Tell us your packaging stories
Jenni Spinner, Senior Editor -- Packaging Digest, 1/11/2013 11:44:10 AM
This year Packaging Digest is celebrating its 50th anniversary. Over the decades, we've seen quite a lot—new equipment, innovation in materials, bright new designs and other exciting developments.
However, none of the stories we've shared since 1963 would have happened if it weren't for you, our readers. You and your packaging industry colleagues are the force behind the evolution of the packaging industry, and you've witnessed everything: the good, the bad, and the hilarious. Here's an example, courtesy of expert packaging consultant Kenneth S. Marsh, PhD, CPP:
In the early 1970s Dunkin Donuts was the largest distributor of coffee. The coffee was roasted and bagged, then shipped via 40-ft. tractor trailers (before the 53-ft became standard). They roasted beans and they were immediately packaged for quick delivery in order to offer the highest quality. The freshly roasted beans are vacuum packed to exclude oxygen and maintain their fresh taste. They had a minor problem with major implications. After roasting, beans off-gas CO2. Since the bags are shipped very fresh, this off-gassing occurs during transport. Picture a truck full of bags of vacuum packed beans, each of which expanded a bit after packing the truck. So you have approximately 2880 cu. ft. of very tightly packed expanded bags that cannot be removed--a bit of a problem for a fleet expecting rapid delivery.
Roasted coffee flavor rapidly degrades in presence of oxygen, so a vented bag was not a favorable option. The packaging group at Rutgers (lead by Sy Gilbert and during which I was a grad student) developed the one-way valve to allow CO2 release while not allowing influx of oxygen. Problem solved and now a standard component for coffee bean packaging.
We'd love to hear your stories, too--"eureka" moments that led to exciting package innovations, lessons learned from mishaps and amusing discoveries. Please e-mail your tales to executive editor Lisa Pierce, or share them in our LinkedIn group.
Received another one, titled "Working for Steve"
From Tom Magennis, Packaging Engineer, UTC Aerospace Systems
In 1990, after working at Apple for 5 years, I followed Steve Jobs to his new company, NeXT Computer. The new company was still small and as the sole Packaging Engineer, I had a lot of interaction with Steve. As most know, he could, to say the least, be kind of demanding and had an extreme case of ‘attention-to-detailism’. The following illustrate some of those traits;
THE STEAM VENT INCIDENT. I was working on the molded cushions for the NeXT Cube computer. Tooling was complete and the cushions looked very cool (designed in concert with Hartmut Eslinger at Frogdesign). Steve was reviewing the cushions and noticed that the louvered steam vent impressions in the foam were oriented in all different directions (these are those 3/4” diameter pinhole or louvered marks you see in molded foam cushions). He demanded that all the louvered vents be spaced on a 4 inch (+/- 0.03”) grid and all the louvers aligned +/-2 degrees. We had to trash the brand new tool and start over again. The new tool cost twice what the first one did…It’s a detail that I’m sure not one customer noticed but to Steve, it mattered.
THE WHITE BOX INCIDENT. Like most Steve related design elements, our corrugated shipping boxes were bright white with just the 6 color NeXT logo centered on each panel. Since volume was pretty low (the NeXT computers never really took off…), we had to have them silk screened and they cost $26 each. My first day on the job, Steve summoned me to his office to show me a box that had been shipped to and returned from a customer. Naturally , it was dirty and had a bunch of labels all over it. “Fix this (expletives omitted)! I pay $26/box and this is what the customer gets”!? Beginning the next day, our people on the floor handling the boxes wore white gloves and carried big erasers in their pockets to eliminate any scuff marks. The boxes were then shrink-wrapped prior to hitting the distribution cycle.
There were many other interesting interactions during my 5 years there and we created some pretty cool things. Unfortunately NeXT did not survive and was subsequently bought out by Apple…the rest is now history.
Lisa Pierce - 2013-18-1 09:23:40 EST
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