Why We Need to Step Up Automotive Parts Packaging in the Race to Electric
For the month of February, the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) reported positive news for the UK’s automotive manufacturing sector. Car production was up 13.1% year-on-year, largely driven by a lift in export numbers. In fact, four in five (81.2%) cars made in February were destined for markets overseas!
These figures come as a welcome relief to automotive manufacturers who have been up against some hefty supply chain challenges since early 2021. And with only seven years until the industry’s mandatory transition away from petrol and diesel car production to hybrid or fully electric, we’ve been thinking about how the sector can use this momentum to get the wider sustainability wheels of the EV supply chain in motion. Naturally for us, that starts with automotive parts packaging that does not compromise either the component or the planet.
The Current EV Market in the UK
One of Britain’s best-known automotive manufacturers, Bentley, has chosen home soil to develop and build their first-ever battery-powered electric vehicle (EV). It won’t just be the car rolling off the production line that’s been electrified – as part of their £2.5bn investment to sustainability, Bentley’s ‘Dream Factory’ concept has already established a carbon-neutral factory and strives reduce the manufacturer’s water, waste, and other environmental impacts to zero.
From the batteries powering the next generation of vehicles to the metal components that make up the typical chassis, the materials that Bentley and other British car manufacturers choose to protect valuable parts can add another fleck of green to even the most environmentally-friendly vehicle. Thinking outside-of-the-box, literally, and the design of the box that houses each component offers enormous opportunity to optimise handling efficiencies.
Packaging for Automotive Components
Vehicles can contain up to 25,000 component parts, each with varying degrees of fragility. Higher-risk components require packaging that’s been engineered to both securely hold the product in place and act as a barrier to breakage. With exact measurements of a specific part’s measurements, we can use bespoke design to produce packaging that increases the efficiency of packaging, unpacking, and removal activities on the production line. Plus, when only the appropriate amount of packaging is used, we’re making an active contribution to the growing wealth of opportunities that enable us to reduce waste and work towards a closed automotive manufacturing loop.
The Need for Speed in Automotive Supply Chain Innovations
And it’s this bigger picture thinking that’s becoming incredibly important if our £67bn automotive sector wants to stay in the fast ‘green’ lane. Despite February returning prosperity to the sector in the UK, the global race for pole position in the EV manufacturing revolution is increasingly competitive. The second month of 2023 saw the EU publish its Green Deal Industrial Plan that aims to ‘enhance and protect European industrial competitiveness and manufacturing capacity’ to deliver prosperity. And over the pond, the US has supplied $370bn to its Inflation Reduction Act which hopes to accelerate the transition to a clean energy economy via funding, programs, and incentives.
We need to consider how we can capitalise on trends that are well-established to continue to secure investment to our automotive sector. Just as we reuse our shopping bags, packaging that’s high-quality can be used multiple times to reduce the otherwise huge amounts of packaging waste generated per single trip.
Corrugated cardboard has proven itself to be one of the materials most suited to multiple trips, thanks to its durable makeup. Made from a minimum of three layers, a flute fills the inner and outer layers to provide the strength that withstands more wear and tear than a traditional solid-board. Its long lifespan and recyclability are two characteristics that are making the material an increasingly favoured option in the race to improve automotive packaging, and why Autocharge selected our corrugated solutions to package their latest steering rack.
An Empowered UK Manufacturing Sector
With hybrid, plug-in, and battery EV output up by 72.2% in February in the UK, it’s great to see our nation’s proud manufacturing history coming to the fore once more. Combined with a growing foundation of advanced automotive manufacturing and R&D led by a skilled workforce, confidence is steadily finding its footing again and helping us win green growth and jobs. The figures point us in the right direction, with £10bn worth of fully electric or hybrids exported last year.
And if BMW Group switches production of its next-generation of Mini EVs to Oxford over its original plan of China, then pedal will really be to the metal for the UK to gain significant ground in the race to electric. To ensure continued investment in our automotive sector, manufacturers should now look wider than the EV conveyer belt to ensure the entire manufacturing production is as efficient, cost-effective, and sustainable as possible.
Learn more about how you can apply our range of corrugated cardboard packaging to your automotive parts and components by speaking to our expert team!