Work from Home

Business as Usual: Working Remotely During COVID-19

As COVID-19 disrupts businesses, communities and the economy as a whole, Adept Group is uniquely positioned to continue operating remotely with little to no disruption. For more than 10 years, our global team has leveraged a virtual working environment to collaborate and support some of the most iconic brands in the Life Sciences, CPG and Food & Beverage industries.

Long-Standing Remote Infrastructure

At a time when many businesses are adapting to social distancing as a new working challenge, we’re moving forward with mature and fully functioning people, systems and processes engineered to execute packaging projects remotely. Since inception, the Adept Group recognized the need for our team to be adaptable to meet our clients’ needs, however, whenever and wherever they needed us – including our home offices.

We’re designed for agility, from recruiting and onboarding to managing teams, projects, and people, enabling seamless connectivity of our employees, customers and partners. While the health of our associates remains our top priority, our model translates into business value – a more productive workforce sooner, less business disruption, increased organizational agility, superior service delivery and happier employees.  

Flexibility and Scalability

Our structure is designed to be flexible and scalable. For example, when the pandemic began to spread throughout Italy, our international associates started to experience limitations such as travel restrictions, while our US team was still free to travel. When one of those Italian associates was unable to board a plane for an on-site appointment with a client, we adapted, deploying a US-based engineer to act as the eyes, ears, and hands of our Italian engineer as they worked together to deliver undisrupted service.  

Adapting to Economic Circumstances

Our Value Optimization team, which is responsible for cost and quality optimization, travels under normal circumstances to clients’ locations to evaluate their packaging and processes. They’ve adapted their methodology during this time of restricted travel. As an alternative, they are having clients ship their packaging to us for evaluation and redesign, while leveraging our remote infrastructure to collaborate, effectively maintaining the project timeline and helping clients reduce costs during this financially and logistically difficult time.  

While cost savings may not be front-of-mind yet for companies, recovering from the financial burden of this economical hardship will call for some innovation. Our Value Optimization team can help. Leveraging remote tools and methodology, companies can start the process now to evaluate packaging and logistics spend and start seeing savings when they need it most.

Changes to Packaging Needs

Among innumerable other changes, this pandemic is likely to impact packaging for some companies as well. As the demand for ecommerce increases in the weeks to come, companies who focus mainly on brick and mortar sales may need to adapt to get their products to consumers safely. Our ecommerce experts are fully functional to address your needs.

Our Fully Functional Team is Ready to Help

If you find that your packaging needs have shifted, we have experts in over 60 specialized areas that can help you with new packaging development, quality remediation, ecommerce packaging and much more. Check out our website for an overview of our services and capabilities. 

Stay safe everyone and make responsible choices. Contact us for assistance with any of your packaging challenges.

working through covid19

Coronavirus: Maintaining Productivity & Interaction

In a time of uncertainty, social isolation can compound the foreboding being felt across the globe. While many people are quite literally isolated, there is a sense of connectedness that needs to be excavated from the apprehension.

Strategies to Stay Connected through the Distance

As a global team, our associates are experiencing varying levels of severity of COVID-19. Our Italian team, who is in the trenches right now, has developed new ways to keep their communities connected through this difficult time. At 6 pm every night, the musicians throughout Pavia Italy open their windows and collectively play music for the town to hear; reimagining ways to create through the devastation.  

This awe-inspiring act is one of many ways our associates have employed to cope with the current crisis.

As many companies are working remotely for the first time, we felt it useful to share the strategies we’ve established to ensure our employees remember that they’re not alone, while avoiding disruption for our clients. While technology makes it easier than ever to work remotely, keeping employees engaged, productive and mentally healthy requires additional effort from the leadership team. 

Establish Strong Leadership:

The importance of leadership cannot be understated in times like these.  When leadership falls silent, the disquiet among associates can be deafening. In bleak and uncertain times, employees need a leader who is willing to make decisions and communicate a clear plan of action for his or her team.

Each week since the onset of COVID-19, the CEO of Adept Group has sent out an email recognizing the changes that are impacting our daily lives. He takes the time to outline action plans to provide a clear vision in the coming weeks, provides anecdotes of inspiration from our associates across the globe, and motivates our team to continue leveraging our strengths as we fight toward a common goal.

This communication not only serves to keep our associates informed but provides a point person to go to with concerns which he is happy to shoulder. Maintaining focus through chaotic times is essential to keep productivity high and priorities in order.

