3 ways to boost ‘first time fix rates’ on your packaging line

3 ways to boost ‘first time fix rates’ on your packaging line
If you want to boost productivity on your packaging line, do what you can to cut downtime for repairs.

An increasing ability to directly access printer data, modular equipment design and growing predictive maintenance are steadily improving First Time Fix Rates.

The term First Time Fix Rate (FTFR) indicates the percentage of the time that a system manufacturer is able to correct a customer’s equipment issue on the first visit, without the need for a return visit after obtaining additional expertise, information or parts. For a company with a downed label printer or coding system that is holding up production, the ability of a supplier to solve the problem quickly is a primary driver of customer satisfaction. As a result, FTFR is an important measurement of the quality of an equipment manufacturer’s service capability, which can in turn be a strong selling point for the company’s systems.

First Time Fix Rates are only calculated for site visits by the manufacturer’s technicians, but in recent years, the frequency of required visits has been trending downward as a direct result of increasing online capabilities. First, service personnel are better able to quickly and correctly diagnose and resolve problems remotely. Second, the access to direct input from the printer software can better prepare a technician for a site visit by detailing the problem and the replacement parts that will be needed. This means the technician is not arriving to face a problem, but with the solution in hand.

Assessment

Every repair begins with an assessment of the problem. The customer’s line operator calls the equipment manufacturer’s service line to report a problem, and the manufacturer gathers details about the problem either during that initial request for service call or from a pre-call by the service engineer assigned to the work order. The technical information acquired prior to going on site is essential to correcting the problem—and correcting it quickly.

Depending on what the conversation reveals, the manufacturer may be able to walk the customer through correcting the problem over the phone. However, if the technician concludes that the problem is more complex, and a site visit by a repair technician is required, it will be scheduled.

This is typically how service has worked in the past, when many systems operated independently of each other. Today, however, most online equipment incorporates digital control software and is connected to both the local line management system and often to the cloud/internet. As this level of connectivity becomes more prevalent, when that first call comes in, the technician is increasingly able to respond by directly accessing the equipment software to assess the problem.

This lets the technician see the software error messages and related data, including the history of the equipment’s recent performance. Rather than relying on a line supervisor to describe what they perceive to be wrong, the technician can analyze the relevant data directly. This speeds up and improves the assessment process while eliminating misleading communication errors.

Corrective action

The ability to take corrective action is also evolving. In reviewing the printer’s software data, the technician may see that resolving the problem won’t require replacing a part. In that case, the customer may be able to get the printer up and running with the technician walking line personnel through the solution. This is the quickest way to getting the line up and running and doesn’t require a site visit.

Even if the technician can’t help the customer fix its problem immediately, the information gathered by accessing the printer remotely will make the subsequent site visit more efficient, making a first time fix more likely. The problem assessment has already been done and the needed parts identified.

The ability to take corrective action quickly has also evolved as the design of equipment has evolved. The most recent printers are modular structures, making repairs much simpler to make. When a printer’s valve, for example, is malfunctioning, what in the past would have required an onsite repair visit may today simply involve replacing the valve module. Newer printers, with more advanced user interfaces, can even display detailed preventive maintenance instructions that aid in optimizing performance and reducing downtime. Many larger customers, who typically favor the advantage of this new technology, are also likely to inventory replacement modules.

Not every company has the latest model printer, however, and repairs—including replacing parts—will still have to be made in many cases. In these cases, it is essential that the technician making a service call have all available information and potential parts needed on hand.

Even with the most advanced equipment and connectivity, corrective action is still a cooperative effort. Whether the customer has the most recent model printer, capable of being assessed in detail via the cloud, or an older version, the customer’s team plays an essential role in the success of the repair. It is essential that a new model printer remains continuously connected to the cloud, and that the connection is reset after a power failure or other interruption, or essential data will not be captured. When an older printer fails, whoever calls the service line needs to be standing at the printer, able to answer the technician’s questions and relay error messages.

The future of First Time Fix Rates

There are multiple reasons why FTFR rates today are steadily improving. As the next level of service—predictive maintenance—becomes more widespread, will FTFR cease to be an important metric?

The basis of predictive maintenance is that, as all systems become connected to the cloud, their status is continuously and automatically monitored. Alerts are sent to customer and manufacturer service teams as they approach, but have not yet reached, the point of failure. Replacement parts can move to a more Just-in-Time delivery method. Software updates can be made remotely and the need for site visits is consequently greatly reduced, if not eliminated.

