a design to minimize the number of physical trials and testing, which in turn will improve the time to implementation.