Shift your priorities:

Another tell-tale sign of strong leadership is a clear vision. Understanding that the changes to our daily lives will restrict our capabilities is vital to the development of clear priorities. In other words, do what you can do, adapt whatever possible and deprioritize what’s left.

Encourage Open and Frequent Communication:

In order to keep a finger on the pulse of the mental and emotional health of the company during this trying time, it’s critical to establish judgment-free open communication.

During 2019, the Adept Group made a pledge to eradicate the stigma around mental health in our work environment and encourage employees to share, speak up and ask for the help they need. As the stress of the situation weighs on our teammates, it’s more important than ever that they feel they have somewhere to turn and a support system in place, even if it’s physically at a distance.

Beyond promoting open communication, frequent discussions and check-ins encourage employees to be engaged. Since the onset of COVID-19, our culture committee has made an effort to start the day with a question, quote, picture challenge, etc. to get the entire group interacting.

Promote Facetime:

As a globally dispersed company, video conferencing does a tremendous job of bringing our employees closer together, even under normal circumstances. Being able to interpret facial expressions and see each other laugh and smile adds a social element that is otherwise lost in a virtual environment. Beyond easing integration into the team, there are productivity benefits to adding the video aspect to conference calls.

75% of office workers in the US fear that our professional relationships may deteriorate if people keep their eyes fixed on computer and smartphone screens instead of on each other. Facetime elevates communication from a conversation to an interaction; effectively reducing distraction and resulting in more productive meetings with stronger team bonds.

Since the onset of social distancing, we’ve made additional efforts to interact and see one another each week. Every Friday, our CEO hosts a call for the entire company to join, catch up, air concerns, check-in and communicate about what’s happening in their areas and how they’re managing the situation.

Develop New Ways to Interact:

Developing activities for employees to take part in beyond work may seem counterintuitive; however, feeling isolated or disengaged at work is directly correlated to reduced productivity and quality of work.

When employees feel connected to their team, company buy-in increases, quality increases, and productivity follows. At Adept, we’ve always done team building activities to encourage team interaction, but as the feeling of physical isolation mounts, we are adding more events to the calendar to counter it. Some activity ideas for your team are:

  • Monthly trivia– have one associate put it together and host a meeting, cameras on, to share in the laughs and fun of a game together
  • Lunch Bunch– our lead recruiter hosts a video conference call with any associates who choose to join where we eat lunch and play games to get to know each other better, like would you rather, or two truths and a lie
  • Paper Plane Contest– This is one example of the fun competitions you can challenge your associates to. In this one, employees were given rules about making a paper plane. The one that flew the farthest was the winner.
  • Love Your Pet Campaign– During this activity, associates were asked to send in pictures of their pets. All of our associates got to see the pictures and comment and ask questions. The whole activity only took a few minutes.

Those are just a few we’ve done, but if you’re looking for more virtual team building activities, here’s a link to an article that includes icebreakers, conversation starters and activities to try.

What’s to come?

The next few weeks will demand creativity and innovation from companies across the globe as they pivot to tackle the new challenges presented by this pandemic. Strong leadership, clear vision and a willingness to explore new solutions will be more important than ever. Companies with leaders who prioritize connection as highly as productivity will be well-positioned to weather the storm.

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Adept Packaging Named Lehigh Valley Top Workplace 2 Years Running

For the second consecutive year, Adept Packaging was recognized as one of the Top Workplaces in the Lehigh Valley by The Morning Call. We take great pride in this continued recognition of the culture we’ve built in both our Allentown office and with our team spread across the globe.

Our Top Workplaces Standing

The best part of this honor is that it’s based on responses from our employees to The Morning Call’s Energage survey. Workplace culture means everything to us, and we couldn’t be prouder to see our efforts validated through positive feedback from our team: our most valuable resource.

The survey gauged employees’ feelings on topics such as trust, communication, culture and benefits, and we got great feedback across the board. Words that came through most frequently in our team’s written responses included flexibility, work-life balance, culture and learning, demonstrating our success in creating a work environment where employees feel empowered to grow and do their best work while living a balanced life.

The Top Workplaces Event

We had a great opportunity last night to celebrate our culture at the dinner honoring the Top Workplaces winners throughout the Lehigh Valley. One quote from the night that resonated throughout the crowd was from Mike Miorelli, Editor at the Morning Call: “If you want to stand out, you can’t stand still.” which is why we never stop moving toward the things that matter most to us.

