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Articles from 2018 In May

Why it pays for packaging suppliers to be local
The new 68,000-square-foot facility in China will produce Oliver Healthcare Packaging's line of sterile barrier flexible packaging for medical devices, among other packaging materials.

Why it pays for packaging suppliers to be local

Businesses of any kind find that, when doing business in China and other global locations, it helps to have facilities on the ground. Packaging is no exception.

Oliver Healthcare Packaging, based in Grand Rapids, Mich., provides sterile barrier flexible material and other packaging for pharmaceuticals, medical devices and related items. It recently opened a 68,000-square-foot manufacturing facility in Suzhou, China, about 38 miles east of Shanghai.

Packaging Digest spoke with Michael Benevento, CEO of Oliver Healthcare, about the new facility and Oliver’s operations in Asia and elsewhere.

What kinds of medical products will be packaged with the materials from this plant?

Benevento: Oliver is a leading supplier of pouches, die-cut lids, rollstock and mounting cards for the global healthcare industry. Our packaging is made from a variety of materials that protect the sterile barrier, including Tyvek, medical grade paper, high-density polyethylene and more. In our new Suzhou facility, we have full product manufacturing capabilities, and all conversion is taking place within an ISO-certified cleanroom environment.

Oliver serves four major markets, including medical devices, pharmaceutical, biologics and diagnostics. In the Asian market, we service all categories and industries, but our emphasis is on implantable devices that have very tight tolerances with respect to particulates, and often require a specialized package design.   


Production efficiencies, ecommerce challenges, sustainability trends, new bioplastic technologies and more are among the topics on the agenda at the new Packaging Education Hub at EastPack 2018 (June 12-14; NYC). This free educational program will have more than 15 hours of can’t-miss presentations, demonstrations and hands-on activities. Register to attend for free today!


Did you have to take on a Chinese partner for this venture?

Benevento: We did not take on a partner for our new facility. Oliver has had a facility in China since 2006, and we recently opened a new office in Singapore to expand our reach even further. We’re fortunate to have established relationships with many of the major medical device and pharmaceutical associations in and around Asia, including the China Assn. for Medical Devices Industry, the Medical Device Packaging Committee, CMD, DuPont and the Asia Pacific Medical Technology Assn. (APACMed).

As the population ages and the need for healthcare grows, requirements around product quality and cleanliness will become more and more stringent. When Oliver built our new Suzhou facility, we anticipated what future regulations might look like, which is why all production occurs within an ISO-7 certified cleanroom—from slitting to printing to converting, which is something only Oliver can say.

Will the end-use market for this plant be mostly or exclusively Chinese, or will it service end users elsewhere in Asia?

Benevento: Our new facility is intended to service not only our Chinese customer base, but the full Asia-Pacific region, from Korea to New Zealand. Oliver has a new office in Singapore, and we are exploring a new lab and technology center there as well. We now have salespeople located throughout Asia to provide the same level of personal attention and local service in every geography that’s served by Oliver.  

Why focus on the Asian/Chinese market with a new manufacturing plant? Are there significant challenges, or barriers, to servicing Asian/Chinese end-users from American plants?

Benevento: At the end of the day, people want to work with a local partner, regardless of whether they are a large-scale multinational, a regional device manufacturer or a startup. Working with a local partner makes everything easier—from language, culture and response time to local regulations and guidelines.

We have watched the Asian market grow significantly since we initially began serving China more than a decade ago. It’s very important to me personally, and to everyone at Oliver, that we provide the same localized service and support to our customers regardless of geography. This new Suzhou facility, the expansion of our global sales team and our office in Singapore have all expanded our local support within Asia extensively, and provided improved product lead times as well. Our customers want a same-day response from the people who know them best, and that is what we strive to deliver at Oliver.

Does the Asian/Chinese healthcare packaging market differ from the American market in any significant way?

Benevento: In many ways, healthcare packaging is the same around the world. We are all trying to solve a critical, complicated problem. How do we facilitate sterilization of a life-saving device, protect that device, maintain the sterile barrier through the rigors of transportation, optimize product shelf life, and make sure the device can be presented easily and in an aseptic manner when it is used?

We know that packaging is a small part of the overall process, but at the same time, there is a lot at stake if something does go wrong...time and money, of course. But even more critical is patient safety. With patient safety in mind, there is an increasing emphasis on clean packaging with low particulate.

In many ways, China is leading the regulation in this area. A packaging partner should therefore have the expertise, creativity and product flexibility to deliver just that. Oliver, for example, created Xhale, an exclusive hot-melt adhesive coating specifically designed for low particulate. We also have specialties like zone coating to apply adhesive only where it is absolutely needed, significantly reducing the risk of particulate.

In summary, I would say that there are more similarities in the global market than there are differences, which is why we utilize the same high standards around the world, even when it means we are delivering far above the regional standard.

What are your global growth plans, and how does this plant support them?

Benevento: We have a saying here: Oliver is not a packaging company that happens to serve the global healthcare industry. Instead, we believe Oliver is a healthcare company first, driving innovation in packaging.

We are proud of our singular focus because it means we understand the market, including the specific challenges and opportunities our customers face day in and day out. We believe this is critically important to our collective success, and a key point of differentiation for Oliver.

With that said, our growth is directly linked to how we support our customers. My personal goal for Oliver is that we become known as the packaging provider with unmatched service and support in every region we serve. By opening a world-class plant like this one, regional offices like the one in Singapore, hiring more local staff and utilizing only the highest standards, we feel very good about the future of Oliver as an industry leader.

