New medical pouch sealer automates for less

New medical pouch sealer automates for less
The Supersealer SB20 Medical band sealer will debut at MD&M West 2019 (Feb. 5-7; Anaheim, CA).

As medical device manufacturers look to automate their packaging operations, they must weigh capital equipment costs, production speeds and floorspace requirements or limitations. Keeping all in mind, a new economical medical packaging sealer operates at speeds up to 70 feet per minute in a footprint of just 37 inches wide and 30 inches deep.

From OK International, the unit is available in two versions: The Supersealer SS2 Medical hot air sealer and the Supersealer SB20 Medical band sealer. Price and footprint are identical for both. Selection depends on the customer’s pouch material and preference for which machine would best fit their application.

The new systems give medical manufacturers currently using a bar sealer a high-speed automated option without adding significant cost or footprint. According to a company representative, “One of the many benefits is, for the same price as a bar sealer, we add speed.”

Made of stainless steel, the sealer monitors and validates heat, speed and pressure parameters. It seals packages up to 40-mil thick and runs on 110 volts (or 220 volts on request) and 80 to 100 psi clean dry air. A touchscreen—which holds up to 64 recipes—enables operators, managers or quality control (QC) personnel to view machine variables at all times. External ports enable easy calibration.

An optional coding system can be incorporated to apply Unique Device Identification (UDI) codes to pouches in the same operation and footprint.

OK International will debut this new sealer at the upcoming MD&M West show, which is co-located with WestPack 2019 (Feb. 5-7; Anaheim, CA), in Booth 1955. Learn more about these events and register to attend here.

Pack Expo 2018: 8 advancements in food and beverage packaging

Pack Expo 2018: 8 advancements in food and beverage packaging
These eight typify a banquet of food and beverage innovations that packaging professionals feasted on during Pack Expo 2018 last month.

Each of these eight innovations brings something new and different to the food packaging table, accompanied by beverage packaging breakthroughs as well.

One of the best ways to get a comprehensive, wide-angle snapshot view of all things packaging is to attend a world-class show like Pack Expo Intl. The semi-annual iteration that ran Oct. 14-17 in Chicago boasted 2,500 exhibitors across 1.25 million net square feet of McCormick Place exhibit space and drew nearly 45,000 attendees.

There attendees could zoom in on any of a myriad of individual products of interest such as these eight hand-picked selections chosen from among an impressive number of unique food and beverage packaging innovations and launches. Our octet of innovation starts with a barrier tray that looks and feels like kraft paper with the distinct advantage that it can be molded into trays that are recyclable.

Mondi Group impressed attendees with combination paper and plastic perFORMing shallow tray packaging for food products that offers barrier protection. It’s suitable for cheese, meat and other deli foods sold in supermarkets. The breakthrough multilayer formable tray structure eliminates the typical plastic tray to reduce the amount of plastic by 75% while providing a familiar and on-demand natural, eco-friendly look and feel to the packaging with the natural brown kraft paper presentation. The barrier lidding can be obtained by Mondi or another source.

From a technical aspect, the tray material allows a highly symmetrical stretch for pleasing uniformity and the tray’s paper construction allows exceptional printability.

In markets featuring a majority of plastic trays that are typically made of expanded polystyrene, the paper-plastic-hybrid tray provides a distinctive differentiator that can be used on existing packaging lines.

The company is licensing the patented technology from partner Packartis of Switzerland, which has considerable expertise in flexible and formable packaging.

Verena Schnedl, Mondi’s marketing manager, extrusion coatings, tells Packaging Digest that “we now have a certificate from an independent laboratory that rated the material ‘recyclable.’ The recycling rate of course still depends on the individual waste handling structure of the various cities and counties.”

Schnedl indicated there’s plenty of interest in the development. “Trail runs are being conducted now,” she adds.

Manufactured in Austria, perFORMing trays supplied in rollstock are available in Europe and will be shipped to customers in the United States.

Next: NFC development yields smarter, better and faster bottles

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PackEx Montréal 2018 (November 14-15) offers everything from design to manufacturing—concept to market—with valuable free presentations throughout the event at Center Stage. Come explore the latest innovations, processes and new products.

___________________________________________________________________________________

 

While it opens up incredible consumer engagement possibilities including real-time Augmented Reality interaction, a knock to adding near-field communication (NFC) tags to produce smart packaging is that it usually ends up as an add-on sticker or under a label. It turns out that’s a turn-off for major beverage brands who manage big-volume campaigns, not just due to the bump under the label that can undermine a perfect presentation, according Closure Systems Intl.