There will always be a veteran printer somewhere needing hands-on attention by a skilled technician. FTFR will continue to be a valuable way to evaluate a manufacturer’s service for all of its equipment and for all of its customers. Meanwhile, the ability to access data from downed systems and the growth of predictive maintenance are having a significant effect on FTFR. Not only are repairs being made more quickly in each facility, but technicians are then able to reach the next customer’s repair more quickly. Service for all customers is being improved, and the benefit is increased productivity for all.

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MinnPack 2019 (Oct. 23-24; Minneapolis) is where serious packaging professionals find technologies, education and connections needed to thrive in today’s advanced manufacturing community. See solutions in labeling, food packaging, package design and beyond. Attend free expert-led sessions at multiple theaters around the expo.

3 ways to fix chaotic packaging sustainability definitions

3 ways to fix chaotic packaging sustainability definitions
When it comes to sustainable packaging definitions, speaking the same language fosters understanding and common ground.

Achieving a circular packaging economy should be everyone’s concern. Consumers, brand owners, manufacturers, municipalities—every person on the planet has a stake in addressing the problem.

Unfortunately, tackling the situation presents formidable obstacles. While there is widespread agreement that improvements must be made, there is little or no consensus around the terms used to discuss the problem. In the U.S. alone, we’ve counted at least 18 different definitions of “recycling” used across the U.S. How people define “circular economy” varies, as does the term for single-use plastics—even chemical recycling.

Lacking a common understanding dilutes our ability to engage in meaningful change. Why? Because confusion around definitions opens the door for emotional reactions, rather than informed decisions. Uninformed decisions leave lawmakers vulnerable to uninformed policy—and unintended consequences.

For example, public furor over single-use plastics has led to quick, policy proposals in several jurisdictions. Recent California legislation defines single-use priority plastics as the top 10 items typically found in coastal cleanups. This definition includes cigarette filters but excludes flexible film packaging. Others are banning plastic utensils and straws, which leaves foodservice professionals scrambling for alternatives.

Efforts to reach consensus

Not surprisingly, one body’s work to define a term often clashes with another’s. If, for example, one organization comes up with a definition that differs with the definition used by the International Standards Organization (ISO) or federal regulation, conflict is nearly inevitable. When these conflicts occur, confusion and discord create obstacles to sensible solutions.

The challenge in using undefined terms becomes exacerbated when we seek to regulate—especially across jurisdictions. For example, when Canadian leaders introduced the Ocean Plastics Charter at the 2018 G7 Summit, five of the seven countries signed on, but two (Japan and the U.S.) declined, due to lack of consensus over terms, goals and conditions.

As the global standards organization, ISO has been instrumental in defining several guidance documents offering a level of clarity. For example, the ISO 18600 Series of Standards on Packaging and the Environment and ISO 14021: 2016—Environmental Labels and Declarations, have achieved some success in attaining harmony around management of packaging material. The standards were created to help harmonize global practices related to packaging and the environment. Ideally, these should be the terms employed in global policy, but are too often overlooked. Granted these were last updated over a decade ago and lack emerging terms like single-use packaging, but they still provide a valued framework for defining existing and emerging technologies—such as chemical versus mechanical recycling.

The Federal Trade Commission also has been helpful in solidifying sustainable packaging terms. The FTC’s Green Guides, for instance, include guidance on how companies can market and label their products within the U.S. However, these also lack insight into emerging terms and how to use them within a regulatory context—they were designed to address marketing conflicts. Nor do they address global agreement—rather, they are restricted to products sold in the U.S.

You can’t manage what you can’t measure—and it’s difficult (if not impossible) to measure what you can’t define. So how can we move forward?

Let’s look at how decisions are made, what works, what doesn’t, and what the path toward greater clarity and common understanding might be.

Following a hierarchy

Stakeholders have a range of resources to turn to when deciding what definition to base policy and behavior on. How should they determine which guidance is the best? AMERIPEN believes it is best to base decisions on legal authority. From a legal perspective, the weight of defining terms follows this hierarchy:

First: Regulatory documents

These guidance resources should be considered first, over any other definitions used within the boundaries they cover (federal, state, local or otherwise). The definitions and terms in these resources carry the weight of the law, with possible enforcement attached.

Second: International Organization for Standardization (ISO)

If there isn’t a regulatory definition covering a term, then ISO standards should be used. These standards are embraced by the World Trade Organization, and member countries are encouraged to adopt these standards in the interest of global trade harmony. They have been developed through a consensus process representing global interests.

Third: Technical standards

Technical standards offer a context behind definitions and, while they do not define terms per se, they form the conditions under which a packaging claim can be validated.

