ProMat 2023: Universal packaging trends fueling forward company fulfillment strategies
Increasing throughput, promoting a circular economy and enhancing the customer experience are top of mind
Pregis proudly showcased its packaging innovations to 50,000 industry professionals at ProMat 2023, the largest material handling, logistics, and supply chain show in the world. Coming out of the event, three critical packaging trends will add tremendous value to company fulfillment operations.
E-commerce demand is raising volumes in warehouses, and to keep up, companies have no choice but to implement automation. This technology is being integrated more often, and the runway for an ROI is shorter than ever. Equipment is becoming more capable, and consistent, creating efficiencies through critical areas of the workflow – from picking to packing. Companies like Radial, a third-party logistics (3PL) e-commerce fulfillment company, are implementing pick wall automation with the help of robotic arms. As a result, they are lowering their cost per pick and redistributing labor to other key areas of their operations. Meanwhile, 3PL company, Ship Hero, is utilizing autonomous mobile robots (AMRs) to pick their SKUs from inventory, creating major efficiencies in throughput and picking accuracy. As for packing, the next stage of fulfillment, automated bagging systems are automatically opening, sealing, and printing labels on a polybag or paper mailer to further optimize labor. Together, all of the aforementioned equipment can be leveraged to create a fully autonomous pack and ship program.
Recyclability and Recycled Content
Protective packaging is being truly engineered with the environment in mind. Businesses, and their customers, are increasingly supporting a circular economy. That aspiration is manifesting in many ways, but most often through the use of recycled content, and the ability to easily/conveniently recycle materials. Flexible mono-materials – or a singular material construction made with polyethylene, for example – is gaining steam, which allows for more compatibility in the recycling stream through store drop off locations. Curbside recycling also creates added convenience for consumers, which is leading to the development of more diverse, effective paper packaging materials across void fill, cushioning and insulation.
Protecting goods from the rigors of shipping continues to be a main proponent of customer experience, but as the world continues to lean towards direct-to-consumer offerings, companies are looking for more ways to stand out. Sustainability and damage reduction aside, businesses are getting a little more colorful. Branding on paper or poly mailers and other packaging materials is growing in popularity. That could be a single logo, or a memorable tagline – outfitted in multi-color printing on pack. Technology within this space is getting better every day, resulting in crisp and clear text and imagery that resonates with customers.