The range of services offered by our members is extensive and in some cases may relate to a particular industry sector.
Select a type of operation from the menu below, to reveal all the associated service terms that are available. We have classified this guide under five separate headings and although some of the terms may be self-explanatory, the definitions are intended to add clarification to help you select what you are looking for.
Each definition links to the members who can provide that service. They also correspond to the services listed in our SEARCH MEMBERS facility. Please note, this section is intended as a guide only. For more detailed information please contact members providing these services.
To reveal the terms and brief descriptions, please click on any heading below:
Gift Packing is a major part of our industry for Christmas, Easter and other special events. Usually performed by hand, it requires a number of disciplines from skilled labour to sourcing of components. Our Members can also advise on warehousing and distribution, pack design and managing customer call-offs.
Where machine production is not feasible, hand packing by skilled experienced teams is the most efficient answer. Re-work addresses pack quality issues such as incorrect labelling, damaged goods or missing components, or simply that the product needs to be relabelled or repacked in a different format.
The process by which faulty products are subjected to quality control checks to examine for defects against agreed benchmark standards or to provide a statistical number of rejects. Where possible the product will be rectified to make good and returned to the inventory.
Involves collating products/components, for example engineering parts or toy kits, into a single unit for distribution. Operations could include counting, bagging or placing products into specially designed boxes. Usually performed by hand as components can be varied and may require an element of assembly work.
This type of complex assembly demands expertise in the area, awareness of critical engineering tolerances and the use of specific mechanical tools and gauges. Electromechanical Assembly mostly operates under lean manufacturing procedures and involves tight controls of the material supply chain.
Netting provides a low-cost way of collating and displaying products from bird food to beach toys. Clip Strips offer an eye-catching method of hanging small bagged products such as peanuts in-store or in the pub. The clip strips can be pre-loaded with product by the contract packer.
This involves the preparation of clothing for retail sale and includes segregation by size or colour, tagging, coding, labelling, poly bagging, converting to hanging, ratio packing, fold packing, pressing, ticketing, embroidery, quality inspection, remedial work, metal detection and default reporting for damaged stock.
Good pack design can be vital to a product’s success. Packaging that is appealing but also fulfils its role of protecting the product, is essential to discuss at the concept stage. Speed of assembly on the production line can also impact on unit costs and timescales.
Graphic design is an essential part of attracting the customer to the product and to establishing brand identity. Together with designing packaging, many contract packers have in-house graphic design services with the facilities to produce and print leaflets, labels, sleeves and cartons.
Labelling is often used to change packaging and provide rectification of a mistake or to endorse promotions with additional marketing messages. Different retailers will require different labelling options and automatic or hand labelling is used as an efficient and economical method of customising generic packaging stock.
A method used to provide rectification to those one-off mistakes or last-minute changes to packaging, or to provide different alternatives for overseas markets. Overlabelling can help to extend the life of a product by complying with specific labelling requirements for individual markets.
Product labels, price labels, best before dates, bar codes, RFID tags etc are critical for identifying and tracking products throughout the supply chain, and ensuring that finished packs comply with the relevant legislation. Whether applied by machine or by hand, labelling is an integral part of the packing process.
This is used to ensure products are not easily shoplifted and to reduce stock shrinkage. Security tags come in many different forms and can be easily applied by the warehouse at source of packing relieving in-store staff from this operation.
Provides interactive exchange of data between the sender and the label such as RFID (Radio Frequency) and NFC (Near Field Communication) embedded labels. Other examples include QR codes and EAS (Electronic Article Surveillance) tags. Smart Active labels become responsive to changes in the environment or are event specific.
The recent increase in personal care and fragrance development calls for stringent controls in this sector to ensure that all allergens and potentially harmful substances are identified for the consumer. Companies providing Fragrance labelling will ensure that products comply with the relevant legal requirements and that the ingredients are properly communicated to the end customer.
