How Ecommerce has Disrupted Product and Shipment Packaging Systems

This paper was produced for the 2019 NAFEMS World Congress in Quebec Canada

Resource Abstract

Over the past two decades, the rise of online shopping dramatically changed the landscape for consumers. This year about 70% of Americans will make an online purchase, contributing nearly $500 billion to annual retail sales totals. Shoppers are drawn to the convenience, selection and low prices; what used to take a few hours of driving, possible walks in the rain or snow, and crowds of people can now be done with a few mouse clicks. But as the consumer embraced online purchases, manufacturers were faced with a myriad of product transportation issues. Most of their product packaging was designed for palletized shipment to warehouses or retailers, not individual delivery to the consumer. Few standards existed for order packaging, and damage occurred from shock, vibration, and environmental extremes. This resulted in damaged products, leaks, returns and ultimately brand dissatisfaction.

Fortunately, the International Safe Transit Association (ISTA) has developed test standards that replicate various transportation loadings in an effort to assist manufacturers and retailers with their product and shipping package standards and design. ISTA 6, currently in draft status, specifically addresses Ships In Own Container (SIOC) and Over-Boxing eCommerce shipments. These test specifications provide a useful framework to assess package integrity, but are inherently aimed at validation, not design development. Trial-and-error package development is inherently slow and costly, and what if a manufacturer has thousands of SKU’s (stock keeping unit) developed before the rise of eCommerce? The answer is virtual eCommerce testing using advanced modeling and simulation (M&S).

This paper presents how M&S can be utilized to greatly speed the understanding and development of product designs that meets the ISTA 6 test requirements. Case studies are presented that detail the specific M&S techniques being leveraged by industry. Automation methods that simplify problem configuration and postprocessing are also shown, along with a discussion on the effect of as-manufactured geometry for blow molded products and its impact on results validation.

Modeling and simulation is the only way manufacturers with a large amount of legacy products will be able to update their product designs to meet modern eCommerce shipping challenges. Traditional test-redesign-retest development cycles might take many months for even one product, making this approach untenable. While M&S is definitely the solution, it comes with its own set of challenges, including computational resource requirements, model complexity and more difficult results validation. Possible solutions to these challenges are presented and discussed.

Document Details

AuthorTopich. J
Date 18th June 2019
OrganisationKinetic Vision


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