Industrial packaging protects products from the moment they leave a manufacturing plant until they reach their final destination. It’s essential for maintaining product integrity throughout the supply chain and reducing costly returns, replacements, and customer dissatisfaction. But it is more than just cramming items into boxes and sealing them shut; it’s about designing customized packaging for the specific needs of each individual product.
During times of economic stress or national crisis, consumers are resorting to panic buying and bulk stocking, which increases the demand for industrial packaging. For example, the recent hurricanes in Florida prompted people to stockpile food, cleaning supplies and other household necessities. These purchases require industrial containers to hold large volumes of bulk products and facilitate efficient storage and shipment. Industrial packaging is also crucial for e-commerce logistics, as it helps ensure that products arrive at their destinations in good condition. This is a major component of successful e-commerce business models, as customers expect to receive their orders in pristine condition—and it helps build brand loyalty.
In the last couple of decades, companies have seen significant benefits from embracing industrial packaging. Instead of having to rely on time-consuming distribution systems with multiple touchpoints and long storage periods, they can now deliver their goods directly to the consumer’s doorstep. This greatly reduces storage costs and allows them to increase production cycles and the quantities they can produce. But in order to get their products to the consumer’s door quickly and safely, manufacturers need to use industrial packaging that is tailored for each product’s unique properties.
This is why companies are embracing eco-friendly materials and designs, optimized storage and shipping processes, and encouraging circular economy principles to improve the overall sustainability of their supply chains. For example, forward-thinking companies are experimenting with using returnable packaging systems that give the materials a second life when they’re no longer needed. They are also implementing strategies that enable them to reuse and recycle their packaging materials, which reduces waste and eliminates the need for additional production.
To understand how research on industrial packaging has developed over time, we looked at the 98 journal articles in our sample and deconstructed them into four categories. Each category has a different set of research methods and focuses on a particular aspect of the topic. The two most developed categories, supply chain efficiency and environmental impact, both apply a combination of case studies, surveys and theoretical models. By contrast, the least developed category, regulatory compliance, is primarily qualitative. Nevertheless, all of the categories show that there is growing interest in industrial packaging as businesses are being forced to consider new, greener supply chains because of pressure from governmental entities and the market. This is reflected in the steady increase in research activity over the past five years in each of the four categories.