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Articles from 2016 In February

Are Americans willing to pay for zero waste packaging?

Are Americans willing to pay for zero waste packaging?
The Zero Waste Box helps consumers and businesses achieve waste reduction goals in an easy to manage and simple way, especially if municipal recycling programs and other options are insufficient.

At my company, TerraCycle, we’re always asking ourselves what the next recycling innovation we can bring to consumers might be. Our first answer came in the form of free consumer-facing collection and recycling programs (sponsored by major brands and consumer packaged goods companies) for pre- and post-consumer packaging waste streams. While this free model has seen a lot of success, our capacity to collect and recycle is limited by the funding we are able to secure from our sponsors. To solve for this economic gap and engage with even more consumers, we began asking ourselves a new question: Are consumers willing to pay a premium for zero waste packaging solutions?

Enter the Zero Waste Box, our newest recycling model for difficult-to-recycle packaging waste streams. Using the Zero Waste Box is easy: purchase a box, fill it with waste and send the full box back to TerraCycle for recycling. This waste collection and recycling model avoids any need for corporate sponsorship, and gives us a chance to offer consumers a far wider range of recycling solutions for packaging waste typically destined for landfill.

In 2014, we launched this new zero waste model with Staples Canada, listing hundreds of Zero Waste Boxes on Despite our initial uncertainty about premium recycling options for packaging waste, the Canadian launch saw success quickly and won Environmental Leader’s “2015 Top Product of the Year Award.” With a benchmark for success set, we were able to grow our partnership with Staples and finally bring the Zero Waste Box platform to American consumers. Just this year, we started listing our Zero Waste Boxes on

Despite a successful launch in Canada, a premium waste collection and recycling model of this scale remains largely untested in the United States. Leading into our recent launch with Staples U.S., the question remained: Will American consumers pay a premium to recycle packaging waste they can’t recycle through traditional means?

Our free recycling programs have been incredibly successful for years here in the U.S., so we know that an interest in zero waste packaging solutions already exists. Through these programs, millions of people and tens of thousands of schools and community groups are collecting and recycling materials and products that, previously, were unanimously considered “waste.” And with more than 60 million people across the world collecting through a TerraCycle program, we know that support for alternative recycling options (especially for difficult-to-recycle packaging waste streams) is there.

We also know that sustainability remains a top concern in the consumer products market and packaging industry. Many consumers are willing to purchase sustainable products at premium prices, and more consumers today are creating waste reduction and zero waste goals for themselves and their families. The Zero Waste Box helps consumers achieve some of those sustainability goals in an easy to manage and simple way, especially if municipal recycling programs and other options are insufficient.

Individuals aren’t the only ones who seem ready for premium recycling options for packaging waste. Businesses are being pressured into moving toward “zero waste” as well, and the Zero Waste Box can be a great way to help companies achieve their zero waste goals.

For example, an office can push their breakrooms toward zero waste by purchasing a Breakroom Separation Zero Waste Box for products and packaging like coffee capsules, disposable dishware, and plastic or paper packaging. A waste-diversion initiative like this shows employees that their employer is conscious of its environmental impacts, and gives the company a chance to market their waste reduction strategies to consumers.

While only time will truly tell if premium recycling options and the Zero Waste Box have a place in today’s market, we believe that many consumers and businesses will find value in this new platform. It gives us at TerraCycle a chance to bring even more packaging waste recycling solutions to the market without corporate sponsorship, and serves as a great zero waste tool for consumers, businesses, community organizations and offices alike.

We are eager to see where the Zero Waste Box and our partnership with Staples will take us. For now, and as we continue down this path toward zero waste and more sustainable packaging innovations, the future looks bright for premium recycling opportunities.

Author Tom Szaky, founder and CEO of TerraCycle, has won more than 50 awards for entrepreneurship, also writes blogs for Treehugger and The New York Times, has an upcoming book called "Make Garbage Great" and is the star of the television show "Human Resources" on Pivot TV.

Color paints a pretty picture for inkless in-line digital printing

Color paints a pretty picture for inkless in-line digital printing
Instant, on-the-fly changes can be made without ink and in color directly onto packaging during production.

Nimble brand owners wanting to step closer to real-time, on-demand graphics for packaging have two new colorful options coming to market in the form of Variprint and Infinity brand Inline Digital Printing technologies from DataLase.