Popular options in package testing equipment ensure product quality, safety
Package test equipment like this Instron Single Use Syringe Tester helps product manufacturers in many industries safeguard the integrity of their packages.

Popular options in package testing equipment ensure product quality, safety

Almost a quarter of respondents to an exclusive survey being done by Pharmaceutical & Medical Packaging News say the package integrity tests they currently use do not meet their needs. Packaging professionals searching for new options in package testing can find them at EastPack 2018 (June 12-14; New York City). The upcoming event offers free educational opportunities for this topic, as well as meetings with appropriate exhibitors. Registration is free in advance of the show—sign up now by clicking here.

On Tues., June 12, from 2:00 to 2:45 p.m. at the new Packaging Education Hub in Booth 2385, newly named editor-in-chief of Medical Device + Diagnostic Industry / MD+DI (a sister publication of Packaging Digest), Daphne Allen will offer a comprehensive overview of available integrity testing methods for sterile barrier systems, detailing their operation, sensitivity, and alignment with industry and FDA consensus standards. She’ll also present highlights of the results of our survey mentioned above, which will identify the most popular methods being used today. [There’s still time to participate in the survey and give us your opinion. Click here now!]

On Wed., June 13, from 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., Nelson Labs will sponsor and present the half-day workshop “Getting your Medical Device to Market: Packaging & Biocompatibility.” This event is open to all attendees and will take place in Room 1E12.

Nelson Labs is also exhibiting in Booth 1739 to discuss its microbiology testing and consulting services for MedTech companies.

A variety of other exhibitors at the three-day EastPack event—which is co-located with the leading medical show MD&M East, Design & Manufacturing Atlantic, the automation technology event ATX East, Plastec East and Quality Expo—will display testing equipment:

• In Booth 1463, Instron will feature Single Use Syringe Tester (see photo above), Syringe Needle Testing and an Auto-Injector Testing System.

• In Booth 2056, Cincinnati Test Systems Inc. will show the Sentinel Blackbelt Pro, the company’s next-generation of multi-test, multi-port, multi-channel test instrumentation for all these tests: pressure decay leak testing; vacuum decay leak testing; pressure change over time; occlusion testing; flow leak testing; and flow functional testing.

• In Booth 2263, Vibrac LLC will display several cap inspection systems, including non-destructive tests that help you save money by not wasting test product. The company’s torque measurement systems serve the pharmaceutical, medical, beverage, cosmetic and nutraceutical markets, among others. Vibrac plans to host a happy hour at its booth during the show and will post more details about it on its News & Events web page:

• In Booth 2045, TM Electronics will have destructive and non-destructive package integrity testers for a variety of markets, including pharmaceutical, medical, automotive, food and industrial. For example, the BT Integra-Pack unit does burst, creep, creep to failure and package integrity tests for ASTM F2054, F2095, ISO-11607 and FDA 21 CFR Part 11. And the company has other instruments, including custom ones, that help you test both medical devices and device packaging for leak, flow, creep, burst, occlusion, seal integrity, sterile barrier maintenance (ISO 11607) and bubble leak (F2096).

New Packaging Education Hub packs in practical fun
Interactive demos and hands-on activities at the upcoming EastPack Packaging Education Hub are sure to get you up on your feet to see and learn by doing.

New Packaging Education Hub packs in practical fun

What can packaging engineers learn from Frankenstein? Fancy a look into the future of packaging? Want some useful career advice? We’ve got answers to all this, and a whole lot more, at the new Packaging Education Hub at EastPack 2018 (June 12-14; New York City).

From interactive demos and hands-on activities to edutainment presentations and helpful panel discussions, the three-day educational program at EastPack is free to all event attendees. And registration is free in advance for the show—sign up now by clicking here.

All sessions are in Booth 2385. Here is our full program:

Tues., June 12, 10:30-11:00 a.m.

Assembling a Franken-Line without the Monster Headaches

Most manufacturing operations have a graveyard of unused equipment. Those machines come in handy, though, when a plant has to cobble together a packaging line either in a hurry or on a budget, or both. Learn the pitfalls to avoid and tips to remember when faced with a challenging packaging line assembly project, from a veteran engineer.

Speaker: John R. Henry, CPP, owner,

Tues., June 12, 11:00-11:45 a.m.

The Future of Packaging in the 4th Dimension…and Beyond

In the year 2040, many products will be 3D printed in the home and packaging will be generic or custom designed by the consumer by making simple selections on a screen before hitting “print.” Well…this might be the future, or it might not. Leading consultant, thought leader and packaging futurist Brian Wagner of PTIS teaches us the power of scenario planning to examine probable futures—and plan for your success.

Speaker: Brian Wagner, co-founder and principal, PTIS LLC, and director of Ameripen (American Institute for Packaging & the Environment)

Tues., June 12, 1:00-1:45 p.m.

Just How Hard Is It to Open a Medical Package Aseptically?

Laura Bix, packaging professor for Michigan State University’s School of Packaging, will demonstrate the concept and challenge of aseptic presentation when opening medical packaging. She will provide supplies and a protocol for a live demonstration that would involve having Glitterbug lotion applied to the hands of audience volunteers. These volunteers will then open medical packages, and the packages will be viewed under an ultraviolet (UV) light to measure the amount of contamination that can occur during opening. This topic is particularly relevant because the new European Medical Device Regulations emphasize usability and continuous improvement.

