Impacts, vibrations, compression forces, drops… The route traveled by cosmetic products since they exit the supplier’s facilities until they arrive to the end customer is rife with hazards. The cosmetic packaging is the main protective barrier against these hazards of the distribution cycle. However, only by implementing a protocol that includes cosmetic packaging tests is it possible to guarantee that the packaging is adequate for each product and each distribution cycle.
The importance of cosmetic packaging tests for the safety of your products
Cosmetics is a global and booming sector that was valued at 380.2 dollars in 2019 and is expected to reach 463.5 billion dollars by 2027, according to Allied Market Research.
However, it is a moment of significant transformation and challenges for the industry:
- Due to the way in which customers buy, with the onset of eCommerce and a newfound awareness in relation to the products’ components and their packaging. The consumer increasingly demands products that are eco-friendly and care for the environment.
- From a logistical standpoint, cosmetics are products that see a high inventory turnover at the point of sale: they require a small volume, but one that is often replenished. Therefore, the most common shipping method is “less-than-truckload.” As a result, this multiplies the number of times that the product is handled, and consequently, the chances of it getting damaged.
To address this situation, the goods are organized into palletized unit loads and baled using stretch film.
By implementing protocols that include the right cosmetic packaging tests, these problems can be transformed into opportunities thanks to packaging optimization.
1. Cargo safety
Testing methods for packaging validation enable companies to verify that the chosen packaging offers an adequate protection during distribution, protecting the product itself in the case of a primary and/or secondary packaging, and a set of different products in the case of a tertiary packaging.
It is estimated that 25% of accidents during the transportation of goods on the road are caused by a poor load securement. This is the result of a poor choice of tertiary packaging, such as stretch film, or of it being inadequately used, which causes the load to slide, deform or topple over.
Because of this, an optimized distribution packaging also improves the stability of the load during transportation, reducing the risk of accidents and preventing fines due to non-compliance with regulations.
Transport simulation protocols such as the tilt test and horizontal acceleration tests allow companies to test and verify their loads before releasing them to the distribution cycle, thereby avoiding the aforementioned situations.
2. Optimizing costs
An optimized packaging has an effect on company costs as well, since:
- It prevents product damages and shrinkage caused by a poor choice of packaging or inadequate load securement. As a result of packaging optimization, goods are well-protected to withstand the hazards of shipping & handling, and as a result, costs due to product shrinkage are reduced.
- Makes choosing the materials easier. In the case of cosmetic packaging, cosmetic packaging tests enable the selection of the most suitable container and packaging materials for the product – and ones that are in line with company values. Furthermore, it allows for the testing of greener and more recyclable materials to address consumer demands. As for the tertiary packaging, transport simulation tests enable the selection of a suitable stretch film and an optimal load configuration, reducing material costs mostly linked to over-packaging. In addition, packaging optimization allows for the creation of more efficient cargo units (UCE, as per its Spanish designation) and to make them lighter, which reduces transportation costs.
3. Compliance with regulations
Testing methods such as the EUMOS 40509:2020 standard are contained in Directive 2014/47/EU, which has the purpose of guaranteeing a safe road transportation in Europe.
The standard outlines the testing method and necessary equipment to simulate the inertia experienced during road transportation due to changes in direction, turns and hard braking, with the purpose of measuring the deformation of the load and subsequently optimize it. This leads to a stable and safe load that is able to withstand the hazards of transportation, thereby reducing the risk of road accidents.
4. More sustainable solutions
Today’s consumers demand from the cosmetics industry a commitment to sustainability, and cosmetic packaging is the most visible part of this commitment.
Over 120,000 units of cosmetic packaging are manufactured every year, according to Zero Waste Week. In light of this, eco-friendly alternatives allow companies to use more sustainable materials in the design of their packaging, enabling their recycling and reuse.
Cosmetic packaging tests play an essential part in this regard, helping companies make decisions at the design phase in relation to the materials and allowing them to subsequently test their designs before launching the product to the market.
Cosmetic packaging tests: success story of a cosmetics multinational
We analyze the procedure of a series of cosmetic packaging tests using a real-world example. A cosmetics multinational contacted Safe Load Testing Technologies with the purpose of optimizing their packaging and fulfilling the following goals:
- Increasing their turnover
- Following their own quality policies
- Minimizing the environmental impact of their products
- Optimizing their packaging costs
- Complying with Directive 2014/47/EU for road transportation in European territory
After learning about the needs and goals of the company, the first step consisted of analyzing the configuration of their packaging:
- The primary packaging consisted of a 600 ml plastic bottle that contained gel.
- The secondary packaging was a cardboard box containing six of these bottles.
- The tertiary packaging was a palletized unit load baled using stretch film.
Afterwards, with the purpose of designing the most suitable cosmetic packaging tests for the company, a working method was developed that consisted of characterizing their products’ distribution cycle, defining the testing protocols and studying the tertiary packaging to evaluate the load’s stability.