First there was vendor DataLase’s titular technology that permitted in-line customization of alphanumeric and graphics “printed” by high-speed, low-power laser marking onto specially-treated sections of paperboard and corrugated (see PD’s recent coverage). Now the company is expanding the technology’s applicability for brand owners desiring the same kind of flexibility using color marking on virtually any substrate. Chris Wyres, CEO of DataLase, responds to our questions about the company’s new patented Variprint and Infinity Inline Digital Printing methods.

What intellectual property do the new patents protect and how do they extend the technologies’ applicability? 

Wyres: The new patents provide additional and overarching protection for the materials, methods and applications of our inline digital printing technology platforms.

The granting of these additional patents demonstrates the level of innovation and capability that the DataLase solution is able to offer to the Fast-Moving Consumer Goods sector. Digital print is growing because it offers a significant advantage over conventional print techniques, delivering capability for responsive and timely customized marketing and promotion on packs and products. Our ground-breaking technology is cost effective and efficient, providing a high added-value solution for today’s print market and meets the needs of brand owners, retailers and packaging converters alike.

What applications are most appropriate for Variprint and Infinity vs. the black print of DataLase?

Wyres: Similar to our products for laser coding, Variprint and Infinity can be incorporated into a wide variety of coatings, enabling them to be applied to virtually any substrate.

Our initial focus markets include product coding, mailing, inline digital printing of secondary packaging, inline digital printing of labels and inline digital printing of folding cartons, where we have identified clear market needs. Working closely with our global strategic partner network, the scalable, modular technology platforms created by DataLase will be utilised to address opportunities in other packaging and print formats.

In short, what’s needed for a Variprint or Infinity application?

Wyres: For brand owners, co-packers and converters to reap the benefits delivered by Variprint or Infinity, they will need to incorporate the unique additive from DataLase into a coating that is then applied to a pack via normal print methods i.e., flexo, gravure, litho etc. When the coating is then exposed to a laser, at the point of packing or filling, it generates a color change reaction in the pigment, creating the graphics or variable data required. To utilize the Variprint and Infinity technologies, packers and converters need to use a high speed LDA printer to deliver high resolution, on-demand digital printing.

What are the cost and complexity differences of each?

Wyres: For a number of reasons, the total cost of ownership of inline digital printing vs conventional digital or hybrid digital systems is significantly lower.

Firstly, the inline nature of the DataLase technology system brings advantages to the entire supply chain in terms of costs. For packers and fillers this includes avoiding the need to invest in large-scale out of line digital capacity and is a rationalization of SKUs. This delivers a huge impact on efficiency and minimizes inventory and tie up of capital.

From a performance perspective, as DataLase technology is inkless, brand owners are able to deliver a clean, high-definition, cost-effective printed pack and avoid issues associated with ablation, inkjet and thermal printing such as high equipment maintenance costs, overspray and ink particulates contamination. This negates the risk of low quality graphics and codes, resulting in reduced returns and supply chain waste.

Finally, converters can also offer customers a highly advanced digital print solution, using existing print assets and machinery.  This avoids capital investment, remapping of workflows and resource, thus improve speed to market and reducing costs.

 Next: The possibilities and what's ahead in 2016...

The ability to make changes instantly is a game-changer for Inline Digital Printing technology.

What color options are possible with Variprint? Infinity?

Wyres: The initial DataLase technology combined with a low-energy laser resulted in an irreversible color change from white or clear to black, or clear to white.

Variprint enables printing from transparent or white to any single monochrome color (black, white, red, blue, green and any combinations thereof, depending on application).

Infinity enables printing from transparent or white to multicolor from a single coating.

Both solutions allow printing of high contrast text, date and lot codes, QR codes, barcodes, logos, images and graphics across a wide range of substrates and applications.

How strong an interest is there in personalization and customization? And what’s possible with these technologies?

Wyres: With the continual expansion of SKUs in FMCG retailing and the outstanding success of the global "Share a Coke Campaign", brands and retailers are all looking for a way to differentiate their products through mass customization or personalization to increase sales. Up until now this has typically been achieved via hybrid digital systems utilizing conventional print techniques and subsequently printing variable data via digital technology.  This process can be both slow and expensive.