Speaker: Laura Bix, Ph.D., associate director, Michigan State University

Tues., June 12, 2:00-2:45 p.m.

A Comprehensive Look at Integrity Testing Methods for Sterile Barrier Systems

Testing is one of the most challenging endeavors of packaging development. This presentation will offer a comprehensive overview of available integrity testing methods for sterile barrier systems, detailing their operation, sensitivity, and alignment with industry and FDA consensus standards. It will also include results of an industry survey to determine the most popular methods. Take the survey now!

Speaker: Daphne Allen, editor-in-chief, MD+DI

Tues., June 12, 3:00-3:45 p.m.

What Does Internet-Enabled Packaging Mean for Brands?

Using today’s newest smart packaging—that is, web-enabled barcodes, including the UPC that appears on every retail package—brands can digitally enhance the consumer’s user experience to build loyalty. In store, consumers can scan the product and access brand content and product information (such as provenance, manufacturing, sustainability, nutrition and care instructions), as well as recommendations and product comparisons, and perform self-checkout. Post-purchase, consumers can scan a product for friction-free reordering, registration or rewards and offers. Learn more about how to use this free technology to leverage the Internet of Things on your packages.

Speaker: Josh Engroff, COO, EVRYTHNG

Wed., June 13, 10:30-11:00 a.m.

Meal-Kit Packaging: How HelloFresh Delivers a Tasty Ecommerce Experience

About 20% of Americans regularly enjoy the convenience of meal-kit cooking—and packaging is a big part of making this possible. In this one-on-one, interview-style chat with the COO of HelloFresh, hear how packaging is helping ecommerce companies leverage today’s opportunities in the perishable supply chain to deliver a high-quality consumer experience. We’ll talk about product freshness and safety; portion control and health-and-wellness; and sustainability.

Speakers: Uwe Voss, chief operating officer, HelloFresh

Lisa McTigue Pierce, executive editor, Packaging Digest

Wed., June 13, 11:00-11:45 a.m.

Emerging Technologies in Packaging + Design

Attendees will encounter three digital innovations that are disrupting packaging and design in an immersive, hands-on session spent playing with color virtualization, augmented reality, analytical tools and computer vision. Participants will walk away with first-hand experience using some of the latest apps and technologies, ideas for saving weeks in the packaging process, and a new frame of reference for “what’s possible.”

Speaker: Danielle Sauvé, director of customer experience and insights, Danaher, Product Identification Platform

Wed., June 13, 1:00-1:45 p.m.

Can You Find the Fake?

Whether you market pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, spirits, or essentially any product with a fan base, your products’ supply chain could face counterfeiting and diversion risks. You’ve got a range of anti-counterfeiting technology options from which to choose, and here’s your chance to try out a few. This interactive session will provide an overview of the risks and available solutions and then challenge you to identify suspect products using some of the tools of the trade.

Speaker: Karl Hoelper, director of marketing, CCL Healthcare

Wed., June 13, 2:00-2:45 p.m.

Upcycle That Package—Live!

Create your own treasure from trash in this fun and engaging hands-on activity that helps you explore end-of-life options for hard-to-recycle packaging. An industrial designer from TerraCycle will walk you through the upcycling process, and then you’ll be able to make your own memento to take home from used and empty packaging that will be cleaned and prepped for this project.

Speaker: Kelsey Moffitt, industrial designer, TerraCycle

Wed., June 13, 3:00-3:45 p.m.

Beyond the Baggie: The Future of Cannabis Containers

  • How can design and packaging change the image of recreational cannabis?
  • Learn about industry specific issues that are facing this budding (pun intended) market
  • A discussion on what the future of this industry could look like

Speaker: Walter Apodaca, founder/CEO, Gizmo Beverages Inc.

Thurs., June 14, 10:30-11:00 a.m.

Packaging Equipment Development Process Safety: “Missing Parts”

Food companies are constantly implementing capital improvement projects for process and packaging equipment. Whether the equipment and processes supported therein include automation, robotics, artificial intelligence or are simply basic operator-supported, pneumatic and electro-mechanical PLC controlled devices, a team approach to design safety risk and hazard assessments and must be developed and applied to insure the continuous production of safe packaged foods. The process, with similarity to HACCP/HARPC, uses the expertise of multiple involved and required functions, each with the expertise to identify applications, complexity, risk and the hazards that will need to be mitigated by design criteria, specifications and oversight. Expert communication and documentation partnership between client and equipment supplier are necessary to produce a safe, effective (equipment) process built to produce single or multiple products of safely and hygienically.

Speaker: Gary Kestenbaum, food packaging safety consultant, Gary Kestenbaum, Packaging Consultant, Inc.

Thurs., June 14, 11:00-11:45 a.m.

Sustainable Packaging from Plants

Anellotech is a sustainable technology company pioneering the Bio-TCat Process for the production of cost-competitive renewable chemicals from non-food biomass to provide the path to sustainable packaging. Materials made from these bio-based aromatic chemicals (benzene, toluene and xylenes, “BTX”), such as polyester, polyurethane, polycarbonate and ABS, are used in consumer applications for packaging, outerwear, automotive, carpets, detergents and more. Bio-TCat’s cost-competitive advantage results from the use of non-food biomass, such as wood or agricultural residues, and an efficient and economical catalyst as the only significant inputs.