Decorative Shrink Sleeving
Sleeving is a process for combining products using film, for example with multipacks or two-for-one promotions. Some applications are suited to stretch sleeves, however most (including tamper-bands) use shrink film, applied in hot air or steam tunnels. Sleeving can also provide a high quality 360 degree labelling solution.
Shelf-ready packaging (SRP) and retail-ready packaging (RRP) help products get from storage area to retail shelf in one simple operation, saving time for shop staff. Predominantly made of corrugated cardboard, the merchandising unit consists of a tray and cover, with the latter being easily detached by a perforation.
Point of Sale stands provide an excellent way of displaying products in-store with strong visual impact. They can be supplied flat packed or pre-assembled, although many retailers now insist on their POS display units being delivered to their stores pre-filled with product, a service which is ideally suited to the contract packer.
Vertical form fill seal machines (VFFS) construct plastic bags out of a flat roll of film, while simultaneously filling products into the bags from above and sealing them. Volumes can be controlled by weighing or counting. L-Sealers form and seal bags horizontally from centrefolded film and are often used for lower volume runs, with products inserted manually.
Utilises clear plastic film which shrinks snugly on to the product, usually by passing the wrapped product through a heat tunnel. Polyethylene shrink film is mainly used for transit purposes or collating multi-pack canned products. Higher quality display films can enhance the look of and protect retail products such as games boxes and hampers.
Flow wrapping, also known as horizontal form-fill-seal, is a process that wraps film around a product, initially crimping a fin seal along the length of the pack and then crimping it each end. The system can handle a very wide range of products from crisp packets and confectionery to packs of scratch cards.
Over wrapping is a system where high quality heat-sealable film is wrapped over square or rectangular products and finished with neatly folded ends. Applications include perfume cartons, DVDs, reams of paper and cigarette packets. The film often incorporates ‘tear strips’ for easy opening
Mainly used in the direct mail and magazine industry as an alternative to traditional mailing envelopes, polywrapping (or polybagging) is a cost-effective way of enclosing printed matter within a sealed usually see-through polythene wrap. It also allows for the insertion of loose items.
Blisters are widely used in the pharmaceutical industry for packing pills, and in retail where a product is securely displayed beneath a clear thermoformed blister, fixed to a pre-printed backing card. Clam Packs are fully encased, tough two-cavity blisters, high frequency welded to aid security.
Also known as Clamshell Packaging, this is made by thermoforming the shape of the package to fit closely around the contents, making it ideal for presenting and packaging a variety of products of different shapes and sizes such as electrical goods, household, automotive parts, toiletries and cosmetics. A clam pack is hand filled and then secured simply via a clip and can be further welded for additional security. Popular for retail displays, offering a high degree of visibility.
Thermoforming is a manufacturing process where a plastic sheet is heated to a pliable temperature, formed in a mold to a specific shape and trimmed to create a packaging product. They are typically used for food trays, confectionery, box inserts and blister/clam packaging.
Counting by weighing is often more efficient than counting manually, which is time consuming and prone to human error, especially when the number of items (e.g. sweets, nuts & bolts, pills) is large.
Cartons are one of the commonest forms of packaging used to contain and protect a huge variety of contents. Most are a regular six-sided rectangular shape ideal for stacking and palletisation. Cartons can be erected, filled and closed either by hand or by highly automated systems.
Via Road, Rail, Sea or Air, it is essential that shipments conform to relevant regulations, are properly packed & labelled and are accompanied by the correct documentation to minimise risk of delays at customs borders and ensure that goods arrive in perfect condition. Temperature controlled or hazardous consignments will require special attention.
White Label products are made or manufactured by a 3rd party as an off-the-shelf solution, then sold by brand owners or retailers under their own label. This type of manufacturing is popular as it reduces the development process, making use of the testing and regulatory approvals already acquired by the manufacturer, and allows the brand to be reactive.
Where a product is developed to a specific formulation on behalf of the customer to create a unique product for sale under the customers own name.
New Product Development
The process by which a new product is developed for release to the market. There are two stages; the initial idea generation, product design and then the market research and market analysis. By entering this process it is hoped that any prospective issues with the product and packaging will be ironed out prior to product release.
