Not All Clients Need Custom Packaging

Posted by Universal Package Team on Wed, Oct 04, 2017


Custom Packaging is not necessary for shipping all products.

You don’t always have to reinvent the wheel.

Non-custom packaging buyers are typically mail order and “.com” companies who provide a wide variety of products and ship products via mail and package services.

Usually a standard corrugated carton “stock box”, with either paper wadding, flexible foam sheet, plastic peanuts, air bags, or other internal filler and cushioning materials are sufficient for most of the “pick orders” online companies ship.

However, highly fragile items such as electronic devices, hand tools and other high-value items are typically by the manufacturer in product-specific containers with custom interiors.

Who Requires Custom Packaging?

Custom packaging is primarily required by original equipment manufacturer’s to insure their product arrives to their customer with no damage, and is often sent directly to an assembly or finishing line.

To be clear, custom packaging doesn’t necessarily mean “more protection for a product”. In most cases custom packaging helps to create uniformity and a standard for shipping among production and manufacturing companies.

Benefits of Custom Packaging

Besides protecting a product during the distribution cycle, line presentation is a major consideration when designing a custom pack. For example, a container with a 60 x 48 foot print won’t work for a work station set up to accept a footprint of 48 x 40, which is why orientation of the parts in the container (for ease of packing and unpacking) is another consideration of line presentation.

Cost of Custom vs. Off-the-Shelf Packaging

Custom packaging typically “costs” more than off-the-shelf packs – at least in terms of initial cash outlay.

But the initial cost of a custom container is eventually offset by reductions in damage, labor, replacements, storage, and more efficient handling.

Is Custom Packaging Your Solution?

All industry segments use custom packaging at one time or another, but it’s important to know the needs of a client before we recommend a custom packaging solution.

So, before you start vetting out packaging manufacturers and gathering quotes for custom packs, ask yourself three questions:

  • Does the product being shipped require a custom packaging solution?
  • At any point, will the product be unpacked on a production line or used in some other type of production process?
  • Will the added protection of custom packaging be worth the cost of engineering a custom solution?

If you answered no to all of these questions, then there is good chance custom packaging is not required for your product.

And while we admittedly design and manufacture custom packaging, you mostly likely require a standard dunnage solution, which will provide the necessary protection to your product without the extra cost of a custom design.

To see our standard dunnage solutions, check out our product catalog, or contact us to help you solve your packaging needs.

Tags: custom container, Dunnage

5 Must Knows When Creating Protective Packaging

Posted by Universal Package Team on Tue, Sep 05, 2017


“Protective Packaging” predates recorded history — some of the earliest examples being carved wooden bowls, clay pots, and various types of wineskins. 

Even though today's packaging needs are slightly more elaborate, the primary goals of Protective Packaging have always been to: contain, protect, store, transport, preserve and eventually sell various products.

Basic protective packaging is comprised of the following elements:

  • Containment
  • Blocking and bracing
  • Cushioning
  • Various environmental factors, including but not limited to: temperature, electrostatic discharge, compression, moisture, vapor barriers, atmospheric, sterility, and pilferage.

Foam sheets, “bubble wrap”, wadded up newsprint, foam and “starch” peanuts, cardboard (corrugated fiberboard) boxes, plastic boxes, metal and wood crates, plastic crates, foams, and more than a thousand other materials can be used to develop protective packaging.

The term “Protective Packaging” includes any materials or devices that protect a specific item in transport or storage. So anything from an over-the-road trailer, to a plastic or paper bag can technically be considered 'protective packaging.

Protective Packaging For Industrial Products

As a basic rule, the level of protection in any protective package is determined by the value of the product and the distribution environment.