Anellotech is collaborating with its strategic partners Suntory, Toyota Tsusho, IFPEN, Axens and Johnson Matthey for the development and commercialization of the Bio-TCat Process. The alliance with Suntory, one of Anellotech’s principal strategic investment partners, began in 2012 with the goal of enabling the development and commercialization of cost-competitive 100% bio-based plastics for use in beverage bottles. Suntory currently uses 30% plant-derived materials for its Mineral Water Suntory Tennensui brands and is pursuing the development of a 100% bio-based PET bottle through this alliance, as part of its commitment to sustainable business practices. 

Anellotech founder, president and CEO Dave Sudolsky will discuss the company’s progress towards commercialization, as well as the broader packaging applications for Anellotech’s innovative technology.

Speaker: David Sudolsky, president, Anellotech

Thurs., June 14, 12:00-12:45 p.m.

5 New Packages that Tell Awesome Sustainability Stories that Don’t End There

L’Oréal, Amazon, Blue Bunny, Tea of a Kind and Replenish introduced new packages this year with strong sustainability features—on top of convenience features and functional designs to boost the user’s experience with the brand. Lively case studies showcase why these companies got “it” right and how you can follow their lead.

Speaker: Lisa McTigue Pierce, Executive Editor, Packaging Digest

Thurs., June 14, 1:00-1:45 p.m.

Packaging Trends that Really Matter and Why

Internet of Things (IoT), ecommerce, sustainability and other current and emerging trends in packaging directly impact the day-to-day tasks of packaging professionals. Our panel of experts will discuss today’s packaging trends that really matter as “Customer Experience” becomes the ultimate goal and “Brand Affinity” becomes the coveted prize.

Panelists: Erik Holm, packaging development manager, McCormick & Co. (joining remotely);

Matt Dingee, co-founder/president/COO, OnPoint 2020 (previously with Campbell Soup)

Kelly Murosky, packaging engineer, Seventh Generation;

Andrew Krekling, packaging engineer, Tyson Foods;

Sara Shumpert Dunn, director, The Packaging School;

Moderator: Lisa Pierce, executive editor, Packaging Digest

Thurs., June 14, 2:00-2:45 p.m.

Rising to the Challenge of a Packaging Career

Packaging is a great career, as it taps into different disciplines—the creativity of design and the logic of engineering. And, as a dynamic industry, it’s ever changing. However, such diversity and constant change also present challenges. Living in the trenches, our panel of next-generation packaging leaders will share some of the difficulties they have been encountering in their careers, as well as lessons and helpful tips they’ve learned along the way.

Panelists: Erik Holm, packaging development manager, McCormick & Co. (joining remotely);

Matt Dingee, co-founder/president/COO, OnPoint 2020 (previously with Campbell Soup)

Kelly Murosky, packaging engineer, Seventh Generation;

Andrew Krekling, packaging engineer, Tyson Foods;

Moderator: Sara Shumpert Dunn, director, The Packaging School

Arabian chocolatier uses long-lost tales to spice up food packaging
As the black-and-white outer sleeve is removed, Mirzam Monsters' colorful inner wrap reveals the truth of the tall-tale.

Arabian chocolatier uses long-lost tales to spice up food packaging

For Dubai-based Mirzam Chocolate Makers, spinning a yarn is second nature—especially when it comes to Mirzam: Monsters Collection chocolate bars. The packaging design for this artisanal chocolate uses evocative graphics and an interactive package structure to lure consumers with tales of sea monsters from the ancient world.

The monsters are from stories told by Arabian merchants in the days of the Spice Route; the stories were designed to scare competitors away from the maritime spice trade. Spice is a natural part of Mirzam’s brand narrative, as the chocolate is made with ingredients like cinnamon, cardamom and star anise.

Packaging for each of the five chocolate bars in the Monsters Collection features a different monster or mythical creature, and the graphics are layered, literally. The 70-gram bars are wrapped manually in the Mirzam shop.

They’re first wrapped in foil and then covered with a paper wrapper printed with a richly imagined illustration of a spice-filled ship sailing the night sea. Slipped over the colorful wrapper is a black-and-white paperboard sleeve die cut to reveal only the ship and the Mirzam logo printed on the paper wrapper.

Graphics on the peekaboo sleeve depict a monster about to devour the ship. When the sleeve is removed, the wrapper shows the same image as the sleeve, but in full color—revealing each monster as a trick of the eye created by patterns of stars in the sky and plant life in the water.

As consumers remove the sleeve, they see the reality behind the tale. And when they remove the wrapper and foil, they find a pattern of ocean waves carved into the chocolate itself. The story behind the tales of sea monsters is printed on the back of the sleeve. Both the sleeve and the paper wrapper are offset printed.

Backbone Branding designed the package graphics and structure and also created Mirzam’s branding, logo design and the wave pattern on the chocolate bars.


Production efficiencies, ecommerce challenges, sustainability trends, new bioplastic technologies and more are among the topics on the agenda at the new Packaging Education Hub at EastPack 2018 (June 12-14; NYC). This free educational program will have more than 15 hours of can’t-miss presentations, demonstrations and hands-on activities. Register to attend for free today!

Unique 24-pack cuts costs and boosts green cred for craft brewer
A new shrink-wrapped multipack for 24 cans of beer allows Oskar Blues to cut secondary packaging materials by 64%.