The main reason: the application of using labels pre-applied with the NFC tags greatly slows down production speeds, a deal breaker for major brands operating high-throughput bottling lines.

What if NFC could be integrated into the packaging via the cap and made seamless on bottling lines?

That’s CSI’s ingenious Talkin’ Caps solution offered by a partnership with Talkin’ Things out of Poland: the NFC tag is sealed inside the polypropylene cap by the plastic liner. And while bottling line rates remain speedy and undiminished, the NFC tag that permits IoT connectivity anywhere remains totally protected.

Referred to by CSI as “Gen 2 NFC,” Talkin’ Caps allow consumer interconnectivity at the point of consumption, giving brand owners the unique ability to have dynamic interaction and gather actionable insights based on consumer location and usage history.

CSI currently offers 28mm, 38mm (shown) and larger diameter Talkin’ Caps caps.

Next: First holographic aseptic cartons bring surprises

 

Holographic cartons were not at all on my radar while roaming the lengthy aisles in McCormick Place. However, as I walked past the Uflex Ltd. booth in the far North Hall a display case of cartons that sparkled caught my eye. I stopped in place and then went over to the shelf to see what this was about, which is exactly what brands want shoppers to do in stores.

The shiny cartons’ debut at Pack Expo was the first appearance of the Asepto aseptic system for beverage products in North America. As startling to me was that global flexible packaging supplier Uflex not only provides the laminated paperboard cartons, they provide the form-fill-seal aseptic packaging production systems as well.

The holographic Asepto Spark and Premium lines are “a new generation of premium packaging with shelf impact,” said marketing manager Sanghmitra Lodh. Using the same laminated structure as conventional cartons, the from-rollstock cartons are made holographic during flexographic printing. The carton materials can be foil stamped and embossed.

Asepto Spark offers holographic distinction in pack sizes ranging from 100mL to 1000mL for markets including milk, juice and alcohol-containing beverages, Lodh pointed out.

The specialty cartons have gained plenty of traction in the company’s home country of India where 10 machines have already been sold in which 2 have been commissioned and eight are being built.

“We have 32 customers in India already using our Asepto Packaging and one international brand in Tanzania, Africa,” Lodh said.

Fresca, the leading brand in India, launched premium Tropical Mix and Guava juices in the 200mL Asepto Spark holographic packs (shown above).

“We’ve had a positive response to Asepto at Pack Expo,” said Lodh, “and we might see holographic cartons in the U.S. market and global market ver soon, too.”

Next: Familiar name moves into resealable FFS liquids

 

This contribution is courtesy of my colleague on Packaging Digest, executive editor Lisa Pierce, who uncovered ValvPak, the first foray into liquids by the resealable packaging specialists at Zip-Pak (Carol Stream, IL).

The new and patented flexible valve technology provides controlled dispensing and spill-proof containment of liquids in flexible packaging. It’s a discrete flexible valve that yields when pressure is applied to the product compartment, enabling controlled dispensing. When squeeze-pressure is released, the valve reoccupies and closes the dispensing channel. The design is based on trapped air bubble within layers of film.

Zip-Pak provides spooled valves for inline application on vertical or horizontal form-fill-seal machines.

A beta launch is planned in 2019, with commercialization in the second half of the year with a global brand owner in the home care or personal care area.

Food and beverage applications are in the future, as well as valved pouches for dosage opportunities, she reports.

It’s also attracting interest in brands involved in ecommerce where, according to Zip-Pak via Pierce, “ValvPak customers centered around ecommerce are looking for less weight, no leakage and concentrated products.”

Next: PET trays enable greener food packaging

Pack Expo served as a large stage for the North America introduction of Klöckner Pentaplast’s Elite tray, the company’s first entry outside Europe in the fresh protein food packaging market. Elite offers a unique recyclable modified atmosphere packaging (MAP) solution using high-clarity—just 5% haze—PET trays thermoformed using up to 95% post-consumer recycled PET. The trays, which are 100% recyclable into other plastic items, support goals that align with a circular economy model.

Justin Glass, kp Americas marketing director, says “This is a new vertical market for kp. And imagine being able to reduce the amount of PET waste from ending up in the oceans or landfill and instead turn them into trays that can also be recycled.”

Glass tells Packaging Digest Elite trays are positioned as a more sustainable option to expanded polystyrene trays and non-recyclable polypropylene trays that use an ethylene vinyl alcohol barrier (EVOH). Key benefits include:

  • Reduced sealing time and temperature to yield higher packaging rates;
  • Excellent sealing, barrier and shelf life to reduce food waste;
  • Superb on-shelf presentation; and
  • High strength, minimum weight trays;

The trays are available in assorted sizes and can be colored if desired.

