Who will be chosen as this year’s packaging Visionaries?

By Packaging Digest Staff in Packaging Design on May 07, 2014

How do you measure leadership? Let us count the ways.

Through its Visionary Awards, the UBM Canon Packaging Group pays tribute to people who show vision, innovation and leadership in packaging production, operations, development and design.

We have finished our two-stage judging process, in which the editors of Packaging Digest and Pharmaceutical & Medical Packaging News identified finalists in each of our two categories.

This year we have five finalists in the Packaging Development & Design category and three finalists in the Packaging Production & Operations category.

Our judging panel (see below) has scored these eight finalists to select our Gold and Silver award winners in both categories. All the finalists will be recognized—and the winners revealed!—at a gala event during the EastPack show in New York City on Tues., June 10. The ceremony is held in partnership with the Institute of Packaging Professionals (IoPP). The association will also present its AmeriStar Package Awards and IoPP Member Honors & Awards. Please join us!

Details about the accomplishments of these leaders, along with testimonials from others they have inspired, will be published in the August 2014 issue of Packaging Digest.

A hardy “Thank you!” to our 2014 Visionary Awards judges for their time and expertise:

  • Scott Biondich, group director, immediate consumption equipment and sparkling package development, Coca-Cola North America
  • Oliver Campbell, director, worldwide procurement, packaging & packaging engineering, Dell
  • Jane Chase, senior director, packaging innovation and R&D, The Schwan Food Co.
  • Jim Freund, packaging manager, Hollister
  • Jim Hanna, director, environmental impact, Starbucks Coffee Co.
  • Mark Johnson, director of Package Engineering at KIK Custom Products
  • David Luttenberger, global packaging director, Mintel
  • Pete Macauley, director, global packaging & sustainability, Abbott Laboratories
  • Eva Peters, senior director of  R&D packaging, regulatory, sensory, Pepperidge Farm
  • George Salg, director of engineering, Perrigo Nutritionals
  • Nicole Tom, director of packaging engineering, Hartz Mountain
  • Mark Watts, senior program manager - science & technology, Campbell Soup


This year’s Visionary Awards finalists are (in alpha order by company name):


Development & Design Category

1. Amie Marshall, packaging engineer II, Boston Scientific Corp.

In fast-paced emergent situations where seconds count, gaining access to a medical device inside a carton is critical. Amie Marshall was responsible for driving a design change that impacts how customers interact with the company’s medical device packaging. She was able to bring together multiple novel elements into one Tear Tab design that makes for a more effective and efficient user experience—but, more importantly, saves time in those urgent cath lab cases.

Marshall was able to translate customer and business needs into a solution that saves the company $430,000 annually in packaging costs. A universal design, the Tear Tab closure strip can be applied to every product within BSC that is authorized for restocking; which includes more than 90 percent of the company’s products. Because the Tear Tab helps identify returned products that are resalable, the company has saved several million dollars by being able to restock and resell these items.


2. Ross Christianson, senior packaging engineer (project leader for User Experience Research Lab), Boston Scientific Corp.

Ross Christianson was instrumental in the design, development and implementation of a fully functional cath lab—dubbed the User Experience Research Lab (UERL)—that creates an environment where Boston Scientific can initiate discussions with and obtain feedback from customers. By offering a practical setting to watch and listen to customers, this lab allows Marketing, Packaging and R&D to research, discuss and, ultimately, understand customer packaging wants and needs so they can develop and deliver high-quality packaging and labeling solutions.

During the project, Christianson evaluated the products of major storage and shelving solution vendors for their flexibility and versatility to make sure that the UERL represented multiple storage configurations and accommodated the widest variety of the most common products used in a lab. He has been described as relentless in his actions of gaining the voice of the customer, as well as passionate in supplying packaging with meaningful innovation.


3. Elisha Tropper, president/CEO, Cambridge Security Seals

Elisha Tropper challenged the Cambridge Security Seals product design team to incorporate several packaging considerations into the design of its industrial security seals themselves, insisting that the final packaged product become the starting point for the product design and construction development.

In doing so, Tropper elevated the packaging element of an industrial product from an afterthought to a critical design component. The design team was able to significantly reduce the size of the seals (while also improving their strength) and efficiently stack and pack them into cases so more fit on a skid compared to competitors—adding value for the customer and reducing costs throughout the supply chain.

Tropper had the vision to understand that packaging could and should add value to the product and that, by paying attention to both the package and the packaging line during the product design phase, this value could most effectively be achieved to enhance the product performance.

He was successful in changing the mentality of the product and manufacturing design teams to develop integrated packaging enhancements as essential components to the overall design process.


4. Mother Parkers Innovation and Technology Team: Margaret LaRocque, packaging engineer; Shelby Parkinson, analytical lab technician; Yucheng Fu, product engineering manager; Paul Yang, packaging manager; and Lib Trombetta, director of innovation and technology

The Mother Parkers Innovation and Technology Team ventured into a new category: single-serve beverages. The EcoCup packaging project for the new Higgins and Burke Loose Leaf Tea progressed from concept to market in less than eight months.

The package design—a clear lid and translucent capsule—enhances the consumers’ experience by engaging all five senses: They can see the product through the clear lid, touch the logo embossed on the side of the capsule, smell the aromas, hear the EcoCup click when recycling and taste the product.

One goal of the design was to ensure clean separation of the EcoCup components for recycling and/or composting. A breakaway tab enables the EcoCup to be easily separated by hand.

