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Packaging a service

Published 12/11/2015 by Sandra Pousette

During my early years working in the packaging industry, I fought for packaging to be easier to use, including when opening and resealing. Here at Innventia, we had the idea of carrying out testing with different target groups in order to give manufacturers feedback, and so we created a usability lab. Although many were sceptical, we believed in the concept. Today, even the sceptics are in favour of packaging that is easy to open and reseal. Standards have been drawn up or are being developed to offer testing methods and guidelines for developing packaging that is easier for consumers to use.

Packaging is a common but complex phenomenon that needs to fulfil a whole host of requirements. As well as looking good on the shelf and attracting buyers, it should also protect both its contents and its surroundings. It should work well during conversion and filling, facilitate handling and transportation, and ideally be made from renewable materials and easy to open and reseal if the product has a consumption period. To put it simply, it should work throughout the entire value chain. Packaging can be made attractive to the consumer, but there are significant costs involved if there is overhang on the pallet.

When we test packaging, we have the opportunity to link identified problems to factors such as the properties of the material, the choice of material and transportation protection. Various different departments within a company should be involved in order to be able to rectify these identified problems, but we have seen examples where poor internal communication has prevented changes that have been made from being adapted for the entire value chain.

Somewhere along the way, the idea came about at Innventia to look at the bigger picture, a packaged product’s journey through the value chain – after all, every product is packaged at some stage…

Over the years, we have gained an insight into how different companies tackle the packaging issue and the opportunities for working with them to find solutions from an overall perspective. For example, Ericsson takes an inclusive view of its packaging, meaning that it is included in the product development process. This means that they can save resources, prevent transit damage and avoid complaints and costs relating to repairing or replacing products.

When we at Innventia decided to package our own services, we took our experiences from various customer commissions as our starting point. For example, we have noted the need for improved internal communication, greater understanding of material properties and the product’s own ability to minimise the amount of packaging. We have also seen that one of our most important roles is to ensure that all the parties involved sit around the table to discuss the packaging together. In other words, a systematic way of analysing different stages of a company’s packaging value chain. That’s why we created Packaging Audit.

For me, it all started with usability. We are now expanding the concept to include functionality and performance throughout the entire value chain. Our vision is packaging that works at every stage of the chain. My mission is to highlight customers’ needs and to suggest a way of creating this packaging. 

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Sandra Pousette is Project Manager, Packaging developmentand product testing, within Innventia's business area Packaging Solutions.

Sandra Pousette
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