14 August 2015 //
by Matt Rose
From the little taste test samples that are handed out on Saturday mornings at your local grocery to a comprehensive automobile crash test, sample testing is everywhere and is completed for many reasons: to test a concept, prove a design, gather information, maintain safety or performance standards, locate a problem, and so on.
In the packaging industry, sample testing is commonplace and is one of the best ways to get information and feedback on a new idea or project. When deciding whether or not to do a sample test, you must prove that sample testing is needed and how the subsequent test data (good or bad) will be used to determine a path forward. In addition, you must also consider the steps you must go through to complete the test and the substantial amount of resources, time and planning involved.
When planning a secondary packaging sample test, here are three things you’ll need to do:
1. Identify the Goal of a Sample Test
While there is value in completing sample tests, it is also important to verify that a sample test is worth the effort and cost. The goal of completing samples is not to simply have them sit around, but to use the information gathered from the test to make a decision on the best way to move forward.
The following are typical reasons you would want to perform a sample test to determine the best secondary packaging:
- Test and compare packaging materials (film, corrugate) in various arrangements
- Test and compare package styles (i.e., bull’s eye wrap vs. tight wrap)
- Show the end customer or market team a visual “touch and feel” sample
- Test the package’s ability to unitize a product collation
- Test the package’s durability through distribution as a single unit or in a pallet load arrangement
- Create representative test samples for downstream equipment manufacturers (i.e., palletizer)
2. Identify a Manufacturer to Perform the Test
After identifying the goal(s) for a sample test, the second step is to identify and contact the group that will be completing the test and communicate your goals. It’s important to be open to feedback at this stage as many packaging groups (including co-packers and OEMs) may have experience with a similar application and have valuable insights to share.
3. Arrange the Test
Once a packaging group is on board, the next step is to identify all of the resources and logistics required to complete the test. When assembling resources, it’s paramount that the materials, equipment and methods selected are as close to the real-world process as possible. Typical arrangements that need to be made include:
- Test product, including minimums and maximums or best- and worst-case scenarios
- Sufficient quantities of test materials (i.e., film, corrugate)
- Test equipment
- Additional labor
- Travel arrangements
- Product shipping arrangements
Be advised that getting film and/or corrugate produced and ready for testing may have a 3-4 week lead time. Also confirm that the test equipment is capable of completing the test run in a comparable manner to what the final package will require. In some instances a modified existing machine or even a proof-of-concept machine may be required depending on the level of complexity and the quantity of samples required.
Once all the pieces are in place and project funding is approved, a meaningful sample test run can be scheduled.
In our next blog, we’ll review the parameters of sample testing, and how to use the results.
Are you interested in learning more about sample testing and how if it might work for your next project? Contact EDL Packaging today to discuss it further.