Why Packaging Matters in the Fight against COVID-19

Why Packaging Matters in the Fight against COVID-19

The spread of COVID-19 has impacted people and systems worldwide. Countless industries are pivoting and adapting in order to help keep people healthy, and many rely on packaging and distribution to accomplish their mission. Here are three ways in which packaging matters in the fight against COVID-19. 

Supply chains worldwide have been disrupted by COVID-19.

The packaging system for a given product or material is designed and tested to ensure it can withstand the specific rigors it will face in the supply chain. This includes environmental conditions, handling points, and modes of transportation.
Because the supply chain for many industries has been affected by COVID-19, many companies are having to move their products through different shipment channels or are buying from new vendors in new locations. These changes could require an audit of current packaging systems and how they perform under standard or custom test conditions.  

Consumers Shift to E-commerce

While many people were under stay-at-home orders earlier in the year, there was an exponential increase in e-commerce shipments to provide safe delivery of essential goods to consumers. Amazon saw a 26% increase in Q1 revenues, and Walmart’s Q1 e-commerce sales increased by 74%.
The e-commerce supply chain challenges packages in new and sometimes unique ways. In 2018, Amazon began requiring vendors to test their product packaging through a series of specialized testing protocols to better protect against damaged deliveries and loss of products. The ISTA-6 - Amazon.com test protocols were designed to closely mirror the stresses that a package would see through the e-commerce supply chain. Testing to these standards not only assists product manufacturers in understanding their package performance, but also provides them with the testing data to open up lucrative e-commerce channels.  

Vaccine distribution will be a global effort.

The timeline on a vaccine for COVID-19 is unknown, but once it has been developed and approved for use, it will need to be produced and distributed on an unprecedented scale. And because the coronavirus has spread worldwide, the vaccine will also need to travel through a huge network for different supply chains.
Investing in package and distribution testing early may lead to more efficient distribution by ensuring that all systems are ready to spring into action once the vaccine is ready. And for one of the companies involved in Operation Warp Speed, validation testing has already begun at Smithers.
“We are incredibly proud to be part of this global effort to keep people healthy,” said Michael Kuebler, Technical Director of Distribution Testing, Smithers. “Once the vaccine is ready, it will be all hands on deck to get it distributed worldwide, and we are already helping our clients streamline the process to ensure swift execution when the time comes.”
Utilizing standards such as ASTM D4169 to challenge the packaging system against drops, compression, vibration, and various environmental conditions will ensure that the vaccine can reach patients intact. 
COVID-19 has affected the world in many ways. Distribution of goods to their destinations has become even more crucial at this time. Utilizing distribution testing to validate packaging systems plays a small but important part in ensuring that businesses, consumers, and patients receive these critical deliveries. 
To speak to one of our experts about your packaging challenges, contact Michael Kuebler at 17-803-5793 or mkuebler@smithers.com. 

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