DataLase technology is highly responsive and can maximize consumer interaction and brand owner value around key events and promotions within 24-48 hours of the requirement.  This changes the game in the execution of real-time marketing for brands.

DataLase can be used to understand and respond to the preferences of individual consumers by customizing graphics, images or codes on labels, packaging and much more. These personalized variable data messages and graphics can substantially increase engagement as well as providing valuable marketing insight and track and trace data.

The revolutionary nature of the DataLase technology can be used across the FMCG market place from food and beverage, pharmaceutical and medical, to home and personal care applications.

Can you identify a customer application?

Wyres: The DataLase solution is designed to complement the industry’s most dynamic production lines and is actively used today for folding cartons, cans, bottles, labels, flexible materials, cases and other packaging materials.

Variprint will specifically be launched at Drupa, the largest print exhibition in the world, taking place in June 2016. The Infinity platform will be launched in 2017.

What can we expect to see with these technologies this year?

Wyres: DataLase has an established and rapidly growing install base for its laser coding and marking solutions across a broad range of markets and applications. Along with the launch of the Variprint inline digital printing technology platform at DRUPA, we will announce a number of new partnerships around the integration and installation model at the same time and will showcase future product lines the Infinity platform.

In addition, DataLase has recently announced its new venture with SpeciaLase, a new SATO company dedicated to the development of laser coding and inline digital printing in Asia Pacific where we expect adoption of the technology to accelerate rapidly.


New options in marking and coding technologies can be part of your vetting itinerary at EastPack 2016, June 14 to 15 in New York City.


Celebrating innovation in pharma packaging and drug delivery at 2016 Pharmapack Awards

Celebrating innovation in pharma packaging and drug delivery at 2016 Pharmapack Awards
Winners in the Best Exhibitor Innovation category of the Pharmapack Awards stand with members of the judging jury and representatives from event organizer UBM

Packaging innovation was honored at Pharmapack Europe February 10-11 in the 2016 Pharmapack Awards, with four companies recognized in the Exhibitor Innovation category and three visitor products in the Health Product category.  

The winners in the Best Exhibitor Innovation category, recognized at Pharmapack Europe on February 10, are: 

·        Best Exhibitor Innovation for customisation and user-friendliness: Biocorp - Easylog

·        Best Exhibitor Innovation for convenience and ease of use: EVEON - Intuity Lyo

·        Best Exhibitor Innovation for efficient reuse and drug tampering prevention: Injecto - Injecto 0.5ml

·        Best Exhibitor Innovation for patient protection and cost-efficiency: Pylote - Pyclear Protection

And the winners of the Best Health Product category, recognized on February 11, are: 

·        Best Health Product for veterinary packaging and ease of use: Elanco & Neopac - Twist'n'use Osurnia

·        Best Health Product for compliance and convenience: Ethimedix SA - Smartbottle

·        Best Health Product for safety of use: Fresenius Kabi - Levobupivacaïne Kabi

These packages were on display at Pharmapack Europe in the on-floor Innovation Gallery, which showcased all of the 21 innovations entered into the awards. "To get so many high quality and genuine innovations from exhibitors and visitors demonstrates the esteem the industry holds these awards in, and the remarkable cutting-edge work being undertaken in both drug delivery and packaging industries," stated Anne Schumacher, Event Director at Pharmapack Europe. "Our winners this year demonstrated a mixture of incorporating new digital elements into drug delivery, automation, and of course, vital breakthroughs in increasing patient safety and adherence. I congratulate them all on their contributions to the industry."  

Read on for details on the winning packages.


Pylote's Pyclear Protection was recognized as the Best Exhibitor Innovation for patient protection and cost-efficiency. Receiving the award was Pylote Cofounder & CEO Loïc Marchin, who described Pyclear Protection as a "green solution" that features "microspheres for integration into packaging materials for antimicrobial properties." It can eliminate the need for preservatives in pharmaceutical products. (Please see our preshow article here.)

Mikkel Hetting, Founder and CEO of Injecto, received the award for Injecto 0.5ml, which received Best Exhibitor Innovation for efficient re-use and drug tampering prevention. He explained that the "compact injection unit [can be] delivered either in bulk or individually in blister packs," and it prevents "premature explusion." He adds that "for high-scale use, affordability is just as important as its function," he said. 