Our Culture

We work hard to create and maintain a workplace culture that celebrates diversity, encourages a healthy work/life balance, empowers our team to excel in our roles, and celebrates team and individual success.

We continue to consider our associate needs and adjust our cultural objectives to meet those needs. For example, in 2019, we undertook an initiative to focus on employee mental health in order to reduce the stigma, encourage communication and empower our associates to take their mental health as seriously as their physical health.

Our Incredible Team

We appreciate the entire Adept Group team’s commitment to excellence and willingness to continue to find new ways to positively impact our communities, clients, environment, and one another.

It was an honor to be recognized amongst the most culture-forward companies in the area. To our team, thank you and congratulations on helping to build one of the Top Workplaces in the Lehigh Valley!

HR managers or recruiters hiring millennial female job candidate at interview, woman applicant listening to potential employers during employment process. Recruitment concept. Back close up view

The Benefits of Working with a Recruiter

US companies spend over $150 billion annually on recruiting and staffing agencies – even when they have their own internal talent acquisition teams. So why do companies work with an outside agency, rather than leverage their internal recruiting team? This is why:

Access to Premier Talent

The biggest reason companies decide to work with recruiting firms is to get access to top talent and hire people they can’t find on their own. This might sound redundant when considering that some companies have internal recruiting teams, but remember, an internal team might be filling multiple positions within the organization and often doesn’t have time to build a network of candidates for every role. A recruiter is constantly looking for top talent and assessing their availability. For specialized recruiters, knowing the key skills and attributes that make someone an attractive candidate in a particular field or discipline is their livelihood.

A Reality Check

Depending on the amount of turnover within an organization, a company may not have a real-world understanding of the availability of talent, current pay scales or what top candidates desire in their next opportunity. Depending on the state of the economy, the market for talent might be very competitive. By utilizing a recruiter, an organization can better position itself to find and attract the right people.

Save Time and Money

There are a lot of great tools available to help companies find talent, but many of those tools require time-consuming efforts that slow the process down and drive costs up. Adding together the costs of purchasing recruiting resources with the expense of man-hours utilized to learn, manage and evaluate the results – not to mention time lost for other projects – many hiring managers are surprised by the total expense of an already-difficult process.

The average cost of a poor hiring decision, which is often due lack of time or understanding, is $48,000 in the packaging engineering world. With the failure rate of new hires averaging between 40%-60% within the first 18 months, the importance of finding the right fit the first time saves a company both money and reputational damage. Working with an experienced recruiter streamlines those tasks and ultimately saves time and money.

It’s Faster

Let’s face it, most Human Resource departments can be called on to fill multiple positions at any given time. A beverage company, for example, may be on the hunt for production planners, laborers, merchandisers, management systems facilitators, packaging engineers and a variety of other essential personnel all at once. It takes years to learn what makes a good hire for every department and role, but an in-house recruiter may only need to use that specific knowledge once or twice in a decade. For highly specialized roles, a specialized recruiter can educate you on the must-have skills for the position, identify top candidates and trim days or even weeks off the process.

Recruiters Know Where Candidates are Hiding

Monster, CareerBuilder, LinkedIn and other job search platforms have made finding candidates much easier. However, these tend to be “active” candidates who are already looking for a job and committed to making a career change. This can be a great pool of candidates, but it may not be enough to find the best fit for a particular opening. Many times, the ideal candidate is only passively looking and doesn’t want to reveal their desire to leave their current role by advertising their intentions, but they will tell a recruiter they trust about their goals and aspirations. This is crucial for high-level jobs, where there is a much smaller pool of available jobs and qualified candidates.

Alternate Options

Not every opening requires a fulltime hire. Staffing firms can identify qualified contractors that add a flexible resource to a short-term or part-time project. Temporary or project-based hires can help when budgets are tight, headcount is too high or the workload only increases for a limited time.

Recruiters are Confidants

Negotiating is often the hardest part of the recruiting process, particularly for candidates; they want a fair salary and they don’t want to price themselves out of the running. By working through a recruiter, candidates can be honest and feel they are getting a fair compensation package. In addition, recruiters can often vet details about a candidate’s background that they might otherwise be hesitant to tell potential employers, such as health concerns, relocation challenges or career aspirations. By becoming a sounding board for both clients’ and candidates’ concerns, recruiters can act as an impartial resource throughout the hiring process.

