From optimizing systems and processes to market research, the service sector in the packaging market is as diverse as it is fascinating.
The market for services in the packaging industry is perhaps even more diverse than that for suppliers of hardware and packaging materials. It combines services ranging from consulting, research and development to packaging development, as well as all outsourcing work such as contract packaging, pallet and container management, machine maintenance and facility management.
Analysis and advisory services play an important role when it comes to designing or optimizing systems in which different work processes interlock. There are providers of dynamic material flow simulation that can be used to determine key performance indicators and optimize interlinked systems. They allow dry runs of processes, so to speak, and thus make it possible to adjust machine performance and determine buffer sizes.
Research and development activities include the production of new packaging materials and optimizing of existing materials. In many of the projects initiated here, packaging materials based on renewable raw materials, for example, are modified with regard to desired but previously non-existent properties in order to achieve characteristics of crude-oil-based plastics as regards protection or permeability.
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Other service providers specialise in testing primary, secondary and transport packaging. This includes simulating transport and storage conditions, checking behaviour under extreme weather conditions, investigating the undesirable release of chemical substances and determining the degree of recyclability.
Another segment is market research. What do consumers think of the modified packaging design? Do they prefer this innovative packaging design over the familiar? These are the questions to be answered here. In market research today, data is not only collected in field trials, but the effect of new designs is also increasingly being investigated on the store shelves with virtual reality installations. Such observation of consumer behaviour can also accelerate the development of new packaging. With such virtual simulations, the impact and use of alternatives can be tested much more quickly. Product development, which today takes 18 months on average, can thus be substantially accelerated.