Packaging specifications are the foundation of product packaging. They include packaging materials, dimensions, closures, labeling, and much more, making up the core of product development. Without them, products would be left inadequately protected and displayed, leading to harmful consequences.
What Are Packaging Specifications?
Every great product deserves equally outstanding packaging. But how do you ensure consistency and quality? The answer is with packaging specifications. As stated before packaging specifications lay the groundwork for everything related to your product’s packaging system. They develop consistency about how packaging components are defined and ensure that packaging is user-friendly, designed correctly, protective, and up to regulatory standards such as ISO.
Regardless of the industry, if you are making products, packaging is going to exist in one way or another. Packaging material specifications may include corrugated fiberboard, paperboard, polyethylene, or other polymers - to name a few material types. Additional packaging specifications might define pallet numbers, bar codes and serial numbers, coatings, hazardous materials, and more.
As product SKUs increase packaging will need to adapt. The product that used to be held in a carton may need pouches instead - but these changes can’t be made if the specifications about this packaging don’t exist in the first place. Packaging specification documents keep cross-functional teams aligned and improve supply chain efficiency.
Benefits of Well-Defined Packaging Specifications
Having well-defined packaging specifications is coupled with many benefits for businesses and their consumers. One of the most valuable benefits of well-defined packaging specifications is consistency.
With one source of truth housing all the information related to product packaging, companies will find that reducing production errors and waste is much simpler. Using templates to house this data, companies are empowered to create products and packaging that meet the same quality standards, regardless of their home of production.
The same consistency and standardization can also improve the customer experience by ensuring that they have a satisfactory experience while interacting with a product’s packaging
And above all, one of packaging's main roles is the protection of the product. Well-defined specifications ensure that products are protected during transit, storage, and on the shelf where products are at risk of spoilage, contamination, and corrosion.
When products hit the shelf, packaging also plays a huge role in brand representation and product differentiation. With clear specs to define this information, little room is left for ambiguity making it easier for both suppliers and manufacturers to understand what is expected of them and the packaging at hand.
The implementation of well-defined packaging specifications has far-reaching benefits. From enabling efficient operations to protecting the product and satisfying the end consumer.
How to Create Effective Packaging Specifications
To experience all the advantages that are described above, packaging specifications should be laid out in detailed packaging workflows. This creates visibility into production that is both organized and sequential.
After companies understand what the product and packaging needs are it is important to review regulatory standards to ensure that all matters are met. The necessary information should be documented in a master data sheet where detailed specifications are visible to all teams.
Units of measure such as dimensions and weights, along with material types should all be specified - this is also a great place to include packaging tolerances. By laying out the design, production, and distribution of products and packaging it ensures that every stage is executed effectively.
Closure and sealing mechanisms, as well as shipping container types, for individual packages, should be comprehensive so that no matter what facility the package is leaving from it is ready to go.
It is important to note that for packaging specifications to retain their value they must be updated consistently. The process of iteration, refinement, and adaptation is of the highest value to ensure that your packaging is playing the role it needs to play.
Collaborative Packaging Specification Management
To truly reap the benefits of packaging specifications it is critical that adequate Specification Data Management (SDM) systems are in place. With an updated and accessible system to manage this data, cross-functional collaboration is promoted. From packaging engineering and manufacturing to production and suppliers, the use of this packaging data is of high value.
With defined standards and packaging expectations, the need for team members to fill in the missing data pieces is eliminated, enabling more efficient decision-making. Relationships and collaboration are improved across the board when less time is wasted searching for information from other teams that they might not even have.
Packaging Specifications and Sustainability Efforts
Companies will also find that with well-defined packaging specifications come improved sustainability efforts. By specifying sustainable materials or processes, companies can verify that the environmental footprints of packaging can be reduced where possible.
Visibility into packaging data allows companies to prioritize more eco-friendly alternatives to typical packaging materials, assist in increasing recyclability, or enable lightweighting of current materials.
For some companies meeting sustainability standards may be a part of their brand's corporate social responsibility but for many others, environmental efforts are required by various regulatory standards such as ERP regulations.
As many brands work to redefine their image to align with sustainability goals, accessibility to packaging specifications will give insights into where these changes can be made - both efficiently and effectively.
Read more about Specification Data Management for sustainability here.
Challenges in Defining and Managing Packaging Specifications
Of course, if being in touch with packaging specifications was easy wouldn’t everyone be doing it? The reality is that in today’s dynamic market, a brand's products and packaging are constantly changing - this means specifications are also changing. For packaging specifications to be of value they must reflect these constant changes across the board.
The delicate balance between functional and aesthetic roles that packaging must embody coupled with sustainability efforts, product safety, and brand essence is like an elaborate juggling act.
When packaging specifications are defined incorrectly it can lead to inaccurate production, incorrect prints or colors, sizing issues, the wrong seals and so much more.
To say the least, management of packaging specifications is no small fleet, although taking the steps to create alignment of specifications across global supply chains will be met with benefits that outweigh the challenges.
The Future of Packaging Specifications
Across industries, the world of packaging is embracing innovation and new packaging solutions. Some examples we are seeing pop up today are digital innovations and smart packaging. This may include advancements in digital bringing or interactive packaging that take the user experience to the next level.
Constant improvement of packaging elements might enable longer shelf life or maintain product quality, a win for all stakeholders. Artificial intelligence (AI) related tools such as forecasting consumer trends, supply chain optimization, and tracking reusable packaging are being implemented to empower the highest quality packaging.
No matter what the future of packaging holds, packaging specifications are not going anywhere. They are the basis of packaging innovation and companies that want to stay ahead must ensure that are keeping Specification Data Management top of mind.
Specright’s Specification Data Management™ platform is helping companies in every industry lead this charge in packaging innovation and sustainability. Whether you are a packaging engineer or material supplier, proper management of specifications will make your job a lot easier.