Adept Talent Can Help

To minimize the costs of a prolonged and inefficient candidate search, consider contracting an outside recruiter that knows the packaging industry. Our specialized recruiting team at Adept Talent has a background in engineering, so they’re familiar with the array of projects, skillsets and unique challenges encountered within the industry. They have a vetted pipeline of candidates with a diversity of expertise, which allows them to provide a concise pool of qualified candidates quickly, significantly increasing the likelihood of a successful placement. Whether you’re in need of specific expertise or a complete packaging department, our team can provide the right resources, right when you need them.

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Benefits of Digitizing the Food and Beverage Supply Chain

With the increase in supply chain complexity, the Food, Beverage and CPG industries are starting to recognize that digitization is the next step for packaging. The benefits of implementing a track and trace solution, which range from improved food and consumer safety, to increased consumer engagement have tremendous implications for digitally aware brands.

So what is Track and Trace or Traceability?

Traceability is the capability of keeping track of a given set of information throughout its lifespan, enabling verification of its history, location, or application. ​ As goods move from the point of manufacture through the supply chain, tracking or monitoring them allows for transparency. Tracing them enables the company to validate where they came from, where they’ve been and allows for a detailed historical path.

Why is this important now?

As the complexity of modern supply chains continues to grow, the number of touchpoints increase dramatically. As the occurrence of handoffs increase, it causes blind spots, as well as increased opportunity for damage. These factors are responsible for challenges such as product recalls, inability to maintain safety and/or quality of products and counterfeiting and diversions. With all of these potential challenges comes a cost; often both financial and reputational.

How does traceability prevent these issues?

With emerging technologies such as blockchain, artificial intelligence (AI) and the Internet of Things (IoT), simpler and less costly solutions are available for companies looking to implement traceability.

For example, upgraded technology enables companies to monitor their goods with a level of detail that was previously unprecedented. This allows companies to quickly identify inefficiencies in the supply chain, pinpoint the cause of damage, as well as use data to predict future scenarios and tackle the challenge of optimizing the supply chain.

In addition to enhanced monitoring capabilities, companies have the ability to control inventory like never before.

Product Recalls

Within a traditional supply chain, product recalls can have a significant impact on a brand. In addition to the $10 -30 million financial costs, the damage it causes to a brand’s reputation is often even greater.

Implementing a track and trace solution allows for a multi-tiered approach to prevent recalls from occurring in the first place.

Consider the three following aspects:

  • A Track and Trace system enables identification of the origin, quality, and authenticity of ingredients and supplies involved in the product. In addition, the ability to track the location, status, and flow of products in the supply chain from raw material to end user allows for companies to identify harmful or incorrect items and initiate a targeted recall or prevent one altogether.
  • An integrated supply chain allows companies to access real-time actionable insights from a network of partners which allows for quick investigations to identify the source of contamination.
  • IoT Devices allow for continuous monitoring of critical-to-quality parameters, such as temperature, humidity, light exposure, etc. to ensure the safety of the products.

Brand Protection

In addition to avoiding recalls and ensuring customer safety, avoiding counterfeiting in a market where $1.7 trillion of goods are counterfeit is becoming increasingly important. Counterfeiting is made possible through weak channel management and the ability to replicate products due to a lack of product authentication components.

Anti-counterfeiting technology, paired with a Track and Trace solution will not only allow for companies to trace the history and origin of their products, but identify weak links in the supply chain.

Other Implications for Track and Trace

Product Recalls and Brand Safety are just the tip of the iceberg for the possibilities uncovered by implementing a Track and Trace solution. The ability to capture real-time data has numerous benefits including increased safety, increased customer interaction, the ability to leverage data to make brand decisions, and increased recyclability, to name a few.

Want to Know More?

Understanding how to develop a solution for your unique needs is where we come in. Adept Group has cross-functional teams comprised of specialists for the Food, Beverage, and CPG industries that collaborate with our dedicated digital experts to deliver solutions unique to your challenges.

We have an extensive global network of suppliers which enable us to provide true end-to-end traceability, connecting all the players and creating unprecedented visibility along your supply chain.

In addition, our digital experts have delivered solutions in even the most highly regulated industries and remain ahead of the curve on all regulatory requirements.

If you’d like to learn more, check out recent Supply Chain Digitization Learning Share.