And, when determining the type, amount, and materials required to ensure a product is properly packaged and protected, the following 5 items are the minimum amount of information required to make the determination:

5 Need-To-Knows For Proper Product Protection:

  1. 1. Distribution Environment/Cycle - This includes product type, weight of the item, fragility of the product, value of the product, whether the package is to be a returnable-reusable package or a one-way expendable shipment.
  2. 2. Product Movement - Palletized unit by pallet jack, fork truck, or other conveyance and type and size of conveyance. Small packages by conveyor or other means of transfer.
  3. 3. Product Shipping - Small ground shipment via UPS, Fed Ex, full truckload, LTL, air or sea shipment.
  4. 4. Warehousing Length - How long the product will be stored at the customer’s distribution center or the end user’s. Is the warehouse climate controlled or ambient? This is critical to most one-way shippers, since corrugated paper containers are subject to degradation caused by humidity and prolonged storage time.
  5. 5. Packaging Disposal – What is the disposal plan for the packaging after it has served its purpose? For expendable packaging, developing total recyclable components of the package, or Green Packaging, can be highly challenging.  Certain foams and plastics cannot be easily recycled and a plan for disposal can become time consuming and costly.

In a perfect world, every package designed or sold would be unique to the clients’ needs. Whether that specific need is a foam interior tote for machinery, or a plastic fruit container for produce, they each serve the purpose of protecting the client's product.

And while all packaging provides some level of protection, it’s the expertise at Universal Package that can help you determine the right level of protection needed to successfully ship and store your product.

Tags: custom container, Dunnage, protective packaging

The 3 Main Types of Dunnage

Posted by Universal Package Team on Wed, Aug 23, 2017

In general, dunnage can be constructed from a variety (or combination) of products used to load and secure cargo during transportation.

Usually, the term dunnage refers to an interior placed in an outer container, which can be an expendable carton, standard straight wall stock tote, a custom plastic corrugated tote, etc.

In this article, we're going to explore three examples of dunnage-types that are currently available to our clients.

Kit Packs


Kit packs, or component packs, are often created to hold all parts for a specific application — either for staging, or so all components are kept organized and are ready for an operator to easily assemble. Kit packs tend to improve efficiency by cutting down on the number of large totes holding each individual part.

Custom Dunnage


We can design custom plastic dunnage to create and modify a wide variety of packaging. Corrugated plastic can be die cut and assembled to make a partition set, which creates separate cells. The plastic can be either be a basic corrugated plastic or you can opt to add laminations to the core, which creates further protects the contents of the cell.

We can cut Plastic Corrugated Pads from stock sheets that have a brushed polyester lamination to help protect high-end parts, or have a spun bond lamination (for parts that do not require as much protection).

Brush- and polyspun-laminated corrugated plastics both offer a softer cell wall and added protection during loading or unloading. This 'added protection' also helps prevent scratching or scuffing your product during shipping.

For additional shock absorbtion, we can add foam pads to the bottom of a package. Water-jet or die cut foam blocks can be added in the cell to provide even more support within the packaging.

Multi-Material Dunnage


Here at Universal, we use wide bredth of materials to create out interior dunnage solutions, depending on the part and the desired end result of the client — materials such as plastic, corrugated plastic, cardboard, metal, wood, and foam.

Our ability to integrate multiple materials allows us to create truly tailored designs that work for nearly any packaging application in any industry. We can design for returnable racks, overseas shipping containers, back up expendables, totes and containers, to name a few.

The part weight, level of protection, type of handling, storage time, and environment are all factors when designing dunnage and deciding what materials need to be used to protect your products.

Tags: custom container, Dunnage, protective packaging

What Is the “Green Thing?”

Posted by Jim Kulbeth on Mon, Jun 09, 2014


I keep hearing about companies making the decision to, “Go Green.”  During the last few weeks, I have had contact with various companies, as well as friends, that I have posed the question, “Just what is your definition of going green?”  In nearly all cases, the answer has been, “The purchasing of items that have been recycled, or saving refuse from a home or factory, which can be reprocessed into something else to save world resources.”  I then asked, “What if the cost of doing that exceeded the benefits?”  

For example:  You recycle plastic soda bottles.  You collect them, transport them to a recycle center, which transports them to a recycle processor, who grinds them, washes the product, transports them to a manufacturer, who then makes a “Recycled Product.”