The corresponding lidding film offers high barrier and anti-fog properties for high clarity and allows for full-color printing. The trays are produced in a facility in Montreal, Canada.

The tray represents a technology transfer from Europe, Glass tells Packaging Digest. “We’re ramping up now for a soft introduction in Q4 2018.” Already, he adds, companies are in beta test.

In a similar vein, kp’s parallel Evolve vacuum skin packaging tray solution also uses up to 95% post-consumer recycled PET and increases shelf life while preserving taste and texture. Evolve trays offer a versatile and compact footprint for easy single packing and hanging tabs for vertical display options.

These sustainably enhanced trays align with the company’s recent #PositivePlasticsPledge (see Unpacking Klöckner Pentaplast’s Positive Plastics Pledge, published September 2018 by PlasticsToday).

Next: Ecommerce refill system debuts

 

The industry had its first look at the ecommerce-optimized Dromo PET packaging system from PTI (Holland, OH) that was launched at the show.

Dromo, which in Greek means road, is a PET bottle engineered specifically for liquid or semi-viscous products sold through ecommerce channels. 

In addition to personal care and household chemical applications, the Dromo bottle could also be used in food and foodservice applications. Ideal would be any ambient-filled liquid or semi-viscous products such as honey, syrup, condiments and more that don’t require refrigeration, according to PTI.

“Consumers have never been more vocal about reducing plastic packaging consumption,” explains Thierry Fabozzi, PTI president. “Along with this has come the significant shift in buying habits, moving away from retail stores toward ecommerce. Different times call for different packaging solutions and that’s what this innovation represents.”

The cylindrical Dromo bottle is a cartridge with opposing flat-side panels that provide sidewall strength and facilitate stacking prior to shrink wrapping into optional double packs. Those flat areas prevent the bottle from rolling and offer a landing place for a label. The bottles can be made from virgin PET or up to 100% recycled PET (rPET).

Up to 75% lighter weight than traditional personal-care PET bottles, the 16-ounce bottle weighs 9.6 grams versus an industry standard 39 gram. The bottles can be embossed and may be sealed with a traditional threaded closure or accommodate a foil seal.

Fundamental to the Dromo system is that brands and consumer adopt a new reusable at-home dispenser; PTI displayed several dispenser styles, each engineered with specific features to address brand preferences.

PTI claims the Dromo bottle offers better evacuation of the product than traditional products bottles because it is positioned inverted with the opening-down position; PTI says it a less messy for consumers than pouch refill systems.

Notably, the expectation is that the secondary packaging requirements for Dromo will also be reduced versus traditional packaging.

The development of Dromo was initiated internally by PTI, which represents a new approach for the company to proactively develop new concepts not tied directly to customer partnerships. Dromo has been in development about a year, according to Fabozzi, who expected to firm up partnerships during the show.

Next: BAP bulks up

A visit at the Aptar Food + Beverage booth yielded several noteworthy introductions, but in this report the focus is on what is certainly the biggest in terms of physical size: The BAP Olympian Closure, a 120mm, much larger version of the Bonded Aluminum to Plastics closure that the company has had available for years for smaller, single-serve size containers. BAP integrates an aluminum laminate seal with a plastic base with convenient pull-ring removal with an attached or separate overcap. Benefits include built-in tamper-evidence and tool-less easy opening.

The new bulked-up version is intended to address consumer frustrations with protein powder packaging and other larger size canisters of granulated and powdered products.

Once the domain of bodybuilders and athletes, a growing number of health-conscious consumers with exercise and healthy living as a high priority are integrating protein products into their diets.

“In the fast-paced era we live in, consumers are placing increasingly higher value on their time and convenience that a brand offers them. Often a simple twist of package to provide rapid access to the product and its safe re-closure is what makes users repurchase a product,” explains Anna Frolova-Levi, Director, global business development, nutraceuticals at Aptar.

This wide snap-top closure allows consumers quick product access without the need to unscrew a cap. Olympian also provides a scoop holder for consumers to attach the scoop to the lid, avoiding mess and product contamination.

Next: Turning bagged products from boring to beckoning

 

The little things do count for something and can be counted on to do more. Take for example a common bag of bread and its twist-tie reclosure or the small plastic tag that’s barely noticed by consumers except to check the sell-by or freshness date printed on it.

