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Nike’s new Green Lobster shoe box tests packaging limits

Nike’s new Green Lobster shoe box tests packaging limits
Nike showcases its limited-edition Green Lobster shoes in thermoformed packaging designed with several piscatorial references.

Packaging has played a pivotal role in the marketing of Concepts x Nike SB Lobster Dunk skateboarding shoes since Red Lobster Dunks debuted in 2008. Most recently, Concepts x Nike SB Green Lobster Dunks joined the product family at a lobster-themed event featuring limited-edition packaging for the collectible shoes. The package’s centerpiece was a thermoformed box that mimics the totes used on commercial fishing vessels.

Concepts International—a retailer, lifestyle-brand developer and Nike sneaker collaborator—held the event on Dec. 28, 2018, in its New York and Cambridge, MA, boutiques. Pre-launch promotional images on social media included a pair of Green Lobster Dunks displayed on ice in the thermoformed box; wide rubber bands around the shoes’ toes evoked the protective bands lobstermen place on lobster claws.

The packaging at the retail event, and for consumers who bought Green Lobster Dunks online on launch day, comprised the thermoformed box topped with a 1/8-inch-thick sheet of acrylic decorated to look like a frozen lake. The co-branded acrylic lid snapped into the top of the container, where it perched on a ledge formed into the box. Inside the thermoformed container was a customized paperboard shoebox holding the Green Lobster Dunks plus accessories that included shoe laces and lobster-claw rubber bands.

A mere five weeks before the launch event, Concepts enlisted custom thermoformer Dordan Manufacturing Inc. to make the Green Lobster package a reality. What followed was a journey rich in package engineering and thermoforming ingenuity.

The project presented Dordan with several technical challenges based on requirements that included package rigidity and the box’s deep draw. “The initial concept was designed with no understanding of the thermoforming process, as it was intended to be produced via injection molding. However, due to the time restraints and the high-capital expenditures required for injection molding tooling, it wasn’t a viable option. Things like draft, draw ratios and radii were not included in the concept,” says Chandler Slavin, Dordan’s sustainability and marketing manager.

“Therefore, we had to redesign, making compromises between what the client was envisioning and what was possible from a tooling and thermoforming perspective,” she adds. The final thermoformed box met Concepts’ requirements while enabling “efficient production of consistently high-quality parts.”

A robust container

From the outset, Concepts knew it wanted an extremely rigid, thick container for the thermoformed box. In addition to conveying brand quality, the container’s rigidity would serve a structural purpose. “The containers were to be stacked up to 10 high at retail and therefore required enhanced structural elements to increase the rigidity to allow for support,” Slavin says. Dordan’s redesign of the box included enhanced vertical ribs to provide that structural strength.

To provide thickness and the matte black finish Concepts desired, Dordan chose black, 80-mil virgin high-impact polystyrene (HIPS)—the thickest material that can be formed into a roll and thermoformed inline.

The box’s depth pushed the limits of thermoforming technology in a different way. “Our thermoforming machines’ max draw was significantly challenged with this part. The paperboard shoebox itself was close to 5.5 inches, on top of which we had to add the depth of the acrylic sheet. Thus, the depth of this part was right at the limit of our forming capabilities,” Slavin explains. “The depth just met the maximum distance that the platen can move, based on the framework of the machines themselves.”

Thermoforming the box without losing too much thickness at the bottom of the container was another key concern due to the depth requirements.

To overcome the bottom-thinning issue—and minimize the visual disruption of flow lines created when heated plastic meets the lower-temperature thermoform tool—Dordan engineered a tool with tiny teeth-like cavities that secured the plastic in the tool.

“When the assist plugs mounted on the pressure box came down on the plastic to push the plastic into the tool, the teeth locked up, orienting and holding the plastic taut within the footprint of the form tool,” Slavin explains. “It was important to control process inconsistencies that are inherent in thermoforming. The goal was to form the most structurally consistent and robust container.”

By improving control of the plastic’s orientation during forming, the modified form tool enabled more consistent material flow into the tool. The result was a container with minimal flow lines and a bottom thickness consistent with the walls of the container.

Logos on bottom, lid on top

Concepts’ desire for crisp, defined logos molded into the bottom of the thermoformed box posed yet another challenge. To achieve this without compromising the box’s strength, Dordan machined a short male platform into the base of the female tool and engraved the Nike SB and Concepts logos into the platform. This approach kept the logos from protruding past the bottom edge of the box, ensuring its structural integrity.

The package’s die-cut acrylic lid, which was produced by a different packaging supplier, posed another concern. The lid producer was relying on Dordan’s dimensions of the inner shelf on which the lid would sit.

“Due to the project time restraints, the acrylic manufacturer was not able to wait until we began production to verify the shelf dimensions,” Slavin recalls. “Consequently, we were only able to provide a ‘best guess’ for the acrylic, which was based on the anticipated material shrinkage and meeting the aggressive manufacturing tolerances that we were targeting.”

The thermoformer’s calculations were so exact that the finished acrylic lids and thermoformed boxes had a friction fit. Because of this perfect fit, a large decal to cover the lid and secure it to the box—a feature of Concepts’ original package design—was deemed unnecessary. Ultimately, only two small decals were needed to secure the lid to the box.

Concepts was highly satisfied with the resulting package, and the sneakerheads who bought Green Lobsters in-store and online at the launch appreciated receiving the specialized, high-end packaging.

Overcoming the project’s many technical challenges took “a deep awareness of the complex interactions between thermoform part design and production,” Slavin says. It was a matter of “understanding thermoforming, not as a hard science, but as an elegant dance between plastic, heat, vacuum and pressure.”

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EastPack 2019 (June 11-13) is the region's premier packaging event connecting professionals from companies like PepsiCo, Pepperidge Farms and Mars with suppliers offering the latest packaging technologies, including a range of automation solutions, from semi-automatic equipment to sophisticated "smart" systems. Register to attend today!

Tube of the Year competition puts innovators in the spotlight

Tube of the Year competition puts innovators in the spotlight
Gold Award winners in six categories are the best of the best in the 2018 Tube of the Year competition.

The winning packages in The Tube Council’s 2018 Tube of the Year competition take tube packaging to a new level—leveraging innovation, technology, design, processing, manufacturing and components.

