Packaging Education – Current Status and its Prospects
Today, the subject ‘Packaging’ is recognised as a blend of science, technology, art and management. Although its usage ins ome form has been in existence for centuries, but the growth in its usage has increased rapidly in the second half of the twentieth century, mainly in the industrialised and developed countries and more recently, in the developing countries.
The term ‘Packaging’ is perceived differently by different people although the main objective and goal remains the same. In the current market scenario,there are threemajorpoints that existin thetriangular situationi.e.the consumer,point of purchase (POP) and the product manufacturer. The product manufacturer at source aims at excellence in product quality and design along withmaximumvalue addition, allfromwithinthe organisation; but the POP differs considerably incharacter sincethisrangesfromsimplevendors
to sophisticated departmental stores and super markets.
Time is not far that this specialised subject will be more popular by way of introducing more Under Graduate, Post Graduate and Research Programmers under an independent University which has become an urgent need for the country for thegrowth and promotion of packaging technology.
The major objective of the product manufacturer istoincrease sales. The upper bracket strengthens their client alagainstthetraditionaltypicalvendor andsmalltimestores.Theyalsodesiredesistingany in-house processing or packaging and concentrate on product sales rather than product processing or production.
IIPis also striving hard to introduce the Degree Programme in Packaging Technology and Applied Management Sciences (PTAMS) which will have more engineering and management components to meet the requirements of the Packaging Converting industry
Theperceptionofaconsumer istogetaproduct as original or natural as possible; the consumer, his or her demand is only to get good quality, a psychological and use satisfaction. In fact, the value of anyproductis assessedor reflectedthroughthe ultimate happiness of the consumer.This ispurely the quality aspect which is, of course, subjective in nature.
In recent days, importance of packaging function is becoming widely recognised in the industry and this is being followed due to the growing awareness of the importance of packaging education and training.
Need for Packaging Education
Today, packaging education has become essential for all the stack holders in any business model. Technicalknowledge in packagingis requiredfor all themajorplayersinvolved inthechain ofbusiness i.e. raw material suppliers, converters, machinery suppliers and also by the user industry.
It is no longer possible for the seller of packaging materials, so called ‘converters’, just to take a purchase order. It is quite essential for converters or package manufacturers to understand the technical aspects of materials required for packaging of a particular type of commodity. For example, if the product is a liquid of either food, pharmaceutical or cosmetics, the packaging supplier needs to understand the nature of the product and its compatibility with the package. It implies that mere supplying a plastic bottle or plastic pouch for the liquidproduct may notfulfill therequirement.
Packaging material suppliers need to understand the nature of the product which needs to be packed, its shelf-life, design aspect of packaging, which should be consumer friendly and also the selected packaging material should be in compliance with the environmental regulation. Hence, minimum knowledge of packaging has become necessary for the packaging material supplier. As an alternative material, the supplier may also think about a glass bottle,buttheconverterneedstobeawareaboutthe latest trends and developments of glass packaging which would be able to meet all the requirements of the liquid product and hence satisfy his customer. In addition, packaging material suppliersshould also have in-depth knowledge of the materials being supplied.
Glass bottles need to be assessed on their behaviour during the filling operation and also during storage, handling and transportation. Hence, knowledge of packaging science and technology is essential. Similarly, packaging machinery suppliers need to have knowledge of packaging engineering in termsofdesignofthe packagingmachineryandits functional properties with higher productivity and minimum wastage so that unit cost of the product is reduced.
In addition, the equipment manufacturer should have in-depth knowledge about the operational limitations with respect to individual type of packagingmaterials. Forexample,plasticlaminates having either 3 or 4 layer, where the sealant layer becomes very critical. In most cases where plastic laminates are subjected to form-fill and seal machine (FFS) to make small sachet or pouch, there could be a probability of leakage unless the seal integrity is perfect in nature. In most cases, thoughthe seal couldlookperfect, yettherewould beleakageunlessthecontactlayerofthelaminateis perfectintermsof goodseal strengthproperty.On account of this reason, the packaging machinery supplier has to have sufficient knowledge on, ‘Packaging’ in terms of structure of the laminate and also regarding their performance in order to convince the customer.