The design and manufacture of formulated products is the process by which raw materials are taken from concept to finished product. It is a vital service, applied to a large number of product categories such as pharmaceutical tablets, cosmetic creams, gels, detergents, powders, processed foods, paints, adhesives, lubricants, pesticides etc.
This is the combining and mixing of multiple ingredients. There are a number of different processing and blending methods available dependent upon the type of material being handled, wet or dry, and also on batch sizes, which can vary from small pilot batches to full scale production volumes.
The method by which two or more ingredients are combined together. This can be for liquids or dry products and is generally a gentler process than mixing, which is more rigorous. It is used across a wide range of sectors from food, nutraceutical, drink, personal care, household, automotive, chemical etc.
Grinding is a process for reducing the particle size of a material. Sieving via mesh or vibration, can separate unwanted elements from unwanted material, or provide particle size consistency for production batches.
Offers a controlled environment during manufacture, to eliminate foreign particles and provide a cleaner and more hygienic environment for products demanding high care in production e.g. pharmaceutical, cosmetic and personal care sector and food. Operated to specific standards with set cleaning schedules and a work force required to work to particular levels of hygiene etc.
Are employed in the development of products to understand their properties and to ensure that they are safe for use and comply with regulatory standards globally. Different types of analytical services cover many different sectors and can include testing, inspection, verification and certification.
As with analytical services, testing and regulatory compliance are offered in house to test the products as they are produced. Often involving laboratory testing, using experienced personnel and expertise, in house testing can be advantageous as it is time efficient.
Can be offered as part of the development process. These are prospective biomedical research studies on human subjects that provide answers to specific questions and are normally conducted with volunteers or small groups of patients in pilot studies. Test results are used to determine the suitability of the product for full scale production.
Companies involved in the manufacture of ‘Specials’ are responsible for producing specific prescriptions to meet the individual clinical needs of a single patient when a suitable licensed medicine is not available. In wider terms this can also apply to small batch manufacturing of highly valuable pharmaceutical products requiring specialist attention.
A method to ensure traceability of products through the supply chain as a way of ensuring integrity and security. Each product is assigned a unique serial number which is linked to information about the batch number and expiration date. This is currently mostly used by the Pharmaceutical and Food sectors.
Industrial 3D Printing
The ability to trace particles of metal in finished products to ensure that the end product is safe and in the case of food, is fit for human consumption.
Some Products require handling in a chilled or frozen environment. From blast freezing to storage in multi temperature chambers, a temperature controlled supplier will offer warehousing, distribution and contract packing under these specialised conditions, monitoring temperatures and keeping the product in the perfect condition for delivery to end customer.
The ability to store, handle or distribute products that need to be kept at low temperatures. Frozen sites will have the relevant procedures and storage to ensure that the products are kept at their optimal temperatures throughout the production and supply chain process.
The process by which produce such as foodstuffs or fresh produce are rapidly subjected to low temperatures to ensure they are frozen very quickly.
Individually Quick Frozen (IQF) is a freezing method which is typically used with smaller pieces of foods to keep each piece in an individual state. The process is mostly used on berries, fruits, vegetables, diced or sliced, and various meat products.
To bring products to a suitable handling temperature between -5 to -2 Centigrade. The product is still rigid but not frozen and this allows for easier handling for the next stage of production.
The method used to extract juice from fruit and vegetables, crushing them first and then pressing the fruit and vegetables in order to get the highest juice yield containing the highest nutritional content.
Most widely used in the food and beverage industry, hot fill is a filling process which allows for a longer shelf life of the product of up to 6 -12 months. Using PET bottles or hot fill packaging, the process involves bringing the products up to a high heat in order to sterilise the product prior to filling.
The process by which a sterile product (typically food or pharmaceutical) is packaged in a sterile container in a way that maintains sterility.