Bedford Industries is taking that lowly tag and similar reclosures to the next level and turning them into a mini branded billboard through three new products: ClipTag and CloseIt Tag and CloseIt Clips. The new custom-printed products bring branding and promotional opportunities to otherwise common closures for bagged baked goods, produce, confections, and more. Specialty printing along with different sizes and shapes of clips and tags become the promotional canvas for causes, seasonal pushes such as holiday cookies and other efforts worth highlighting.

Packaging Digest learned that the products are being used by several bakeries.

Lastly, a bonus: A horse and an elephant spotted at Pack Expo

For no other reason than it was attention-getting interesting, these two sightings involving corrugated packaging pointed dramatically and visually to the vendors’ products and capabilities.

First up, the life-size Clydesdale on display at International Paper’s booth pointed to a recent Anheuser-Busch Budweiser in-store promotion. The fall promotion involved designing, crafting and assembling 9-piece micro-fluted horses—some 1,100 in total, according to an IP representative. The project was handled at IP’s suburban Chicago plant in Carol Stream, IL, meaning the in-booth horse didn’t have to travel too far to get to McCormick Place before it was assembled by two salespeople “which shows you how easy that was to do,” added the booth contact while horsing around a bit.

DC Smith’s slowly melting ice sculpture of an elephant—changed daily throughout the show—demoed perfectly the water resistance of the company’s 100% recyclable and repulpable Greencoat box as a far more sustainable alternative to wax-coated corrugated. It’s available for cold and wet products from seafood to produce to poultry and more. The company states that, over the past five years, more than 375,000 tons of the Greencoat boxes were recycled instead of the same amount of wax-coated boxes going into landfill. If you’ll pardon the expression, that’s an elephantine improvement in sustainability.

Stay tuned to Packaging Digest where we’ll be reporting on other innovations that include more “good stuff” from Pack Expo and wherever good new packaging developments and ideas are found.

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PackEx Montréal 2018 (November 14-15) offers everything from design to manufacturing—concept to market—with valuable free presentations throughout the event at Center Stage. Come explore the latest innovations, processes and new products.

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Unpack our ‘Top 10’ of 2018

Unpack our ‘Top 10’ of 2018

What were the top stories in 2018 on PackagingDigest.com? We’ve already shared topic focused lists for food packaging, beverage packaging, ecommerce packaging, sustainable packaging, pharmaceutical and medical device packaging, along with the top packaging trends, packaging production and notable quotables.

But there’s also value in seeing which articles rose to the tippy top, so we’ve also prepared this basic Top 10 list for your (re)viewing pleasure.

It’s interesting to note that half of the articles in our Top 10 list were written in 2016 (two) and 2017 (three). All five pre-2018 articles covered topics that are still current and highly relevant with packaging professionals—sustainability and packaging design.

Enjoy our countdown to the No.1 article of the year!

PlantBottle-video

10. How sustainable are biodegradable and plant-based plastics? (posted in 2017)

Rethinking all aspects of the plastics supply chain in terms of full lifecycle, from sourcing to end-of-life, is the key for manufacturers and major brands aiming to design into a more circular plastics economy.

Top-10-packaging-trends

9. 10 packaging trends and news rockin’ 2018 (so far)

A quick look back reveals what packaging trends and topics caught your attention the first six months of 2018. New packaging designs, sustainability innovations and Amazon-on-ecommerce rise to the top as the most read articles from January to June.

Design-with-intent

8. 10 ways to design sustainable packaging with intent (posted in 2016)

The viability of true sustainability is a complex economic challenge, and the ugly truth is that few consumers, brand owners or municipalities are willing to pay the premium price for cutting-edge sustainable packaging solutions. What can you do now?

Sweets-Snacks-Expo-2018

7. Chew on this: Packaging trends for new sweets and snacks

The booming business of candy and snacks took center stage in Chicago’s McCormick Place May 22-24 at NCA’s 2018 Sweets and Snacks Expo. Here are 10 nifty new items and fascinating trends on display at the show.

No-BPA-can-linings

6. Most food cans no longer use BPA in their linings

At least 90% of today’s food cans have replaced linings that previously contained the controversial chemical bisphenol-A (BPA), according to the Can Manufacturers Institute. This is in reaction to market demands for more options in food safety.

Exiting-design-trends

5. 5 packaging design trends on the way out in 2018 (posted in 2017)

Say ba-bye to overly masculine packaging graphics, tiny type and boring colors. As 2017 wound down, new emerging trends showed these dated designs the door.

