A First-Timer’s Insights from 2016 ISTA TransPack Forum

by Samuel Huppert, Packaging Engineer, Packaging Optimization, Chainalytics

I am a young packaging professional and always looking for opportunities to learn and grow as an engineer. I was pleased to find that the 2016 ISTA TransPack Forum provided ample opportunity for me to further my professional development:

  1. Networking opportunities, from the welcome and exhibitor reception, volleyball tournament, to meals, allowed me to meet a broad range of people in the packaging industry.
  2. Attendees ranged from packaging lab technicians to packaging consultants and global packaging leaders (I had in-depth discussions with professionals whose experience ranged from 1-30+ years and learned how packaging strategically fits within different companies’ supply chain strategies,  as well as the diversity of packaging careers).
  3. Almost 30 speaker presentations often incorporated case studies and new information/technology relating to the packaging industry–a great way to learn.

    ISTA Transpack technical speakers
    Many speakers shared technical insights and tips and tricks for package development and testing.

My Most Important Takeaways
Pallets are part of packaging too! Three presentations dedicated to pallets were a great awakening for me, as I learned how the size, quality and type of a pallet can impact the supply chains through packaging performance, damage and related costs and logistics outcomes. 

damage resolution engineering
Pallets can be part of your damage reduction solution

Cross-functional communication across silos is key. Another common event theme was the need for better intra-organizational communication. Often, it seems, packaging designers are designing around cost in their own department, a current problem. For more successful supply chain outcomes, packaging, pallet, and unit load handling equipment designers all need to work cross-functionally to come up with the best packaging system for their respective organization. Numerous speakers concurred that a holistic approach to packaging is key; looking at every aspect of the supply chain and the packaging requirements at those various stages in the distribution network.
Technical package testing gets everybody excited. Obviously, there were a lot of other informative presentations–think harvesting triboelectric energy, intermodal transportation dynamics (with video in a railcar), etc., along with case studies that tracked a packaging solution from the initial problem to the final solution and results. As packaging consultants, we work with a wide variety of products, packaging materials and transportation and handling methods, so I’m sure I’ll be able to leverage bits and pieces from all speakers to solve a unique packaging challenge down the road!

Overall, ISTA TransPack Forum was a great learning experience. Many of the professionals are returning attendees, but I strongly recommend in attending the conference if you have not before. It is well worth the value especially if you are looking to learn and grow as a packaging professional.  

Samuel Huppert is a packaging consultant with Chainalytics where he supports engineering efforts on cost take-out and damage reduction initiatives. 

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