Recently I came into contact with the owner of a machine factory that delivers indirectly (as a 2nd tier supplier) to a large airplane manufacturer. He told me enthusiastically about the big order he brought in. The machine factory, a small company consisting of 5 people, was asked to produce a special type of bolts that are meant for the transmission of the landing gear. This landing gear is produced by the direct suppliers (1st tier) of the airplane manufacturer. Next to that, the bolts are stocked in the “repair center” and warehouse of the airplane manufacturer.

Unfortunately the machine factory did not receive any logistical specifications with the order. They raised questions, but his customer (the 1st tier supplier) only answered: “I don’t know, the airplane manufacturer did not mention anything about that, please take care of it yourself”. The machine factory chose for a packaging (and included labeling) of which it was convinced it was OK.

What went wrong?

The machine factory chose to pack the bolts per 10. Very convenient for the 1st tier supplier, because during assembly he likes to have the products bulk packed. However, the same supplier also has to deliver the bolts as spare part and then they should be packed single. Big question is of course: who is going to do this and in what kind of box?


Also in this case the question could be left to the 1st tier supplier, or as an OEM you could choose to repack the products when they come in (as happens very often). In the last way you could still give some direction to your packaging policy, but you could have also solved this problem much earlier in the supply chain by informing this chain and being clear about what you want exactly!

Or worse..

In this case it may be not that bad when a bolt is not in the right box, but what if cleanliness, ESD, humidity, salt water and eventually sterility come into play? When you leave packaging to chance in these cases you will not have to wait long until it goes seriously wrong.

Integral supply chain approach to packaging

An example that shows to which risks an OEM without integral supply chain approach or policy regarding packaging is exposed.The main reason for this is that no one is overall process responsible. Therefore packaging stays an unnoticed value drain. In every organization the strategic importance of having a solid and integral packaging policy should be emphasized more often.

Do you recognize this issue? The consultants of FPC Beyond Packaging are glad to help you to improve in this area. Contact us when you want more information.

  • Johan Faes
  • Johan Faes
    CEO Faes Group

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