If you’re interested in talking to our experts, contact us! We’d love to hear from you.

Pharmaceutical_smaller

Improving Packaging Line Efficiency Through OEE

Packaging line efficiency is one of those factors that aren’t often front-of-mind until there’s a problem. When productivity decreases or the error rate increases, companies start to evaluate their Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE), which is often responsible for these declines.

OEE declines can be circumvented with proper operations management and business process redesign and optimization. Without those proactive measures, any changes made to the packaging line can have a negative impact on OEE.

The Impact of Serialization

Through the introduction of serialization equipment, additional process steps and controls have been made part of the normal operations on the packaging line. With this comes added complexity and an intrinsic process variance that generates additional time loss. This is due to new setup requirements, additional rejects, and additional line macro and micro stoppages.

Companies that have implemented serialization have noted that efficiency losses of up to 20% are connected to the additional complexity of new operations, processes and automation/IT systems.

Tech-Enabled Tracking

Fortunately, the technology that enables tracking and evaluating equipment efficiency is now commonly available. Supply chain visibility, predictive maintenance, Big Data, and OEE live tracking are now becoming increasingly pertinent in the Pharmaceutical industry, but experienced OEE experts agree that collecting the data is only half the battle.

Identifying the Real Challenge

The biggest challenge to identifying problems with OEE and rectifying them is being able to extract value from that data, which requires more than a tracking system can provide.

In an article entitled, Improving Pharma Packaging Line Efficiency Through Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE), digital expert Valerio De Simone examines key performance indicators and OEE tracking systems, as well as the importance of obtaining the full picture when it comes to packaging line efficiency. Valerio offers insights on how to better use overall equipment effectiveness (OEE) tracking systems and how to avoid common mistakes.

Read the Full Article

Click here to read the full article. If you have questions about increasing the efficiency of your packaging lines, contact us!

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Understanding the European Medical Device Regulations (EU MDR 2017/745)

With the May deadline approaching, the EU MDR regulations, covered in a robust 175-page document, apply to a more diverse group of companies than ever before. In order to help companies understand this regulation at a high level, our regulatory experts put together an overview of the who, what, when, why and how of the regulation.

Adept-Group_EU-MDR-Infographic

If you need help understanding how this regulation applies to you, evaluating your projects and packaging for compliance, or need the advice of a regulatory expert, contact us today!

value optimization

Cost Savings Beyond Sourcing: Corrugated Packaging

In order to optimize packaging-related cost savings, using a holistic approach to evaluate processes, waste, sourcing, and design throughout the entire packaging system is necessary. In most cases, when companies discuss their approach to cost savings related to packaging, it addresses only one element of packaging, such as reducing packaging material.

Optimizing packaging and supply chain costs involves partnering with design and supply chain experts, as well as material suppliers to identify and develop the best quality solution. It involves leveraging experts in logistics, sourcing, packaging design, process efficiency, distribution costs, etc. to identify what’s working well and what can be improved upon.

Adept Packaging’s Value Design Model

In Adept Group’s Value Design Model to Margin Improvement, we leverage our global supplier network to evaluate and identify the best supplier for the challenge at hand, resulting in the lowest total landed cost for our clients’ packaging designs. Through a thorough understanding of the client’s supply chain, needs and limitations, we identify the optimal solution.

After understanding our clients’ needs, our cost savings experts identify areas for margin improvement and then we select the supplier that can offer the highest quality solution.

Corrugated Savings

For example, for corrugated packaging, we’ve partnered with TRG, a supplier with unique machinery, a design ethos that matches ours, and insight into the entire corrugated supply chain. On projects we’ve worked on with TRG, we average:

  • 15-20% material reduction
  • 25-30% throughput increases
  • Up to 80% labor and set up reductions
  • Time and waste reduction to increase total supply chain effectiveness

Avenues to Corrugated Cost Reduction

Depending on the material, component, product and supply chain needs, cost savings can come in the form of:

  • Lightweighting
  • Optimizing use of material
  • Design optimization and automation
  • Design and supplier equipment utilization
  • Pallet optimization and quality improvement
  • Labor and setup reductions
  • Eliminating additional components
  • Update printing methods using the latest technology

Material Reduction through Design Innovation

Through the use of specialized converting equipment, we are able to create corrugated designs that reduce the number of components in the packaging. These unique conditions allow for design innovation for both online and offline execution without sacrificing packaging quality or performance.

