Distribution, Packaging and Testing


This three-day course is designed for packaging engineers, supply chain managers and product engineers. This course provides better understanding of the cost implications of packaging design decisions. The following topics will be covered:
Financial aspects of packaging. How product and packaging design choices directly affect the costs of shipping, handling, storage and field failures.
Improvement of product design to initiate greater cost savings by improving product density, especially for air shipments.
Optimizing packaging and increasing profitability through appropriate product design, better test methods, smarter material handling, influencing more efficient assembly line pack-out processes and by taking a more holistic approach to packaging structural design (taking into account tool layout, material sustainability, and impact upon logistics costs).
Advanced laboratory testing techniques to assure the proper amount of packaging protection and low product failure rates; and in-depth supply chain mapping/knowledge to assure that proper laboratory testing and product/packaging design and material handling techniques.

Course Outline:

  1. The focus of this course: how to minimize costs.
    • Where’s the money?
    • Hazards of distribution…do you know yours?
    • Packaging designs can invite high damages.
    • Why are packages so large?
  2. Shock and vibe
    • How and why do products respond to inputs.
    • Are your tests representative of distribution?
    • Are ASTM and ISTA tests all you need to minimize costs?
    • Suggestions for test practices.
    • More products, more orientations, fewer drops
    • Damage boundary as a product design tool
    • High speed video for fine tuning cushion design
  3. Distribution: Why you need to see it for yourself?
    • What are the consistent failures?
    • What are the root causes of failure?
    • Why different problems occur in different places.
    • How to use this knowledge for better tests and designs
  4. Design, tactical and strategic
    • Pallets: typical problems and solutions. Can you eliminate the pallet?
    • Corrugated boxes: easy ways to improve quality and minimize costs
    • Products and components: the tradeoffs between packaging and better design
    • The 6 step method and why it costs you money
    • The design process: minimize overall costs with outside the box thinking
    • Cushions: theory vs. practice…how to minimize costs
    • How’s your customer’s OOBE (out of box experience)?
  5. Green packaging
    • How one company changed from foam to molded pulp
    • Why you need to eliminate PVC thermoform packaging
    • Light weight and densified loads: excellent for both costs and the environment
  6. Could the best package be no package?
    • Component design to minimize packaging
    • Product design that requires less packaging
    • Packaging postponement: add packaging when you need it
    • Minimizing wasted space in the package, between packages, between unit loads
  7. Award of certificates


This course is not on the current schedule of open enrollment courses. If you are interested in attending this or another course as open enrollment, please contact us at (410)956-8805 or at ati@aticourses.com and indicate the course name and number of students who wish to participate. ATI typically schedules open enrollment courses with a lead time of 3-5 months. Group courses can be presented at your facility at any time. For on-site pricing, request an on-site quote. You may also call us at (410)956-8805 or email us at ati@aticourses.com.


  • Kevin Howard is a well known leading expert in the field of packaging engineering. He is one of fewer than 500 people in the world with both BS and MS degrees in packaging (both from Michigan State University). Kevin is specialized in distribution packaging and testing in school and has applied this knowledge over the past 25 years to generate some of the largest cost savings in packaging history. Over his 17 years of work at Hewlett-Packard, Kevin forged several new concepts on how best to combine the interests of packaging, product design, supply chain, procurement, customer assurance and testing into a unified approach to gaining the lowest possible landed costs with the highest quality necessary. Introduced at several conferences as a particularly innovative thinker, Kevin prides himself on his depth and breadth of packaging knowledge, supply chain logistics, material handling methodologies, and dynamics testing.
    Testing expertise: Kevin focused on testing theory and methods during graduate school, where he was the teaching assistant for two years in the class on shock and vibration testing. He spent one summer interning for MTS Systems, which at that time was the largest manufacturer of servohydraulic shaking equipment. His first job out of school was with Whirlpool Corporation, where he helped start their first shock and vibration lab. He then became a consultant for about 1.5 years, which included a 7 month job of teaching at the first school of packaging in China, focused on distribution packaging and testing. While at HP, Kevin was instrumental in helping re-write both corporate and Divisional test manuals. Modifying HP’s testing led to lower failures in the field and lower packaging costs overall…an unusual combination.

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