The competition offers an award for the highest achievement in tube packaging, the Ted Klein Tube of the Year Award, as well as sustainability awards and gold, silver and bronze awards in numerous consumer-goods categories. The 2018 competition received no entries for Best Innovative Component or Process, so that award was not granted this year.

The Tube Council will honor the 2018 competition’s winners in May 2019, at an event to be held in conjunction with Luxe Pack New York.

A panel of six judges, including Packaging Digest executive editor Lisa McTigue Pierce, evaluated entrants’ packages based on consumer appeal, ease of use, technical merit, package graphics, decoration, closure, texture and shape. Read about the Ted Klein Tube of the Year Award winner below. Winners in the other categories follow as such:

Page 2: Personal Care

Page 3: Pharmaceuticals

Page 4: Dentifrice

Page 5: Food

Page 6: Household & Industrial

Page 7: Sustainable Tubes

The injection-molded holographic Tube of the Year, for Pacifica Dream State Power Shimmer Body Lotion, draws the eye.

A “dreamy” package takes TUBE OF THE YEAR

Ted Klein Tube of the Year Award: The Pacifica Dream State Power Shimmer Body Lotion tube won this year’s top honor (see photo at top of page). The injection-molded tube is decorated using an in-mold label with a rainbow hologram featuring cold foil and gradients.

The 5-oz package, which also won the Gold Award in the Best Sustainable Tubes category, is made from 50% post-consumer recycled (PCR) resin. It also features 100% recyclable polypropylene components that are produced using up to 35% less energy. All components are produced under one roof in North America. The package is made by Viva IML Tubes.

“The Tube of the Year delivers on so many levels,” says Pierce, who served on the judging panel this year. “One, this is probably the best example of gradient vibrant color I’ve ever seen on a tube. Two, body lotion in a tube instead of a pump bottle adds to overall consumer delight, because the upside-down orientation helps fully evacuate the product. Three, beyond the eye-catching graphics, the package format itself stands out on shelf. Four, I always give points for an oriented closure: It just looks better, more sophisticated and complete. And, five, the sustainability gains add to the total ‘wow’ factor.”

NEXT: Best personal care tubes

PERSONAL CARE CATEGORY

L’Oréal uses laminate tube to protect hair-coloring creme

Gold Award: The aluminum barrier laminate (ABL) structure of the L’Oréal Garnier Nutrisse Nourishing Color Creme tube provides barrier properties comparable to those of an aluminum tube, protecting the product—which is included in boxed home-hair-coloring kits—from oxygen. Albéa Americas is the tube producer.

Hair-masque package is easy on the fingertips

Silver Award (tie): The Unwash Overnight Hair Masque tube from Viva IML Tubes features an in-mold label with a premium soft-touch effect.

Double the hair care, double the fun

Silver Award (tie): Viva IML Tubes also supplies the Marc Anthony Volume Cocktail tube, a two-chamber package with dual flip cap. The components are 100% polypropylene and fully recyclable.

NEXT: Best pharmaceutical packages

PHARMACEUTICAL CATEGORY

Tube improves dosing for antifungal product

Gold Award: The Tetra FungiFoam Antifungal tube is an airless-tube-plus-pump structure that replaces a bottle and pump. The tube, from Albéa Americas, provides more precise product dosing than the previous package.

Metallic inks embellish high-barrier moisturizer tube

Silver Award: The Pharmagel International Firma Derm moisturizer tube incorporates poly-foil high-barrier technology from Plastube. The package is silk screened using metallic inks to mimic hot stamping but without the cost.

Burn-gel tube keeps kids safe

Bronze Award (tie): A child-resistant closure protects children from the burn gel contained in the Aloe Brazilian Maximum Strength Alocane tube. Essel Propack supplies the package.

Ease of use makes ointment tube pet-parent-friendly

Bronze Award (tie): Dr. Maggie Skin Care Ointment for Pets is packaged in a silver, 20-micron laminate tube with 4-color graphics and a flip-top stand-up closure. The easy-to-squeeze tube is from Montebello Packaging.

NEXT: Best designs for the Dentifrice category

 

DENTIFRICE CATEGORY

Oxyfresh toothpaste tube brings smiles

Gold Award: The Oxyfresh Lemon Mint Toothpaste tube features a 7-color design with a matte finish over-varnish. The tube, supplied by Montebello Packaging, includes a protective peel seal.

Dr. Sheffield’s brand goes back to its roots

Silver Award: With its metallic silver finish, the aluminum barrier laminate (ABL) tube for Dr. Sheffield’s Certified Natural Toothpaste, Activated Charcoal, was inspired by the metal tube Dr. Sheffield originally used in the 1800s. Albéa Americas supplies the travel-friendly 0.85-oz ABL tube.

Upscale black tube elevates dentifrice

Bronze Award: Silk-screen decorating on a black tube ensures good legibility for small type, plus a tactile finish, for the Dentisse Select 01 package. A silver overshell closure finishes the tube, which is supplied by Plastube.

NEXT: Best food tubes

FOOD CATEGORY

Hain Celestial Imagine uses elegant tube for bouillon paste

Gold Award: With a stand-up cap, easy-open feature and a tamper-evident seal, the Hain Celestial Imagine Chicken Bouillon Paste tube from Viva IML Tubes is both functional and artful, with a bright line drawing on a black ground.

Mole chili paste tube radiates old-school charm

Silver Award: An old-world graphic design, brought to life with translucent inks on silver laminate, gives the Entube Mole Chili Paste tube a retro look. Montebello Packaging supplies the tubes.

Clear laminate showcases Canada’s Best syrup

Bronze Award: The tube for Canada’s Best 100% Natural Maple Syrup, decorated with 7-color digital printing, uses a clear laminate and shoulder to give consumers a view of the product. The tube supplier is Montebello Packaging.

NEXT: Tubes for household and industrial applications

HOUSEHOLD & INDUSTRIAL CATEGORY

Lubricant tube rocks red-and-black graphics

Gold Award: The 8-oz Echo Red Armor Lubricant tube, from Berry Global, is offset printed in two colors. Use of a second printing plate for a black-on-white illustration on the back of the tube assures legibility of the accompanying white-on-black text.

