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Automating the Aftermarket: How auto parts shippers are fine-tuning their packaging processes

Manufacturers in a highly competitive automotive market can claim most of the credit for their vehicles’ longevity, but don’t forget their owners, whose skill and tender loving care are helping them get every last mile out of their cars. The growing ranks of do-it-yourself car owners are forcing shippers to rethink the way they package automotive parts and accessories.

So much for that new car smell. The number of vehicles on the road that are at least 16 years old is projected to hit 84 million in 2023, an increase of 22 percent from 2018. By comparison, there were only about 49 million cars that were at least 16 years old on U.S. roadways in 2002.

Manufacturers in a highly competitive automotive market can claim most of the credit for their vehicles’ longevity, but don’t forget their owners, whose skill and tender loving care are helping them get every last mile out of their cars. Emboldened by YouTube video tutorials, do-it-yourself car owners are fueling brisk online sales of auto parts and accessories in the U.S. Last year, online sales accounted for about $10 billion of the $296 billion U.S. automotive aftermarket, and online sales are increasing by about 16 percent a year, according to the research firm Hedges & Co.  

The growing ranks of do-it-yourself car owners are forcing shippers to rethink the way they package automotive parts and accessories. Whereas palletized parts are unlikely to be damaged during delivery to retail stores, parts that go through parcel delivery can face drops, vibration and compression along the long, bumpy road to each customer’s garage door.

 

Automated packaging for auto parts

From nuts and bolts to windshields, light kits and side mirrors, auto parts come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes and are all highly prone to damage. By using durable and flexible packaging, shippers can protect their parts in transit and maximize their profitability.

With a wide range of packaging solutions that are ideal for protecting automotive parts and accessories and increasing throughput, Pregis allows shippers to fast-track orders to their demanding DIY customers.

On-demand foam-in-place and paper packaging systems ensure that parts arrive in pristine condition. The automated systems get products out the door much more efficiently than manual packing, so do-it-yourself mechanics aren’t left waiting for orders to be processed.

Pregis’ IntelliPack SmartBagger foam-in-place system combines two polyurethane foams inside a polyethylene bag or mold, creating a mixture that rapidly expands around an automotive part to form a customized protective shell. The foam is a smart choice for shipping heavy, fragile or expensive parts because it protects them from impact and eliminates movement within the box. 

Shippers can program the foam-in-place machines to select the right bag length and amount of foam for each product after a worker scans its barcode. The machine’s screen also can display pictures or videos instructing employees how to properly pack each part.

The growing ranks of do-it-yourself car owners are forcing shippers to rethink the way they package automotive parts and accessories.

That same product-specific programmability applies to Pregis’ Easypack on-demand paper systems. After a product’s barcode is scanned, the machine will automatically produce the appropriate amount and size of durable paper packaging to fill voids within a box and prevent product movement, or to wrap around products to shield them from impact, scratches or abrasions.

When shipping auto parts with sharp metal corners or jutting edges, these packaging solutions offer a superior level of protection over bubble wrap or inflatable plastic, which could be punctured and rendered ineffective. On-demand foam and paper solutions also help shippers achieve their sustainability goals. Pregis’ paper products are made of 100 percent recycled and recyclable materials. And the high-performance foam ensures that parts arrive looking brand new the first time, eliminating the costly and wasteful practice of disposing damaged parts and reshipping orders.

Pregis’ Sharp Packaging automated poly-bagging solutions are an easy way to package smaller parts such as nuts, bolts, wires and connectors. The bags are also available with an anti-corrosive additive to make sure that metal parts are never exposed to environmental factors that could harm their performance. 

 

It’s what’s under the hood that matters

Today’s drivers are spending more on their cars and investing heavily to keep them on the road for as long as possible. To successfully shift sales into high gear, shippers of automotive parts and accessories to DIY mechanics must be prepared to fine-tune their packaging processes.    

 

To learn more about the Pregis IntelliPack SmartBagger foam-in-place system, visit https://www.pregis.com/on-demand-foam-systems/smartbaggermaxwell/.

To learn about Pregis’ Easypack on-demand paper systems, visit https://www.pregis.com/on-demand-paper-systems/.

And to learn about Pregis’ Sharp Packaging automated poly-bagging machines, visit https://www.pregis.com/automated-poly-bagging-systems/.