Labor Reduction Throughput and Set-up Efficiencies

Combining innovative design concepts with uniquely capable supplier equipment, we are able to develop quick set up designs and revolutionary case automation possibilities. These designs reduce material waste, as well as allow for staffing reallocation due to reduced time needed to set up packaging, both in the warehouse and in-store.

Time and waste reduction to increase total supply chain
effectiveness

In addition to increasing efficiency through packaging design, material reduction allows for maximum pallet efficiency through more product per pallet. The reduction of packaging components leads to less inventory management and increase warehouse space.

By starting with the packaging concept, this process allows for efficiency improvements throughout the entire supply chain, as well as innovation that not only saves cost, but differentiates products in store.

Cost Savings Beyond Sourcing Learning Share

If you’re interested in learning more about cost savings beyond sourcing, check out our December 2019 Learning Share presented by Adept Value Optimization President, Jared Spencer, and TRG Director of Design & Value Engineering, Jeff Jolley. They discuss details and case studies of how our approach has helped some of the most iconic Food, Beverage and CPG companies achieve their cost savings goals.

Resumesmall

A Guide for the Interviewer: Asking the Right Questions

For most corporate employees, interviewing job candidates is not part of their job description. For those who are tasked with that job, it is usually a very small and infrequent portion of their job responsibilities. Because of that, most people do not know how to conduct good interviews or how to ask questions to solicit the information they need to make an informed hiring decision. This guide, designed for the interviewer, offers tips to help you ask the questions to get the answers you’re looking for.

Preparation

First and foremost, you need to prepare for the interview. Ideally, before you reach the interview phase of the hiring process, your potential candidates have been vetted for the minimum job qualifications and education. The purpose of the interview is to further qualify the candidate against the job performance expectations, the requirements of the role and the suitability of the candidate to fit the team and company’s culture and environment.

Be Aware of Restrictions

Begin by making certain you are aware of any legal or company restrictions. Check with your Human Resources or Legal department to help avoid any questions related to topics that could be discriminatory in nature such as questions of race, sex, color, national origin or religion. Make yourself aware of any company or industry-specific policies or state and city laws to avoid.

Inform the Candidate About You & The Company

Remember that the candidate is making a decision about whether they want to work for you as well. Take time to write out a brief pitch about you, the team, the company and the role you are looking to fill. This will not only serve to help break the ice and put the applicant at ease but help them to get more interested in the job opportunity.

Set an Agenda

Set an agenda to help you stay on schedule and cover all of the information both you and the applicant are hoping to during the interview. Prior to the interview, clearly communicate the date and time of the interview, who will be involved and the format of the interview so the candidate can prepare.

Prepare Your Questions

Next prepare a written list of questions. It is vitally important that you ask your questions of each candidate in the same order and format. This will not only allow you to give an apples to apples comparison of each candidate but will limit potential conflicts or impropriety.

To help structure your questions, start by determining the top 5 or 6 key requirements of the role such as knowledge of specific technology, equipment or methodology. 

Craft Open-Ended Questions

Create open-ended questions such as ones that begin with “why”, “how”, “what” or “describe.” This will yield more detailed answers than closed-ended questions. Your purpose is to obtain a balanced picture of the applicant’s qualifications and job motivation without prompting applicants to produce responses that they think you want to hear.

Phrase Questions to Gain Insight

A good way to phrase a question about a specific skillset is to say “How does your experience qualify you for this job?” This will not only test that the candidate has done their homework, but give them the opportunity to share their skillset. You might also ask a question such as “Describe your experience with ____ software.”

Think Beyond Their Skillset

In addition to job requirements, you might need to learn more about how a candidate will respond to your culture. Ask open-ended questions such as “How did you handle meeting a tight deadline?” Or “Give us some examples demonstrating how you’ve reacted to pressure situations.”

Track Their Answers

Finally, develop a form to help take notes and keep track of the candidate responses to each question. Having this ready ahead of time will allow you to focus on the answers, and to go back and compare them to other candidates if you have a difficult decision to make.

Conducting the Interview

Make sure you are on time and have reviewed the candidate’s resume and any additional notes before the interview. This not only demonstrates your interest in them but will help keep everyone on schedule. Start the interview by building rapport to help put the candidates at ease and feel confident before asking your questions.

Prompt for Questions

After you have asked your questions, allow the candidate to ask questions of you. This will not only give you additional opportunities to sell the candidates on your job opening, but allow you to evaluate their listening and questioning skills.

