Do you know when the earliest distribution packaging appeared? Can you imagine what the containers were made of at the time? By browsing this article, you will understand the development and importance of transportation packaging.


Distribution packaging emerged in the 1800s as the industrial revolution blossomed and manufacturers began shipping their goods nationwide via railroad, Containers were usually made of wood, textiles, or glass.

Interior packaging was mostly made from wood or forms of wood like sawdust or chips. Paper did not enter the distribution arena as protective packaging until the early 1900s, when corrugated boxes first appeared as shipping containers.

At that time the railroads began issuing minimum packaging requirements; rules for corrugated boxes were among the first requirements instituted.

From the end of World War I to the end of World War Ⅱ, the use ratio of corrugated to wood containers went from 20/80 to 80/20. Along with excelsior and some paper forms, corrugated fiberboard became the predominant interior packaging material.

Pallets became popular for industrial use following World War Ⅱ, and unitizing of high-volume products for shipment accelerated in the 1950s.

Plastics began appearing in the early 1960s with various foams replacing corrugated, rubberized fiber, and wood-based products as interior packaging.

Steel banding, which had been the primary unitizing material, began losing share to plastic banding and, in the early 1970s, to stretch-wrapping.

The Development History and Importance of Transportation Packaging

Then the environmental challenge struck packaging in the late 1980s, and some trends from paper to plastic were reversed as new forms of paper interior packaging appeared. The interest in returnable containers and dunnage also accelerated.

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Safe transportation packaging design manufacturer, [email protected]

Functions and Goals of Distribution Packaging

The functions of distribution packaging can be summarized as follows: containment, protection, performance, communication, manufacturing efficiency, customer needs, environmental responsibility, the cost of packaging.


The basic purpose of packaging is to contain the product. Packaging enables handling and transport of products from source to customer, supplying use value to products that would other-wise be useless to customers because their point of manufacture or production is usually remote from the customer’s location.


Most products require some degree of protection from hazards in distribution. Packaging furnishes the degree of protection needed to safely transport products from source to customer.


Packaging performs in many ways in transportation, handling, storing, dispensing, and use of a product, Its performance function includes such things as orientation of the product, ease of identification, segregation of desired quantities, ease of disposal, and handling features.

The Development History and Importance of Transportation Packaging


A package should identify its contents and inform about package features and handling requirements. l generally provides shipping information and may include promotional graphics for items displayed for sale to consumers in the distribution package.

As you begin designing a package, have some goals in mind. The product, customer, distribution system, manufacturing facility, and other specifics will influence your goals, but most distribution packaging should address the following goals:

Product protection: The primary purpose of any protective package is to ensure the integrity and safety of its contents through the entire distribution system.

Ease of handling and storage: All parts of the distribution system should be able to economically move and store the packaged product.

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Shipping effectiveness: Packaging and unitizing should enable the full utilization of carrievehicles and must meet carrier rules and regulations.

Manufacturing efficiency

The packing and unitizing of goods should utilize labor and facilities effectively

Ease of identification: Package contents and routing should be easy to see, along with any special handling requirements.

Customer needs

The package should provide customers with ease of opening, dispensing, and disposal, as well as meeting any special handling or storage requirements the customer may have.

Environmental responsibility

In addition to meeting regulatory requirements, the design of packaging and unitizing should minimize solid waste.

Because economy is usually of great importance in distribution packaging, you will need to optimize the combination of all the goals to achieve the lowest overall cost.

The Cost of Packaging

Based on a number of sources, It was estimated that expenditures for all packaging materials, including expendable (one-way) shipping pallets, were approximately $100 billion in 1997. Of this total, about one-third was in the form of distribution packaging.

The largest single segment of distribution packaging is corrugated shipping containers, at approximately 20% 0total expenditures and 60% of distribution packaging costs.

All industries are included in these costs, with food and beverage bearing the largest portion due to the volume of shipments in those industries.

All industries also share another large hidden cost, that of damage to products. It has been estimated that although actual freight claims paid by carriers for damaging goods is approximately $2 billion, the actual cost to them and to shippers is really more than $10 billion per year.

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The hidden part is in the form of claims not paid by carriers, damages underwritten by shippers in lieu of more packaging, costs of processing claims on both sides, and so forth.

An inverse relationship exists between packaging cost and maintaining product integrity with low damage rates. Other factors being equal, an increase in packaging costs provides more protection to the contents and therefore lowers the potential for damage.

Or conversely, cutting packaging costs without other improvements generally means less protection and higher damage rates. The real cost of getting the product safely to market is the sum of packaging and damage. Optimizing total cost is the true goal of packaging design.

If damages rise too high (as on the left in the graph) , you will encounter an increase in both product replacement and repair costs along with the loss of customer goodwill and possible cancellation of orders. If loss of sales and customer satisfaction are more important to your company than costs, there is not much room to move to the left of the package/damage intersection.

The Development History and Importance of Transportation Packaging

The Package Design Process

To develop an optimum distribution package that is both functional and cost-effective, you will need more than just assistance from your packaging suppliers.

Although your experience with a product line and a supplier’s experience with packaging materials are both helpful in designing packaging, both of you should consider many factors in addition to the product and the packaging.

Your scope of consideration should include all aspects of the distribution system, including customers carriers, and distributors, as well as the manufacturing plant, packaging line, warehousing, and shipping. To be successful in distribution package design, take a total-system approach.

Safe transportation packaging design manufacturer, [email protected]


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