There is something more to it than the word packaging!
General understanding is any container to hold things/products, in business the word packaging has a wider connotation.
It's considered an art and science and technology has added a gamut of ancillary products, processes and materials for packing, as a result in 1952 University of Michigan State offered for the first time a degree in Packaging Engineering.
It is the art of protecting products from possible destruction/wastage from the time it leaves the place of manufacture and reaching the hands of the ultimate consumer that includes loading, transporting, warehousing, distribution, stacking, displaying and final packing and handing over to the consumer. The science of packing needs to consider the strength and style of the packing material. Packing includes preparation of packing like designing, evaluation and actual production of the packages or the package material.
Package planning depends on need for covering, protecting, preserving transporting, informing even before actual packing starts.
At the end of 2003, packaging industry accounted for about 2 % of the gross national product in developed countries. 50 % of this was utilized for packing food products. By 2013 revenue is worth $ 9 bn
There are scientific objectives that have evolved at various times when problem occurred to packages and they are given below:
- Physical Protection: This is the basic reason where large number of the same products needs to be carried for ease of transportation. This got extended to protection from mechanical shocks, vibration, electrostatic discharge, expansion/compression on account of temperature, scratch resistance and retention of original attractive shape and design of the products
- Barrier Protection: Over time it was felt that the products have to be protected from atmosphere [effect of oxygen, humidity, dust], various kinds of pollution, cold storage concept, cleanliness and safety.
- Containment/Agglomeration: Small-sized products need bunching together like erasers, pens etc. are packed in dozens, 100 nos. All liquids, Powders and similar products require this concept of containment.
- Information providers: Labels and markings on the packages inform the handlers as to how to handle the package, how to recycle it. Classic example is ‘Handle with care’ for breakable products. They also contain information of compliance of governmental restrictions, acids and alkalis’ information of caution to the handlers. Pharmaceuticals, food, medicals and chemical products. This has further evolved in bar-coding, tracking and tracing needs.
- Marketing: Packaging and labeling is made as attractive to possess and creating trust, branding are some of the needs packaging takes care of. This is one field that is constantly evolves. If one compares packaging of few decades back and now there is a marked and metamorphic change. Currently this period has reduced so much on account of technology, that products packaging is totally different. An example of this is tablets in bottles; has given way for bubble pack.
- Security: This refers to risks involved in the process of shipping, where it must be tamper-proof, and protection against atmospheric conditions. For example, humidity in high seas is very high as compared to the land. Unscrupulous people tarnish brand names that must be protected from.
- Others: This includes convenience in distribution, stacking, displaying etc., bulk handling, Sizing control etc.