 

Tube for lubricant-additive provides one-handed use

Silver Award: A 49 millimeter tube with lube nozzle enables users of Amsoil Slip Lock additive to apply the product with one hand during motor repairs. Plastube supplies the tube.

No bronze award was given in this category.

NEXT: Best in sustainability category

SUSTAINABLE CATEGORY

Sustainability informs Pacifica body-lotion tube

Gold Award: The Pacifica Dream State Power Shimmer Body Lotion tube from Viva IML Tubes, which also won the Ted Klein Tube of the Year Award (see p.1 of this article), is made from 50% PCR resin and uses fully recyclable polypropylene components.

Aluminum alternative reduces carbon footprint for L’Oréal

Silver Award: The laminate tube for L’Oréal Garnier Nutrisse Nourishing Color Creme is up to 45% lighter than the aluminum tubes more commonly used for hair-coloring products, and its carbon footprint is 82% smaller. Supplied by Albéa Americas, this package also won the Gold Award in the Best Personal Care category (see p.2 of this article).

Dr. Bronner’s tube material incorporates plant-based resin

Bronze Award: The laminate used for Dr. Bronner’s Cinnamon All-One Toothpaste tube, from Essel Propack, incorporates polylactic acid (PLA) from organically grown plants. Because the material is primarily high-density polyethylene (HDPE), the tube is certified Resin Identification Code #2 recyclable.

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EastPack 2019 (June 11-13) is the region's premier packaging event connecting professionals from companies like PepsiCo, Pepperidge Farms and Mars with suppliers offering the latest packaging technologies, including a range of automation solutions, from semi-automatic equipment to sophisticated "smart" systems. Register to attend today!

Overseas consumers and retailers assess nanotech food films

Recent qualitative research from professors in Denmark indicates that consumers in four European countries and China misunderstand some benefits of active, nanotechnology-based food packaging but have no problem with nanotech per se. The researchers also find that retailers were primarily concerned about the packaging’s performance and its compatibility with their business.

Polymeros Chrysochou and Alexandra Festila, associate professor and assistant professor, respectively, at Denmark’s Aarhus University, conducted the research as part of the NanoPack project. NanoPack, a three-year initiative that has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation program, is developing antimicrobial active packaging with the goal of increasing food safety and reducing food waste.

Nanotech researchers (left to right) Alexandra Festila, assistant professor, and Polymeros Chrysochou, associate professor.

The researchers conducted 10 consumer focus groups and 10 interviews with retail managers in Denmark, Ireland, Italy, Spain and China to evaluate participants’ perception of the NanoPack active-packaging technology and its benefits.

A key finding from the research is that the benefits of active packaging may be confusing for consumers. For example, a package’s ability to provide both freshness and extended shelf life seemed contradictory to some focus group participants.

According to a report by the researchers, “Freshness is a rather vague promised benefit and people have different interpretations of it. They may perceive in terms of the time passed from the production, where a shorter time equates [to] a fresher food product.” In other words, consumers don’t necessarily view an extended-shelf-life product as fresh.

The researchers also find that consumers were unfazed by the nano component of NanoPack’s packaging film, which incorporates halloysite nanotubes (HNTs). The HNTs encapsulate antimicrobial molecules from plant-based essential oils, and the film gradually releases the molecules as vapor into the package.

“In the case of the NanoPack technology, consumers were not concerned with the ‘nanotechnology’ aspect,” the researchers write. “They were more concerned with the ‘essential oils’ aspect and the ‘active’ nature of this technology.”

Specifically, the focus group consumers tended to perceive food packed in the HNT film as more natural, because the film incorporates natural essential oils. At the same time, participants were concerned that the active release of vapor into the package would contaminate or alter the food inside.

Retailer reaction

The researchers’ in-depth interviews with retail managers reveal that retailers’ primary requirement for emerging packaging technologies is food safety. Secondarily, retailers want packaging that fits with their strategies and internal processes, including transportation/storage and recyclability.

Technology assurances, such as proof of effectiveness and certifications, are also important to retailers. Finally, this cohort wants packaging technology that “guarantees that the product will maintain its quality…and sensorial properties,” as well as its safety, the researchers report.

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EastPack 2019 (June 11-13) is the region's premier packaging event connecting professionals from companies like PepsiCo, Pepperidge Farms and Mars with suppliers offering the latest packaging technologies, including a range of automation solutions, from semi-automatic equipment to sophisticated "smart" systems. Register to attend today!

Amazon chooses refillable packaging for Clean Revolution

Amazon chooses refillable packaging for Clean Revolution

A sustainable-packaging collaboration between Amazon and Replenish has borne fruit in the form of Amazon’s Clean Revolution cleaning products. Amazon uses the new Replenish 3.0 packaging design for its Clean Revolution line, with Replenish acting as a private-label supplier.

Like earlier iterations of the Replenish Refill System, version 3.0 comprises a reusable bottle and refill pods filled with product concentrate. Each (filled) pod weighs about 4 ounces and holds enough concentrate to make six bottles of product. Amazon uses unbleached cloth bags with drawstrings as the secondary packaging for the pods and reusable bottles.

To use Clean Revolution products, consumers screw a refill pod into the bottle’s base, invert the combined package and press the bottom of the pod to release concentrate into the bottle’s built-in measuring cup. Turning the package upright, the consumer removes the sprayer/dispenser and fills the bottle with tap water to dilute the concentrate.

For Amazon and its customers, Replenish 3.0 not only encourages environmental responsibility but also reduces shipping costs. “Focusing on the ability of a reusable, concentrate-friendly platform to dramatically reduce shipping costs in ecommerce is a big deal,” says Jason Foster, Replenish founder and chief reuser. At the same time, Amazon is “tapping into the reuse movement, which is just now starting.”

Replenish sells its own CleanPath brand of home-cleaning products and foaming hand soap, also in the Replenish Refill System, online. Consumers buying the CleanPath Replenish 3.0 system can customize their product and package, choosing from multiple options for fragrance, bottle color and trim color.

Consumers can even upload digital images to be printed on their bottles. “We print directly on the bottle and can do single bottles up to tens of thousands,” Foster says. “It’s a digital printer that has the highest resolution in the industry and can print on curved surfaces.”

He adds, “We offer printing directly on the bottle for CleanPath only at this time, to showcase the capability, but we can of course offer that to any brand or retailer for products that will be powered by Replenish.”

