Types Of Packaging In Logistics: Primary, Secondary, Or Tertiary

types of packaging
types of packaging

The type of packaging for a certain product has implications that go beyond its protection. The size, material, and design of the packaging have a direct impact on the costs associated with storage and transport, in addition to the effect of the aesthetic aspect on the customer.

Therefore, the decisions regarding the choice of primary, secondary, and tertiary packaging have a marked strategic nature for the company.

In our article, we review the key concepts for the selection of packaging and packaging of products from a logistical point of view. What are the differences between primary, secondary, and tertiary packaging? What functions does each of them fulfill?

What Are The Types Of Packaging? Primary, Secondary And Tertiary Packaging

The packaging of a product consists of different layers of packaging. We now define them according to EU Directive 94/62 / EC :

Primary Packaging, Sales, Or Consumer Unit

The primary packaging contains, stores, and protects the product. It is in direct contact with the item and serves to keep it in optimal condition. This packaging defines the smallest consumption unit, facilitating the unit sale of the product. It takes very different forms: cans, cans, sacks, bottles, bags.

The Functions Of Primary Packaging Are:

Identify the product according to current regulations and display the usage information, as well as other essential information such as the expiration date.

Depending on the product, it must also fulfill the important role of identifying the brand and generating greater consumer appeal.

Ensuring that it maintains a stable position in the sales location in the store (that it does not fall).

Ensure content isolation.

Protect the product with as little material as possible.

Secondary Or Collective Packaging

The secondary packaging is a grouping of primary packaging. They add greater protection and facilitate the commercialization of the product on a larger scale. 

They are, above all, cardboard boxes (they could also be plastic). For example, in the case of milk, an individual carton would be a primary packaging and the cardboard box containing the six-pack would represent secondary packaging.

The Functions Of Secondary Packaging Are:

Be resistant to stacking (in the warehouse and at the point of sale) and handling during transport, ensuring that the product does not suffer damage.

Contain A Specific Quantity Of Products

Attract the customer’s attention, especially in secondary packaging intended directly for sale to the public.

Tertiary Packaging

The tertiary packaging and secondary packaging collect raw thus create a greater load unit whose most widespread form are the pallets or containers and cardboard boxes that modular form.

The Functions And Characteristics Of Tertiary Packaging Are:

Be stable and allow compaction of loads.

Make the most of the storage capacity of the facilities and industrial vehicles.

Be approved and manufactured with resistant types of packaging materials.

Sometimes tertiary packaging can also play an important role in relation to branding. The case of e-commerce logistics stands out above all, where the box or packaging used in the transport is of a tertiary type and can include visual elements of the brand (an example can be the very recognizable Amazon packaging).

In this logistics context, it is worth highlighting the role of the cargo unit. It is the basic unit used by the company in the transport and storage of its products. They can be pallets, boxes, containers, drums, coils, large containers for bulk products (GRG, IBC), sacks or big-bags … In the same storage facility, different load units can coexist, differentiated by zones and with different types of racks adapted to each one of them.

Tertiary packaging
Tertiary packaging

Factors Determining The Choice Of Packaging & Types Of Packaging Materials

The choice of the best packaging seeks to reduce direct costs (purchase types of packaging materials and waste management) and indirect costs ( packing process, handling, storage, and losses due to damage). 

We highlight the main aspects that determine the selection of the different types of packaging:

The characteristics of the product such as, for example, the state in which it is presented (liquid, solid or gaseous), weight and volume, fragility, stability (if it is deformed or remains rigid), if it is perishable or not, level of danger and product value.

The production and packaging process will determine what type of primary and secondary packaging can be used. It will also have different formats depending on whether the packaging and packaging are done manually or automatically and different types of packaging,

The handling in transport and storage: one must take into account multiple aspects stack height to be supported, the time is to be stored, different transportation methods used by the company (may generate vibrations which affect the product), the number of loads and unloadings that it will undergo, 

its relationship with reverse logistics (for example, certain secondary packaging is prepared to be reused in e-commerce returns ), and the temperature and environmental humidity at which it is seen submitted the product in storage and transport operations.

The environmental impact of the waste generated by the packaging and the options for recycling or reuse.

Point of sale: you have to consider where it will be located in the physical establishment and what handling it will require. On the other hand, if it is about e-commerce, it is advisable to take care of the unpacking or unboxing experience, since it is the customer’s first physical contact with the brand and the product.

Legislation and regulations that regulate the characteristics of packaging such as, for example, technical standards (standards such as UNE or ISO), international transport regulations (for example the International Standard for Phytosanitary Measures No. 15 or ISPM-15 ), legislation related to the environment or regulations that affect the handling and marking of dangerous goods such as the European Agreement on the International Transport of Dangerous Goods by Road, ADR.

Types Of Food Packaging And Different Types Of Packaging

Types of food packaging
Types of food packaging

There is a lot of different food packaging and different types of packaging on the market. The different characteristics of each of them determine the type of food for which it is used.

