Flexible packaging is the cost-effective, reliable solution to reduce costs and keep products safe and fresh. This industry has shown tremendous growth as flexible packaging manufacturers have introduced cutting-edge technology and advanced packaging materials to preserve and protect an ever-growing list of products while more and more brand owners are using or exploring ways to use flexible packaging for their products.
Companies like LPS industries have made a great contribution to this industry by supplying different types of flexible packaging to brand owners in a long list of markets. The industry is a multi-billion-dollar business in the US and generates more than $30 billion in sales every year.
With so many flexible packaging manufacturers in the market, it is becoming harder for brand owners to find the best supplier based on their specific needs. Here are three questions you should ask a flexible packaging manufacturer to determine if they are right for you.
1. What Is Their Production Capacity and How Will They Ensure Timely Delivery?
Brand owners use flexible packaging for many different products but the two constants are to protect and preserve. Whether the product is a consumable for humans or pets, a chemical for lawn or garden use or packaging for medical tests or devices, you should have a clear understanding of the manufacturer’s production capacity, turnaround times and reputation for meeting delivery dates. Ask questions of your potential flexible packaging manufacturer about how they ensure the timely delivery of the packaging. This step is crucial when your company is producing time-sensitive items, such as food or medical supplies. An indicator of smooth sailing is if your manufacturer has a quality certification, e.g., ISO. This is emblematic of a company being built upon a framework of repeatable, measurable processes to ensure consistency and reliability. Your flexible packaging manufacturer should also be able to demonstrate knowledge and experience producing the packaging your type of product requires.
2. What Is Their Knowledge of and Experience Working with a Wide Range of Materials?
It’s critically important that your flexible packaging manufacturer is knowledgeable about the wide range of materials available to cost-effectively construct packaging to your exact performance specifications. There is a multitude of combinations of materials that when laminated, can deliver the protection your product requires. What’s important is an exact match of performance to your product’s protective specifications. For example, a layer of foil is considered the highest level of protection. The moisture and oxygen transmission rates for flexible packaging including foil will almost always be the lowest, i.e., best, but beware of packaging overkill. While foil is a great protective barrier and certainly has its place in packaging for medical tests and devices, it is expensive and is likely not requires for food, snacks, pet food and treats and a multitude of other applications. A knowledgeable manufacturer can recommend a combination of films that will create a strong protective barrier engineered to your exact protective specifications. These can include “untreated” films, films with special barrier coatings applied and even polymer films with a layer of metal, usually foil, applied in the manufacturing process. Other options include the use of a relatively new type of polyethylene that has been specially treated to add strength and support so it can be used to construct stand up pouches and meet the requirements of being 100% recyclable.
Another benefit of choosing a knowledgeable and experience converter is they will have an inventory of premade films constructed to deliver varying degrees of protection but without the outer layer (the one that carries the graphics) applied. Some of the benefits of this are (1) the manufacturer has produced large quantities, which has the effect of lowering the cost per square foot vs. producing on an order-by-order basis that may require a higher MOQ and (2) the need to print and laminate a single layer of film to be added to the stock film translates to a faster turnaround for an order. One additional benefit is that the experienced manufacturer can be a great asset in evaluating and recommending a structure to meet your requirements after evaluating and your specifications when initially presented. This avoids the expensive and time consuming corrective actions that occur only after the product is packaged and is on the shelf. It is far better to receive this feedback before the packaging is produced than learn about a problem from consumers who are dissatisfied.
3. Is it A Vertically Integrated Company?
If your flexible packaging manufacturer is vertically integrated, it means they can perform all the functions required to package your flexible packaging roll stock and if required, convert the roll stock into bags or pouches with value-added features. These operations may include the following.
- A full-time graphics department to support the creation of the final artwork as used on the packaging
- Producing the printing plates used to print the graphics
- Printing the substrate in advance of laminating
- Laminating multiple layers of materials
- Slitting the laminated master rolls into smaller widths to fit on converting equipment
- Extruding the zipper that is used for recloseable bags and pouches
- Converting the roll stock into bags or pouches
If a company integrates all these functions within its own four walls, it will reduce the overall cost, enhance the quality of the final product and improve the timeliness of the end-to-end-process. You should also look for a flexible packaging manufacturer that has a process in place for 100% traceability across its supply chain and throughout its manufacturing processes. This setup will ensure timely delivery of your product, and in turn, increase your customer’s satisfaction level.
Other Important Concerns
While selecting your packaging provider, you should check their years of experience in the field. Having a quick look at available customer feedback can be quite helpful as well. This feedback can highlight some essential company attributes including:
- How responsive is the manufacturer towards its clients?
- How easy is it to contact them on an ongoing basis?
- Does their organizational structure support fast decision-making?
- Do they have a reputation for delivering product on time?
- Do they have a reputation of consistently and dependably producing quality products?
- Do they have an independent, internationally recognized quality certification such as ISO 9001?
Today, how you package your product can help you differentiate yourself from the competition. The global economy has allowed products to be transported from all corners of the world every day. Selecting the right flexible packaging manufacturers has become quite crucial. When selecting your flexible packaging manufacturer and provider, you should ensure that the organization has all the necessary attributes to effectively support your short-term as well as long-term needs.