Foster answers some questions from Packaging Digest about the Replenish Refill System, Replenish 3.0 and Amazon’s Clean Revolution products.

Please explain the differences between Replenish 2.0 and 3.0, and the reasons for these changes.

Foster: With Replenish 3.0, we shifted the platform to be completely modular and eliminated much of the ultrasonic welding and injection molding used in manufacturing Replenish 2.0. This shift in architecture not only reduced costs but allowed us to offer top-to-bottom customization, allowing brands and consumers to choose different shapes, colors, materials and bottle or refill-pod sizes. If your favorite color is yellow, you can make a yellow bottle! The goal is to offer products that reflect your personal taste and home, not the limits of a retail shelf.

Also, this move to enable full customization allows brands and retailers to easily customize the Replenish platform to fit their own brand aesthetic and create more differentiation in the marketplace.

Our mission at Replenish is to eliminate one billion plastic bottles from ever reaching the land, ocean or air—reusable, concentrate-friendly packaging can get us there. If you provide consumers with a durable, more attractive product that they feel some affinity towards, they are going to reuse it. We can break the endless cycle of disposability if we build purpose and meaning into consumer products again.

Who manufactures the Replenish Refill System?

Foster: We manufacture the platform ourselves in Aurora, CO, with the help of a network of amazing suppliers. One in particular is our blow-molding supplier GoRight Plastics, Printing, and Logistics. They can do anything and have resources I have never before found under one roof.

When did Replenish 3.0 launch?

Foster: During the second half of 2018, but we will continue to innovate and roll out new features and capabilities in 2019.

What is the printing technology used?

Foster: The Kammann CNC 2250 no-contact Hybrid Digital printer.


How durable are the graphics?

Foster: Durability of the ink is excellent—easily 300-plus dish washings, with excellent chemical resistance and scratch resistance as well.

What plastics are the Replenish 3.0 components made from?

Foster: Replenish 3.0 is fully customizable and can be made with almost any resin, including post-consumer recycled content. The only requirement is to have some clarity in the upper bottle so consumers can see the measuring cup during mixing. 

In one version of Replenish being sold today, the reusable bottle is made with Eastman Chemical’s Tritan copolyester resin, while the base is polypropylene (PP), the measuring cup is made from silicone and the refill pods are made with low-density polyethylene (LDPE). But again, there are lots of options from a material standpoint.

 

Are these plastics recyclable?

Foster: Yes, all components are recyclable, since the bottle can be disassembled by the user. However, we all know the structural issues facing recycling right now, and our message at Replenish is: Don’t forget about the other two Rs—reduce and reuse. Our hope is the last R can recover from the mistakes of the last 30 years, but it’s not going to save us from the disposable plastic tomb modern society is burying itself in.


When did Amazon introduce the Clean Revolution products? What’s included in the line?

Foster: Our collaboration with Amazon just started in February [2019] with the introduction of the Clean Revolution line of cleaning products, a private-label brand created under the Amazon Accelerator Program. The eco-friendly cleaning line consists of a powerful Multi-Surface Cleaner and a luxurious Foaming Hand Soap that sell for about $1.50 a bottle, which is about 50% less than competing eco-friendly brands. More products are in the pipeline, as well.

What benefits does Replenish 3.0 offer ecommerce brands?

Foster: Most of the products we buy are 90% water, which is especially true in cleaning products. By designing a reusable, concentrate-friendly platform, consumers can add water at the point of consumption (the home) which eliminates the bulk and weight across the entire supply chain and in shipping to the home. Why ship 5 pounds of cleaner when you can ship the equivalent in 4 ounces? It’s a stair-step reduction in manufacturing and shipping costs, but a massive leap towards a sustainable circular economy by cutting plastic, carbon emissions and energy usage by 90%.

Bulk and weight are the real enemies in modern-day retail. It kills ecommerce profitability, and it’s the biggest source of waste. It’s time to sell consumers more of what they need and less of what they don’t.

Our hope is Clean Revolution can be a lighthouse that demonstrates all those advantages, especially at Amazon, and that helps change how consumer products are designed and sold in this new era of ecommerce and producer responsibility.


Could the Replenish system be used for other types of products?

Foster: The Replenish platform can be used across multiple product categories, like beauty, personal care, beverage, pet, garden, and industrial and household cleaning. 

Are any other brand owners using the Replenish system?

Foster: We will be making some exciting announcements about new brands that will be using the Replenish platform soon.

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EastPack 2019 (June 11-13) is the region's premier packaging event connecting professionals from companies like PepsiCo, Pepperidge Farms and Mars with suppliers offering the latest packaging technologies, including a range of automation solutions, from semi-automatic equipment to sophisticated "smart" systems. Register to attend today!

Premade pouch craze spurs improvements in fillers/sealers

Premade pouch craze spurs improvements in fillers/sealers
The Toyo Jidoki TT8DN premade-pouch filler/sealer is distributed by Matrix/ProMach.

Packagers’ desire for less packaging waste and greater operational efficiency, including improved infeed systems, is driving advancements in premade-pouch fillers/sealers.

Packaging Digest asked executives from three equipment companies to answer a few questions about recent improvements in this corner of the packaging-machinery market and to predict what we can expect in the near future.

The participants in this exclusive Packaging Digest roundtable are:

• Mike Burnett, senior product manager at Automated Packaging Systems;

• Troy Snader, vp, Flexibles, at Matrix/ProMach; and

• R. Charles Murray, CEO of PPi Technologies Group.

What recent advancements have you seen in premade-pouch fillers/sealers?

Burnett: The laminated stand-up pouch segment has exploded over the past five to 10 years. Never before have we seen so many innovations in terms of material structures and bag features, including barrier films, high-respiration films, specialty closures, fitments/spouts, shapes and sizes. This innovation in flexible packaging materials has also driven the need for innovation in the form, fit and function of the machinery used to package customer products in the most efficient and effective ways possible.

Examples of premade standup pouches from Automated Packaging show variety in the format.

Packaging machinery buyers/users are constantly being challenged by ever-increasing labor costs and ever-decreasing labor availability. We’ve seen a significant increase in the demand for more custom, integrated systems in which our bagging machinery is fully integrated with various types of automatic infeeds—counters, weighers, fillers and robotics. Having the capability to use automatic infeeds significantly reduces the number of people required to operate each piece of equipment on the packing line.

