Now, let’s talk Packaging

Now let’s talk Packaging. In the average packaging department technologists should be involved with research, development, trouble shooting and waste prevention with an eye on economics, innovations and sustainability/environment.

Luckily with my connections at IOM3 I am able to track and become involved with new raw materials and chemistry that could be used in future packaging. There are currently many suggestions emerging with nanotechnology, graphene and electronics in packaging to name but a few.

Electronics will be a future marketing tool for new products in many categories. Some examples are printed batteries in label form, colour change inks and time elapse changes on a label triggered by opening the pack. There are also moves in magnetics, gas barriers and indicator/sensor mechanisms.

It is important to communicate at all stages so discuss those new ideas for materials and processes with marketing and production. A brilliant new material could upset the efficiency of a production line. Also look at the economics and the sustainability angles. Life cycle analysis (LCA) should be employed wherever possible including carbon content.

I am seeing new innovations every day via my numerous global contacts. There are so many suppliers who are eager to explore new ideas and/or modified packaging. Resource efficiency should be the aim of the game. I can offer a complete packaging audit that is most likely to save money immediately.

Looking at production lines there are so many ways one can save money. Talk to the production manager and the line engineer as well as that chat with Joan on the line, who can often flag up problem areas. In some instances a change of line can be most rewarding e.g. shrink sleeving to replace labels or plastic laminates to replace rigid boxes or cartons. Again careful analysis is needed before any changes are made. Look at innovative machinery at exhibitions (Total is due shortly at the NEC) and new names are always coming forward. The PPMA are always happy to advise.

You have been very good and found loads of new ideas via networking, exhibitions magazines and the web. These should be saved for future use – set up a folder on your system and maybe circulate a monthly innovations bulletin to interested parties e.g. production, marketing, Q/C etc.

Waste is very much an area interesting most companies. Collections at home vary from council to council. The main emphasis is to prevent packaging waste going to landfill as this is becoming more expensive month by month. Also it is worth noting that some local authorities were shipping it off to China. This is now going to be regulated more by China. So we must think of re-use and recycling when creating that new pack. There are many companies in the UK who can help with this. If all else fails send to incineration and create energy from the waste.

Why not connect with the KTN website as there are so many new ideas and discoveries spawned at Universities that may spin-off into the world of packaging. Keep thinking all the time even when doing your own research at the supermarket – what is new this week!!

Another undervalued part of packaging is corrugated board. Wherever you go you will find a corrugated box somewhere. Have a look at your own use are you getting the best value? Can a previously used case size be suitable for that new product? If so you may increase buying quantity and lower the cost.

How about anti-countifeiting arrangements? Do you need such protection for your products? The global value of counterfeit items is nigh on $1trillion creating loss of money for the Brand owners and in some pharmaceutical situations life or death. There are so many ways to tackle this.

I will be regularly adding paragraphs in this section. If you have an interest in anything do contact me and I will be happy to help.

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