Unique 24-pack cuts costs and boosts green cred for craft brewer

Oskar Blues Brewery, a member of CANarchy Craft Brewery Collective, has developed a sustainable packaging solution for its large-format variety packs that decreases the brewery’s environmental footprint, reduces packaging costs and creates a brand billboard at retail.

The beverage packaging design uses collation shrink film to wrap corrugated trays filled with two dozen cans—eliminating the paperboard previously used when dual 12-pack cartons were shrink wrapped.

Oskar Blues started using the new packaging in 2017, and the sustainability and business benefits have been substantial. “We were looking for a new packaging solution for 24-packs of cans that would reduce costs, rebrand our mixed cases, improve sustainability and differentiate our product offering to make it more appealing to retail outlets,” says Jeremy Rudolf, operations manager at CANarchy Craft Brewery Collective.

“To date, we’ve seen a 40% cost savings, 64% reduction in secondary packaging materials usage and 73% fewer trucks delivering packaging materials to Oskar Blues,” he adds. “We also expect to see 46% energy savings and 51% greenhouse gas emissions reduction, based on an environmental-impact assessment by Allied Development.”

The multipack packaging suppliers are Dow Packaging and Specialty Plastics (a unit of The Dow Chemical Co.), Berry Global and Ampacet. Dow supplies the resin, which Berry converts into shrink film; Ampacet provides color masterbatch technology used in printing. Oskar Blues uses a KHS Kisters 601T Registered Shrink Tunnel to run the multipacks.


Production efficiencies, ecommerce challenges, sustainability trends, new bioplastic technologies and more are among the topics on the agenda at the new Packaging Education Hub at EastPack 2018 (June 12-14; NYC). This free educational program will have more than 15 hours of can’t-miss presentations, demonstrations and hands-on activities. Register to attend for free today!

Rudolf and Ritika Kalia, end-use marketing manager at Dow Packaging and Specialty Plastics, answer a few questions about the project.

What capital-equipment investment did Oskar Blues make for this new multipack?

Rudolf: Conveyance, a used shrink tunnel and electrical installation was roughly $75,000.

What other packaging-line adjustments were need to run this pack?

Rudolf: Oskar Blues is currently packaging this large-format shrink package offline in its facility, with an added labor element consistent with other multipack solutions. As the package gains distribution and volume, Oskar Blues will look at integrating it in-line with other automated packaging processes.

Is there a perforation anywhere to make it easy for consumers to open the package?

Rudolf: There is no perforation on the package. The finished package can be opened quite easily without perforation or tools.

Is there a handle?

Kalia: Consumers can easily carry the case using the bull’s-eyes on each side of the package. The shrink wrap is strong enough to accommodate being carried like this and maintain packaging integrity without significant stretching or weakening.

Can the multipack be stored in a refrigerator?

Kalia: The properties of the shrink-wrap packaging make it perfectly suitable to store it intact within a refrigerator or cooler. The integrity of the package will remain in a typical range of conditions that cases would experience during transportation, storage and consumer handling.

Can retailers display the multipack vertically?

Kalia: The printed shrink-wrap packaging maintains integrity and shelf appeal displayed horizontally and vertically.

What Oskar Blues stock-keeping units (SKUs) will use the shrink-wrapped multipack?

Rudolf: Oskar Blues is currently using shrink film on its large-format, multipack SKU. This was a direct response to requests of retailers to have a large-format, single-branded surface that can communicate effectively with consumers. As this package continues to grow, Oskar Blues is looking for additional opportunities with film in all formats and package sizes.

Is the package an industry first?

Kalia: The Oskar Blues printed, shrink-wrapped mixed cases are a first for the U.S. craft beer industry. Other arrangements, including four-packs in similar packaging, are becoming common in North America. Printed, shrink-wrapped cases are already common in some geographies, including Europe and Latin America.

What is the significance of being first with this type of multipack?

Rudolf: Oskar Blues has always been an innovative leader in the U.S. craft beer industry, notably as the first American craft beer in a can, with Dale’s Pale Ale in 2002. This new secondary, shrink-wrap packaging continues that mission to differentiate our product and gain access to additional markets. And being first has put us in the spotlight—since piloting the packaging in 2017, we’ve seen more than 300% growth through national retailers.

New food tray traps fluids for better safety, appearance
The new GravityTray for fresh meat, fish, fruits and vegetables keeps product liquid away from the food without the need of an absorber pad.

New food tray traps fluids for better safety, appearance

Fresh meats, fish, fruits and vegetables release liquids that need to be captured and separated from the product to extend shelf life, ensure safe consumption and present a more appealing product to consumers. But typical absorption pads—containing blood from a cut of fresh meat in a tray, for example—can harbor bacteria and create a food safety danger. The new GravityTray offers another solution.

Fluids, like blood from meat or water dripping from washed vegetables, funnels down the center of the GravityTray into channels in a separate bottom chamber and is trapped there. This eliminates the need for and cost of an absorber pad—and keeps the unsightly and potentially damaging liquid away from the food, even if the tray is turned upside down.

A close-up of the bottom of the tray shows the channels in the bottom chamber where fluids pool and are trapped.

Rinze Willemsen, CEO of TMi-Capital Ltd., the maker of the patented GravityTray, describes how the design of the thermoformed container makes that possible:

“Because of a unique technique, it is indeed impossible for the fluid to come back out of the bottom chamber,” Willemsen says. “The fluid in the bottom chamber cannot flow back to the top chamber with the meat or fish because the wall between these chambers has a ‘funnel’ shape. The fluid in the top chamber runs to the center of this funnel and then through the outlet to the bottom chamber. When turning the tray on its side or upside down, the outlet of the funnel is positioned above the liquid in the bottom. This ‘funnel outlet’ is pointing above this liquid like a chimney.”