Snader: We distribute the Toyo Jidoki brand (see photo at the top of the page). A recent advancement is a new recycle-pouch option. When a bag is not filled, instead of just dropping, the bag continues through each rotary station without being sealed or dispensed. The bag continues through the next cycle and is then filled, sealed and dispensed the second time around.

Another advancement is in the adjustability of the heights of the pouches and seal bar/cooling bar. This allows for much greater flexibility with zipper pouches.

Yet another advanced feature is the “pause” mode. In this mode, if a pouch is opened, the process will pause or wait for the fill, as needed. That way you remove the possibility of an empty pouch.

Murray: The marketplace has called for more speed, and our new servo-driven PSG LEE fill-and-seal machines run at 120 per minute.

Supplying prepared home food products as kits has created the need for two-compartment pouches. Amazon is pushing online delivery of healthy food kits—home deliveries have doubled in the past year. We can fill, in duplex, two pouches at a time, each with two compartments, and also up to four different products at a time. The scale feeds these products. We can also gas flush to extend shelf life.

The PSG LEE RD-320 premade-pouch filler/sealer, distributed by PPi Technologies Group, is a duplex machine with 10 stations.

How do these advanced systems compare to existing, standard equipment?

Burnett: Most of the flexible-packaging industry is comprised of companies that focus either on packaging materials or packaging equipment. With today’s rate of innovation, some companies, like Automated Packaging Systems, are designing and engineering materials and machinery together for highly optimized applications, such as stand-up pouches. Using system-matched materials improves productivity, throughput and reliability.

Snader: Existing equipment does not have a recycle option; bags that are not filled are dropped, generally inside the machine, or they carry through to the end of the cycle and are ejected. If the pouch is ejected at the end of the cycle, there is a possibility of reusing the bag. But if it is ejected within the machine, and the product—perhaps a messy, powdery product—gets all over the pouch, then the pouch would need to be disposed of. These bags are not reused.

Being able to adjust pouch and seal bar/cooling bar heights expands the equipment’s capabilities. Most premade-pouch machines have some flexibility with adjustments, but they’re limited. Also, pause mode is not available on other machines.

Murray: The ability to produce, with the new servo-drive machines, twice the run output with the same single operator provides an excellent return on investment—ROI. These machines also have the ability to open zippers that might be closed during pouch manufacture, using a patented mechanical opener. This reduces pouch waste before filling.

What are the benefits of these advancements for packaging machinery buyers/users?

Burnett: The main advantage to premade-pouch fillers/sealers is that these machines take the bag-making process out of the equation. Not having to make the bag removes a lot of complexity from the machinery, usually resulting in a less intense capital investment. Also, premade pouches typically look better and are often higher quality, because the pouches are made offline on specialized bag-converting equipment instead of in-line with the packing-line operation.

Automated Packaging Systems’ FAS SPrint Revolution SidePouch platform is an example of a high-productivity bag-packaging system that has been optimized at the design and engineering phase to run multiple bag formats, including stand-up pouches, with integration capabilities for maximum labor savings.

Automated Packaging Systems’ FAS SPrint Revolution SidePouch bag-packaging systems for premade, stand-up pouch applications run multiple bag formats, including stand-up pouches and non-structured bags.

Snader: Using equipment with a recycle-pouch option helps customers decrease pouch waste; the programming allows for maximum efficiency of the filling/sealing process. A lot of programming goes into the system when it needs to recognize that the bag was not filled and needs to continue to cycle around the rotary path without closing, sealing or dropping on the conveyor.

Equipment with height adjustability offers more flexibility and options when it comes to design of pouches and the number of different pouches you can run on the same machine.

Murray: The first benefit of a duplex machine is making two pouches at about 35% less cost than a single pouch, which means a price reduction for the owner and/or consumer. The equipment’s ability to open all zippers means pouches are always filled, and the machine runs at optimum efficiencies. A duplex washdown machine has an advantage for the environment in that there is about a 50% reduction in chemicals going into the waste stream, because only one machine is washed and sterilized.

What areas in premade-pouch filling/sealing still need work, and why?

Burnett: Footprint, flexibility and speed are a few areas in which premade-pouch filling/sealing machinery could improve. Many machinery options in this space still require a fair amount of real estate, aren’t particularly quick to change over and leave a bit to be desired in terms of packaging efficiency.

We are always looking at how our customers’ needs are changing and are likely to change in the future so we can develop new products to meet or exceed those needs.

Snader: Customers looking for an entry-level machine have a difficult time finding one that will work efficiently, is reliable and has more than the minimum durability. Most entry-level machines have a low operating efficiency, a greater number of unfilled bags that are dropped and a larger number of bags that are not sealed correctly, which results in disposal.

Second, pouch-infeed systems need advancement. Current systems are extremely costly and unattainable for most customers.

Third is washdown. Improvements to materials and design are needed to ensure machine integrity in a washdown environment.

Murray: In the near future, the premade-pouch machines will need automatic, robotic premade-pouch loading into the filler.

The premade-pouch machines will need to accommodate more camera vision systems to ensure quality and that correct products are packed.

What’s next, and when might we see further improvements in premade-pouch filling/sealing?

Burnett: We are always looking for opportunities to innovate and create more value for our customers, and everything is on the table: enhanced focus on predictive-maintenance features, productivity-data tracking/export, IoT [internet of things], even simpler maintenance, food safety. These, and more, are all focuses for us as our product road map evolves.

Snader: As customers move into the premade-pouch market, we will continue to see a greater number of additional features. These features are often created in response to the needs of new customers and the complexity of their packaging needs. One example is off-set transitions, when you want the equipment’s fingers to pick up the bags slightly off-center, or off-set, for transitioning through the cycle.

We also continue to see new and better options for printing—for example, how the machine is set up, in terms of new standard connections that make it easier to connect a larger variety of printers. The need for increased speed will drive continuous improvement as more efficiencies are put into place.

Automated, robotic infeeds and higher-capacity infeed solutions will continue to be advanced for automatically feeding premade pouches into machines. Customers are looking for less labor in feeding premade pouches into machines. The largest manufacturer of premade-pouch machines is launching an automated, robotic infeed system in the second quarter of 2019.

