Packaging is a science of protecting and an art of presenting a product it contains. This definition spells out priorities for package designer, in terms of functional and emotional attributes of a package. Consumer products need to be presented in an attractive package that stands out, invites, lures and ultimately, induces impulse in the buyer to pick-it-up from the shelf from among its competitors. Parameters that attribute presentability are linked with consumer psychology and are subjective, which put together are projected in consumer satisfaction. Time and money spent in embidding these parameters in consumer package out-weigh the cost towards protecting it. Packaging cost, disproportionate to the product cost is justified for many consumer products as it can clinch higher market value despite higher packaging cost. Unlike consumer products, buying and selling of industrial products involve sheer objectivity. Buyer is not prone to make or change his decision based on attractiveness of a package. His buying decision is based on the specifications of product he wants to use. Manufacturer is also aware that buyer can not be moved by deceptive look of a package. Most of the industrial products are used for subsequent production and not consumed directly by individuals. Buyers satisfaction is in terms of factory freshness of products.
Industrial products such as equipment, machinery, chemicals, fertilisers, oils, ores, minerals are not sold to individuals. The sales is mostly from company to company. Many times products are further processed by the receiver or installed for production/use. As such, aspects of technical buying out-weigh consumer psychology. In as much as the product is delivered safely and the buyer is not irritated by spoilage/damage, package is assessed as satisfactory. The package therefore, has to perform well in physical distribution and should offer economy of handling storage and transportation. Utilisation, palletisation, contenerisation are more important aspects than graphic design and sales appeal. The principles of package design for industrial products are discussed below with emphasis on light and heavy engineering products, with examples.
Light engineering goods
The family of light engineering goods covers products such as radios, sewing machines, electrical goods, refrigerators, etc. Each one of the above products needs individual consideration for packaging. Before a discussion on the methods of packaging each one of them, the general considerations for packaging of any product may be glanced at. Packaging involves containing of a product, protecting it, and delivering it in the same condition as it was when it was manufactured.
1. Containment of the product : This means closing the product in a suitable container made of appropriate material and to retain or hold the enclosed product in a good condition.
2. Protection of the product
Two questions immediately confront us: i. To protect from what? And ii. How?
To consider the first question, it is absolutely necessary to investigate the causes for damage or deterioration of the product, depending on the physical or climatic effects and the vulnerability of the product to these influences. Before designing the package, the physical characteristics of the product and the anticipated hazards are to be known. Physical damage occurs due to shocks, compressions and vibrations in transit. The nature of breakage are varied, depending upon the nature of the product and its fragility. The shocks cause breakage, distortion, cracking, etc. Constant vibration causes weakening of the containers, abrasion of the products and damage to hinged components, etc. The influence of climatic variations on package during storage, handling and transportation is notable. When the package itself gets affected it may grow weak and this results in exposing the contents to damage due to shocks. Secondly, if the packages do not provide adequate protection against the effects of the environment, the contents get seriously affected.
Temperature, humidity and gases present in the atmosphere are the main causes for damage like peeling of paint, blistering, discoloration and corrosion. The degree of protection to be given against such hazards depends upon the nature of the product, its surface characteristics and the distribution process. Especially if the package is to be export-worthy, the protection needed against environmental hazards is very important because the goods are adversely exposed to severe climatic conditions. The packing has to provide sufficient protection in all types of climates - cold, tropical and temperate. The period (and season) of the journey is another factor to be considered while providing protection for any product for export.
Having briefly dealt with the general prerequisites of packing may now be dealt with, viz. methods of packing, identifying, scheduling, handling, warehousing and shipping. The packaging engineer should be able to rate alternative procedures leading to economy, efficiency and quality. The packaging of light engineering products is a branch of industrial packaging where the primary emphasis is on performance and economy of the package. So, while designing a package for any given engineering product, it is pertinent to combine all the factors: containment, protection, distribution and identification.
The specific items, now under discussion can be dealt under the following heads:
1. Product - Kind of product, physical characteristics, weight, shape, size, assembly intricacies, fragility, surface finish.
2. Manufacturing status - individual assembly or mass production.
3. Inplant handling methods - manual pushing or pulling, conveyor carrying, fork lift, overhead crane.
4. Mode of transport - road, rail, sea or air - period of journey.
5. The climatic condition of the place of manufacturing and destination.
6. Physical and climatic hazards likely to be encountered in transit.
7. Selection of packaging material - procurement problem - prepa-ckaging needs.
8. Package design - unit pack, bulk pack, shipping container.
9. Tests for package performance.
10. Product identification - instruction and marking procedures - custo-mers convenience - easy opening - eye appeal.
11. Packaging economy - cost reduction, value analysis.
Let us first consider the packaging of a radio receiver. Radios come in various sizes, styles and designs. It is an assembly comprising electronic and electrical parts, like valves, condensers, speakers, switches, etc. housed in beautiful cabinets made of veneered wood, bakelite or plastic mouldings in different styles. The weight varies from set to set between 1.5 kgs and 10 kgs. Each model has its own functional features. The size also varies ranging from 100 cubic inches to 4000 cubic inches. Some of the assembled components are fragile and cannot withstand the rigours of vibration and shock unless specifically protected. The surface finish is of paramount importance and the manufacturers take great care in protecting it. The operating knobs for tuning, tonal control, band switches are made of plastic. The overall shape of the radio will be generally regular. The production of radios is done on a large scale, nowadays. Wherever the radios are produced on a large scale, mechanical devices should do the implant handling. The transportation of these products for domestic markets is mostly by road due to the advantages of safe handling, quick delivery and service understandings. Railway dispatches are also done wherever freight is to be cut. Mumbai, Bangalore and Delhi are the principal cities where radios are being manufactured on a large scale. Temperature and humidity conditions differ between these places. So during the process of manufacture, care has to be taken to protect the products against corrosion or effects of temperature extremes. The possible damages occurring in radios due to shocks and vibration are: the valves may get broken, the dial lamp may get fused out, the speakers may become loose, the cabinet may get crushed or develop cracks, the surface finish may get abraded.
There are many components that are made of metal and these are likely to get corroded owing to fluctuations in temperature and humidity. Especially in radios, some metal ribs streamlined with the cabinet with bright finish add to the looks of the radio and this is affected and no one is prepared to buy a radio set which has a tarnished finish. Water condensing in the assembly leads to short-circuiting and damage. The selection of the packaging materials depends on the protection required. Different types of materials are available to achieve this, i.e. wood, plywood, corrugated fiberboard, solid fibre board, etc., yet corrugated fibre board has been widely used for the reasons given below: Light in weight, cushioning property, and easy availability throughout the year.