The tray can be made of polypropylene or polyethylene, and is filled and sealed on existing packaging systems with typical lidding film. According to the company, the tray’s material weight is the same as current trays, as well as its top-load strength.

A foil sheet formed and sealed underneath the tray provides branding and merchandising, effectively concealing the captured liquid.

The GravityTray is available for use in the United States. “The technical development of the GravityTray has been done in the Netherlands. This month, the first production molds will be ready,” says Willemsen. “But we are in discussion with USA companies for a manufacturing license agreement. Also, some of our European Union partners are established in the USA.”

Watch a video of the development here.


Production efficiencies, ecommerce challenges, sustainability trends, new bioplastic technologies and more are among the topics on the agenda at the new Packaging Education Hub at EastPack 2018 (June 12-14; NYC). This free educational program will have more than 15 hours of can’t-miss presentations, demonstrations and hands-on activities. Register to attend for free today!

4 new consumer sustainability trends and their packaging implications

In our digitalized world, how is people’s relationship with physical things—“stuff”—changing and why? And what opportunities does this mean for packaging? “Explorer” Sharon Greene of Alice Labs answers these questions as she explains four new consumer sustainability trends:

1. Repurpose

2. Reuse

3. Research

4. Rejoice

As director of socio-cultural trends and strategy development at Alice Labs, a strategic management consulting company specialized in finding future growth, Greene is a multi-cultural business leader responsible for developing an approach to sustainability-led value creation.

Greene delivered a presentation called “Stuff in Flux” on Wed., Apr. 25, at SPC Impact 2018, the leading sustainability and packaging conference by the Sustainable Packaging Coalition.

In this five-minute video, Greene of identifies four key areas where sustainability will play an essential role in consumers’ lives—and what this means for packaging moving forward.


Production efficiencies, ecommerce challenges, sustainability trends, new bioplastic technologies and more are among the topics on the agenda at the new Packaging Education Hub at EastPack 2018 (June 12-14; NYC). This free educational program will have more than 15 hours of can’t-miss presentations, demonstrations and hands-on activities. Register to attend for free today!

Sleeve-labeled cans showcase beer’s unusual character
Burnt City's three year-round beers anchor a product line supplemented by seasonal offerings.

Sleeve-labeled cans showcase beer’s unusual character

Sleeve labels wrap Chicago’s Burnt City Beer cans in a new look done on a tight deadline that adds a major dose of fun and irreverence.

Just about everything changed for Burnt City Beer over a five-month period: The name changed from Atlas Brewing Co., the packaging design changed from masculine and industrial to irreverent and fun with sleeve-labeled cans now delivering the package graphics.

The from-scratch-redesigned packaging debuted in May when the Chicago brewer rolled out its new sleeve-labeled 12oz cans throughout the company’s markets in “most of northern Illinois, northern Indiana and Alabama,” says Greg Lamacki, the brewery’s chief operating officer.

The 12oz cans are supplied presleeved by Tripack for three year-round formulations and one seasonal item, according to Lamacki, who answers our questions about the extreme packaging graphics makeover that was done by Ian Law of Mighty Few.

                        Then named Atlas Brewing, the brewer's previous packaging design had a decidedly industrial look.

What were the major redesign goals?

Lamacki: We ran into unique circumstances [in late 2015] since we were looking for a whole rebrand within five months.  Knowing that label approval by the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau  would be at least six weeks and initial design would be another eight weeks,  I had to find a solution that had less than an 8-week turnaround. Speed was initially our biggest concern and goal. 

Along with that, we had decided to take our packaging from a “Legacy Look” (shown above) to one that was a little irreverent.  Knowing what we wanted and working with a designer that we had total confidence in helped us reach this goal. The only guideline we gave them was to make sure the whole brand was unified. 

What “vibe” you were seeking with this new name and look?

Lamacki: We wanted to convey that Chicago was a Burnt City and rose from the ashes.  We wanted to have a little fun and put characters on the can.  We wanted people to look at our brand and have it clearly be a Craft Beer brand.

Burnt City's first seasonal offering in a sleeve-labeled can is this summery Retrofit Lime Radler.

What was the hardest thing to get just right on the label?

Lamacki: We wanted to be fun without being silly.  Sometimes what you think is funny may come across as stupid.  Getting that right is the hardest thing.

Comment on the use of sleeve labeling.

Lamacki: We believe shrink sleeves gave us the best possible look in comparison to preprinted cans.  The cans come out looking mostly preprinted instead of a label applied—and we can get the cans sleeved in 4-6 weeks.  The real benefit is time and the ability to order smaller quantities.  At this time we plan to continue using shrink sleeves until business greatly increase, though we will continue to use shrink-sleeves for seasonal and one-off brews. 

[Ed.’s Note: You can read more about Tripack’s sleeving operations on the next page.]

What lessons were learned from this experience?

Lamacki: The best information I can pass along is to be flexible and open-minded with your graphic artist.  Give them big picture direction and let them work it out. This assumes you use someone who has experience in package design. 


What’s been the feedback?

Lamacki: Everyone I know likes the new look and the brand identity better than before.


What’s next?

Lamacki: We will continue to bring to market five seasonal beers this year.  Beyond that we are still a little too young for any concrete plans.