8-hits

4. 8 sustainable packaging hits of 2017 (posted in 2017)

Projects by Coca-Cola, McCormick and Procter & Gamble led our top sustainable packaging articles of the year, with some of the highest page views of all stories posted this year on PackagingDigest.com. Follow us down a rewarding path of sustainable packaging achievements and new ideas, starting with a company that has 23 billion-dollar brands…

Delici dessert cups

3. Decadent Delici dessert packaging designed for Costco (posted in 2016)

Premium desserts sold at Costco in heavyweight glass cups trayed and sleeved in 6-packs are presented in a decadently tasteful packaging design.

Amazon SIOC example

2. Amazon incentivizes brands to create Frustration-Free Packaging

In mid-September, Amazon sent letters to thousands of brand-owner vendors affected by a new packaging program. So if you were wondering whether to design or redesign your packaging for the ecommerce channel, this might help you decide.

And, ta da…

You-know-youre-a-packaging-engineer

1. You know you’re a packaging engineer if

Do you cringe when you hear someone say cardboard? Or have an irresistible urge to scold a person when you see them rip open a package in a way that ruins the reclosable feature? Here are some entertaining answers our Packaging Digest audience submitted when we asked them how they would finish the sentence “You know you’re a packaging engineer if…”

We’ve received some new submissions and will share those in early 2019. If you’ve got a saying to add, please do that here.

What topics do you want us to cover in 2019? Please comment below. Thanks for reading!

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In addition to leading suppliers showing the latest solutions in labeling, automation, food packaging, package design and more—WestPack 2019 (Feb. 5-7; Anaheim, CA) gives you access to the industry's leading educational offerings with the 3D Printing and Smart Manufacturing Innovations Summits, the MD&M Medtech Conference and free industry education at the Expo. Register to attend today!

6 striking pharma and medical packaging developments in 2018

6 striking pharma and medical packaging developments in 2018
What were the top healthcare packaging issues in 2018?

Sterilization, integrity testing, anti-counterfeiting, logistics and supplier sourcing remain top concerns of packaging professionals at healthcare product manufacturing companies, based on page views during 2018 at PackagingDigest.com.

Our countdown of the half-dozen pharma/medical device top articles of the year starts with glass vials, which still represent about one-third of the glass packaging market share for pharmaceuticals. The purity of glass makes it a go-to packaging material for many drugs that are sensitive to contact-contamination. According to Grand View Research, “The global pharmaceutical glass packaging market size was estimated at US$12.84 billion in 2016. It is projected to witness a CAGR [compound annual growth rate] of 6.3% from 2017 to 2025.”

 Valor-Glass-vials

6. Corning prepares for demand for Valor Glass

Kyle Hoff, applications engineering manager at Corning, describes three differences in the company’s new Valor Glass for pharmaceutical vials launched in 2017.

1. A different “network former” creates an aluminosilicate glass by eliminating boron from the composition. “Boron used in conventional glass volatizes during vial manufacturing creating different glass chemistry in the drug-contacting region of the container, which can lead to chemical attack and glass flake (lamellae) formation,” Hoff says. “The aluminosilicate glass does not have boron, so the volatilization mechanism does not occur, leading to a uniform and chemically durable glass chemistry on the entire inside of every Valor container.”

2. To increase the strength of the container, Corning opted for an “ion exchange” for a stronger glass. “It is a simple concept—ions exchange out of glass into a salt bath to reach equilibrium,” he explains. “We added a large ion, leading to higher compression strength.”

3. For damage resistance, an external coating with a low coefficient of friction minimizes glass particles from shedding and wearing away components on filling lines, and maximizes manufacturing throughput because the vials slide past each other.

NEXT: Leveling about logistics

Pelican-pharma-shipping

5. What’s the future of pharma shipping?

Few markets are immune to supply chain changes due to ecommerce and direct-to-consumer shipping—including pharmaceuticals.

Kevin Lawler, vp of sales for Pelican BioThermal, identifies four ways logistics for pharmaceuticals might change in the near future.

1. With biologics…temperature-controlled requirements will evolve to support both raw materials as well as finished goods. “When it comes to cold chain for a patient-centric approach, stakeholders will need to first develop a detailed understanding of the requirements and then develop a plan and solution to support the cold-chain transport,” Lawler says. “The value of each therapy is typically quite high, so there is little tolerance for any error or excursion.”

2. Direct-to-patient shipping will be both ways. Patients will send samples that they collect back to the manufacturer, as well as receive drugs. Lawler says, “It’s a very personal, and very costly, treatment.”

3. Regarding sustainability, specifically for cold-chain distribution, Lawler says, “Many stakeholders are looking to balance their packaging by lane using a combination of reusable and single-use packaging.”

