Using 3D CAD Software for More Competitive Transit Packaging

Written by: Cat McClintock

One of the great benefits of 3D CAD software has been that it allows product developers to easily share digital models, with all their design intent and history, downstream.

 Manufacturing, marketing, technical documentation, and  part suppliers all use the digital model to make the product a success—long before the first physical prototype rolls out of the lab.

 But there’s someone in the supply chain we rarely consider sending our models to: Transit packaging. That’s the company that provides the corrugated boxes, pallets, crates, cushions, and foam, used to pack everything from cans of soup to iPads.

 “In general, our industry takes a low tech approach,” says Danny Harrison, business development manager at Nicklin, a packaging firm based in the UK. “So one specification used to carry a product that weighs a ton will be used to carry every other product the weighs a ton.” Click the video for more of his remarks:


Growing Concerns of for Transit Packaging

 While one-size-fits-all thinking may have worked traditionally, times are changing for packaging companies. For example:

  • Competition is growing. In some geographies, such as Europe and the US, companies face tough competition from Asia. In fact, a 2014 research report from Smithers Pira predicts a decline in the western markets, even as global business expands.
  • Law makers are looking closer at packaging. The UK now regulates its packaging waste. “UK packaging legislation states that you should use a minimum adequate amount of material when designing packaging,” says Harrison.


3D CAD software now used to design transit packaging

Nicklin and Concurrent Engineering are introducing engineering software into a traditionally low-tech industry.  


3D CAD for a More Competitive Edge

 Nicklin worked with PTC partner Concurrent Engineering to address challenges like these by adopting engineering software, including Creo 3D CAD software, simulation, and PTC Mathcad for engineering calculations. 

“If a customer supplies us the CAD drawing of a product, we can model packaging around that,” says Harrison. Using simulation software, Nicklin then optimizes the shipping material to be cost efficient, low waste, environmentally sensitive, and more.

“Our approach helps us bring something innovative to the market,” says Harrison. “Something that's not easily replicated by our competitors and ultimately gives our customers cost, environmental, and safety benefits and also for their customers across the logistics supply chain.”

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Tags: CAD

About the Author

Cat McClintock

Cat McClintock contributes to the Creo and Mathcad blogs for PTC. She has been a writer and editor for 15+ years, working for CAD, PDM, ERP, and CRM software companies. Prior to that, she edited science journals for an academic publisher and aligned optical assemblies for a medical device manufacturer. She holds degrees in Technical Journalism, Classics, and Electro-Optics. She loves talking to PTC customers and learning about the interesting work they're doing and the innovative ways they use the software.