What can you say about Tripack’s involvement?

Lamacki: They have been a reliable and easy source to work with.  Since we did all the design work they performed all of the production work and delivery with great efficiency.

Read more about Burnt City’s fascinating backstory at the company’s website that led to the rebranding and redesign and about the threatened lawsuit and more in this Chicago Tribune article.


Interested in food and beverage packaging? Join like-minded professionals at MinnPack September 21-22 in Minneapolis.


Next: Sleeve packaging details from Tripack


According to Tripack’s Nick Linz, Burnt City’s shrink-sleeve label is made from PETG film printed on a high-definition flexographic press by Century Label. He also  answers the following questions:

How was the connection made with Burnt City?

Linz: Tripack’s initial communication with Burnt City began while they were doing business as Atlas Brewing. As a start-up brewery, Atlas reached out to Tripack with an initial interest in one of our shrink-sleeve labeling systems to go in-line with its canning equipment.

Atlas eventually became Burnt City and had a very short window to relaunch their new brand. This is where Tripack Craft Can Services were able to provide Burnt City with presleeved cans, at a less-than-truckload quantity, in a turn-around time that got them to market faster than their alternative of purchasing mass volume, preprinted cans from the factory.

What can you say about the sleeving operations?

Linz: Tripack’s operation is based in Cincinnati, a strategic central location, servicing customers across the U.S. including the West Coast. While we’ve been manufacturing shrink sleeve systems since 2003, we’ve been providing specialized contract sleeving services for five years now across various market segments.

We’ve seen massive growth for the contract sleeving over the past three years with craft beer, wine and spirits. We not only provide turnkey sleeve labeled cans in 12/16/32oz sizes, but also smaller 8oz cans for craft wine, coffee, and energy drink customers. In addition to cans, we decorate a great deal of full-size wine bottles and liquor bottles (glass and plastic).

Because of demand since the start of 2016, we have been operating at double shifts, 5 days a week. As a manufacturer of shrink sleeve labeling systems, we have the unique advantage as a copacker to quickly scale, adding new production lines in only a few weeks. On deck is the installation of a new high-speed depalletizer and can repalletizer that will double our output capability.

Cobots in packaging 2018: A debriefing with Universal Robots
Collaborative robots work with people and even with other cobots in packaging and other operations.

Cobots in packaging 2018: A debriefing with Universal Robots

Want to know about new developments, options and what’s state-of-the-art for collaborative robots from an insider? Here’s expert advice and insights from a vendor’s technical support specialist.

During Advanced Design & Manufacturing (ADM) Expo Cleveland in March, I stopped by the booth of Universal Robots USA Inc., and had a stimulating chat with Daniel Moore, technical supporter, about collaborative robots. On my return, I found that the last time I had worked with the company was the last time I reported on cobots, in late 2015 (“Experts provide guidance for robots and cobots in packaging”). It was apparent from our discussion that an update was warranted in this high-growth, fast-changing market—one report forecasts collaborative robots growth at an astounding 57% CAGR between 2017 and 2023. Moore was highly cooperative to help bring our packaging audience up to speed regarding the state of cobots in 2018.

What are the most notable changes in cobots since our last article in late 2015?

Moore: 2016 marked the launch of our UR+ developer ecosystem, which allows developers and specialists from other companies, experts in vision and networking and interfacing, to build easy-to-use apps directly into our robot. This online platform allows them to can make complex peripherals as easy to use as the collaborative robot.

What this means is that vision companies have started to focus on User Experience (UX) and Ease of Use. With just a couple presses on the screen, they can use one of the many UR+ vision offerings to set up a number of vision-guided robotic applications.

Whats possible now that wasn’t just two years ago?

Moore: Now there are a host of options for controlling robot motion, extremely sensitive force-sensing and collaborative seven-axis systems for extending the robot’s effective reach. 

What’s state of the art with UR?

Moore: We recently unveiled the SnapWeld UR+ app from one of our partners.

What’s next? How will cobots improve?

Moore: Just wait a few months and you’ll see a few new things for yourself, but we are always pushing for more robustness, more ease of use and more expandability.

Reach, even on our largest model, had been an issue for some palletizing operations. That has been largely obviated by adding more options to get to seven axes.

What level of activity and types of applications are you seeing?

Moore: Activity levels remain incredibly high. Last year we grew our global revenue 72% and we’re aiming at keeping similar growth rates for the foreseeable future. Our robots are able to provide automation to the masses: We want every one-, five-, 10- or 50-person shop to benefit from robotics just like the big companies have been doing for decades. Our bread-and-butter remains assembly, machine tending and packing, but we’re also seeing more people embrace robotic welding, plasma spraying and cladding as word-of-mouth reaches more and more small shops.

You mentioned that labor shortages were contributing to the growth of cobots and robotics. What’s been your experience?

Moore: At most every plant I visit, managers complain about labor shortages. Plants that want 100 workers only have 90. Plants that want 10 workers only have 8. There are a lot of socio-economic and political factors playing into why that is the case, but the addition of a robot to a shop that is hungry for labor doesn’t result in anyone getting laid off, but might lead to someone getting a less-repetitive job.

The human-machine interface (HMI) of some packaging machines can now control an integrated robot, for example, on a case packer. What factors into when that’s the best option or not?

