Interview with Packaging Engineer Zach Deering

Interview with Packaging Engineer Zach Deering

An Overdue Interview

At Rocket Industrial we talk and blog about many of the great things we do but not as often about the great people doing them. That leads me to our newest addition to the team. A young energetic personality that played rugby for UW Stout, snowboards out west, created shelf ready packaging to get pies safely to your door, and interviewed with us for over 3 months to get the job. The man the myth the legend, Mr. Zach Deering our resident Packaging & Performance Engineer.

Zach has dropped, crushed, and shook products till they have failed then went to the drawing board to see how he could make that package better. He specializes in 3D rendering and has over 10 plus years’ experience in SolidWorks. He believes that its not the amount of packaging, it is about putting the right packaging in the right place.

As young children most of us grow up thinking we are going to be astronauts, sports figures, or entertainers. What led you down the path to packaging engineering?

Even when I was young I liked the way things fit together, I was the kid playing with the boxes the toys came in. Design and structures came easy to me and that lead me down the path to engineering at UW Stout. It was there that I really became interested in packaging and all that goes into protecting the products that we use every day.

You have done quite a bit of testing of packaging in your career. What is the craziest thing you have had to test?

So many it's hard to choose one but here are a couple… Hundreds of milk jugs full of water that I had the pleasure of filling and emptying and also ISTA testing pallet loads on the vibration table. Another one would be drop testing food/ beverage nine pack filled glass bottles. Every time I drop the pack I expect a leaking corner or immediate water flow. With the correct design you won't have any glass breaks!

In our talks you had mentioned that you were the go to guy for designing the kind of packaging that didn’t fit in the normal buckets. What was that like and what can you tell us about that experience.

I got my start as a Product Specialist at a packaging company close to Chicago. It was my job to assist all of the outside reps with any packaging design that wasn’t your standard corrugate box or off the shelf option. I had reps calling me from this side of the Mississippi all the way to the east coast with the craziest projects. My job was to come up with a packaging solution, develop all the specs, create a 3D Model, and then fabricate and test prototypes.

Are there any prototypes you can tell us about?

There is one that didn’t end up going to market that I can share. It was a really cool project where the company wanted a locking system on a corrugate container that could be re-used. There were two telescoping boxes that slid together and needed to be locked in place. I came up with a notched plastic plug that would be inserted into a die cut hole in the corrugate that when twisted together would lock the two boxes together. We used our 3D printer to generate multiple prototypes and then die cut the holes into the corrugate. The locking system worked great and the same container was now able to be re-used and shipped back if needed. The customer loved the concept, but like many “projects” not all of them make it to market. I am still keeping that idea in my back pocket for the right application. Don’t worry though I do have more than a few “projects” that you have probably walked by in a store.

What is the biggest thing you want your customers to know about packaging design?

There is a lot to cover in that question. The main thing I tell customers is that they can’t sit idle. Every time I think “well that is pretty well put together”, I see a new innovation come out that changes the landscape of how we package. It could be from a sustainability aspect, a user experience, or a structural integrity whatever way it comes if you aren’t at least looking at the options you could be falling behind your competition. I want to put you ahead of the curve and blow your mind with the newest innovations.

I can tell you are very passionate about packaging design, is there any other passions that we should know about?

Rugby, rugby, and rugby. Well better throw in snowboarding too. I played five years at UW Stout and even for team in quad cities during my internship.

What position did you play?

There are forwards and backs in rugby and I played Inside Center which is considered a back. Loved playing and it was a great team sport that allowed me to travel and compete.

Where is the most memorable place you ever snowboarded?

Believe it or not the first plane flight I was ever on wasn’t till I was 23 years old and I went out to Vail. It was beautiful out there and I had the opportunity to snowboard the back bowls of Vail. It was intense, untouched powder that in some spots put me up to my neck in snow. One of those experiences that will stay with me the rest of my life. Makes it hard to board anywhere else.

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