A package engineer designs, develops, and produces specific packages or containers for a wide range of items, including clothing, food, pharmaceuticals, household items, appliances, toys, electronics, and computers. Throughout the developing process, he or she may analyze various factors, such as the cost or the product itself. This person may also manage the workers who are in charge of packing the items in the appropriate containers. He or she may be responsible for negotiating with potential customers as well.
Selecting or developing the machinery that is used during the packaging procedure may also be a duty of the package engineer. Sometimes, an existing piece of machinery will be modified to fulfill packaging operations and other times a new machine will be designed and developed. Regardless, the work of this engineer can draw on many skills, specifically those related to mathematics and physics.
Today, many companies are increasingly aware of the impact that packaging can make on the environment. Consequently, a package engineer may be responsible for analyzing the ways that particular packaging materials will affect the environment. For example, a company must consider how the packaging will be disposed of, and ideally, the package engineer will work to develop packaging that is recyclable, less wasteful, or biodegradable.
When developing a package for a specific item, this professional must consider the purpose behind the package, such as if it's necessary for shipping, displaying, storing, or protecting the item. If the package is necessary to display the item, for example, then it must be aesthetically pleasing to consumers. In addition, it must also be durable so it does not look “beat up” while displayed on the store shelf. In another example, if the package is necessary only for shipping, it must be able to be handled with ease and be extremely durable.
Safety considerations are also duties of the package engineer. If the packaged item is toxic or explosive, special packaging may be necessary. In addition, if the item is food, pharmaceuticals, or cosmetics, the packaging will need to list the ingredients and perishability information, at least in the form of a label.
Studying the physical dimensions and handling requirements of the item will also help the engineer create optimal packaging. Analyzing drawings and descriptions of the item and studying the actual item itself will help him or her learn about its weight, density, shape, and functionality. After considering these factors, he or she can decide on the kind of materials to use for packaging. The next steps include sketching plans, drawing computerized designs, and making samples of the package.
Once the packaging is approved, the package engineer will make sure raw materials are used efficiently to reduce costs. He or she will also oversee the testing of the package, including in simulated conditions, such as rough shipping, high or low temperatures, and poor handling. The engineer will study the newest developments in the packaging industry and discuss new ways to package old products. He or she may also be in charge of production lines, making sure they run smoothly; therefore, a strong understanding in production, manufacturing, and even sales is helpful.