Material Handling/Packaging Essay

Material Handling/Packaging

The impact of technology in material handling and packaging

In the latter period of 1950s, computer or technological application has become widespread in enhancing control, saving time, and reducing work force. The mechanization trend started with mechanization and machine utilization from different manufacturing machines which lowered labor costs another trend included materials handling or inventory control, which later called logistics. It allowed a wide range of functions like moving raw materials or parts and from different places to factories and the products to warehouses, stores, and consumers. Materials handling is followed by mechanization of the production process which includes mechanization like turning, cutting, painting, moving, screwing, bolting, and twisting parts or products through computers and robotic devices. The fourth trend is concerned with distribution (assembling and dissembling, sorting, loading and unloading the materials according to customers’ needs and standards. Finally, mechanizing packaging included the application of technologies of all types like the use of boxes with products and labels for delivery (Cortada, 2004).

Packaging technology has advanced a great deal in 1980s (Curtin, 1993). Packaging is has become part of a globally competitive products and they involve various technologies, infrastructures, and circumstances. Modern packaging technologies have greatly extended the lives of perishable meats and sea food and it allowed high-acid drinks to be stored and transported. Some food product packaging include high technology processing, irradiation, sterilization, and wrapping with light-weight plastics, “smart” refrigeration, and “active” packaging like self-heating or –chilling, giving off light, and emitting sounds and other sensations (Imhoff, 2002).

Today, logistics continues to advance in moving and positioning inventory throughout a supply chain. It is considered as a group of processes activities and tasks within the framework of the supply chain. E-commerce and logistics linkages use technology in delivering information within and among organizations. Some recent innovations in logistics include the use of personal computers, electronic data interchange (EDI), barcoding and scanning, advance ship notices (ASNs), shipment and package tracking systems, satellite global positioning systems (GPS) and geographic information systems (GIS), software agents, Internet, web-based databases, data warehousing, decision support systems, electronic signature technology, wireless technology; and enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems (Gulati & Garino, 2000).

Production of retail goods is expected to increase and become computerized due to the diffusion of electronic data processing equipments and the availability of affordable computers for small retail store owners. Point-of-sale technology, the use of bar codes and scanning devices to save labor time in inventory control, computerized reordering and markdown to reduce labor time, as well as electronic shopping, e-tailing, and e-commerce have become trends in the retail industry. Electronic marketing makes it possible for consumers to conveniently shop, easily and quickly order, and compare prices from different stores (Ahmed & Wilder, 1995). It is considered as packaging-reducing technology for suppliers and manufactures since it helps them in deciding which products to produce as they are able to determine what are on demand. However, it is not clear whether it has reduced packaging activities since high quality packaging is still crucial in attaining consumer trust and loyalty (Imhoff, 2002). Therefore manufacturer need to be able to distinguish between naked e-commerce packaging and retail packaging to ensure the availability and prevent overproduction of products.

 

The Material Handling/Packages Analysis Checklist

For handling and packages analysis, I went to a retail store in my town and surveyed the most frequent products that people buy from 7:00 A.M. to 11:00 A.M. Some of the commonly bought products include cheddar cheese, fresh milk, and processed meat which are locally manufactured from the nearby cities.

Comparing two of the chosen products in the checklist

There are aspects of packaging to be considered in order to ensure the quality of products after handling and delivering them to the retail stores. Both the cheddar cheese and processed meat products are placed in trays for delivery. The handling of cheddar cheese makes it difficult for logistics provider to ensure the cheese products’ shape since plastic is used in packaging. On the other hand, it is also difficult to maintain the processed meat products’ freshness since Styrofoam and plastic wrap is used in packaging.

Recommendations for packaging

If I would be given a chance to manufacture cheddar cheese and processed meat products, I would recommend the use non-toxic and durable plastic materials in individually wrapping the processed meat products to prevent them from damage or leaks while aluminum wrap and thicker plastic wrap will be used and be packed in individual boxes for the cheddar cheese products. Expiration date and nutrition facts will be indicated for consumers’ safety and health. Recycled boxes with labels and handling guide will be used instead of trays when delivering cheddar cheese products while small coolers or ice chests will be used to deliver the processed meat products to ensure freshness and maintain good appearance or the quality of packaging.

 

References

Ahmed, Z. & Wilder, P. S. (1995) Productivity in Retail Miscellaneous Shopping Goods Stores. Monthly Labor Review 118(10), 33+.

Cortada, J. W. (2004) The Digital Hand: How Computers Changed the Work of American Manufacturing, Transportation, and Retail Industries. New York: Oxford University Press, 92-93.

Curtin, D. J. (1993) Industry Productivity in Natural and Processed Cheese. Monthly Labor Review 116(4), 26+.

Gulati, R. and Garino, J. (2000), “Get the right mix of bricks and clicks”, Harvard Business Review, May-June, pp. 107-14.

Imhoff, D. (2002). Thinking outside of the Box: A Systems View of Packaging. Whole Earth (Winter 2002) 8+.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Appendix

 

Material Handling/Packages Analysis Checklist
Five Point Likert Scale:

1 = Strongly Disagree; 2 = Disagree; 3 = Neutral; 4 = Agree; 5 = Strongly Agree
Cheddar cheese
Fresh milk
Processed meat
1 Did the packaging contribute toward the aesthetics of the product at the point of sale?
4
5
4
2 Was the package designed for consumer friendliness?
3
4
2
3 Was the package design effective for the logistics of transporting the product from manufacturer to consumer?
3
5
3
4 Is the packaging environmentally friendly?
4
4
4
5 Did the manufacturers technology incorporate packaging that protected the item from shrinkage?
4
5
4
6 Did the manufacturers technology incorporate packaging that protected the item from unfavorable climate conditions?
3
4
3
7 Did the manufacturers outer packaging incorporate any technology related information that enabled an efficient checkout process for the consumer?
3
5
2
8 Given the outer packaging of each chosen product, rate the ease of handling for the manufacturers warehouse personnel.
4
4
4
9 Given the outer packaging of the chosen product, rate the ease of handling for the retailers material handlers.
4
5
4
10 Does the packaging protect the health and safety of the consumer?
3
5
3