Fourth: Association, organization or agency definition

These definitions, while they have no legal standing, still have value. They provide insight and context into how definitions impact practice, often inform future regulations, and may provide the basis upon which ISO and technical standards are formed.

Moving forward

While there is a legal hierarchy related to packaging terminology, in practice, dialogue informs each phase. Definitions created by organizations or media can influence policy development and ISO and other consensus-based processes are swayed by the public discourse, so how do we best move forward?

AMERIPEN believes the following are some areas that hold opportunity for increasing clarity and creating more informed processes for change.

1. Use ISO standards

The ISO already has offered up documents that provide increased clarity and understanding about recyclability, reusability, renewable materials, compostability and other key areas. These standards were developed as a result of a multi-year stakeholder process reflecting perspectives from across the packaging value chain.

We need to use these standards and reference them more than we currently do as we leverage terms and define new practices. These documents offer the best insight into globally accepted definitions and practices.

2. Industry collaboration

Discussing common concerns and problems is a powerful way to set and achieve packaging sustainability goals. When such discussions include industry stakeholders from every corner of the industry, from design to end-of-life processing, the end result is greater clarity—and a clearer sense of direction.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is currently leading discussions to help harmonize U.S.-based definitions of recycling as part of its America Recycles Initiative. Additionally, industry coalitions are working with non-profits to help define terms like “single-use plastic” for direct application in policy.

3. Policy discussions

When packaging professionals have little or no contribution to packaging and recycling policy, the results frequently are less than ideal. It is important that all stakeholders be at the table when laws around material use, recycling and other areas are being discussed.

Working with the industry trades and supporting calls to engage in State-specific issues helps industry ensure policies that are implemented meet the goals outlined while avoiding unintended consequences that may be inherent without a full stakeholder perspective. AMERIPEN is a material neutral trade organization uniquely positioned to speak about packaging at-large, but all trades offer this opportunity to leverage industry expertise.  

For a look at the different packaging definitions for Recyclable, Reusable, Renewable, Compostable/Degradable, Recycled Content, Recovery, Chemical Recycling and Mechanical Recycling, as well as advice on how to achieve consensus, refer to AMERIPEN’s Packaging Materials Management Definitions: A Review of Varying Global Standards Guidance Document.

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MinnPack 2019 (Oct. 23-24; Minneapolis) is where serious packaging professionals find technologies, education and connections needed to thrive in today’s advanced manufacturing community. See solutions in labeling, food packaging, package design and beyond. Attend free expert-led sessions at multiple theaters around the expo.

 

Paper option increases food packaging sustainability

Paper option increases food packaging sustainability
The new paper-based, barrier food packaging option saves up to 70% plastic and runs seamlessly on f/f/s machinery.

Skog for Food launched this fall in the U.S. combines FSC-certified paper with double-sided coating that provides barrier properties and permits production on f/f/s machines.

For Swedes, “skog” means wood. And for those in the United States as of fall 2017, Skog for Food represents a new paper-based food packaging option for brands that offers sustainable packaging benefits. According to Mondi Extrusion Coatings, Skog for Food saves up to 70% plastic while retaining all the required barrier properties.

Notabloy, the material is engineered to be run seamlessly on all horizontal and vertical form/fill/seal machines. Michael Strobl, managing director, Mondi Coating Zeltweg, tells Packaging Digest that “the only adjustment that may be needed would be require minor such as sealing temperature, but no investments are necessary to run paper instead of plastic.”

Presented for the first time in North America at Pack Expo in Las Vegas in September, Skog for Food combines FSC-certified paper with double-sided coating, giving the bag the required barriers and sealing properties needed for f/f/s machines.

“The new liner complies perfectly with our sustainability strategy,” explains Jan-Willem Kleppers, managing director, Mondi Extrusion Coatings. “Skog is a natural product especially designed to fulfill ecological needs while protecting customers’ goods.”

For added sustainability, the bag can also be coated with Mondi’s biodegradable barrier Sustainex. The coating is derived from renewable sources and fully compliant with internationally accepted standards for biodegradability and compostability and fits into organic recovery, energy recovery and material recycling schemes.

Skog for Food is produced in a Mondi facility in Austria and printed and converted by a partner in Poland.

European import and targeted foods

The material has been in use in Europe since 2013, reports Strobl. “Since then, a number of European brand owners and supermarkets have changed part of their portfolio to our paper based packaging,” he tells Packaging Digest.

A windowed version is available from a European partner and has been tested for potatoes.

