Materials Handling/Packaging Field Research Assignment
Packaging and handling are important to businesses. Packaging is used to promote a product, protects the product and consumer, and informs the prospective consumer and handlers throughout the supply chain. In addition, with assistance from technology advancements, a well designed and constructed package aids in product handling throughout the supply chain. This paper will evaluate three frequently purchased consumer products: Purina canned dog food, Purina bagged dry dog food, and Greenies boxed dog treats. A comparison of the Purina dry dog food and the boxed Greenie’s dog treats packaging will also be made. The packaging will be evaluated and compared to identify if the packaging assists or hinders material handling for the logistics provider. Finally, recommendations will be made for packaging changes and the reasoning behind the recommendations.
The Impacts of Technology on Material Handling and Package Design
Advances in technology have affected the way manufacturers package a product and how logistics providers handle products as they move thought the supply chain. With technology advances like radio frequency identification (RFID), bar coding, and automation, manufacturers must find ways to ensure package design assists in moving products quickly through the logistical supply chain. According to Langnau (2005), “Automation can help parts of the process and improve productivity” (p. 19, para. 19). Material handling has moved away from physical manual labor toward an automated handling system employing RFID and bar coding technology along with conveyers, smart robots and carts used with automatic storage and retrieval systems AS/RS. “The As/RS computer control system maintains inventory integrity for all pallets stored in the AS/RS by issuing directives to automatic guided vehicles to pick up and deliver pallets of stock without operator intervention” (The Army, 2004, p. 32, para. 3). Investment in new technology reduces errors, expedites the time from order placement until order fulfillment, tracks the item throughout the warehouse, and prepares the item for shipment.
However, none of these improvements would be possible without the improvements to product packaging. Packaging is tied to the choice of transportation mode. Moreover, to provide the ability to track packages throughout the supply chain with technology, packages and labels that are capable of being used by more than one supply chain partner or transportation company are created.