Paper packaging

One of the most common types of food packaging is the food carton. They are biodegradable packaging, like egg boxes. There are cardboard food containers that usually have a plastic film for additional protection that prevents food from getting dirty or damp, such as cereals and cookies. 

Mixed with polymers, cardboard containers are used in take-out foods or drinks, such as milk cartons. Another biodegradable packaging for food is paper, but due to its qualities, few products are packaged in this way. For example, sealed paper bags protect sugar and flour by allowing these foods to breathe.

Recyclable glass containers

There are other containers that are not biodegradable. Glass containers stand out for their use for beverages and preserves. They are usually in the form of jars, jars, and bottles and are reusable and recyclable.

Giving the can with the containers

Metal containers vary in composition since they can be made of materials such as tinplate or aluminum. They can pack both liquids and solids, such as soda cans or tin cans of all kinds of products. And they stand out for their enormous capacity to preserve food.

Plastic is the best packaging

But without a doubt, plastic is the material that offers the most possibilities when it comes to protecting and keeping all kinds of fresh food. The plastic containers for foods allow for their variety and possibilities to adapt, its use for food packaging.

 From liquids like milk to solids like meat and fish. This material allows the vacuum packaging of food, generally canned and sausage.

Polyethylene terephthalate

Plastic containers are not biodegradable containers and must be recycled. Although this seems to be changing in the future with the appearance of new materials based on biodegradable plastic. Until now, polyethylene terephthalate containers, better known as PET containers, are the most used for food packaging.

The bottles of water or liquids that we see in our day to day, are known as PET containers. PET, or polyethylene terephthalate, in plastic that after being processed and cooled obtains a high level of transparency.

 Its chemical properties and impermeability make it suitable as a food container. But also due to its resistance and the lightness of its plastic, it is ideal for bottling beverages, such as water and soft drinks. They are fully recyclable food packaging.

Boxed packaged goods

Boxed packaged goods, At Rajapack, the quality of cardboard boxes, containers, and pallet boxes ensures maximum protection for all your products: good resistance to humidity and temperature variations, excellent resistance to vertical compression, as well as perfect adherence to the packing tape.

Choose between 3 types of the channel in the cardboard, depending on the product to be packed and the transport conditions: single-channel cardboard boxes, recommended for light or load-bearing products (e.g. documents and prepackaged products), highly double-channel cardboard boxes. resistant, effective in heavy, fragile, and non-bearing products (eg: bulk products), and triple channel cardboard boxes, support the heaviest loads and protect the most fragile products, recommended for difficult transport and long-term storage.

Choosing the right cardboard box is very important to reduce losses and claims caused by damage to merchandise during transport or storage. At Rajapack they are committed to giving you the best service and advice when choosing your packaging, also benefit from the best prices by buying the quantity you need.

Packaging Management Strategies

According to Forbes Insights’ The Empty Space Economy report, a quarter of the space in each container and package that is shipped and received per year carries… air. For this reason, 66% of the managers surveyed think that by eliminating that space they can achieve savings of at least 25% of the budget invested in packaging.

Some of the following packaging management strategies are aimed at achieving this:

Standardization Of Packaging Measurements

One of the main advantages of the standardization of measurements is the use of space in all stages of the supply chain from production to transport, passing through storage. 

Hence the generalization of the use of the European pallet as a tertiary base packaging for the compaction of loads in European countries.

From there, an improvement to be implemented is the agreement between suppliers, logistics operators, distributors, and points of sale to choose to package with dimensions that correspond to the modular size (multiple of Eurotarim) of 600x400mm (1/4 with respect to the pallet European), 600x800mm (the measure of 1/2 European pallet) or 300x400mm (1/3 of a European pallet).

 This optimizes the stacking of boxes on the pallets and makes the most of the space available in warehouses and transport vehicles.

Standardization of packaging measurements
Standardization of packaging measurements

Automate The Selection And Handling Of Packaging Material

The starting point is to analyze the characteristics of the inventory to find modular base measurements (that is, multiples of the European pallet, as indicated above) and in which most of the products that are stored will fit.

Do not forget an important variable regarding transport costs: the volumetric weight, that is, the calculation of the space that merchandise occupies in the vehicle in relation to its weight. Transport agencies use it as a guide to set their rates when packages are light but bulky.

In this sense, the warehouse management system is integrated with the PIE (Entry Inspection Posts), scales, automatic labelers, and cobots that help in the packaging process and, based on the inventory data, indicates to the operator what type of packaging to use to prepare each order.

Packaging For More Efficient Logistics

To identify the areas for improvement in packaging management, it is advisable to classify the different types of primary, secondary, and tertiary packaging and study how and who is affected by a possible modification in each of them.

In the industrial field, it is convenient to evaluate the degree of optimization of the packaging based on the material it is made of, transport, handling and storage, waste management, and the cost involved. Only with a global vision of the process will it be possible to choose the type of logistics packaging best adapted to the reality of the company.

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