Vincent Tempelaere, CEO and Cofounder of EVEON, accepted the Best Exhibitor Innovation for convenience and ease of use for Intuity Lyo, which he called a "platform for reconstitution and administration."  The drug preparation platform operates "simply, automatically, safely," he added. 

Eric Dessertenne, ‎Head of Business Development and Commercial Operations at Biocorp, received the Best Exhibitor Innovation for customisation and user-friendliness for Easylog, a sensor for injection devices that can collect injector data, he explained. It offers "data encryption and automatic transfer to mobile apps," offering "patient treatment support," he added. 

See the next page for the Best Health Products.


Elke Wagner, Elanco Animal Health, accepted the Best Health Product for veterinary packaging and ease of use for Twist'n'use Osurnia from Elanco and Neopac. The ear infection gel for dogs is packaged in unit-of-use tubes (one tube for each ear) dosed in two applications 7 days apart. The Polyfoil tubes from Neopac feature soft flexible nozzles; the twist-and-use feature provides tamper evidence, opening with a turn of the cap that remains on the tube after opening.

Above: Winners in the Best Health Product Innovation category of the Pharmapack Awards stand with members of the judging jury and representatives from event organizer UBM.

After winning a Pharmapack award years ago, Fresenius Kabi improved its non-IV local anesthesia Levobupivacaïne Kabi and won Best Health Product for safety of use. Use of red labels, a red port, and the words "Do Not Inject Intravenously" "contribute to proper use" and "increase patient safety," said Elodie Thurot, Product Line Manager IV Drugs and Standard Solutions, at the event.

The SmartBottle from Ethimedix SA won Best Health Product for compliance and convenience. Accepting the award were Dougal Bendjaballah and Bernard Prandi from Ethimedix. The product "delivers unique oral drugs in a safe way" and "records and monitors use in the home and hospital," they pointed out. Using biometric authentication, the programmable system reportedly can be used with "drinkable morphine," they said.

For information on the Pharmapack Europe Awards for 2017, visit

5 ways packaging designers can capitalize on the ‘unboxing’ trend

5 ways packaging designers can capitalize on the ‘unboxing’ trend
Leverage the marketing boost of a consumer raving about your packaging.

If you're a professional involved in packaging, marketing or fulfillment and are not familiar with the trend of "unboxing," you need to be. The trend is growing, taking over the internet (a simple search of "unboxing" on YouTube yields over 30,000,000 results!), and presenting significant opportunities to increase sales and garner free publicity. Even if you don't understand the fascination with unboxing videos, the numbers and opportunity alone demand that we all pay attention.

What is unboxing?

The unboxing trend is simple. Users essentially film themselves opening the packaging of whatever they just bought, whether it be a new phone, Disney collectibles or a photographer's new gear. The user then posts the video online (usually to YouTube), and shares it on social media, blog posts or whatever other medium is available. It's really that simple. For example, this YouTube user's first unboxing video has more than 1.3 million views.

Simple? Yes. Effective? Greatly. More than 1 million people watched this video as the brand gained free publicity.

Was the packaging a part of that? Absolutely. It was routinely mentioned in the comments, and is likely one of the few things you'll remember about the video after two days. The packaging was an important component of the overall experience.

Unboxing goes beyond video, too. Users are posting pictures on blogs and social media channels like Instagram, Facebook and Snapchat. Beyond sharing and social media, the impact the experience has on these people as they open a new package can also be important, as it has been proven to have an effect on their future purchases.

Why is unboxing so important?

This is where the rubber meets the road. The experience of an individual unboxing their new purchase should be on the mind of every consumer product professional engaged with packaging in any way. Consider:

• Repeat Business: A recent survey from Dotcom Distribution found that 52% of consumers are likely to make repeat purchases from an online merchant that delivers premium packaging.

• Social Sharing of Your Brand: That same study also revealed that nearly 4 in 10 consumers would share an image of a delivery via social media if it came in a unique package.

• Free Promotion: If the unboxing experience is shared on social media, blogs or other online avenues, you get free promotion. This helps your brand exposure and website traffic, which are both exceedingly valuable. It's usually worth the minimal extra cost to create an experience more likely to be shared.

• Stand Apart: When a buyer gets multiple packages (think holiday shopping!) and sees one package come in a generic box while another has a "special" package, which do you think they'll remember?