Inform about Next Steps

Finally, inform the candidate that the interview is over and what the next steps will be in the process, including any additional steps you need the candidate to take, such as providing references or completing any assessment testing.

Your Most Valuable Resource

In any company, success or failure depends almost entirely on the quality of the team. Remember that when as you conduct your interviews. Someone with less experience, but a tenacity to learn might add more value than someone with a robust resume that seems resistant to new ideas.

If you need any assistance finding quality candidates, building your packaging team, or have an especially difficult to fill position, don’t hesitate to contact our recruiters.   

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E-Commerce Damage: Why Packaging Matters

Designing packaging specifically for the booming E-commerce market is essential. With up to 15 additional touchpoints in the distribution environment, E-commerce packaging requires more robust, tailored packaging than that which sits on the shelves at your local Walmart.

Understanding the requirements of your product when experiencing hazards like compression, shock, vibration, and atmospheric conditions are paramount to design a package that ensures the product arrives without damage.

Overlooking the additional touchpoints, methods of transport, packaging handlers, storage, etc. when moving from a traditional distribution environment to E-commerce will often leave the product and brand reputation damaged.

Holiday E-commerce Challenges

With the increase in E-commerce sales due to the holidays, trucks are packed with boxes en route to the doorsteps of anxiously awaiting shoppers. During 2018, holiday E-commerce shoppers spent $126 billion, up 16.5% from 2017. With 55% of all sales taking place online, package handlers experience a much higher volume of deliveries.

Between trying to fit as many packages on a truck as possible and rushing to get them all delivered on time, it’s no surprise that damage rates increase as well, especially in packaging not designed for the E-commerce distribution environment.

E-commerce Nightmare

For example, at Adept Group, we ordered tumblers for our associates from a promotional merchandiser for holiday gifts. (Pictured below) To give you an idea of the product composition, these tumblers have a stainless-steel exterior; glass insert and plastic top.

What would have been a beautiful gift for our associates turned into four boxes of shattered glass, a panicked phone call, an extremely compressed shipping timeline and a lot of rework for the promotional company.

The Damage

Our products arrived in four double-walled corrugated boxes with obvious compression damage. When we picked them up to move them, the sound of shattered glass was evident. Separated by single-walled corrugated dividers, the glass insert of 56 of 100 tumblers was in pieces at the bottom of the box, rendering them unusable.

Without the dividers being strong enough to keep the box from compressing, and no padding to absorb any of that pressure, the force of whatever packages were piled on top of the box crushed all of the glass that stuck out above the stainless-steel exterior. This presented several problems:

  • We’ve been forced to delay shipping gifts to our associates, as we wait for the new shipment to arrive
  • The opportunity for shipping gifts to our associates across the globe in Italy before the holidays is quickly closing.
  • This compressed timeline increases shipping costs for us to attempt to get gifts to associates before the holidays.
  • The damaged products caused a production loss of four associates for 2 hours, as we went through the boxes to determine the number of broken tumblers, cleaned up the broken glass and washed the products that were not broken to ensure our associates do not consume glass particles once they receive their gifts.
  • We were covered in piercing glass particle and had to move and dispose of four boxes littered in shards of glass. There were more than a few minor cuts and pokes.
  • Correspondence with the promotional company involved their quality assurance department, resolutions team, our direct contact, and 3 other people; as well as 2 calls and 29 emails to get this rectified.
When the cost is calculated, the price of a damaged brand reputation is the highest. Due to this experience, there’s a high likelihood that we won’t be ordering from this particular company in the future.

Suggestions for a Redesign

This mishap could have been avoided had they used packaging that was designed for their specific distribution environment and considered the rigors the products must withstand during E-commerce shipping. We enlisted our design expert to provide some suggestions that he would make to decrease the likelihood of damage for these products:

Outer Carton: Upgrade the material specification for the corrugated to 44ect BC flute with specific liner and medium specifications that can withstand a single parcel shipment.

Interior partitions:

  • Upgrade the material specification for the corrugated to 44ect C flute with specific liner and medium specifications that can withstand a single parcel shipment. This will add the correct buffer between cups and eliminate glass to glass contact.
  • It’s important to maintain the caliper thickness on the partitions between glasses to keep a snug fit and isolate movement.
  • Raise the height of the partitions slightly to reach the top of the glass lip.
  • Eliminate any chance for the glass portion of the cup to make glass to glass contact. Improved partitions will help with this.

