Medical Equipment Packaging Case Study: Sonoco Provides Reusable Packaging Solution for Fragile Device

Sonoco Protective Solutions
Major Medical Equipment Manufacturer – TransGuard Case Study
June 10, 2013

Packaging in the medical industry is subject to stringent specifications when it comes to dirt and other types of contamination as well as sometimes protecting extremely fragile/sensitive parts that can be very expensive.

As is the case in the automotive industry, where TransGuard has really been selling well; the components in medical devices need a type of packaging that is durable and resilient; able to protect fragile, complex parts from shock and vibration; protect surface class A finishes on parts; and in many cases, protect sensitive electronics.

A major medical OEM and manufacturer of various types of medical diagnostic equipment, assembles hemodialysis machines in one of their facilities.  One of the components of that hemodialysis machine, the manifold, is a complex part with sensitive electronics, wires, tubes, circuit boards, and solenoids in addition to being very oddly shaped.   This manifold needs to be shipped from where it is made to where it is assembled and thus requires packaging.

Hemodialysis manifold packaging

Figure 1: Original packaging design for the hemodialysis manifold.

The original packaging that the OEM was using for the Hemodialysis manifold, shown in Figure 1, was a die cut fabricated foam piece inside a plastic corrugated box. This packaging wasn’t holding the manifold in place precisely and was allowing too much dirt and other contamination to get into the part, so clearly the engineers needed a better solution.

Figure 2:  a) 3D CAD model of the tote without the manifold

Figure 2: a) 3D CAD model of the tote without the manifold

Figure 2:  b) 3D CAD model of the tote with the manifold

Figure 2: b) 3D CAD model of the tote with the manifold

Figure 2: c) a picture of the CNC prototype of the new tote design.

Figure 2: c) a picture of the CNC prototype of the new tote design.

Enter one of the first TransGuard applications for the medical industry.  This application is perfect for TransGuard because it is a complex part with sensitive surfaces that can be uniquely held in place by Sonoco’s custom molded EPP foam.  With the original die cut fabricated design, the part could only be held in a two-dimensional fashion, but with the molded foam solution, the part can be held in a three-dimensional fashion, which is clearly what is needed for a complex, sensitive part such as this.

The final design, shown in Figure 2, has room for two manifold components per tote and takes up less space than the fabricated version, thus allowing the OEM to put more on a pallet and save space, time, materials, and ultimately money.

Figure 3:  Stacking and nesting feature of this Major Medical OEM TransGuard tote was designed to lock tightly to prevent dirt and debris from getting into the parts.

Figure 3: Stacking and nesting feature of this Major Medical OEM TransGuard tote was designed to lock tightly to prevent dirt and debris from getting into the parts.

In the automotive industry, it is common for TransGuard totes to be made out of 3.0pcf EPP, which is already very durable, but in this case, 3.75pcf was used to improve durability and ensure protection of the part.

In order to prevent dust and dirt from getting into the parts, a TransGuard Stand Alone tote was used and was designed to stack and lock tightly together to prevent debris from getting into the parts, as shown in Figure 3.
Figure 3:  Stacking and nesting feature of this Major Medical OEM TransGuard tote was designed to lock tightly to prevent dirt and debris from getting into the parts.

Finally, this tote was designed such that it is 1/6 of a footprint of a standard 48” x 45” pallet.  Now the customer can just buy two reusable, plastic pallets with seatbelts (common in the automotive industry and easy to source) to ship their products instead of banding, stretchwrap, and other non-reusable packaging that had to be thrown away with each shipment.

Key Takeaway:
TransGuard is an ideal solution because it is a complex, sensitive part that needs to be protected from shock and vibration during shipment.  Additionally, the part needs to be held in place in a precise orientation to protect the surface finish and be sealed tightly to prevent dirt and other debris from getting into the electronics.  The TransGuard Stand Alone Tote is the perfect solution to achieve all of these requirements as well as save space in the unit load and allow for reuse and less packaging wasted and/or thrown away.

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