• Create a Fond Memory of Your Product: Even though packaging is different from a product, a fond memory opening a package will be linked to the product. Start your customers off on the right foot!

Ideas for helping your package stand out

So how do you create a memorable experience? Make your package stand out. Do something that's a little out of the ordinary. Go the extra mile to create a great experience—not just a functional one.

Here are some tips and tricks to consider to help your next package make a positive impression:

1. Custom Printing: Show your brand. And by brand, we don't just mean your logo. Let your packaging represent who you are. Can you print a specific message on your box? Create a unique look? Be creative! Services like ThinkInk can do this for you with quick turnarounds and low minimums so you can test out multiple ideas.

2. Unique Shapes and Sizes: The sample video above stood out with a puzzle piece packaging design. It was memorable, and created an experience. Is there a shape that reflects your brand or product? See if you can work it in to your packaging.

3. Packing Material: What's unique that goes into the package itself? Are you using standard bubble wrap? As much fun as it is to pop, it doesn't add much to the unboxing experience. Think through more creative options. Companies like Digiwrap offer custom printed tissue paper for an extremely personalized, memorable touch. Be creative!

4. Going Green: On the other end of the spectrum, you can create a minimalist packaging experience in the interest of environmentalism. This can also bring positive attention, but for different reasons. Dell was creative with a great environmentally friendly packaging concept that received a lot of attention: bamboo packaging.

5. Surprise and Delight: Nothing says more to a customer like going beyond what is expected. A simple thank you note in the package from Jawbone was photographed and put on twitter by Erin Fors. @forsie: Dear every company that cares about its customer service: this is how you do it. Bravo, @Jawbone. That one tweet was retweeted 116 times. Putting in a little extra effort for a customer still pays big dividends.

Even if the trend starts to fade (which we don't anticipate any time soon), creating a positive customer experience has direct implications on a brand's future business and word of mouth. Those responsible for the packaging concept need to be thinking "outside of the box" and creating a memorable experience for their brands.

Adam Wormann is a marketing consultant, co-founder of Wormann Consulting LLC, and vp of online marketing at Ascent Digital Media. He has been working with clients in the packaging industry with a focus on marketing strategy and online marketing since 2011. Wormann’s unique background in analytics and human behavior has helped brands across the country expand their customer base, create deeper connections and increase their bottom line. 

Here’s how collaborative robots provide custom automation, cost benefits to manufacturers

Here’s how collaborative robots provide custom automation, cost benefits to manufacturers
Industrial parts manufacturer gains customized packaging flexibility with a combination of traditional and collaborative (shown in photo with author Drew Rabkewych) robots.

Manufacturers today strive to be more flexible, nimble and adaptable than ever before to stay competitive. Labor shortages, rising wages and increasing demand for personalized products present challenges to productivity and efficiency. To combat these issues, many manufacturers—including Standby Screw—are turning to flexible automation.

Founded 75 years ago, Standby Screw has, like so many manufacturing companies, shifted from a traditional machine shop to a nimble, innovative organization, bringing the latest technologies to bear. Collaborative robots are an important competitive differentiator that are making factories around the globe more agile and responsive to market demand.

Automation with collaborative robots

Traditionally, customization was an obstacle to automation. As a custom parts manufacturer for outdoor power equipment and automotive industries, Standby Screw knew this precept to be all too true, as the thousands of custom parts we produce required humans to perform mundane, repetitive tasks. From packaging the custom parts into boxes for shipping to cleaning the parts prior to final packing, humans were used for projects that didn’t require them to use cognition or reasoning. Furthermore, there are dozens of other jobs and tasks in our factories that desperately needed people.

Collaborative robots, including Rethink Robotics’ Baxter, which is used on the Standby Screw factory floor, are changing the game when it comes to customization. Baxter is specifically designed to perform in variable, real-world manufacturing environments typical of customized product lines. Because of its Robot Positioning System (RPS), Baxter can easily adjust to parts that are bumped slightly out of place, without the need to stop and reprogram. Further, the robot is so easy to train that any factory worker can conduct the training without any prior programming experience.