4. And as far as regulations go, not a lot of change is expected. “Although GPS, the Internet of things (IoT), and many other data-tracking analytics for high-value payloads are increasingly popular topics, from a life sciences perspective nothing from the FDA or Europe’s Good Distribution Practices (GDP) suggests new regulations are on the short-term horizon,” Lawler says. “However, we are hearing more about a potential new mandate from China FDA (CFDA) requiring shipments to be monitored for temperature along with GPS and other data points. Being the world’s second largest pharmaceutical market, a mandate such as this could increase the demand for this new technology worldwide and across industries.”

NEXT: Countering counterfeiters

Optaglio-anti-counterfeiting

4. What you need in anti-counterfeit packaging today and why

Pharmaceuticals aren’t the only products that rely heavily on anti-counterfeiting features on their packaging—luxury goods and high-end salon products subject to diversion represent a fair chunk of affected markets. However, the global drug trade suffers heavy annual losses from clever counterfeiters and manufacturers need to keep up with innovations in packaging to thwart counterfeiters.

In this article, experts with anti-counterfeit research organization and global leader in advanced security holograms Optaglio explain how the anti-counterfeiting landscape is changing and give a summary of critical general guidelines.

For example, too many protective elements on a package can create confusion with inspectors rather than enhance security. The authors recommend up to three large visible elements, along with a hidden level of protection from various technologies such as microscopic markers, protective fibers, plastic microparticles and micro-holograms.

NEXT: Package integrity tests

Package-integrity-test-methods-2018

3. Medical device package integrity test methods: 2018

Medical packages must be tested to assure the sterile barrier has not been breached. But which test is best?

With so many different options for medical device package integrity testing, wouldn’t it be great to have them all laid out in one document with explanations and pros and cons? In this free 25-page report, veteran medical packaging journalist Daphne Allen outlines the available package integrity testing methods, along with exclusive research on the most-used tests. Learn about:

• Bubble Methods

• Visual Method

• Dye Penetration Methods

• Decay Measurement

• Tracer Gas

• Airborne Ultrasound

• Vaccum Deflection

• Mass Extraction

If you are responsible for testing the integrity of sterile barrier systems for medical devices, you need this definitive guide. Download your free copy by clicking the headline above.

NEXT: Medical packaging basics

Medical-packaging-basics

2. Medical packaging 101: Basics medical device companies need to know

This primer from leading medical device packaging supplier Steriliant LLC discusses package design considerations, sterilization options, package testing requirements and validation processes.

The conclusion? “Oftentimes, especially with companies working on their flagship product, the product is the star that gets top billing. Think of packaging as the supporting actor who steals a scene or two. Because packaging involves many design and testing aspects, it is best to start its development as soon as possible in the product’s development. Also, to avoid costly mistakes, make sure to work with experienced packaging professionals who know the appropriate testing procedures that meet requirements of the governing agency, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).”

NEXT: A mega-supplier emerges

1. New Amcor: Assessing the impact of the world’s largest manufacturer of consumer packaging

Few markets are tied so tightly to their packaging suppliers. But in the highly regulated pharmaceutical and medical device businesses, long strategic partnerships are standard operating procedure, partly because of the arduous and costly validation process. Once a packaging material has been selected, tested and validated for use, it often takes a major event or disruption to induce a change.

So whenever a significant merger or acquisition takes place in the packaging supplier community serving the pharmaceutical and medical device industries, it gets a lot of attention.

On Aug. 6, 2018, Amcor announced it was buying Bemis in an all-stock deal worth US$6.8 billion. The combined company will be a packaging powerhouse, geographically and in four segments: flexible packaging, rigid plastic packaging, specialty cartons and closures.

While healthcare represents only 12% of the mega-packaging-supplier’s sales, the impact is still staggering because it represents $1.56 billion of the combined company’s $13 billion annual sales.

At the time, I wrote, “I wonder what advantage the New Amcor might have in global sourcing of aluminum/foil for barrier packaging for its food and healthcare markets.”

Are you a customer of Amcor? How has your experience with them changed or not changed since the news broke?

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In addition to leading suppliers showing the latest solutions in labeling, automation, food packaging, package design and more—WestPack 2019 (Feb. 5-7; Anaheim, CA) gives you access to the industry's leading educational offerings with the 3D Printing and Smart Manufacturing Innovations Summits, the MD&M Medtech Conference and free industry education at the Expo. Register to attend today!

7 ecommerce packaging bombshells in 2018

7 ecommerce packaging bombshells in 2018
Photo credit: Vlad Kochelaevskiy – adobe.stock.com

News about egroceries, a case for branding, the pros and cons of ecommerce repacking, and Amazon (x4!) prove that online is where the action was at in 2018.

