From the Outside In: Strategic Inner Packaging

Continuing in our learning series, From the Outside In, exploring effective packaging solutions, we now explore the inner packaging, and how it can play just as important a role as the external packaging.

With so many variables involved in perishable product shipping, putting together an inner packaging setup that will prevent damage requires careful planning. Factors that will most likely contribute to failed packaging if not properly evaluated include:

Empty space: Empty space, also referred to as void space, can play a crucial role in preventing damage. Eliminating void space will immobilize your product and prevent rolling, shifting and tumbling inside the package. Failure to immobilize the product will amplify the various shocks and vibration forces, and coolant (gel packs or dry ice) may become a projectile exercising force against the product.

There are many types of shock-absorbing material that may be used:

  • Molded Expanded Polystyrene (EPS) foam packaging
  • Corrugated pads and shapes
  • Bubble wrap
  • Seaweed
  • Newspaper
  • Kraft paper

Insulation materials and quantity used: For those organizations that are shipping product that is highly sensitive to fluctuations in temperature, the best bet is likely a solid core (EPS) container with walls at least 1 ½ inch thick, that would then be placed in the outer cardboard box.  As discussed in the previous blog post here [link], EPS containers have a high R-value, and thus will help regulate the flow of warm air and in out of the package.

If you are shipping seafood or shellfish we often recommend a two-millimeter or thicker plastic liner that would be placed in the inner container to prevent leakage from the product.

 Initial temperature of the perishable product: When feasible, a product that is deep frozen prior to shipping can fare well during transit; this sometimes allows for the product’s temperature to elevate during transit without bringing it into a range that would mean the product is spoiled.

 Initial temperature of the packaging materials: It is important that containers and the perishable products within are properly “preconditioned” by being stored in refrigeration as long as possible before being used to pack. If the product is packed in a “warm” box it will immediately impact the internal temperature of the product.

 Handling of the package prior to shipping: Once the shipment is packed, where is it stored? On a loading dock waiting for the courier to arrive, subject to the elements? When possible, keep shipments in refrigeration or indoors as long as possible prior to pick up.

In the current marketplace there is a multitude of types of inner packaging, falling into categories such as environmentally friendly, cost-effective, and time-tested durability. Think about which of these factors are of greatest importance for your business and the type of product being shipped, and it will help you narrow down the field of products.

Now that the exterior and interior packaging are established, let’s dive all the way in, in our next blog post: Using Coolants to Maintain Temperature.

Want to revisit our first feature in this learning series? Check out From the Outside In: Strong Outer Packaging.


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