1. Distribution cycle characterization
At Safe Load Testing Technologies we studied the company’s distribution cycle to design an ad hoc testing protocol. We discovered that it involved a complex cycle that included mechanical and manual handling, in addition to road and rail transportation.
By using a data recorder, all 3-axis vibrations, impacts and drops that would take place during shipping & handling were recorded. All the information recorded in a micro SD card was analyzed and processed using the DR Software, generating a PSD that was ready for use in the various simulation solutions.
Thanks to the distribution cycle characterization, a testing protocol was designed to analyze the load’s behavior when facing those hazards. In turn, this information was used to design a tertiary packaging and an alternative load configuration with the purpose of performing a comparative study on both samples.
2. Baling sequence
Studying the baling sequence was essential in accomplishing 3 of the company goals:
- The main goal of bolstering the rigidity to withstand the requirements based on the study
- The secondary goal of reducing the environmental impact
- The tertiary goal of complying with the Royal Decree
The load’s baling sequence as performed by the cosmetics multinational was analyzed for this purpose at their facilities, using their own baling machine.
The results reflected the stretch film turns for each level of load units and the pallet’s residual depth as calculated after being wrapped, as well as the consumption of stretch film measured as the weight per palletized load.
The testing protocol would first condition the samples, and the stability test would be used to compare the different designs.
3. Defining and executing the validation testing procedures
All the information above was studied and analyzed until a custom-tailored validation testing protocol was designed.
The testing protocol consisted of subjecting the load to compression, impact and vibration forces through the following transport simulation tests.
> Horizontal impact test
In order to determine the resistance of the packaging to sudden and abrupt shock, as the ones that are usually experienced during shipping & handling, a horizontal impact test was performed in both directions, as per the UNE EN ISO 2244:3 standard.
The test was performed using the Horizontal Impact Tester designed by Safe Load TT, which allows impacts to be controlled to analyze how the load behaves.
> Compression tests
The testing protocol involved subjecting a unit load to compression forces in order to evaluate the resistance of the packaging to mechanical handling. Using a Compression Tester, the “apply and hold” test (ASTM D642) was performed to measure the BCT strength of the boxes, and the creep of the unit load was also characterized to know the deformation that takes place during storage.
> Drops tests
The testing protocol continued with a rotational drop test as per the UNE EN 14149:04 standard.
The biggest model of the Drop Tester was used for this, which allows for simulating rotational impacts on heavier and larger packages or loads.
> Multi-axis vibration tests
The process continued by means of a multi-axis test based on the PSD measured with the DR2. This is a complex testing method where the sample is tested on more than one axis, achieving results that are closer to real-world conditions. To this end, we used our Vertical Vibrations + Pitch & Roll system, which can simulate vertical vibrations plus the roll and pitch motions that take place mostly in road and sea freight.
> Stability tests
The process ended with an acceleration stability test. The design acceleration requirements in the procedure of this cosmetics multinational were developed as per the EU2014 / 47 regulation, but this test is used as a criteria for comparison.
The acceleration test was performed with the Horizontal Stability Tester.
Results and conclusions
By the end of the testing procedure, the samples showed damages as if they had been subjected to a real distribution cycle. These conditions offer the perfect opportunity to evaluate the different proposed containers by comparing their stability.
This study resulted in the following conclusions:
- The wrapping machine currently owned by the multinational was not able to control the pre-stretching or tension of the film.
- The elastic wrap did not comply with the acceleration levels outlined in Directive 2014/47
- The loads were not safe
As a result, the client was advised to modify the rigid wrapping to attain adequate acceleration levels and comply with the regulation. 4 alternatives were proposed with different baling configurations and different film thicknesses, which are subjected to various longitudinal and transversal stability tests at different accelerations: 0.2g to 0.8g for longitudinal measurements and 0.2g to 0.5g for transversal tests.
After analyzing the results and comparing them to the original configuration, it was observed that all alternatives increase the safety of the unit load during transportation.
It was also observed that three of the proposed alternatives reduce 70% to 80% of waste, which allows for savings of over € 500,000 within 5 years.
This means that the results of these cosmetic packaging tests achieved the planned goals, attaining safer unit loads with an optimal baling system.
Furthermore, by optimizing the stretch film, the weight of the tertiary packaging, as well as its cost, were reduced. The stability of the unit load was improved in compliance with Directive 2014/47/EU.
All of this translated into annual savings of € 113,000, in addition to achieving a more sustainable and safe packaging solution.
If you are looking to optimize your cosmetic packaging solutions, at Safe Load Testing Technologies we can help. Get in touch with us and let’s discuss how transport simulation solutions can help you create a protocol that includes cosmetic packaging tests that are suitable for your products and your distribution cycle.