is part of the Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them. Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

Subcontracting work to other vendors can boost productivity

PTI Outsourcing AdobeStock_57404584
To outsource or not to outsource? These common scenarios for plastic packaging suppliers and others can help determine when subcontracting makes sense.

If you are a packaging supplier or service provider, there is a natural tendency to want to execute all aspects of your client’s needs internally.  However, that may not be the best choice.  In fact, it can be in your best interest to subcontract out certain tasks to boost productivity, improve results, shorten timelines and reduce your financial exposure.

We hope that one or more of the scenarios below may end up motivating you to take a look at your own operation to see how you can improve your output.

Rapid package prototyping

When you are looking at a specific project, you really need to determine from the outset when it makes the most sense to keep something in-house and when it makes sense to hand off.  In short, you have to look at which paths will enhance all aspects of the output.

For example, we were in a situation recently where we were working on a bottle development project that required rapid prototype samples of extrusion blow molded bottles. We discussed it internally and determined quickly that it would make more sense to farm this task out to a trusted partner, rather than invest the time and effort internally.

Since we didn’t envision ourselves scaling to offer that service in the near future, it made the most sense to focus on other aspects of the project and subcontract this one out.  If the demand for that specific service grows, then we would consider adding that as a part of our core business.

Package testing: Keep it internal or send it out?

Testing is a great example when it frequently makes sense to look externally. Of course, it depends on the test required and if you already have the equipment in house. For more elaborate testing that takes place on expensive equipment, you are frequently better off partnering with another vendor, such as an independent testing lab. 

Alternatively, you can go directly to a testing equipment manufacturer. Many of these instrumentation companies offer testing services using their own equipment. It’s also a way for them to build goodwill and brand loyalty, so if perhaps down the road you consider buying a unit, you will have already had some experience with their units.

Specific manufacturing knowledge

As a trusted supplier, there will be times that your customer is going to want you to push development boundaries. This is another example of when it might make sense to partner with someone with a specific expertise on a technique or technology that may not be directly in your wheelhouse. 

Let’s say you have been asked to develop a package that will have a shrink label on it. You might be a packaging expert, but you may not know everything you need to know about shrink labels to make this project a success. Perhaps the customer wants some environmental attributes or information engineered into the label.

Again, this is another example when it doesn’t make sense for you to try to ramp up your capability internally. This is when partnering with a shrink-label expert will enable each party to produce an excellent product in their sphere of knowledge.

So, the next time you embark on a new project—or even if you are in the middle of one—don’t be afraid to move this out of your operations and into the hands of trusted partners. This can oftentimes be more profitable for you, plus provide your customer with the type of service/expertise that will keep them coming back for future projects.

Author Sumit Mukherjee is the chief technology officer of PTI. He has 25 years of experience in preform and container design, materials characterization, process simulation and modeling, and finite element analysis (FEA) for package performance prediction.

About PTI

PTI is recognized as a leading source for preform and package design, package development, rapid prototyping, pre-production prototyping, and material evaluation engineering for the plastic packaging industry. For more information:

Image: Jérôme Rommé/Adobe Stock

TAGS: Business
Hide comments


  • Allowed HTML tags: <em> <strong> <blockquote> <br> <p>

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.