At Standby Screw, Baxter works in tandem with a traditional caged industrial robot to clean and package worm shafts, the long, cylindrical gear used in self-propelled, walk behind lawnmowers. A traditional industrial robot from Yaskawa Motoman feeds the parts to Baxter, who then uses both arms to move the parts into a slot and clean the machine oil off the part before placing it into one of two boxes.

Meanwhile, another Baxter robot tends a milling machine by picking pivot rods designed for snow blowers out of a feeding unit and placing them into the machine that cuts a flat end on the rod. In these two instances, the combination of collaborative and industrial robot allows for an efficient, automated process, allowing human workers to focus on tasks that require greater cognitive skill.

True collaboration yields better bottom-line results

Baxter works directly on the factory floor alongside our employees, making it a truly collaborative relationship. As a result of unique force-sensing technology, Baxter is completely safe in this situation. Despite its ability to collaborate with humans, the robots can also be used overnight whenever needed to increase output. With this added production time factored in, Baxter allows our team to package exactly 169 parts per box and produce more than one million parts per year. This high-volume output gives us the freedom to maintain a competitive price point for our products and compete with manufacturers around the globe.

By automating tasks with Baxter at Standby Screw, our employees take on more complex roles throughout the factory, saving the company at least 4,000 hours per year. Baxter allows us to stay nimble and increase consistency in manufacturing operations to better compete on a global stage. We now produce about 1,100 different parts that are used in cars, household appliances and lawn and garden products, and we ship approximately two million parts every week.

Manufacturing has always been complex, but with the many variables present in today’s marketplace, it is more imperative than ever that companies seek the most flexible, cost-effective solutions that enable automation in never before seen applications. Collaborative robots are one piece of the solution that are already bringing results to forward-thinking manufacturers, and this is a trend that will continue to gain momentum for years to come.

Drew Rabkewych, sales manager at Standby Screw, has been with the company nearly 23 years. His favorite thing about working there is the fast-paced environment. “There is never a boring day at the office,” he says. “It is also very fun to see all the finished products that have Standby parts in them.”


Poll suggests lack of awareness for cobots in packaging: 60% of those taking our Cobots in Packaging Poll noted that they are unfamiliar with collaborative robots. How about you? It’s not too late to take our quickie poll here.


Device reduces oxygen levels in bottled beer and more

Device reduces oxygen levels in bottled beer and more
Device injects purified water into the headspace of beer on lines like this to extend shelf life. Source: istock

Inline system is shown to reduce Total Package Oxygen by more than half in a pilot test where it increases the quality and shelf life of bottled beer.

Oxygen can be a killer when it comes to product flavor, overall quality and shelf life for numerous sensitive products such as beer. Lowering the oxygen levels in a beer bottle’s headspace cuts the associated product oxidation to improve the packaged quality and extend the shelf life.

In other words, consumers get better beer.

Various approaches have been tried by the brewing industry to reduce Total Package Oxygen (TPO), including the addition of oxygen-scavenging enzymes or ascorbic acid into the bottle, as well as mechanical approaches to strike the bottle to increase foaming and displace oxygen.

Another way to do that is through nitrogen dosing, but now Heateflex has a different method that plays off its core competency that it feels is a superior solution: The Gambrinus system that injects a small dose—fractionally less than 1mL—of heated, purified water into the headspace of a filled container right before it is sealed.

The first test application is with a major southeast U.S. brewer on a bottling line.

“They’d tried a variety of jetting methods,” explains Steve Hausle, Heateflex’s vice president of sales and marketing. “We modified one of our existing stainless-steel heaters to meet their specifications and now they’re testing it on a very small volume of bottled beer.

“Ours is one piece in the overall system that measures the flow and calculates the line speed—there’s a whole variety of different issues involved.”

Injection done at 900 bottles per minute

The water is jetted into the bottle headspace prior to crowning at a speed of 900 bottles per minute.

Hausle says a key aspect is that the jetting temperature is maintained at about 170° F to kill any bacteria and assure the sterility of the self-drying jetting tip.

The combination of the temperature and volume of the injection causes the beer to foam. “When the beer foams it pushes the oxygen out of the neck,” Hausle points out.

The method works: The brewer reports that, prior to installing the Gambrinus heater, the operation was seeing 70 parts-per-billion TPO. “The result after using our system is 30ppb,” says Hausle. “That extends the beer’s shelf life by several weeks.”