Murray: The future is premade-pouch machines that work with other filled primary packages, namely stick packs, vials or tubes, loading a pre-counted quantity into the premade pouch for retail sales. This avoids the need for a paper carton box. The premade pouch is much more flexible than a carton box. The same size pouch (as carton box) can handle many pack sizes.

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EastPack 2019 (June 11-13) is the region's premier packaging event connecting professionals from companies like PepsiCo, Pepperidge Farms and Mars with suppliers offering the latest packaging technologies, including a range of automation solutions, from semi-automatic equipment to sophisticated "smart" systems. Register to attend today!

Pets star on new packages of Hill’s Science Diet pet food

Pets star on new packages of Hill’s Science Diet pet food
Packaging redesign uses portraits of breeds and color coding to help pet parents easily find their pet food selection in the store.

New packaging graphics for Hill’s Science Diet cat food and dog food reinforce the brand’s science-based nutrition while creating emotional appeal with photo portraits of healthy, well-fed pets. The redesign affects more than 2,000 stock-keeping units, all bags and cans.

Complementing the striking photography, a call-out on the front on each package states: “Helped 9 Million Shelter Pets Find a Forever Home.” The back panel also highlights the brand’s commitment to nourishing shelter animals.

The redesigned graphics display the kibble size (or canned-food texture) and include images of “real food” ingredients used in the recipe, like chicken. The new packs also use color coding to signify product subcategories. Like the previous packaging, the new packs have a white background to convey the brand’s clinical attribute.

Colgate-Palmolive Co., which owns theHill’s Science Diet brand, worked with branding agency Beardwood&Co. on the redesign. The new bags and cans are launching currently in the United States, with other regions to follow.

Jennifer Giannotti-Genes, global associate design director at Colgate-Palmolive Co., and Julia Beardwood, founding partner at Beardwood&Co.,answer Packaging Digest’s questions about the Science Diet package redesign.

What was the goal of the redesign?

Giannotti-Genes: The goal of the redesign was to make Science Diet more approachable, with emotional engagement; to simplify the communication; and most importantly, to make it relevant to pet parents.

Text on the packaging is in multiple languages. Where are these products distributed?

Giannotti-Genes: We are distributed all across the United States, Latin America, Europe and Japan.

Is Science Diet a prescription brand? Is it sold through mainstream retail and ecommerce channels? 

Giannotti-Genes: Science Diet is not a brand that requires a veterinary prescription. It is our wellness brand, and it is sold through pet specialty stores and ecomm channels.

Did Colgate-Palmolive do any consumer research prior to executing this packaging redesign? If so, what did you learn? 

Giannotti-Genes: We spoke to pet parents many times throughout the journey. We learned a lot about how they feel about our brand, and what our current packs were saying to them. We did more upfront listening and iteration and not necessarily in the traditional way. The more we listened to learn, the more focused we could be with our design development as we progressed to finalization.

Please explain the new color-coded strips at the top of the bags.

Beardwood: Color-coded strips at the top of each bag help to identify three different product groupings within the Hill’s Science Diet line.

Giannotti-Genes: The red at the top signals our everyday wellness recipes—which include life stages—for those pets that are not dealing with a condition at the moment. The silver is for our Specialty products, which are for those pets who have a special need or condition—like Urinary, Mobility or Sensitive Stomach.

Beardwood: Pink signifies the Small Paws line, with specialized nutrition specifically developed to keep small dogs in top health. The color strips help retailers to organize the brand on-shelf and provide an extra color cue to make life easier for pet parents shopping online.

Is this color coding also used on cans?

Giannotti-Genes: Yes, there is color coding on the cans, too. The red strip at the top of the can signals everyday wellness recipes, and the silver is for special conditions.

Did you make any structural changes, or was this strictly a redesign of package graphics?

Giannotti-Genes: Some of our bag sizes were streamlined to be more cohesive in size (height) on-shelf.

What packaging suppliers were involved in the project?

Giannotti-Genes: We have a fantastic artwork-implementation team in our office in New York and in Kansas that leads all of the adaptations, color management, printing execution and printer relationships. Karen Vermeulen, Meghan Hestand and Mariana Zuniga are three incredible team members who worked together with our suppliers to make our pet imagery on-pack come alive!

Was the statement about helping shelter animals on the previous packaging?

Giannotti-Genes: Helping shelter pets is at the core of our brand purpose—it is something Hill’s is and has been very dedicated to and passionate about. It was not on our packaging before, but we knew it was a real message that pet parents wanted to know about. So now it’s on our package.

How many cats and dogs did you photograph for the packaging?

Beardwood: About 16 of each, for a total of 32.

What was their age range?

Beardwood: From kittens and puppies, all the way up to senior dogs and cats age 11 years-plus. Hill’s Science Diet makes pet nutrition that targets the specific needs of each stage of a pet’s life, so it was important to portray that age/stage in the pet image on each product.

How did you find the cats and dogs to photograph?

Beardwood: Loyal Hill’s Science Diet buyers recognize the product they buy by the photo of the pet on the bag. So we needed to keep the pet breed the same when changing the package design, so people could still find their familiar product. The photographer, Michael Faye, is based in Los Angeles, so all the cats and dogs come from that city and surrounding area. We chose pets that exude great health and lots of personality. Pet parents told us they really connect with our cast of characters.

How have consumers reacted to the redesign?

Giannotti-Genes: Our redesigned packs are just starting to roll out on-shelf and on ecomm, so it’s a bit early to tell. But from what we hear so far, pet parents are falling in love.

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EastPack 2019 (June 11-13) is the region's premier packaging event connecting professionals from companies like PepsiCo, Pepperidge Farms and Mars with suppliers offering the latest packaging technologies, including a range of automation solutions, from semi-automatic equipment to sophisticated "smart" systems. Register to attend today!

Technology evaluates packaging’s light protection properties

Technology evaluates packaging’s light protection properties
Chester, VT, dairy farm Jersey Girls Dairy LLC has partnered with Noluma to upgrade its packaging to protect its farm-fresh pasteurized milk against light exposure.

Light—both natural and artificial—is the enemy of many products, particularly foods. To help brand owners develop light-protective food packaging, Noluma International LLC uses proprietary light-protection technology for package measurement, assessment and certification.

