No tube of lipstick, crystal vase, or toy truck travels alone. Items of all kinds — and of every imaginable size, shape, and material — travel from manufacturer to distributor to retailer packed together. Surprisingly complex is the science of making sure that lipsticks aren’t accidently discarded with their packing materials, vases aren’t shattered by inadequate packing materials, and toy trucks don’t lose their little wheels if their box happens to be dropped from a loading platform.

Each year Hughes Enterprises, a packaging company with offices at 2 Industrial Drive in Trenton, holds an expo to show manufacturers and shippers the very latest in technology to get all sorts of goods to their destinations in one piece — and with the least labor and the least expense possible. This year’s three-day Shipping and Packaging Expo begins on Tuesday, May 16, at 9 a.m. at the company’s headquarters. For more information and to register, visit www.hughesent.com/expo2006.

Based on feedback from last year’s event, emphasis will be on executive networking, equipment demos, and discussion with the manufacturers’ representatives. New this year is a talk on innovations in hiring and retaining the right workers by Herb Greenberg, founder and CEO of employment consulting company Caliper, who speaks at 3 p.m. on Tuesday, May 16.

“The theme for this year’s expo is innovation,” Clay Hardy, vice president of sales for Hughes, said in a prepared statement. “Eighty percent of the products and equipment that the manufacturers are showcasing this year are either brand new or significant enhancements to existing lines. We had so many people commenting on the new machines they got to see before our big industry conference, East Pack, last time, that we expanded our focus on innovative offerings this time around.”

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