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DHL Logbook - in cooperation with

Technical University Darmstadt

Functions of packaging
External cover with functional content
Optimal packaging of a product is a critical factor in logistics. And the reason is
clear: Without it, many logistics processes could not be performed at all or
could be carried out only at great additional cost. The function of the packaging
is not just to protect the product. It performs many other jobs as well. These
include providing information about the contents as well as enabling and
facilitating other logistics processes - including transport and handling as well
as storage, order processing and warehousing.

No logistics without packaging

The different logistics functions of the packaging - that is, protection, storage,
transport, information and handling - are an outstanding example of the
interdependencies that exist in logistics. As a result, the packaging may be
regarded only as a part of the entire logistics system. In packaging design, a
compromise that addresses all functional areas must be found. The correct
design of packaging can help lower overall logistics costs and raise the level of
supply and/or delivery service [1].
In addition to the logistics functions, packaging must also fulfill production
functions, marketing functions and usage functions. This means [1]:
Through the choice of suitable packaging, it is possible to produce directly
from the packaging or into the packaging without intermediary processing
Packaging can lend a special character to a product, enabling it to be
distinguished from the competitors products. Important functions can also
be assigned to packaging, including roles in advertising and sales
promotions [2].
In light of environmental considerations, it is essential for packaging design
to meet these needs. Ideally, the design should make it possible for a
customer to recycle the packaging or facilitate its use for other purposes.

Protective function
Good service includes the ordered
goods arriving in satisfactory condition.
The packaging should protect the
product from mechanical and climatic
stresses during delivery.


DHL Logbook - in cooperation with

Technical University Darmstadt

Warehouse function
Packaging is required to facilitate the
storage of a product. If possible, the
packaging should be stackable and
meet the demands of the storage
equipment. In addition, it should
facilitate practical storage of the
packaging supplies - e.g., through
collapsible boxes.

Transportation function
The packaging also has the task of
facilitating the transport of a product or
actually enabling the product to be
transported. Likewise, the packagings
form and size should permit the optimal
use of the transport space with the
lowest possible packaging weight.

Handling function
The goods should be combined by the
packaging into units that simplify their
processing during transshipment and
delivery. The form and size of the
packaging units must also facilitate the
employment of technical aids such as
forklifts or storage and retrieval
systems. If the commodity is handled
manually, then grip holes in the
packaging can be necessary.


DHL Logbook - in cooperation with

Technical University Darmstadt

Information function
The packaging should be marked in
such a way that the products in it can
be identified easily - e.g., by color,
pictures or labels. Furthermore,
packaging of fragile, perishable or
similar products requiring special
treatment during delivery should be
clearly marked with pictures, symbols
or explanations. During automated
transportation and processing
procedures, automatic product
recognition is facilitated by suitable
information appropriate to the
packaging, e.g., barcodes or RFID

The logistics functions of packaging

Source: Logistiksysteme | Pfohl 2004

Recommended reading
Logistiksysteme | Pfohl 2004
World-Class Warehousing and Materials Handling | Frazelle 2002

[1] Logistiksysteme | Pfohl 2004
[2] Marketing | Nieschlag / Dichtl / Hrschgen 1997