"About 10 percent of the packaging in stores serves no useful purpose," says Tom Lange, Procter & Gamble's senior director of modeling and simulation. "It doesn't protect the product. It doesn't improve the customer experience. It doesn't do anything. It's only in there because no one engineered it out." Or designed it out, we'd like to think, but we understand Lange's bias as he comes from an engineering background.
Lange's quotes were given to Reed Business Information's Design News as part of an article examining the role of "virtual design" at product giant P&G. As the article points out,
"Virtualization is enabling P&G brands to co-design products with consumers. The same technologies allow us to show retailers virtual in-store displays for half the cost and less than half the time required for physical shelf designs. Computer modeling and simulation saved P&G about 17 years of design time in the last year alone."
One of the P&G products developed through heavy virtualization is the AromaSeal canister shown above, which replaced its 150-year-old antecedent, the metal can. The new, lightweight, polyethylene containers are dent-proof and engineered with enough structural integrity to stand up to pallet stacking for shipping. It also has a special internal valve, which means it can be filled and sealed immediately; coffee packaged in metal cans must be left open for a period of time before it can be sealed, so the coffee can "off-gas." The new container's internal valve allows internal off-gassing.
If the above information is too geeky for you, stop reading here; but those interested in all of the design benefits of virtualization, at least to P&G, should definitely check out the rest of the article.