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How the ‘Fundamentals’ of packaging have changed

How the ‘Fundamentals’ of packaging have changed

From neophytes to managers, anyone working in the packaging industry can expand their knowledge—and gain or maintain an edge in internal and external relationships—by reading the newest edition of the “Fundamentals of Packaging Technology.”

In June 2014, The Institute of Packaging Professionals released the 5th Edition of the “Fundamentals of Packaging Technology.” At more than 748 pages, this comprehensive edition updated every chapter with new information and graphics, including an expanded section on pharmaceutical packaging. Plus, chapters were added on packaging law and sustainability. And newer topics—such as digital printing, smart packaging, supply chains and e-commerce—received special attention from the nearly 100 experts commissioned to thoroughly overhaul this authoritative textbook.

Jim George, IoPP director of education, explains what has changed and why these changes deserve your attention.

Much of the book was updated with this latest edition. Why do such a comprehensive overhaul now?
George: “Fundamentals of Packaging Technology, 4th Edition” had been on the street since 2009. We decided that rather than continuing to have one author update the entire book, we would leverage the vast expertise of a variety of IoPP members and other industry subject-matter experts, and ask for their collective input in helping us update and expand the new book. It turned out to be a nearly two-year project, but well worth it.

In all, approximately 100 industry professionals contributed to the 5th Edition, providing us much broader and deeper expertise, which enabled us to do such a comprehensive update.

I would like to note that such an undertaking would have been much more difficult without the help of Robert Meisner, one of our IoPP board members, who graciously gave of his time to help coordinate the massive volunteer effort. They say it takes a community to teach an individual, and we believe our approach to the 5th Edition is a great example of that; it’s many of the industry’s most experienced and successful professionals giving back to others working their way up the ladder in our industry.

Please give an example of a significant update in this edition.

George: IoPP’s Drug and Pharmaceutical Packaging Committee, which has representatives from all the major pharmaceutical companies, greatly expanded what previously had been a brief discussion of pharmaceutical packaging. The DPPC turned it into a more comprehensive section of 15 pages that includes new photography, tables, illustrations and references to helpful guidance documents for additional reading. Elsewhere, the book adds a new chapter on packaging law; and expands packaging, sustainable materials and the environment into its own standalone chapter.

What are the benefits of this being a peer-reviewed resource?
George: Our approach for the 5th Edition put many more sets of expert eyes on the content as it moved toward completion. This goes the extra mile not only to ensure accuracy but also assures that the text is more robust from having being reviewed by industry veterans from a variety of perspectives. Beyond that, IoPP Lifetime CPPs were invited to review and update the chapter review questions and also the questions on the IoPP certification exam. We added to our pool of exam questions while also ensuring that chapter review questions are not duplicated on the certification exam.

What area of packaging technology has changed the most from the previous edition and why?

George: The packaging industry has evolved in a number of areas in the past five to seven years. More people are taking a serious look at digital printing for their packaging, bioresins are becoming more commonplace and package design is elevating private-label products to a whole new level of strategic thinking, just to name three examples. These are among the new areas of discussion in the 5th Edition.

How were the graphics updated/enhanced for today’s learners?
George: Some new photography was added as we eliminated some dated images. Many images have been made sharper, and contain updated information where required. Through a special partnership with the Fibre Box Assn., the entire chapter on fiberboard is rewritten, and most of the graphics in the chapter are new, provided by the FBA.

In many areas of the book, links have been added for additional online reading. A few of them take readers to, where we have archived some new information we weren’t able to include in the book.

This book is the official text for the Certified Packaging Professional test. How has the CPP exam also changed to reflect new information?
George: The entire exam has been reviewed to make sure existing questions reflect the content in the 5th Edition. In addition, dozens of new questions have been added to the pool of test questions. The CPP exam draws 150 questions at random, so our larger pool of available questions does an even better job of assuring that each exam is different. By the way, we will begin certification testing to the 5th Edition in the coming months. We recognize there are people who have been taking classes and studying based on the 4th Edition. So for a time, people will have the option of specifying whether they want to test to the 4th Edition or the 5th Edition. Beginning approximately next June, people will be able to test only to the 5th Edition. We will have more information on that in the coming months.

As a side note, IoPP is sold out of the 4th Edition, and it no longer will be printed.

How have the onsite, in person Fundamentals classes changed?
George: They haven’t just yet. Our materials will be updated to reflect the 5th Edition for 2015 classes.

How has the online Fundamentals curriculum changed?
George: All updates to our Fundamentals course are a work in progress. We are reviewing all of our “Fundamentals” course offerings.

Why should packaging professionals invest $285 for a newer edition of the “Fundamentals”?
We know that some industry professionals have continued to use earlier editions of the book for a number of years. The 5th Edition represents a significant content update from the 3rd and 4th Editions, including, as I mentioned earlier, discussions on many new and expanded topic areas. The 5th Edition adds 130 new pages and two new chapters.

And for the first time, we have included a complete answer key within the book for the chapter review questions, to enhance the 5th Edition’s value as a study guide.

While $285 is the standard price for the 5th Edition, but there are ways to purchase it at a lower price—and even get it for free. If you’re an IoPP member, the book is discounted as much as 20%, depending on your tier of membership. Anyone who purchases at least 10 copies of the book gets a special bulk rate of $195 per copy. Anyone who registers for the complete IoPP Fundamentals of Packaging Technology course, whether in-person, online or through our in-house group training program, gets a complimentary copy of the book.

Finally, students who can show proof that they are currently enrolled in an accredited college or university can purchase the book directly from the IoPP bookstore for $171. This is an excellent value for a 750-page textbook that has ongoing value as a reference guide as students move into packaging careers as professionals. Many comparable textbooks in university bookstores sell for $250 to  $300 or more.

How can/should people use this book in their day-to-day job?

George: “Fundamentals of Packaging Technology” is intended to be not only a study guide for IoPP certification, but also a handy in-office reference for providing a variety of information that packaging professionals might need at their fingertips as they make packaging decisions. Often, packaging teams need on-the-spot answers on basic packaging technology. People have often told us they find the book useful for looking up essential information “in the moment.”

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