Pasteurisation is the process of heating a food (typically drinks and dairy products) to a set temperature for a set time then cooling it to reduce spoilage caused by microbial growth. A retort pouch is another method of sterile packaging that includes raw or partially cooked product inside a sealed laminate pouch, used for rations, camping foods, ready meals and drinks.
The general term used mostly in the food industry to eliminate living micro-organisms. Sterilisation processes, as mentioned above, could include high pressure processing, pasteurisation or retort.
High Pressure Processing
A cold pasteurisation technique which subjects food (previously sealed in flexible and water resistant packaging) to a high level of hydrostatic pressure which inactivates the bacteria present, extending shelf life. Due to the low temperatures, the HPP process respects the nutritional properties and retains the freshness of the product throughout the shelf life.
Modified Atmosphere Pkg
Also known as MAP, it is a method of extending the shelf life of fresh food products by substituting the air inside a package with a protective gas mix. The gas in the package helps ensure that the product stays fresh for as long as possible.
Used to make drinks fizzy. Carbonation is the process of adding carbon dioxide to a drink to add bubbles and fizz.
Liquids includes anything from distilled water to water or oil-based beverages, perfumes, cleaning agents and chemical products.
Creams and pastes includes all manner of products from cosmetic creams to food products such as mayonnaise.
Powders and granules includes everything from dried foods such as coffee and sugar to cleaning products and beauty items.
Tablets and capsules are common to the medical and healthcare markets, but can also include veterinary and other applications.
Used in the pharmaceutical industry, they provide an encapsulated dosage form, available either as hard-shelled capsules most often containing dry powdered ingredients, or soft-shelled capsules, primarily used for oils and for active ingredients that are dissolved or suspended in oil.
Soft gels are mostly used in the pharmaceutical or nutraceutical sectors to provide a vehicle for an oral dosage of medicine in the form of a specialised capsule. They usually consist of a gelatin-based shell surrounding a liquid fill, although vegan alternatives are available too.
Blister packs are often used to separate individual tablets and are common to the healthcare and pharmaceutical industries.
Common types include paper sachets for sugar and plastic pouches for hand cream or food condiments such as ketchup.
Water Soluble Sachets
A water-soluble delivery system which offers a good alternative to using plastic containers and provides a controlled dosage. They are mostly used in household, pharma, horticultural or pet care sectors. They offer an easy and safe way to handle concentrated products, as the sachet or ‘bag’ breaks down in water.
This single-portion packaging format, frequently used for sugar, is similar to a sachet but is longer and narrower to enable more accurate directional dispensing. Depending on the stick-pack material used, they are suitable for powders, granules, gels and liquids.
A form of flexible packaging, they are in effect sealed bags used in the food/beverage industry and other sectors, and can be produced in a variety of sizes. Doy Packs or stand-up pouches can be displayed in an upright position with a large surface for printing. They can also be supplied in spouted versions.
These are especially popular in the food and drink industry as a sustainable and flexible way of packaging products. They offer individual portions, minimise food waste and the spout allows for easy filling whilst protecting against spillage. Also popular in other sectors such as personal care, household and cleaning.
Wet wipes can serve a number of personal and household functions. They are absorbent and are often impregnated with a cleaning agent or scented perfume and are used across personal care, pharmaceutical, household, automotive and industrial sectors.
Many sizes of tube can be filled, the most well-known including toothpaste, paints and food products.
From L-sealed bags providing a simple method of collating products, to confectionery bags of sweets or goodie-bags for mass market participation, bags offer retailers and brand owners versatility to show off their products and reach consumers effectively.
Bottles and jars are commonly used in many industries and come in all manner of shapes and sizes, glass or plastic.
Non-glass materials include plastics, paper and card, paper bonded to plastic, metals and recycled materials.
The process of bonding thermoplastic materials by induction heating via an electrically conducted object, most usually aluminium foil.
The method by which air is removed from a package prior to sealing.
Common trigger sprays and pump products include household disinfectants, and products for the DIY and automotive industry.
Tetra and gable top packs are familiar in juice, soup and other food formats, and cover a variety of closure mechanisms.