Add an interior top pad: This will allow the glass to compress into the pad, both restricting movement and reducing or eliminating impact and compression damage.

Negative impacts

When damage occurs in E-commerce, it presents unique challenges. With the shipping package being the first point of contact with a consumer, a damaged package can impact brand perception; whereas a damaged product will. Not only does it harm the brand reputation, but it causes frustration, time loss, extra effort, additional spend and frequently, loss of business.  

Designing for ecommerce

If your company has a high damage rate or is just getting into the E-commerce market, consider leveraging an expert to design packaging to avoid these pitfalls.

Understanding the product needs, having visibility into the distribution environment, and having access to the materials and expertise needed to develop packaging that protects the product is pertinent for success in the E-commerce market.

For any questions regarding quality remediation or new package development for E-commerce, contact us. Our experts are happy to help.  

For additional tips for designing E-commerce packaging, check out our white paper: Evolving Packaging for the Ecommerce Market in our resource library.


Follow-up (second shipment):

If you’re thinking, perhaps this shipping experience was an anomaly, you’d be wrong. The same company, shipped the same product, in the same packaging, through the same distribution environment, and guess what? We got the same result. Half of the tumblers in the second shipment were also damaged and unusable. 

Long story short: Packaging matters. Design packaging for the E-commerce market with your product and distribution environment in mind to avoid loss of business and a destroyed brand reputation. Contact us for assistance! 

Lancaster, PA, USA - December 15, 2017: USPS Priority Mail boxes, Amazon, and other packages delivered at a residential home front door.

How Sustainable is Your Holiday Packaging?

With Cyber Monday upon us, and the holidays quickly approaching, there’s a good chance many of us are going to have quite a few boxes piled up in front of our door in the coming weeks. With the drive for companies to create more sustainable, environmentally friendly packaging, this time of year presents a fantastic opportunity to see how well they’re doing.

With research showing that one of the greatest barriers to recycling is lack of consumer knowledge, we wanted to add some insight on how to tell how sustainable the packaging is that you’re products are being shipped in.

Sustainability Check

We’ve created a checklist for a quick evaluation of the packaging you’re interacting with this holiday season. Give your packaging a point for each of these boxes you can check off.

  • Overpackaging: there is no evidence of over packaging. The product fits well into the box it was shipped in. Examples of overpackaging: a box within a box, a disproportionately large box for a small item, excessive unnecessary packaging, etc.
  • Ships in Own Container: The product was shipped in its own container without an overbox.
  • Excess Padding: There is no evidence of additional, unnecessary padding. For example foam peanuts, shredded paper, etc. Many of these materials can be recycled, but developing packaging specifically for ecommerce that can ship without additional material is cost-effective and requires less work on the consumer end.
  • The packaging material is recyclable. For example corrugate, PET, etc. If you’re not sure, check out this recycling guide.
  • Recyclability is communicated. Is there a label on your package that tells you how to recycle the packaging?
  • Reusability: the packaging can be reused for an additional purpose.
  • Styrofoam: there is no evidence of Styrofoam in the packaging. While some places can recycle it, most materials recovery facilities still do not accept it as part of their recycling program.
  • Mixed-materials: the package is not made of mixed materials. Examples, plastic mixed with paper, foam envelope, foam on corrugate. Since materials need to be easily separated to be recycled, packaging that has mixed materials are much more difficult to recycle.
  • Label: the label is not shrink-wrapped to the package.  Materials need to be separated easily, and PVC shrink labels impede that separation.
  • Returnable: Can I use the packaging to return the item if I need to?

The higher the score, the more sustainable the package. As companies continue to narrow in their focus on sustainability, these numbers will continue to increase. With increased awareness, new regulations and consumer pressure, most of the large brand owners have already set aggressive goals for 2025 and beyond.

E-commerce giant, Amazon, has developed requirements vendors must meet to ship through Amazon, with an aim to reduce waste and increase customer satisfaction. As a member of the Amazon Support and Supplier network, Adept Packaging works side-by-side with some of the major E-commerce retailers, designing sustainable packaging for the most complex, custom supply chains.

If you’re in the ecommerce market and notice your packaging is scoring lower than you’d like, contact us! We hope this holiday season, you’ll recycle responsibly. Have a safe and sustainable holiday!