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New Package Development During COVID-19

While the many challenges introduced by the COVID-19 pandemic have impacted brands in a variety of ways, new package development remains a primary focus for packaging departments. Whether it’s designing packaging for a new product, optimizing packaging for an existing product, or redesigning packaging for existing projects to better meet the evolving needs of the brand, this process remains an important priority. What has changed is the ability to bring outside experts into a brand’s facility to evaluate products and develop packaging solutions.

Meeting Remotely

While the traditional approach to new package design involves on-site engineers evaluating the product and its shipping needs, the current need for distancing makes this approach unwise or, in some states, not allowed. There is, however, another approach that works just as well for most brands.

As we’ve all grown accustomed to meetings conducted via Zoom and collaborating on a document virtually, it should be no surprise to learn that all of the preliminary steps of a packaging project can be handled remotely. Defining the packaging requirements, including goals for sustainability and specs to ensure it works with your current packaging, can be discussed via a web meeting and compiled in a shared document. This includes listing all the unknowns and other important needs such as pallet stability requirements and the tolerances and procedures to be used during the testing phase.

An Unconventional Approach for Unconventional Times

Where this approach really differs from traditional package development is when the designer fleshes out their concepts. Instead of a designer or engineer coming to your facility to evaluate and develop packaging concepts, you can ship your products to the designers location, where they can do the same job without having to add unnecessary personnel to your facility. Working remotely, the engineer can evaluate the product, leverage the list of pre-defined requirements and think through the needs of the products distribution environment to develop packaging concepts and specifications for your review.

Remote Project Management

Once all stakeholders agree on a design concept, the engineer can coordinate prototype development remotely and ship the prototype to your facility for review and approval. All steps of the testing process can be handled the same way, with the packaging shipped to the testing facility of your choice. Once the design is finalized, sourcing a supplier that best fits your goals and is optimized for cost and quality can also be handled remotely all the way through to commercialization.

Experts in Packaging and Remote Work

Since its inception, Adept Packaging was built to meet our clients’ needs, whenever and wherever they need us. Our team has experience working remotely and from home offices while maintaining the productivity and efficiency you’d expect from an on-site consultant. While this global pandemic has forced many companies to adapt their processes for social distancing, it’s allowed us to showcase our mature, fully functioning processes for working from a distance, and we’re ready to help you tackle your new package development products no matter how long the pandemic continues.

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A Planning Guide for New Packaging Machinery

Recent trends in reshoring, accelerated by supply chain issues brought on by COVID-19, are prompting many brands to bring all or part of their packaging operations in house by installing their own machinery. Even if your brand hasn’t made a plan to purchase new packaging machinery, your company is likely considering alternatives to mitigate the disruption.  

A recent survey indicates packaging is one of the services North American brands are most likely to reshore in light of recent supply chain issues. While handling packaging in house can accelerate the product delivery timeline and reduce supply chain problems, it comes with its own set of challenges. We created this guide to help you anticipate and solve those challenges.

Collaborate Internally and with Vendors

To develop a comprehensive set of user requirement specifications, it’s important for representatives of many departments in your business, including packaging, engineering, procurement, HSE, IT and maintenance, to collaborate and thoroughly discuss their individual needs. Another key topic to discuss internally is how new equipment may impact the packaging machinery and software already in place. It’s important to find out what conditions new machinery will need to satisfy to be integrated with your current setup.

Teams also need to communicate and collaborate with the machine supplier to develop an installation timeline that suits the needs of as many departments as possible to minimize disruption to the business. This is also the time to communicate any safety training the vendor’s technicians will need to complete before arriving at your facility. While technicians likely participate in significant safety training of their own, you can’t assume their training covers all the topics necessary for working within your facility.

Evaluate Business Impact

Adding a significant amount of new machinery is no small endeavor. Installing a new packaging line or building on an existing one can have unforeseen impacts on departments throughout your facility. It’s important to understand how it can affect those departments during the early planning stages so those risks can be mitigated. When integrating new machinery into an existing packaging line or other production line, installation will likely require that equipment to be shut down, and managers who oversee that line will need to plan their department’s schedule around that shutdown.

Planning ahead thoroughly for the ways installation will impact your business will provide time to prepare and ensure the installation goes smoothly and doesn’t disrupt other departments more than absolutely necessary. This includes allowing time for testing and having a sufficient amount of product available to conduct tests on the new packaging and labeling equipment.

Anticipate Delays

Despite even the most thorough planning and preparation, installing new packaging machinery will take longer than you expect. Turnaround time between ordering your equipment and delivery by the vendor will likely be the longest part of the process. Delivery times can increase considerably if your needs require customization and added functionality to the machinery.

Plan a 30% buffer time for the total project, no matter what a vendor tells you. You need to prepare for a variety of delays and issues that may pop up throughout the process and have a plan to mitigate unforeseen issues that impact timing. It’s almost a guarantee that a few such problems will affect installation at your facility.

Analyze Utilities

Heavy equipment like packaging machinery draws a lot of power and may also require other utilities, such as compressed air. Those who know your facility best should review details about the machinery’s requirements and evaluate all supply lines, hookups and building connections to ensure they are available and located in the places the new machines will need them.

Measure Twice, Install Once

Measuring the space available for your packaging machinery is an important part of the planning process, but it’s not the last time you’ll need those measurements. The process from deciding on new machinery to its installation can span many months, and equipment vendors may make upgrades or small revisions to the machinery they sell over the course of that time. While vendors should communicate changes and updates to the machinery, you can’t assume they’ll be aware of how those changes affect installation at your facility.

Invest in Solutions

When you decide on a vendor to provide your new machinery, work with them to ensure all the functionality you need it included. Push for the vendor to work with any third-party providers for custom functions and don’t allow them to pass contracting with those providers onto your company. Your company is not just buying a machine, it is working with the vendor to provide a solution that meets your brand’s packaging needs.

Let the Experts Lead

The entire process of acquiring and installing new packaging machinery, from finding equipment that best suits the needs of your brand to testing the line to make sure it functions properly, is intricate and involves many details that are easy to overlook without experienced help. If your team doesn’t have the experience, expertise and resource availability to tackle each phase of the project, including implementation, get external help. Our team has experience helping iconic brands across a variety of industries add packaging lines to their operation, and we’re ready to be your partner through each phase of the project. Reach out to learn more about how we can help.

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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.