The benefits of protective shipping and storage packaging for critical machine and equipment assets is well-known – they extend the life of those assets, cut back on maintenance costs and the cost of buying new equipment, and fight back against the destructive elements that can wreak havoc on a manufacturer’s operation
And since protective packaging is normally the last step in the manufacturing process before distribution, it’s important to get it right. Faulting on this step can mean costly warranty claims and a bad first impression from your customers. No one wants that.
Even still, many manufacturers fumble at this part of the process by applying generic shrink wrap, tarps, or crating to protect their newly finished assets. While said methods aren’t necessarily bad, there are more efficient ways to apply protection before an asset leaves the factory.
One of those ways is creating the packaging solution through digital modeling software. By utilizing 3D technology, manufacturers can create the perfect fitting protection solution that will create internal efficiencies, better consistency, and better quality in their packaging process.
Let’s dive into the benefits of utilizing 3D modeling to design and engineer a protective cover.
Benefit 1: Improved accuracy
Traditional hand patterning and shrink wrap cover design processes fall short, often requiring extensive manhours, laborious measurements and guesswork that, despite a shipping department’s best effort, create a finished protection product that doesn’t always reach its full potential.
When a protective cover is created inside of a 3D modeling, digital environment it allows for tighter tolerances. Having better tolerances means a more accurate measurement of the asset’s dimensions – very important for equipment that’s oddly shaped. Knowing exact dimensions gives you the ability to create a protective cover that will more precisely fit the contours of the asset.
Having the asset inside of a digital environment allows for a more omniscient viewpoint, allowing you to spot potential vulnerabilities that may arise during shipping and storage. Certain 3D software even allow you to simulate different environments to test how the cover will hold up under stresses such as road speed and wind. All of this gives you a more holistic view of how to design the protection so that it’s full proof against potential failures.
Benefit 2: Consistency
Traditional shrink wrapping and tarping often produce a different result each time they are applied. The skill of the employee, size/shape of the asset being covered, availability of materials, and shipping deadlines all play a factor in how the protection application turns out. This variance in consistency means there is more room for errors.
On the opposite end, once a cover is designed inside of a 3D software it can act as a template for future covers going forward. There’s no need to worry about a certain protection application fitting different than the other – they are all the same.
Benefit 3: Time savings
When manufacturers utilize a custom-made cover their packaging installation time can sometimes be cut in half when compared to more manual processes like shrink wrapping. This benefit derives from the consistency point — if it’s the same cover every time the front-line installers know what to expect.
This also lends for creating standardized processes internally around the protective packaging installation. Once an installation process is formalized it creates a more efficient flow of goods leaving the factory and allows new frontline employees to get up to speed faster.
Benefit 4: Customization and collaboration
Many times, there are features that can be implemented on protective packaging that will create small efficiencies for the installers and end-users. Take for instance zipper door access; having this feature on a protective cover can allow employees/customers to gain access to crucial areas of the asset without having to completely remove the packaging and then reinstall.
And of course, this is just one example, there are a ton of other cover features that can be added that may create efficiencies for frontline employees and customers.
How does the digital cover design process work?
At Transhield, we begin our design process first by trying to understand the unique needs and challenges of our client’s equipment assets. Once we’ve collaborated with the client and determined the solution they need, we leverage our digital design tools to professionally scan and measure the asset needing protection. This 3D scan creates a virtual 3D replica of the asset that we can manipulate inside of a digital environment.
Then our DAT team goes to work on digitally crafting a tailored cover. In this way, we’re applying some of the techniques you’re used to seeing in Hollywood blockbusters for the creation of a packaging solution. From the 3D model, a 2D plot is made of the cover which is then cut and sewn into a prototype cover from one of our fabrics. Once a final design is fitted and approved, we mass produce the cover to fulfill the client’s quantity needs.
The digital design process itself is innovative and exciting – producing several benefits for the manufacturing process. In short, it helps achieve what should be every shipping department’s number one goal for equipment protection — total accuracy.
Implementing a digital cover design process
Transhield’s use of 3D modeling by our Data Acquisitions Technology Team have truly elevated the protective packaging process for many of our clients, resulting in increased efficiency and customer satisfaction. If you’re interested in implementing this process for your production line, or would just like more information on the process itself, feel free to contact Transhield today.