Moore: I honestly don’t think there’s a “best” way to do it. It comes down to plant personnel’s skills and capacities. If they want to limit the operator’s interaction with the robot, an HMI is a good way to accomplish that. If they plan on converting their operator into a robot programmer, the HMI makes less sense. If they have someone skilled with HMIs and there are many interacting machines, perhaps it could serve a purpose in coordinating all those machines. But the robot (between the 24V, EthernetIP, Profinet, Modbus and TCP/IP clients) is more than capable of overseeing multiple devices in a cell.

What’s a misconception some have about cobots?

Moore: On one side, we see people who believe they’re not robust enough for complicated tasks or full 24/7 production. On the other side, we get a certain amount of pushback from people who think they’re too good to be true, particularly when we talk about a six-to-nine-month return on investment. Some people are just wary of any new technology, which is why word of mouth is so important.

That’s an impressive ROI! How often do you see that?

Moore: It’s certainly common! We encourage everyone to factor in the local conditions in their plant via one of the many ROI calculators available online, such as this one from Robotiq, a company that makes end effectors for UR. Another of our integrators, MSITec, also offers an online ROI calculator.

Even those calculators won’t factor in many of the hidden benefits of robotics: better consistency, better quality and pace-setting on the assembly line.

What’s the question you hear most from potential users and how do you answer it?

Moore: The question is: “How do I make sure it’s safe?”

The answer is the same way you do any risk assessment: identify points of contact and collision and minimize the probability and severity. Thankfully, the robot contains a comprehensive, programmable list of Safety Settings to fine-tune its sensitivity and speed. It’s easier than ever to have the robot be ultra-sensitive near any potential pinch points or to lock it out from ever approaching an operator’s face even if the operator has badly miss-taught a point.

What’s the biggest takeaway you’d like to leave for readers?

Moore: Yes, our robots are actually easy to program. Yes, it’s suitable for a harsh plant environment. Yes, it can run 24/7. Yes, it really can have an incredibly fast ROI. Since the first prototype was built back in 2005, we’ve been working as hard as we can to make a robot for everyone, but now with a focus on the smallest shops.

To find more cobot and robotics content at Packaging Digest, see


Discover the latest cobots, a dedicated 3D Printing Zone, hundreds of exhibitors and a free 3-day packaging conference at EastPack 2018 (June 12-14, New York City).


Compact labeler tailored for food and beverage packaging
The KHS Innoket Roland 40 applies gold glue or pressure-sensitive labels to glass or PET bottles or food cans.

Compact labeler tailored for food and beverage packaging

The KHS Innoket Roland 40 has a capacity of 2,500 to 25,000 containers per hour and is engineered for simple, reliable and economical labeling of cans and bottles.

KHS Group’s family of Innoket labelers has grown with the introduction of the Innoket Roland 40 compact labeler. The KHS Innoket Neo’s little brother has a capacity of 2,500 to 25,000 containers per hour and is specifically tailored to the requirements of the food and beverage industries. The Innoket Roland 40 can be fitted with various labeling stations and is characterized by its ease of use using KHS' high-quality components.

“The machine is specially geared towards lines with a low output,” says Cornelius Adolf, labeling product manager at KHS. During development particular attention was paid to simple, economic operation.

Adolf informs Packaging Digest that the labeler accommodates metal food cans, glass bottles and PET bottles with a minimum/maximum diameter of 45mm/129mm or and a minimum/maximum height of 110mm/ 380mm. The labeler accepts either cold adhesive paper or polymeric labels or pressure-sensitive labels.

The standard version Innoket Roland 40 offers two cold glue stations to allow shoulder and neck labels to be applied at two levels by the first station, for instance, with the second station affixing back labels to the bottles. Alternatively, self-adhesive stations, a combination of cold glue and self-adhesive technology and hot-melt labeling processes, can be used.

Besides its applicability for a range of packaged foods including canned foods and bottled sauces and dressings, Adolf tells Packaging Digest that he expects the most promising beverage markets to be for craft brewers and spirits brands running bottles.

“A couple of machines have been sold and are being installed and tested currently,” he adds.

Inside the Roland 40 are components similar to the high-performance KHS Innoket Neo labeler such as the carousel, infeed and discharge stars, swiveling doors for easy access, format parts and guides and the gripper cylinder and label magazine on the cold glue station. The Innoket Neo servo-feed screw is integrated on the Roland machine, permitting gentle bottle stops.

Adolf also points out that the control standard is a larger new 21.5-inch human machine inetrface rather than the small HMI seen in a YouTube video that offers viewers a 360 degree virtual tour (shown above).

Numerous customizable options

Adolf also points to a number of available options to customize the labeler for specific customer needs:

  • KHS VarioDrive electronic bottle control system;
  • Mechanical bottle orientation found in the infeed starwheel via the bottles’ side notch;
  • Traveling press-on units in carousel fitting, for example for cap or lid labels;
  • Foiling head;
  • U-shaped labels including tamper-evident seals for twist-off caps can also be labeled and rolled on.
  • Processing of L-Stripe labels, for example for tax stamps;
  • Sensor package that checks for label presence at certain points, for example in the label magazine or on the gluing roller, and for other factors such as broken bottles.

The machine will be on display at Anuga FoodTec in the Florin Gesellschaft für Lebensmitteltechnologie mbH booth located at  E20/F29 in Hall 10.1.


You’ll find the latest cobots, a dedicated 3D Printing Zone, hundreds of exhibitors and a 3-day packaging conference at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center during EastPack 2018 (June 12-14; New York City).