Most components in the automotive industry are made of metal or plastic and vary considerably in shape and size. The packaging solutions are correspondingly diverse. For internal and external logistics tasks. For example, constructive packaging, reusable packaging, packing compartments, separators, protective packaging, compartments, dividers, grid inserts, fixing packaging and intermediate layers are used. Depending on requirements, shipping and protective packaging is made of cardboard, twin-wall sheets, plastic or foam.
The packaging solutions for the automotive industry meet special requirements such as dust protection, ensuring antistatic conditions or protecting scratch-sensitive parts. Within production, the packaging should ensure simple and efficient handling as well as optimum use of the available volume.
Especially in the highly globalized supply chains of the automotive industry, packaging thus ensures safe and efficient transport. According to a market study by Research and Markets, the European market for the packaging of automotive parts amounted to around 629 million euros in 2018. It is expected to grow to around 873 million euros in 2027. In addition to reusable packaging, it is mainly constructive packaging and load carriers that share the market. Reusable packaging systems offer advantages especially in closed logistics systems. Therefore, this packaging cycle is particularly suitable for the automotive industry. Reusable packaging can also significantly reduce the overall need for packaging materials. This includes reusable racks, pallets, large containers, dunnage and hand containers. Plywood, plastic and steel containers and pallet attachments are also popular and regularly presented by the logistics experts at FachPack.
These packaging or load carriers are often already integrated into the production processes: The parts are placed directly on the line in the load and workpiece carriers. This ensures efficient logistics processes and reduces damage. The trays are usually made of plastic and are produced by thermoforming. In this way, the moulded parts can be produced cost-effectively and the inserts inside the packaging are also usually made to measure.
If sensitive parts are shipped in transport boxes, damage caused by shocks and falls must be avoided. For this reason, so-called inner packaging such as compartments and separators are used inside the packaging. Separating compartments ensure that the goods do not touch each other or slide around. They are specially manufactured and thus belong to the group of constructive packaging. Constructive packaging is usually disposable packaging made of materials such as paper, plywood, wood or corrugated board. The packaged product is the focus here, as the packaging is usually designed and manufactured using CAD/ 3D data of the product.
Other disposable packaging fixes the parts in the packaging. Thus, flexible and tear-resistant stretch film encloses the product contours and provides support. Dimpled and foam films perform similar functions. In the automotive industry, too, the trend is increasingly towards disposable packaging based on renewable raw materials or those that can be easily recycled. In addition to the trend towards sustainable packaging solutions, new requirements are now being added with electric mobility.
Electric mobility is certainly one of the biggest challenges facing the automotive industry. With the increasing importance of e-mobility, the complexity and number of individual parts is decreasing - while the number of parts for combustion engines is still thousands, the number of parts for electric cars is falling to just a few hundred. But transporting batteries, in turn, brings new challenges. As far as the choice of packaging for components is concerned, the same applies to electric vehicles as to combustion engines. Investing in reusable packaging is advantageous for longer production margins, greater fluctuation in demand and variable lead times. However, when operating time is short and uncertainty is high, the benefits of constructive disposable packaging may be more appropriate. Both types are part of a sophisticated logistics system. In few other industries is packaging so closely linked to production processes. However, development does not stop there either and visitors to the next Fachpack 2021 can look forward to seeing which new solutions manufacturers are reacting to the transformation of the automotive industry with.