As 2017 gets underway a favourite pastime for many pundits is to offer their predictions and forecasts for the year ahead, so I thought I may as well get in on the act too!
A common theme among the varied predictions for 2017 seems to be the sheer unpredictability of what lies ahead this year in so many areas of our lives. This is certainly also true for the area of protective packaging as the pace of technology continues relentlessly.
Technology Driving Innovation
As well as the huge impact of online and digital business, the rapid development of technology will drive demand for all kinds of new uses and needs for protective packaging. For example we’ve recently been in development discussions for packaging that will protect essential medical and other supplies if dropped from a drone in remote locations around the world – who could have foreseen that just a short time ago?
Smart and intelligent packaging using near-field communication (NFC), radio frequency identification (RFID) and bluetooth communication is also certain to feature prominently in new developments throughout the year.
The potential areas for new uses for packaging driven by the latest technology are really too varied to be able to predict, but what we do know is we’ll need to continue to focus strongly on innovation and continually think outside (as well as in!) the box.
Packaging For Online Fulfilment
Packaging requirements from both big and small businesses trading online was a significant trend last year and will no doubt continue to grow rapidly in 2017. Many traditional businesses have turned their attention to the opportunities available from the online channel and this in turn has stimulated a demand for our skills in packaging design and innovation, and consultancy advice with material selection, design, process efficiencies, automation and fulfilment.
I noted in my last blog post that customisation was a big trend last year. Experience so far in 2017 underlines that this trend will continue strongly. With the continued increase in e-commerce and an ever-growing variety of products being dispatched, for example bespoke artworks, means that customers are increasingly looking for customised protective packaging solutions. We’ll continue to place a key emphasis on the ability to offer custom designed packaging as the variety of products requiring protection, and logistics and delivery methods just keep growing.
Production and related costs will be under constant pressure as exchange rate fluctuations and business uncertainties continue in 2017, so productivity within the packing process will no doubt be a real area of focus for many customers this year. Faster more efficient packing methods, reduced mess and wasted materials and reduced storage space requirements will all remain important factors for customers.
New and additional automated options and machinery for inflatable packaging protection will be an area of particular focus for the R&D team in our factory this year.
This year will no doubt throw up many new challenges and opportunities for the wider business community as well as everyone involved in the packaging industry. We look forward to the opportunities ahead and hope that all of us will continue to prosper in 2017. Happy New Year everyone!
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