Pots and tubs are widely used throughout many industries including cosmetics, diy and other applications.
Composite tubes fitted with base and lids are utilised extensively across the luxury industry for spirits, wine, cosmetics, confectionery and perfume. They can offer high quality print and provide excellent product protection.
A sealed cylindrical aluminium or tin-plated container for carbonated and non-carbonated drinks, and well established for preserving food products. This packaging format tends to require high volumes.
Aerosols are available in a variety of sizes with common materials including metals and plastics and glass.
Small glass or plastic containers, vials are predominantly used for liquids and powders in the pharmaceutical/veterinary industries for sterile or non-sterile medical applications.
A small, sealed vial most commonly containing pharmaceuticals and chemicals. The glass vial is sealed so it is airtight.
Carton and box formats vary from Tetra and gable top packs in that they are usually folded and sealed closed in cuboid form.
This lightweight plastic bag in cardboard box format is used extensively in the beer/wine trade and for packing other liquid products in the food industry typically from 1 to 20 litres. It can be used in aseptic filling processes. BiB is also used by the chemical industry.
Jerricans, normally made of plastic, are semi-bulk 2.5 to 25 litre industrial containers with carrying handles enabling them to be manoeuvred by hand. Drums metal or plastic can accommodate heavier loads up to 50 litres. Jerricans and drums are stackable and suitable for palletised loads.
Dangerous Goods Packing
To transport dangerous goods by rail, inland waterway, sea or air you will need to comply with worldwide and European directives and regulations, and parallel legislation in the UK. They will need to be classified directly so that all the organisations in the supply chain including the emergency authorities understand the potential hazards. Contract Packers providing this service will be experts in this field and provide the appropriate advice, paperwork and packaging.
An Intermediate Bulk Container (also known as a Pallecon) is a reusable industrial container, typically 1000 litres, mounted on a pallet and designed for the transport and storage of bulk dry or liquid substances such as chemicals, food ingredients and pharmaceuticals.
Large vessels for bulk liquids and solids, typically 20,000 litres, for transportation by road and sea.
Whether you require boxes, one pallet or 1000’s to be stored off site, a 3rd party warehouse will provide the solution to holding your stock pending call-off. It offers a safe, secure and clean environment for short- or long-term requirements, with appropriate controls to manage your stock effectively, even at different temperatures, recording inbound and outbound movements.
Pick & Pack
Growing with the advent of e-commerce, picking and packing experts will pick specific customer orders, pack the products into packaging, and despatch via designated carriers to your end customer on a daily basis. With up-to-the-minute stock controls and reporting systems it is a cost effective method for servicing your business needs without the overhead of a warehouse.
The method by which retailers’ and customers are able to effectively manage the end of stock flow, replacing damaged items to customers, or reworking different pack options by stripping out from redundant stock or providing recyclable options where stock has reached its endpoint.
Fulfilment is the term used to describe the outsourcing and management of a supply chain to process orders on behalf of customers and provide a structure for processing and filling them in the most efficient, cost effective and time sensitive manner. Within Fulfilment there are a number of different handling functions that are involved such as warehousing, goods in, pick and pack, despatch and customer liaison, customer reporting and accountability that form part of the overall service offered.
For companies engaged in the buying and selling of products over the internet with virtual store fronts or online catalogues e-commerce partners can help arrange the technological requirements that are needed to support the business; fund transfers, online transactions, supply chain management, data collection and website management, with systems that are secure, economical and up to date.
Omnichannel is a cross-channel content strategy that organisations use to improve their user experience and drive better relationships with their audiences across many different points of contact. Rather than working in parallel, communication channels and their supporting resources are designed and orchestrated to work in unison.
If you require help sourcing a particular product, whether from scratch or as part of a larger package, a procurement agency will work with your budgets and timelines, and with specialist procurement teams both at home and abroad, to support the project to development and delivery. They can also help ensure the finished product is manufactured to the required standards.