As a services provider, Noluma works with clients and packaging suppliers to develop packaging with the highest level of light protection. Div Chopra, Noluma’s president and CEO, answers Packaging Digest’s questions about the company’s technology and services.

What types of products do Noluma’s clients sell?

Chopra: Noluma-certified materials can be used in a variety of consumer-goods segments, including dairy, edible oils, pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, juices, other beverages and more. 

Who are Noluma’s typical clients—food companies or packaging-material manufacturers?

Chopra: Noluma services benefit consumer-goods companies in a variety of industries. However, Noluma is currently most focused on working with dairy companies due to the immense damage that indoor lights have on the taste and inherent nutrition in these types of products.

To illustrate this damage, food scientists who have studied light’s impact on milk’s nutritional value have found that:

• After only two hours of exposure to lights typically found in retail dairy cases, milk begins to lose vitamin A.

• After 16 hours of dairy-case light exposure, less than half of the vitamin A (49%) remains in nonfat milk in a typical plastic bottle.

• After one hour of sunlight exposure, riboflavin nutrients in pasteurized whole milk drop by 28%.

• After 14 days of retail light exposure in a polyethylene terephthalate (PET) bottle, there is a significant decline in nutrients in fortified, reduced-fat ultra-high temperature (UHT) milk (45% riboflavin loss, 60% vitamin A loss and 80% vitamin D loss).

• And after 12 weeks of light exposure in a retail setting, UHT milk’s nutritional value declines dramatically (93% vitamin A loss, 100% vitamin B2 loss and 66% vitamin D loss).

Can you provide any specifics about the technology Noluma uses to assess the light-protection capacity of packages?

Chopra: Noluma measures and assesses packaging’s light-protection capacity based on the content change of what’s inside.

Using patented technology, we test for the light-sensitive ingredient in a variety of products that change negatively when exposed to all forms of light, including LED home lights, refrigerator lights and retail fluorescent lights.

For example, we use riboflavin (vitamin B2) as a marker for measuring light exposure’s impact on dairy products, because it acts as a catalyst for the decreases in other vitamins.

The technology that Noluma uses replicates two weeks of light exposure and evaluates the change in contents in just two hours. As the marker decreases, we know that the qualities of the product—freshness, level of nutrition and such—also diminish.

Noluma then pinpoints the optimal point of total light-block at which content change ceases to exist and designs packaging options to achieve this.

How are you able to speed up light-exposure time and guarantee test results?

Chopra: Noluma brought together innovations in chemistry, analytics and engineering with our diverse technical team to solve challenging interdisciplinary problems. Noluma has invented a means to simulate the impact of light exposure in highly accelerated time frames. The accuracy and precision of the method have been documented in peer-reviewed publications.

How does Noluma measure damage to markers?

Chopra: Noluma has technology to monitor different marker systems and uses advanced analytical methods to detect the changes of interest that occur when the marker is exposed to light. In some cases, multiple changes in the marker system are simultaneously tracked using complementary analysis methods, such as spectroscopic techniques and chromatography. Noluma technology is customized to detect what matters to the contents being protected. [See U.S. Patent No. 9,638,679.]

What type of light do you use to evaluate products in test packages?

Chopra: Noluma uses a broad-spectrum conditioned light source that is controlled for both spectrum and intensity. A typical measurement uses the full light spectrum to provide a comprehensive evaluation of the impact of light exposure, although the technology can focus on bands within the spectrum when this aids in the research.

What types of package structures does Noluma test?

Chopra: Almost any product can be negatively impacted by indoor lights, such as LED or fluorescent lights, so all packaging can be improved to enhance its light-protection qualities using insights gathered through our testing-and-measurement process. We can measure, assess and guide the packaging design for all types of packaged goods—regardless of material, shape or contents. Noluma then certifies the end packaging to assure consumers of light protection.

The uniqueness of our technology is that it measures the light protection of packaging in relation to the primary change agent in its contents. When our standards are met, Noluma is able to certify that a package offers light protection that consumers can trust.

Different types of packaging and different kinds of products can have varying levels of light protection, and while we can test and advise on any type of packaging and any type of product, we only certify packaging that meets our performance standards.

When Noluma makes recommendations for packaging that will provide better light protection, what does that advice include (such as, packaging materials, structure, seal, closure)?

Chopra: Yes, all of the above—from materials to decorative and protective wraps to packaging structure or type of seal and closure. The testing allows manufacturers to better understand the vulnerabilities of their packaging and work with Noluma to design packaging that better blocks the degradation of nutrients, taste and efficacy caused by light exposure.

When recommending packaging materials that provide better light protection, are you able to suggest transparent packaging options?

Chopra: Yes, we can work within the requirements of our customers and work with partners to develop the type of packaging design that meets their needs while preventing light damage. We can achieve or verify the maximum possible light protection for any type of packaging.

Has the selection of UV-blocker additives for polymers expanded? Are many such additives available to packagers and their suppliers?

Chopra: Noluma is a services company and does not sell such materials. We work with your convertor or bottler to find the best quality solutions.

How do brand owners test for product degradation now?

Chopra: Manufacturers are well equipped to assess product degradation in their industries and do everything they can to secure the integrity of their contents. However, the causes of light damage and its effects are newfound knowledge in many industries, which in the past attributed such damage to content quality and not to indoor lights.

The Noluma logo on a package tells consumers the product has been protected from light damage throughout the product's shelf life.

What does the Noluma certification signify? How do consumers know if a product is Noluma certified?

Chopra: A Noluma logo certifies that packaging meets the gold standard for light protection and that the packaging helps to ensure that product has the quality, freshness and nutritional qualities it promises.

Noluma certification means that a product or food’s freshness, nutrition, efficacy and sensory qualities are protected as best as scientifically possible from light exposure throughout the full shelf life of the product.

Most Noluma-certified packages have the Noluma logo, and this signifies authenticity of light protection. Consumers can ask their favorite brands if they’re light-protected, and if they aren’t, they should ask if they will be.

Consumers must also be wary of brands that claim to provide light protection when they do not. It’s like the sun protection factor (SPF) in suntan lotion: An SPF of 10 or 15 does not do much to protect our skin from sun damage.

