Returnable Packaging: What is it & Who uses it?

Posted by Universal Package Team on Tue, May 23, 2023

What Universal Package Brings to the Table

Universal Package offers a comprehensive range of products and solutions to cater to your returnable packaging needs. With options including bulk containers, hand totes, pallets, metal rack systems and custom-designed returnable packaging & dunnage, you can find the perfect fit for your specific requirements.

Customizable and scalable options ensure that your returnable packaging solutions can grow and adapt to your business. As your operations expand, Universal Package can help you develop a packaging system that remains efficient and cost-effective.

What we specialize in at Universal Package is custom dunnage & engineered solutions for each of these types of containers & racks to fit each of our customer's specific needs.  Watch for more info on what dunnage is and how your business can utilize our services in an upcoming blog post.

Providing a cost-effective and sustainable way to transport goods, these products offer numerous benefits across various industries and applications.


Industries that Benefit from Returnable Packaging Solutions

Our expertise spans various industries, including food and beverage, automotive, pharmaceuticals, medical, agriculture, electronics, appliances and many more. This knowledge allows us to provide specialized solutions tailored to your industry's unique demands, ensuring the optimal protection and transport of your products. Just a few of the common industry uses are:

  • Automotive Industry, returnable packaging solutions are used to transport assembled parts and components from one production facility to another, as well as, Work in Progress - movement of parts within the facility.
  • Pharmaceuticals & Medical Device supply chain management is another sector that can benefit from returnable packaging solutions. They can be utilized to safely transport pharmaceuticals & medical devices to ensure the quality and integrity of the products.
  • Electronics & Appliance, returnable packaging solutions provide efficient and secure transportation of delicate items, such as computer hardware, appliance part and consumer electronics.
  • Agriculture is yet another sector that can benefit from returnable packaging solutions. Bulk Containers and pallets can be used to transport produce, seedlings, and other agricultural items safely and securely.

How can we help?

In addition to our wide range of products, Universal Package is dedicated to providing exceptional customer support and service. We strive to make the transition to returnable packaging as seamless as possible, helping your business achieve both its sustainability and cost-saving goals.

As we've explored throughout this post, returnable packaging containers offer numerous benefits, including environmental sustainability, cost savings, and enhanced product protection. Moreover, returnable packaging containers also prove valuable in trade shows and exhibitions by providing efficient transport and protection for materials. (More to come on this topic in a future blog.)

If you're ready to make the switch to returnable packaging solutions, look no further than Universal Package. With our extensive range of products and services, customizable and scalable options, industry expertise, and dedicated customer support, we have everything you need to successfully implement a returnable packaging system. Let us help you revolutionize the way you package, transport, and protect your products. Contact us today to discuss your returnable packaging needs and discover the perfect solution for your business.

Tags: bulk boxes, custom plastic containers, totes, agricultural, Dunnage, shipping containers, returnable containers, protective packaging, packaging systems, corrugated plastic boxes, industrial packaging, returnable packaging, Automotive

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

What Is Dunnage?

Posted by Universal Package Team on Wed, Sep 20, 2017


Dunnage is a common term used by automotive and industrial packaging technicians.

Depending on who you talk to, an entire container could be considered “dunnage”. But, at Universal, we primarily use the term to describe interior packaging components such as: boards, blocks, planks, metal or plastic bracing used in supporting and securing packages for shipping and handling.

We can construct dunnage from any number of materials, depending on the final packaging’s primary function.

Specifically, the types of dunnage we supply include:

  • foam
  • plastic corrugated
  • solid plastics
  • flexible foams
  • aluminum
  • steel
  • corrugated paper
  • wood
  • anti-stat materials
  • or any combination of these (and other) materials

Wood and steel are mainly used for blocking and bracing heavy industrial parts, motors, transmissions and similar products.

If recyclability is a priority, corrugated paper can be glued together to make a ‘build-up block’ with some of the characteristics of metal and wood, but with the ability to be recycled back into paper.

Foams lend themselves to cushioning and securing parts in place inside a container. The type of foam we use is determined by the amount of vibration, shock, and abrasion the product might experience in transit.

Our company’s strong suit is designing and manufacturing product-specific custom dunnage. When engineering a package – that is, when determining the design and material used for the specific product – one must take into account the product’s distribution cycle, product value, and fragility.

Ultimately, dunnage is responsible for protecting your parts and products, ensuring they don’t take on damage during transit. Here at Universal Package, we take pride in our work, and ensure the dunnage we create fulfills that responsibility. Feel free to reach out to us with any questions about how we can accommodate your dunnage material needs.

Tags: Dunnage, packaging materials

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