Are you looking for a packaging company to help you with your first big military contract? Or are you a long-time military supplier who is looking to make a change in your packaging process? The good news is there are numerous military packaging companies out there who can help you. The bad news is that not all of them are right for your specific needs.
It’s difficult to predict whether a packaging company will provide the service and solutions you need to meet your objectives. However, you can ask pointed questions to learn more about a potential partner’s background and experience. With some research and due diligence, you can sort through your options to find the right military packaging company for your needs.
Below are a few questions to ask as you review potential packaging companies:
1. Do they have experience packaging your type of product?
It’s not enough to simply work with a packaging company that has military experience. Ideally, you want a partner who has experience packaging your type of product for military shipments. That’s because the military has very specific rules and guidelines on how different products should be packaged.
You may be familiar with these guidelines via MIL-STD-2073. It’s the military document that specifies how vendors should package different types of materials. The document is detailed and comprehensive, covering everything from the types of packaging materials you can use to Quality Assurance Provisions to leakage and heat-sealed test provisions.
2. What’s their quality assurance process?
When it comes to cash flow, a few days can mean all the difference in the world. Often with military contracts, the difference between getting paid sooner or later depends on the quality assurance process.
After your products are packaged, the shipment has to be inspected by a military quality assurance representative (QAR). This usually happens at both your manufacturing facility and your packaging partner’s facility. The QAR has seven business days to inspect your containers and clear them for shipment.
However, the QAR doesn’t have to wait seven business days. They can perform the inspection within two days if they have availability. The sooner they perform the review, the faster your products ship and the earlier you get paid.
Savvy military packagers have relationships with quality assurance representatives and understand the importance of expediting the QA process. They work to schedule the inspection as soon as possible so you can meet your due date and get paid. Ask your potential packager about their quality assurance process and what steps they take to make it happen quickly.
3. Do they offer warehousing, transport, and logistics?
If you have experience with the military, you likely know from experience that you may sometimes face very tight deadlines. The military moves on its own schedule. Sometimes they may drag their feet to approve a bid or make a payment. Other times they may need parts or products delivered within a tight window.
Depending on your product, you may be able to overcome some of these challenges by warehousing product at your packager’s facility. Then, when you get a rush order, the packager can simply pull the product off the shelf, package it, and get it through the QA process so it can be shipped.
Ask your packager about their warehousing capabilities. Do they have storage space onsite? Can they package and ship on a tight deadline? What are their logistics and distribution capabilities?
4. Can they help you get paid faster?
Your payment doesn’t only depend on packaging, distribution, and quality assurance. It also depends on your ability to navigate the military’s invoicing systems, known as iRAPT, which stands for Invoice, Receipt, Acceptance, and Property Transfer. You may also hear iRAPT referred to as WAWF, which stands for Wide Area Work Flow.
This is an online system the military uses to manage invoices, purchase orders, and other important documents. You’ll use the system to submit receiving reports and invoices, respond to questions, and address concerns. If any part of your documentation or submission is incorrect, your invoice could be rejected. That could delay payment.
Some packaging companies offer administrative support to help you manage the invoicing process. They leverage their knowledge and expertise to minimize issues and expedite payment. That means you can spend less time on navigating the military’s invoicing system and more time focusing on what you do best.
Your packaging partner is a critical element in your military project. Take your time and make sure you choose a partner who aligns with your needs. Look for experience within your industry, warehousing and logistics solutions, and administrative support. The right packaging partner could mean the difference between military success and failure.