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EastPack 2019 (June 11-13) is the region's premier packaging event connecting professionals from companies like PepsiCo, Pepperidge Farms and Mars with suppliers offering the latest packaging technologies, including a range of automation solutions, from semi-automatic equipment to sophisticated "smart" systems. Register to attend today!

Red Bull scores with beverage packaging that targets gamers

Red Bull scores with beverage packaging that targets gamers
Graphics of famous videogamer Tyler “Ninja” Blevins adorn limited-edition cans of Red Bull.

Sports figures and packaging go together like Michael Jordan and Wheaties. Now e-sports celebrities are also popping up on packaging for mass-market brands: Red Bull has launched a limited-edition can celebrating 27-year-old videogaming superstar Tyler “Ninja” Blevins.

The front of the energy-drink can is printed with the gamer’s Ninja logo and two likenesses of Blevins. One image is a portrait of the gamer wearing his signature Ninja X Red Bull head band, and the other shows Blevins performing his popular PonPon dance.

The 8.4-oz cans are sold in four-packs and 12-packs; the paperboard secondary packaging is printed with the same graphics as the Ninja can. The packaging rolled out to retailers nationwide on April 1 and will be available while supplies last.

As part of the Ninja campaign, Red Bull is encouraging gamers to visit a promotional website where they can compete for prizes by uploading photos and videos displaying their gaming skills and creativity. The grand-prize winner will be flown, with a friend, to a Red Bull gaming event for “a meet and greet gaming session with Ninja.” Additional prizes include gaming gear and Red Bull merchandise.

Blevins has risen through the gaming ranks to become the most popular streaming gamer on Twitch, with 14 million followers on that platform. He also has 22 million YouTube subscribers and 4.22 million Twitter followers.

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EastPack 2019 (June 11-13) is the region's premier packaging event connecting professionals from companies like PepsiCo, Pepperidge Farms and Mars with suppliers offering the latest packaging technologies, including a range of automation solutions, from semi-automatic equipment to sophisticated "smart" systems. Register to attend today!

Tins offer a whimsical take on powdered beverage packaging

Tins offer a whimsical take on powdered beverage packaging
Retro tins hold powdered milk flavorizers, and impart a positive sustainability message.

The packaging design for Shatto Milk Flavorizers plays on the brand’s down-home personality while supporting its commitment to sustainability. The package, a cube-shaped metal tin, features vivacious colors and humorous narratives about the brand and its beloved cows.

Berlin Packaging supplies Shatto Milk Co. with the silk-screened tins and friction-fit lids. For easy differentiation, the tin for each of the five flavors is decorated with a color-coded silhouette of a milk bottle against a white background.

The lids, also color-coded, are printed with the company’s cow logo and brand adages like: “For those whose favorite flavor of milk is Shatto.” With fill volume of 12 ounces, the tins are the primary packaging for the shelf-stable flavorizer powder—no inner pouch is needed.

“Our brand is focused on things of yesteryear,” says Matt Shatto, vp of Shatto Milk Co., noting that home delivery of milk—in glass bottles—is a component of the Kansas City, Mo.-based family business. “Plastics didn’t fit with that mantra or schematic of our company. The old-fashioned tin is a parallel to glass-bottled milk.”

He adds, “We try to steer away from plastics. It’s not our brand. We look to more sustainable alternatives.”

Shatto Milk developed the flavorizers to quench the thirst of consumers who enjoy its seasonal flavored milks, which are only available a few weeks each year. The flavorizers are available in blueberry (Super), cinnamon roll (Swirl), orange cream (Dreamy), strawberry (Sweetie) and vanilla (Vanilly).

The flavorizers launched in 2018 in specialty shops and grocers in Missouri and Kansas and through Shatto’s home-delivery service. “Customers love the custom tin and the ability to enjoy seasonal Shatto milk flavors year-round,” says Tim Ahders, senior account executive at Berlin Packaging.

The flavorizers will be Shatto’s first products to roll out nationally, later this year.

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EastPack 2019 (June 11-13) is the region's premier packaging event connecting professionals from companies like PepsiCo, Pepperidge Farms and Mars with suppliers offering the latest packaging technologies, including a range of automation solutions, from semi-automatic equipment to sophisticated "smart" systems. Register to attend today!

Oreo package co-brands for ‘Game of Thrones’ fans

Oreo package co-brands for ‘Game of Thrones’ fans
Limited-edition Oreo packaging dons branding for the widely popular HBO series "Game of Thrones."

With the airing of the final episode of HBO’s “Game of Thrones” quickly approaching, Mondelēz International has created limited-edition “Game of Thrones” packaging for Oreo cookies. The packaging design, which launched in early April, is in national distribution and will be available while supplies hold.

The black package displays a sole Oreo cookie superimposed on the show’s Iron Throne, above which stands a silver Oreo logo rendered in the same font as the “Game of Thrones” title logo. Names of three of the show’s Great Houses run across the package, beneath the Oreo logo and Iron Throne graphic.

“When developing this idea, it was imperative that the spirits of both brands were reflected in the Oreo ‘Game of Thrones’ cookie,” an OREO spokesperson explains. “As with all collaborations, Oreo wanted to ensure that the partnership reflected its playful personality, but also delivered something unexpected to the classic Oreo cookie.

“Not only does the pack reflect the dark look and feel of the show, Oreo also paid tribute to ‘Game of Thrones’ through the cookies, as well. The Oreo ‘Game of Thrones’ cookies feature four unique embossments spotlighting both the iconic sigils of the three Great Houses still battling for the Iron Throne, as well as the enemy White Walkers beyond the wall.”

The brand’s creative agency, 360i, designed the packaging and also a video based on the show’s opening sequence. This video, which features animated Oreo cookies and “Game of Thrones” music, includes a shot of the limited-edition packaging.

Without revealing the exact size of the limited-edition’s production run, the spokesperson adds, “Given the popularity of ‘Game of Thrones’ and the anticipation for this final season, Oreo expects the cookie to be one of the brand’s largest [limited-time editions] ever, bringing an innovative snacking and viewing experience to fans everywhere.”

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EastPack 2019 (June 11-13) is the region's premier packaging event connecting professionals from companies like PepsiCo, Pepperidge Farms and Mars with suppliers offering the latest packaging technologies, including a range of automation solutions, from semi-automatic equipment to sophisticated "smart" systems. Register to attend today!