The ultimate cost of doing all of this has saved a couple of barrels of oil needed to make the original product, but at the end of the day, did it save anything?   There were a lot of transportation fees involved in the movement of the product, before and after the recycling process, and a substantial amount of energy used, that is derived from oil, gas or coal, to make it into a new product.  So, did we save a natural resource?  I am not so sure.  What we did accomplish, is the creation of jobs at every step of the process.  We also reduced the content placed in our landfills.  This is all very important, but (without doing a huge economic impact study) my argument is that the average person’s perception of what recycling does is not as absolute as they believe.

Universal Package, as well as many other companies in our industry, are working to protect the environment, but in a manner that is a bit different than the normal perception.  We deal with reusable packaging.  We sell, as well as manufacture, containers that can be reused for many years.  The only cost that can be charged against this form of recycling is the cost to return the container to its original location, for refilling for the next trip.  It is our experience, that once a container is no longer in working condition, a large percentage of them can simply be repaired and put back into service for more years of service, without using all the aforementioned energy sources to make new product.  At some point in time, it will go to the recycler and the process starts again, as explained in the beginning of this article. In most cases, it costs less to repair and reuse than to recycle and reuse.

We can all contribute to the preservation of the environment.  For future generations, we need to start the education process of recycling in the schools, as we did with reducing smoking, and using seatbelts in vehicles.  For the older folks, we have to get practical and just do what is right.  Let’s ensure our generations to come, that we are striving to make a world that is better than we left it.

Tags: bulk boxes, custom plastic containers, custom container, green, environment, recycling, reusing

Custom Containers Improve Return Ratio & Reduce Shipping Costs

Posted by Katie Knight on Tue, Jul 19, 2011

Custom Container

DALE, IN – Universal Package built a custom shipping box for an automotive supply company.  The one-of-a-kind plastic container is 146” long by 48” wide, by 50” tall, it has four drop doors and a 2,500 lb. weight capacity.
By replacing a smaller, non-collapsible container with a custom made, collapsible custom shipping container, Universal Package was able to increase the customer’s return ratio from 1:1 to 2:1. 
This attribute alone provided the ROI needed for its customer to justify construction of custom containers.  

Drop doors on each of the four sides were added to the configuration to provide easy access to its contents from any side, while custom dunnage was designed to hold product securely and safely. 
The custom shipping box is made of durable HDPE with Steel Fork inserts and features 4-way fork lift entry.  Universal Package's advanced cut and weld techniques guarantee container integrity and durability even at extreme dimensions.

Tags: bulk boxes, custom plastic containers, cut and welded containers, custom container

4 Reasons to Consider a Custom Plastic Container

Posted by Jim Kulbeth on Fri, May 21, 2010

Custom plastic containers, or cut and welded conCustom Plastic Container Built for Military Applicationtainers, cost more per unit than a standard container that your products fit into "pretty well."  So why should you pay more for a custom container?  We'll give you 4 good reasons and try to make you a believer.

1.  The most expensive thing you can store and ship is air.  When your products fit into an off-the-shelf container "pretty well", chances are you have many air pockets that you can eliminate with a custom plastic container.

2.  If you stop packing "air" into your containers, you're going to be able to pack and ship more product per cubic foot, meaning your transportation costs are going to decrease.  Whether it's a sea container, train, or tractor trailer, you'll be cubing out the space with product, not with air.

3.  A custom plastic container can be built to fit your product perfectly.  This is going to result in less product damage during shipping.

4.  Loading and unloading parts or products into a custom container is going to be much easier, and require less time since the container is built specfically for the application.  Your product is 104.5 inches long....a custom plastic container can be built to hold items 104.5 inches long.

Custom, cut and welded plastic containers are not the solution to every storage and shipping application, but if you're forcing your product to fit into off-the-shelf containers it may be time to weigh the alternative.



Tags: custom plastic containers, cut and welded containers, custom container