As consumers and businesses do more and more shopping on their laptops, tablets and phones, the need for products—including refrigerated or frozen groceries—to be shipped in packaging optimized for this channel increases.

Here are the top seven ecommerce-packaging-related articles that were posted on PackagingDigest.com in 2018, based on number of page views from our worldwide network of packaging professionals.

Tetra Pak egrocery report

7. Report delivers the goods on the egrocery packaging market

Mega-packaging supplier Tetra Pak focused its annual Index study for 2018 on growth and opportunities around egrocery. The research revealed four omni-channel packaging trends:

1. Convenience: This will be the main driver for online consumer take-up, as time-crunched consumers look for new ways to make their life easier. Key opportunities include easy product replenishment, voice ordering and convenient packaging.

2. Sustainability: Pressure on plastic and awareness of the circular economy will continue to grow, and recycling will become ever more important. Consumers want to know whether brands are “doing the right thing.”

3. Personalization and uniqueness: Customization of products and personalization in the consumer journey will be important differentiators going forward. This is accelerating the direct-to-consumer trend and as many as 80% of consumer packaged goods companies are predicted to migrate to this model by 2025.

4. Technology and performance: Super-fast delivery in as little as 10 minutes is expected by 2025, changing consumer behavior to buy more frequently and in smaller amounts, adding more complexity to the logistics. Supply chains will continue to be transformed by a raft of technologies, notably radio-frequency identification (RFID) and robotics, boosting efficiency and transparency.

Download a free copy of the report by clicking here.

NEXT: Solving the repacking problem

Ecommerce repacking

6. Ecommerce repacking: Necessary evil or godsend?

When consumers order a product online, it more often than not arrives in the same packaging seen on brick-and-mortar store shelves—just inside a shipping box. When fulfillment houses (Amazon, for example) do any additional packing (like wrapping a product in cushioning), they charge the brand owner a fee for “repacking.” That can get costly and, honestly, isn’t the most effective in protecting the product on its way to the customer. The whole process is inefficient, costly and not sustainable.

To fix the repacking problem, consumer packaging expert Michele Barone of PA Consulting Group shares seven provocative ideas.

Incremental solutions:

1. Reduce the amount of material in the secondary case through more efficient designs to cut repacking costs by approximately 10%.

2. Design cases for easy and efficient repacking, which can save material and labor costs by 25% to 30%.

3. Consider returnable packaging, which could eliminate repacking material costs. Returnable cases can incorporate sensors and connectivity features to monitor product, and environmental and location data—generating more efficiency throughout the supply chain to offset higher initial costs.

Transformational solutions:

4. Invest in flexible packaging equipment that could effectively handle a range of pack formats, reducing or potentially eliminating the need for repacking.

5. Consider a distributed packing model. This method breaks down the packing process into multiple stages, which are completed as the product goes through the supply chain. For example, companies could ship semi-finished cases and add products or print to the case at a warehouse close to the final destination.

6. Eliminate corrugated cases. If the primary pack is strong enough, products can be connected using adhesives, bands and tapes.

7. Design for omni-channel. The approach can focus on developing formats suitable for multiple distribution channels, or innovative ways of building product collations without the need for repacking. The challenge is to identify a single pack design that is able to fulfill a complex set of requirements from retail and ecommerce distribution and consumer across all touchpoints.

NEXT: Nestlé weighs in on the question of “branded” ecommerce packaging

Nestle on Target dot com

5. 4 reasons branded packaging is vital in an ecommerce world

Amazon’s senior manager of packaging – sustainability Brent Nelson says brand owners don’t have to go to extremes with what he calls expensive “romance” design aesthetics because ecommerce sales aren’t as dependent on the package’s shelf impact like they are in physical retail stores. That’s true.

But Walter Peterson, packaging sustainability manager at Nestlé USA, and sustainability guru Bob Lilienfeld see other reasons why branded packaging is vital for products sold online.

Here are their first two:

1. If it were not for brand identity, graphics and messaging, customers might not choose your product from the sea of available products on a webpage, which could be the consumer’s first point of online interaction with your brand.

Key point: The package doesn’t merely protect the product, it protects the brand.

2. When consumers get the shipment and open the box, the best signal for confirming that they received the right product is that the package inside matches what they saw and purchased online.

Key point: The quality of the primary package directly confirms and reinforces the value of the product(s) it contains.

Read the last two points by clicking the headline above.