Supply Chain Management
Involves the management of goods and services from the start of the production process, from the movement and storage of raw materials, all the way through production, including work-in-progress inventory and finally finished goods, as well as the end-to-end order fulfilment or pick n pack, allowing the customer full visibility of the process.
Promotional campaigns are time sensitive requiring quick response times, collation and packing in both small and large volumes for POS and Retail packs. Supply chain and stock management will help with one-off or year-round promotions, including delivery and pick up after events. Additional services such as over-labelling shrink wrapping, flow wrapping and hand collation help cover every type of promotional or gift activity.
Also known as customisation, it consists of tailoring a service or a product to accommodate specific individuals or groups. The use of personalisation can improve customer satisfaction, digital sales conversion, marketing results, branding and improved website metrics.
For large or small promotional campaigns needing to be mailed to your customer base via traditional or web based methods, a Mailing House will be able to help on every aspect from identifying target markets, to the printing of the material and handling of data and cleansing of lists. They provide the latest technology and infrastructure to make all aspects simple, effective and economical.
Additional rework or added value services often used in the magazine industry such as poly-bagging, poly-banding, tip-ons, cover-mounting, sticker application etc.
Reaches potential customers via various types of printed material, in high or low volumes, usually using a database. A direct mail house will offer a range of services to enhance the mailing, from the latest printing technology to material and format options, pinpointing campaigns to a target market, sending via cost efficient and suitable methods, and offering refined response handling to ensure up to date data capture.
Offered to consumers to reward loyalty, these programmes are managed by fulfilment houses and can include the use of gift cards, customised gifts, e-couponing, branded letters, promotional inserts, electronic/mail delivery and performance measurement.
The management of data on behalf of clients providing bespoke systems, order processing portals, microsites and promotional marketing platforms to help companies with their marketing and ecommerce activity.
Call Centre Services
Where a campaign requires inbound or outbound telephone services, call centre logistics can add value by providing the most professional staff trained in customer care. Whether B2B, B2C or D2C a call centre service can be used in the inbound/outbound requirements for telemarketing campaigns, overflow call handling, lead generation, sales enquiries and importantly will provide you with up to date reporting and data.
For the storage of components or finished goods, from single cartons to thousands of pallets, bulk warehousing and racking, available on long or short term contracts. With the ability to de-stuff containers from overseas, re-palletise goods from bulk and offering strict stock controls and component traceability, warehousing terms can be bespoke to suit your needs.
Get your products to the end customer, whether it is for one box, a pallet, or large scale pallet distribution. Each shipment needs to be handled with specific customer/retailer delivery instructions. By outsourcing Distribution to the experts you will be sure of professional service and able to take advantage of the most competitive rates in the UK, Europe and even worldwide.
The way in which goods and brands are shipped across the globe for worldwide coverage. International Freight experts will help you with the best method for shipping your product, provide specialist help with the completion of customs paperwork and ensure the safe transit to end destination.
The process by which products are handled by the supply chain after their initial shipment. The normal scope would cover customer returns, faulty stock and ensure that these items are disposed of under current guidelines. It also involves the stripping out of products and material for stock rectification to capture additional value.
Designed to offer solutions for the forwarding of freight around the globe. From booking of cargo, arranging for collection and assistance with management of shipping documentation. Using the latest tracking systems to locate your products as they travel across the world from almost any destination.
If shipping products overseas and over long distances, Ocean Freight offers the most competitive method. Even if you have not got an entire container load, freight forwarders will group your shipments with other cargo to find the most economical way of sending your products overseas.
A bonded warehouse contains imported goods on which the duty has not been paid to Customs. The duty is paid on the release of the products to the market. It requires a high level of stock control and security to ensure that the product is kept securely. This normally applies to high value imported items, such as alcohol, and also helps with cash flow. Duty is payable 28 days after release.
HMRC Duty Suspension
EU temporary duty suspension allows the duty free importation into the EU of raw materials, components and semi-finished products which are used in a process to make another product. (This may change with Brexit!)