Another indicator of the pilot’s success is that the company is installing the system on other lines.

“They’re going to have it on three lines in their factory, they’ve approved it for all the lines at the site and it’s been recommended to be retrofitted in all the lines company-wide,” Hausle reports.

Since the start of the brewery test, Heateflex has redesigned the Gambrinus system to make it more efficient and house it in an 18 X 22 x 8in. deep NEMA 4 enclosure as shown above.

Also in the works: a modular, skid-based system that targets microbrewers.

The company feels that the technique is applicable to other products, such as wine. “We believe that it has merit where total package oxygen is an issue,” offers Hausle. “For wine, for example, you try to introduce oxygen to improve the flavor as opposed to reduce the oxygen, so it really depends on the application.”

Heateflex Corp.

New beverage packaging flies the flag for Goose Island’s Bourbon County Brand Stout

New beverage packaging flies the flag for Goose Island’s Bourbon County Brand Stout
Unusual "flag" label helps limited-edition stout bottle stand out.

For beer drinkers who like stout, Black Friday holds special meaning: It’s the day when Goose Island Beer Co. releases its annual limited-edition Bourbon County Brand Stout. For the 2015 release, the brewery launched a new packaging design that features custom bottles and a unique, flag-like label at the neck of the bottle.

The front of the new bottle is embossed with the Goose Island logo and the stout’s brand name, making conventional labeling unnecessary. The embossed 16.9-oz. brown glass bottle replaces 12- and 22-oz. bottles previously used for Bourbon County Brand Stout. Owens-Illinois (O-I) supplies the new bottles.

Legal disclaimers and other required information is printed on the flag label and on a die-cut back label that’s tapered to match the shape of the new bottle. Goose Island worked with Constantia Flexibles to develop the flag and back labels for the redesigned package. Both are pressure-sensitive.

The flag label, which wraps around the bottle’s neck, features a 5/8-inch, pop-out tab printed with the brewery’s logo. This label is made from a proprietary substrate that enables two-sided printing and ensures that the flag maintains its perpendicular orientation to the bottle. No special case-packing steps are required to protect the flags.

A rotary labeler manufactured by Krones is used to apply the flag labels to the bottles. The labeler “was not necessarily a custom design, but Goose Island communicated the requirements at the front end of the project so that the labeler was built to accommodate this unique package,” says Brian Fischer, vp-sales in Constantia Flexibles’ Labels Div. He adds that the flag label “processed seamlessly” on Goose Island’s packaging line.

The brewery is a pioneer in barrel-aged stout brewing. Since 1992, it has been repurposing used bourbon barrels from brand owners like Jim Beam. Two years ago, Goose Island obtained a number of 35-year-old bourbon barrels from Heaven Hill Brands; the Bourbon County Stout Rare made in those barrels was one of the stouts released on Nov. 27, 2015, together with other specially formulated stout variants.

We asked Mark Kamarauskas, Goose Island’s director of operations, a few questions about the packaging redesign. Here is what he had to say.

How was the new package design received by the market?

Kamarauskas: It was an overwhelming success.

Did you work with a packaging design firm on this concept? If so, what firm? 

Kamarauskas: VSA, out of Chicago, was our agency on the package design.

How many of the 2015 limited-edition packages were produced?

Kamarauskas: Bourbon County Stout Rare was one batch and was produced in very limited quantities solely based on our ability to get the 35-year-old Heaven Hill barrels. We do not release exact quantities, sorry.

Is the cap a conventional crown closure?

Kamarauskas: It is a standard pry-off closure common in the craft-beer category.

Does Goose Island Bourbon County Brand Stout come in multipacks and as single bottles?

Kamarauskas: Only single bottles.

Is it sold only through the brewery, or at retail and on-premise, also?

Kamarauskas: Both, but in limited quantities, as a special release. And most if not all were in consumers’ hands on Black Friday.

The tapered back label conforms to the shape of the bottle.

Poll suggests lack of awareness for cobots in packaging

Poll suggests lack of awareness for cobots in packaging
60% of those taking our Cobots in Packaging Poll noted that they are unfamiliar with collaborative robots.

60% of those taking our Cobots in Packaging Poll noted that they are unfamiliar with collaborative robots.