Determination and passion encouraged the team and continue to drive them. Margaret LaRocque, packaging engineer, says, “If someone tells us it can’t be done, but we know it’s the right thing to do, we continue challenging, and if it doesn’t exist, we will invent it.”

Additionally, the family-run company instills in its employees a strong belief in open and constant communication across all departments, even between senior-level managers and machine operators. Product updates are delivered plant wide: the concept, the vision and consumer feedback.


5. Joe Mase, vp of marketing and business development, Sagent Pharmaceuticals

Reduce medication errors. Save people’s lives. It’s a simple idea that is not so easy to implement in hospitals in the real world. But during the last 10 years, Joe Mase has imagined and executed packaging improvements that make a difference.

At Sagent Pharmaceuticals, he developed the PreventIV Measures program, a comprehensive and proprietary approach to packaging and labeling that helps healthcare professionals accurately distinguish between look-alike, sound-alike products, making it easier for them to select the correct one. Every Sagent product package—vials, syringes and IV bags—features a distinctive design with easy-to-read drug names and dosage strengths on the primary panel.

In 2004, while Mase worked at Baxter, he turned a "negative" thought into a positive solution. Black bar codes printed on transparent IV bags were hard for scanners to read because they didn't have enough contrast with the background. What would happen, he thought, if we printed the white spaces instead of the black bars? Ha! Problem solved, patent issued. The Enlightened HRBC high-resolution bar code is encoded with variable information—the National Drug Code number, lot number and expiration date—and printed online during packaging.

Mase not only has the vision to find innovative solutions, he has the ability to sell his ideas to teams and lead highly engaged teams to accomplish the goals. He is able to keep teams engage and focused, from high-level senior management all the way down to the entry-level team members.


Production & Operations Category

1. Diageo Team Cube: Paul Millar, head of packaging technology; Dawn Reilly, COGS reduction brand change manager; Ray Webb, project engineer; Ian Bell, packaging development technologist; and Donal Comerford, central manufacturing lead

The Diageo Team Cube developed and constructed a radical concept—a low-cost modular production plant for the blending and packaging of spirits—and commercialized it in multiple geographies within 12 months. The solution met operational requirements and saved 60 percent on capital investment.

This was achieved by challenging convention, moving the thinking of a global organization away from the standard and managing the change with all stakeholders.

The project allowed Diageo to enter a new market segment while delivering the required margins. Deployment of the first commercial product to market was 20 percent of normal, allowing a startup within two weeks. And one week after startup, the plant’s efficiency was 94 percent.

The passion and drive of the team influenced others to “act like an owner” and achieve more. Through the trust that developed within the core team and the establishment of peer-to-peer mentoring, each team member—operating within their skill set—stepped up and was accountable for making the professional decisions required to keep the project moving. This resulted in a significant reduction in timelines, as well as the overall demand for resources.


2. Mother Parkers RealCup Operations Startup Team: Stephen Leung, plant manager; Chris Meffen, production manager; Dennis Paynter, president of coffee operations, Lib Trombetta, vice director of innovation and technology; Yucheng Fu, product engineering manager; and Janet Nagy, human-resources manager

Over the course of 18 months, the RealCup Operations Startup Team at Mother Parkers completely gutted the existing Specialty Plant, dedicated to organic coffee and other specialty products, and doubled the size to the current RealCup Plant. Since the conversion, the plant has successfully launched more than 180 individual stock-keeping units, driving growth in its private label and branded business in the exploding category of single-serve coffee and tea.

The team built flexibility into the operations and achieved rapid growth—they expanded from 8 to 126 employees in those 18 months. By operating with full vertical integration and using people in cross-functional roles in both packaging and engineering to maximize on internal expertise, they were able to accelerate the packaging development cycle. Iterations now take about one-tenth the time of a typical operation. By eliminating time between ideas and their realization, the Operations Team is able to push innovation forward on a regular basis. Packaging machines were created to evolve, with plenty of space between stations. The modular design makes parts replacement easy, so machines can quickly be configured to meet the progressing needs.

One way the team motivated others and encouraged continuous improvement was by implementing many of the ideas from their team. More than 15 operator-identified ideas have been turned into solutions, enabling the company to double overall equipment efficiencies (OEE). These operational improvements equate to more than 33,650 man-hours saved.


3. Viva Concepts team: Gregory Hughes, CEO; Greg Hughes, Jr, vp product development, Farid Tabibzadeh, founder; Sam Didear, designer; Rikard Rodin, designer; Jose Barajas, designer

The Viva Concepts team put in hundreds of hours to conceptualize, design and manufacture an exclusive marketing gift with referral cards that their clients (such as dental offices, car dealerships and banks) can distribute to attract and acquire new customers.

They custom-built a production line to create the Vivapak intricate promotional package, which can be customized itself. Along with a machinery partner, Viva production personnel designed, refined, tested and retested a prototype line to produce the slider pack. The automated process is similar to a pharmaceutical carded blister packaging line and includes a banding machine—specially modified to place plastic rotating bands on the slider pack—that eliminated the labor-intensive hand work previously required to produce this product. “[It’s a] genius use of an industry machine meant for other purposes,” says production supervisor Gregory Hughes, Jr.

By designing, producing and customizing a setup box internally, the team took what would have been $60 and brought it down to one fifth the cost. And by setting up an on-demand printing facility, they made possible short runs of custom referral cards at an affordable price.

Since last September, the company’s business has grown from zero to more than 250,000 promotional pieces a month.

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