“We’ve packed up to 20 kg [44 lb] of animal feed pellets using Skog,” Strobl reports. “However, this construction does not have a window. With Skog for Food window packaging, 2 kg [4.4 lb] of potatoes has been tested successfully in windowed skog packaging.”

For conventional packaging, the window is a polymer film, while in the biomaterial version the window material is also biodegradable.

Strobl believes the material is especially suitable for fresh vegetables such as potatoes, onions and carrots.  “On the other hand, a Skog construction without a window and tailor-made barrier would also allow filling of dry and greasy food stuff,” he adds.

The material’s introduction stateside aligns neatly with increased brand interest in sustainable packaging, according to Strobl.

“Most brands in the U.S. have very clearly defined sustainability goals,” he explains. “The timing is great for packaging solutions that help brands achieve these goals while differentiating the consumer’s brand experience. Skog suits the growing niche for sustainable packaging and we’re excited by the initial market feedback.”

First VFFS packaging machine to form, fill and seal paper bags

First VFFS packaging machine to form, fill and seal paper bags
Special coating applied during VFFS packaging provides a heat-sealable area on the paper.

Bosch Packaging’s PME 4001 ZAP vertical form-fill-seal machine is the first in the world to produce sealed paper bags by using coated paper roll stock that can be recycled into paper streams. The bagger is applicable for free-flowing dry products.

Other highlights:

Machine innovation: Based on Bosch Packaging’s proven“PME” machine concept, it is the first VFFS with the ZAP-Module. The module allows coating with the sealing agent on a minimal surface area, preserving the paper’s monomaterial nature.

Material innovation: Monomaterial AxelloZAP is more durable than conventional paper, yet retains its natural paper characteristics and advantages from source to recycling. AxelloZAP paper is a new, better packaging material that reliably withstands the stronger mechanical requirements during production.

Exclusive rollstock paper supplier:  Paper specialist BillerudKorsnäs of Sweden developed the paper with optimized mechanical properties.

Products: Dry free-flowing products such as sugar, pasta, grains, powders.

Bag styles: Pillow, gusseted and block bottom bags with gable and flat top.

We supplement the above information with this exclusive input from a Bosch manager:

What more can be said about the seal coating?

We will soon provide a success story with the pilot customer with more details by mid-summer. However, the key factor is the partial application of the sealing agent that allows the paper to be sealed tightly while retaining the natural character of the material  that remains 100% recyclable.

What are options are there for the paper rolls?

The Sealed Paper Packaging concept works only in combination with mono-material Axello ZAP paper from BillerudKorsnas. In addition, paper laminates can easily be used on the machine as well, in cases in which the products need a barrier against vapor, grease or gas.   

What’s the machine capability in bags per minute?

For block-bottom and gusseted bags the mechanical output is up to 40 bags per minute for paper bags and up to 55 bags per min for laminated bags. However, for pillow bags the output is higher—up to 65 bags per minute regardless of the packaging material.

What bag sizes are possible?

The bags sizes can vary from 240mm/9.5 inches in width to 440mm/17.3 inches in length. The current maximum filling weight is 1 kilogram (2.2 lbs).

What’s the commercial status?

The first PME 4001 ZAP machine was built for and installed at Pfeifen & Langen, one of the largest sugar producers in the world and 3rd biggest in Europe, beginning of 2016. The first products are available in stores across Germany since June 2016.

A new production solution provides dust-tight packaging for a wide range of dry food products such as sugar, grains, flour or powders.

What's the availability for U.S./North America customers?

The new solution will be officially presented to the North American market at Pack Expo Intl. in Chicago in November 2016, however the machine is available for clients globally as of June 2016. 

For more information, visit www.sealedpaperpackaging.com

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Want to assess packaging machinery and automation technologies in person? Consider attending EastPack 2016, June 14 to 16 in New York City.

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Diverse packaging topics star in July 2019

Diverse packaging topics star in July 2019
The packaging community was interested in a variety of topics last month.

Popular articles on PackagingDigest.com in the month of July 2019 were among the most diverse in recent memory, as far as topics go. Besides the ever-present interest in sustainability, readers explored packaging for #SpaceWeek, innovative snack packages, “chemicals of concern” and packaging proliferation.

Here are the top five articles you were reading last month, based on page views:

Top sustainable companies by state

5. Top sustainable companies by state

Data-driven content always does well as a way of “proving” out a point or identifying a trend. So I’m not surprised this infographic of the top sustainable companies from each state got plenty of clicks in July.

Many companies on this list are familiar to packaging professionals as either brands (users) or vendors (suppliers) they’ve heard about already. But now that you know about these 50 leading companies in sustainability, you can learn what they’re doing, why and how.

