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Packaging materials lessons learned's survey asked, "What is one important lesson you have learned about packaging materials?"

A Medtronic respondent said, "Choose the right [materials] the first time around. Don't just let cost be the deciding factor. It will come back to bite you (or someone else) later."

A BD Medical respondent said a lesson to be learned was not to reinvent the wheel. "If you have something that works or know of materials that are working in other places, go with them first as they can be implemented faster and with less concern," he said.

"Small differences in raw materials can make a significant change in how the machine runs," noted a Johnson & Johnson representative. "Sometimes, insignificant properties can affect how a material can be processed on a machine. We need to understand what properties are critical, and what are not."

Here's a practical tip offered by an Actavis Pharma representative: "Packaging materials should be designed for their accuracy to run on high-speed packaging machinery and should perform their functions during the product's journey to its ultimate consumer, and even after that for environmental [purposes]."

"The tried-and-true standbys are not always the best," said a respondent from Synthes. "New materials with increased puncture-resistance may take longer to qualify, but in the long run will save time and money."

A Schering Plough respondent advised the following: "Changes that you would not expect to be an issue can in fact become one. Understand the components' role interacting with the machinery."

"Packaging materials are key to delighting customers," said a respondent from Zuellig Pharma Phillipines. "This would involve security and safe handling of the product until it reaches the end customer."

"Learn the characteristics of the material," advised an Amylin respondent. "Color, strength, density, tolerances, etc., could make your life miserable if you do not know what is going on."

Looking at trends in packaging materials, a Bilcare Research respondent said, "Packaging materials should have basic barriers against moisture, light, oxygen, and bacteria. Along with those features, there is now a requirement for smart functionalities such as communication, anticounterfeiting, and brand identification."

Editor's note: The multi-industry "Lessons Learned" survey results are reported in a series of articles authored by Packaging World editor Rick Lingle ( Contributing to this article were Jane Nelson and Natalie Cuevas, Summit Publishing employees.
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