Seeing more robotics at industry tradeshows over the past many years has dovetailed with the emergence and regular appearance of collaborative robots, or cobots, over about the last two years at such venues. I assumed these sightings meant others were seeing them with the same regularity as I, a fact that would be reflected by an increased awareness of cobots throughout the packaging industry.

That misplaced assumption hit home upon reviewing the preliminary results to our on-going Cobots in Packaging Poll, especially Question 1 that asked, “Are you familiar with collaborative robots, or cobots?” As of last week, that was answered to the affirmative by a “tidy” 40% of our poll takers. The other side of the coin is that, obviously, 60% do not, as is shown on the above chart that split the answer between an assured “No” and a less assured “Not sure.”

If that figure does not surprise you, it certainly did me.

Are there other surprises to be revealed in our poll? Stay tuned: We’ll disclose more findings after the close of the poll at the end of next week that will also reference other questions that were posed; these include:

Are you currently using any cobots in your packaging operations or plan to in 2016?;

What advice do you have about using cobots in packaging?

And, lastly, How do you feel about cobots? With the latter we were expecting to flesh out qualitative aspects such as would you be comfortable working alongside a cobot? Or do you think they threaten the jobs of human workers? As a preview, I found the answers to this particular question to be the most interesting and diverse; we’ll be sharing many of them in our overview and analysis in several weeks.

In any event, if you have not yet taken this quick 5-minute anonymous poll, please do so by clicking here, we’d appreciate your input!


Want to assess packaging automation technologies in person? Then consider attending EastPack 2016, June 14 to 15 in New York City.


Hitting the mark in dosage cup accuracy

Hitting the mark in dosage cup accuracy
Comar's AccuCups with mL markings and no leading zeros

Dosing and dispensing technology provider Comar LLC has just commissioned its third dosage cup printer. The new production line utilizes Comar’s proprietary approach for matching the correct printing plate to each cup and for ensuring accurate application of cup markings, the company reports.

Such expanded capacity and capability comes just after a recall reportedly involving dosage cup defects. (A Comar spokesperson reports that its cups were not involved.)

According to Comar, it was the first company to print measurement markings on the outside of its dosage cups as an alternative to embossing. Its AccuCups are printed with FDA-compliant, food-grade inks.

PMP News checked in with John Daly, Comar’s Director Technical Operations, asking a few questions about the technology’s evolution and some options for enhancing dosing safety. 

PMP: When did Comar first introduce its internal systems to control accuracy, and how are they different from what other systems may be used in the industry?

Daly: Comar started printing oral dispensers in 2003, which is when we developed the equipment and processes to control accuracy. We built on this when we added the AccuCup printed dosing cups in 2007. Because calibration accuracy is so critical, Comar goes above and beyond what’s typically included in inspection and verification. We have all incoming print plates inspected by quality engineering, not just the initial design, during which we verify accuracy of all lines, and not just one or two lines, which is typical. We also require customers’ approval of new artwork for the actual product dispensed. 

PMP: Can you describe how Comar’s system has evolved over the years and what the latest enhancements entail?

Daly: The printing equipment on the market is very good, and while Comar has made proprietary changes to improve this equipment, the real difference at Comar is the system, processes, and people! Early on we did adopt vision inspection of every cup produced, and over the years we have continued to upgrade to the latest technology in imaging and lighting. We had also moved to inline processes reducing the number of transfer steps, which increases accuracy and consistency.

PMP: Does Comar advise the use of color to help markings stand out? 

Daly: Comar has the capability to run up to three print colors at the same time and has over 30 different colors available. In addition, the cups themselves can be colored. Typically, black ink on a clear cup provides the best color contrast, but it also depends on the medication in the cup, where white print contrasts well with a green liquid, for example. So I would say that carefully matching component, print, and product colors would make it easier for the consumer to measure dosing accurately.

PMP: Any other steps that drug manufacturers can take to promote accurate dosing?

Daly: First and foremost, it is very important to use the right-sized device for the product being dispensed. Using a large cup for a small dose will reduce the accuracy, for example. We have a handy chart that illustrates this point well. This was developed to educate Comar customers on this point. Other possible steps include the use of 2-D bar coding on the cup to verify that the correct cup is matched with the medication on the packaging line, and printing the name of the product on the cup will help the consumer safely match the cup with the product in the home.