NEXT: The Amazon Effect

Not surprisingly, the top four ecommerce-packaging-related articles in 2018 on PackagingDigest.com all involve Amazon, the ecomm leader in most of the world. The company has been pretty active this year in working with the packaging industry on solutions that are optimized for Amazon’s fulfillment centers and for small-parcel shipping. Benefits of optimized packaging designs for ecommerce, according to the A to Z etailer, are:

• An improved consumer experience;

• Minimal negative impact on the environment;

• Lower “delivered” costs.

Jabil Dash smart packaging

4. Smart packaging helps boost Amazon’s auto-replenish service

Auto-replenishment is the bomb in ecommerce! And Amazon’s Dash Replenishment Service—which provides consumers unprecedented convenience for automatic product ordering—now interfaces directly with smart packages from Jabil Packaging Solutions. When products are running low, the “connected” containers sense that and trigger a new order from Amazon.

Analysts on Amazon FFP VIP

3. Packaging analysts applaud Amazon’s new incentive program

Shortly after Packaging Digest broke the news of Amazon’s new Frustration-Free Packaging Vendor Incentive Program (see #1 below), we reached out to six packaging experts to get their opinions. All had mostly positive things to say:

Brian Wagner, co-founder and principal, PTIS LLC: “This will likely be the ‘kickstart’ that many companies needed to truly design packaging for the ecommerce channel.”

Matt Dingee, co-founder and chief operating officer, OnPoint2020: “Brands will discover that there are many sustainability and business benefits beyond compliance.”

Nina Goodrich, director, Sustainable Packaging Coalition, and executive director, GreenBlue:“Amazon has shown that it is possible to approach packaging differently. It has redefined the ‘job that packaging is hired to do.’”

David Luttenberger, global packaging director, Mintel: “Amazon considers itself to be a sustainability company, not an ecommerce retailer or logistics/distribution company. Everything it does reflects that mindset, and its package testing protocol is just one facet of a multi-faceted plan to prove that day by day, package by package.”

Jonathan Quinn, chair of AMERIPEN Ecommerce Working Group and market development manager, Nova Chemicals: “While design incentivizes are a step in the right direction, there are other system challenges that need to be taken under consideration as we seek to incorporate sustainability into the design of a sustainable ecommerce packaging system.”

Bob Lilienfeld, principal, Robert Lilienfeld Consulting, and editor and publisher ofThe ULS (Use Less Stuff) Report: “Amazon has pushed its program closer to where the logical decision makers have influence: supply chain management.”

Packaging Digest wants to know what you think too. CLICK HERE to take our quick poll now.

Rieke leak-free sprayer

2. How Amazon developed a leak-free trigger sprayer

Working with closure manufacturer Rieke Packaging, Amazon solved one of its trickiest problems: Preventing liquids—even those with minimal product viscosity—from leaking during distribution in the small-parcel environment, where packages could be oriented in any direction at any time in their journey.

Rieke’s new Ultimate-E (ecommerce) trigger sprayer hits on three critical criteria:

1. It eliminates leaks, rather than simply reduces or contains them.

2. It maintains customer convenience because there are no inner seals to remove, meaning the product arrives ready to use.

3. It allows consumers to remove the closure—to refill the bottle, for example.

Amazon SIOC example

1. Amazon incentivizes brands to create Frustration-Free Packaging

In my opinion, our #1 ecommerce packaging article is the biggest news of the year because of its significance and potential for dramatic positive change in ecommerce packaging.

If you haven’t heard by now…

To help reduce packaging waste and improve efficiency of ecommerce shipping for its vendors, Amazon will require that select products being sold and fulfilled by Amazon arrive in its fulfillment centers in certified packaging under its Frustration-Free Packaging (FFP) program. This means that the packaging does not require any shipping preparation or an overbox to be applied.

The incentive? For each stock-keeping unit (SKU) arriving in certified FFP by the 2019 deadlines—Aug. 1 for the U.S. and Canada, and Oct. 1 for six European Union countries—Amazon will give vendors a one-time credit of $1. After the compliance deadlines, every product not in certified Frustration-Free Packaging will be charged a $1.99 fee.

I agree with Wagner’s assessment above in #3. Can’t wait to see all the new, ecommerce-optimized packages you guys are working on now.

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In addition to leading suppliers showing the latest solutions in labeling, automation, food packaging, package design and more—WestPack 2019 (Feb. 5-7; Anaheim, CA) gives you access to the industry's leading educational offerings with the 3D Printing and Smart Manufacturing Innovations Summits, the MD&M Medtech Conference and free industry education at the Expo. Register to attend today!