It’s easy to take for granted the common household products we enjoy every day. Seldom would we think, for example, of how a bottle of refreshing spring water designed to quench our thirst on a hot day makes it to the neighbourhood grocer or to our doorstep. Regardless of whether it’s labelled mountain valley spring water or pure spring water or if it’s drawn from an aquifer or mineral springs, all products, including water, go through a manufacturing process that ultimately results in the last mile shipment to where it’s purchased or delivered. To bring clarity to the process, here are three general facts about manufacturing and shipping.
Manufacturing adds increased value to a product
Manufacturing refers to the step-by-step process of converting parts and materials into a finished product that has value added by the manufacturing process. Using our spring water example, manufacturing involves extracting the water from its source, treating the water for quality and safety, and then bottling and distributing it to the final consumer.
The manufacturing process adds value through purification, bottling, and labelling processes. Thus, the final product, bottled spring water, is more valuable than the water that is originally extracted from the ground. Machines, computers, humans, and even robots may be used in the manufacturing process. For certain products, an assembly line, which enables a product to be put together in steps, may be employed. Manufacturers may sell their products directly to the end customer or to distributors, like a grocery chain. When considering a manufacturing partner, it’s important to consider their reliability in the industry and years of dependable service.
Products are packaged using machinery
Once the manufacturing is completed, the final product must be prepared for shipping to a manufacturing partner, a distribution facility, or to the final point of sale or user. Regardless of the destination, products must be packed in protective encasements that will allow for their safe transportation. Most consumer products, like spring water, are shipped in boxes that are assembled and sealed using a case erector and sealer, or in some instances, a family of case erectors.
Case erectors are the packaging equipment used to construct cases, which are typically cardboard cartons or boxes. While different types of boxes may be used, one of the most common is an RSC or Regular Slotted Container. An RSC is a standard box with 4 flaps on the top and bottom that meet in the middle and then are sealed with some form of adhesive. The tape is a common sealer. However, for a more durable seal, a hot melt adhesive applied from a dispenser may be used. Combi offers a family of case erectors, including the Combi EZ Load Walk-In, which offers the industry’s strongest frame, fastest speed, optimal durability, and a lifetime warranty. The use of case erectors is imperative in reducing labour costs and manufacturing time.
There are many different ways to ship
The final step of the manufacturing process is the actual shipping of goods to their final distribution point or end consumer. Grocery stores are common points of sale for bottled spring water, but increasingly consumers are ordering online whereby the product may ship directly from the manufacturer. Direct-to-consumer shipping can bypass typical delays in a supply chain and thereby speed up delivery.
As e-commerce grows, retailers are demanding that manufacturers help them fulfil orders faster and at cost savings via traditional distribution channels. It’s often not cost-effective for certain products to be shipped directly to the end-user. Heavier and/or bulkier products may be best suited for shipment directly from the manufacturer to distribution facilities by common carrier with the final mile to the point of sale using the sellers’ own trucks.