Then take the lessons that fit with your company, brand or team and run with them!

NEXT: Innovative packages that are out of this world!

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MinnPack 2019 (Oct. 23-24; Minneapolis) is where serious packaging professionals find technologies, education and connections needed to thrive in today’s advanced manufacturing community. See solutions in labeling, food packaging, package design and beyond. Attend free expert-led sessions at multiple theaters around the expo.

Packages in space

4. Packaging in space!

To celebrate #SpaceWeek and the 50th anniversary of the moon landing, Packaging Digest presented more than a dozen packages designed and/or used for space travel, along with entertaining comments about packaging challenges from astronaut Captain Jim Lovell of Apollo 13 fame.

Our takeaway: You, the global audience of Packaging Digest, make packaging things happen all the time on this good earth that benefit the world, too. Thank you!

NEXT: BPA twist

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MinnPack 2019 (Oct. 23-24; Minneapolis) is where serious packaging professionals find technologies, education and connections needed to thrive in today’s advanced manufacturing community. See solutions in labeling, food packaging, package design and beyond. Attend free expert-led sessions at multiple theaters around the expo.

No-BPA-can-linings

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

Our top article of the year so far (as of mid-year 2019) dips a bit, but still shows up in this month’s top five list. “Chemicals of concern” that leach from packaging materials continue to be in the sights of consumers and the general media, which is why packaging professionals need to pay attention.

A relatively recent twist in the BPA-in-packaging saga is a critical review of replacement materials. Which leads me to believe this will remain a hot issue for a while yet. What say you?

NEXT: Snack on this

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MinnPack 2019 (Oct. 23-24; Minneapolis) is where serious packaging professionals find technologies, education and connections needed to thrive in today’s advanced manufacturing community. See solutions in labeling, food packaging, package design and beyond. Attend free expert-led sessions at multiple theaters around the expo.

Trendy snack packs

2. 12 trendy snack packs

Snacking is quick becoming one of America’s favorite past-times across all generations. Food companies answer with a flurry of products in packaging that addresses consumers’ needs for eat-me-anywhere and/or healthy options. Here are a dozen new products that showcase product/packaging innovation in a flourishing category.

NEXT: SKUs exploding

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MinnPack 2019 (Oct. 23-24; Minneapolis) is where serious packaging professionals find technologies, education and connections needed to thrive in today’s advanced manufacturing community. See solutions in labeling, food packaging, package design and beyond. Attend free expert-led sessions at multiple theaters around the expo.

SKU proliferation 

1. 6 packaging reasons SKUs are exploding

Consumers want so much product choice and sellers are making sure their products can be found/bought in as many places as possible. Is it any wonder that product manufacturers produce so many stock-keeping units (SKUs)?

In fact, 90% of brand owners say packaging is critical to their brand's success as they seek to adapt to an increasingly competitive landscape and rapidly changing consumer tastes, according to a survey by L.E.K. Consulting. Additionally, 75% of brand owners say they’re going to spend significantly more on packaging—and one-third of them will increase spending by more than 10%.

Packaging is contributing to the explosion of SKUs in product portfolios because of these key themes:

1. Convenience.

2. Premiumization.

3. Customization.

4. Healthy.

5. Green.

6. Ecommerce.

As veteran packaging professionals know, SKUs live a cycle of proliferation and optimization. Let’s see how long the growth will last before the inevitable consolidation happens. Anyone care to take a guess?

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MinnPack 2019 (Oct. 23-24; Minneapolis) is where serious packaging professionals find technologies, education and connections needed to thrive in today’s advanced manufacturing community. See solutions in labeling, food packaging, package design and beyond. Attend free expert-led sessions at multiple theaters around the expo.

Medical, packaging and smart manufacturing sessions tackle trends, issues

Medical, packaging and smart manufacturing sessions tackle trends, issues

The conference program at the upcoming MinnPack and MD&M Minneapolis events helps packaging professionals stay on top of trends and critical issues in packaging and medtech. Some of the educational presentations are free to anyone attending the expos.

The co-located shows MinnPack and MD&M Minneapolis—at the Minneapolis Convention Center Oct. 23-24—combine an active tradeshow with dynamic presentations targeted to medical, smart manufacturing and packaging professionals.

The paid conference for MD&M (medical device and manufacturing) contains three tracks:
1. Research & Development
2. Product Development
3. Quality & Manufacturing

In addition to admittance to any MD&M conference session and a conference networking reception, conference attendees also gain free entry to the expo floor, where additional sessions can be seen for free at the Medtech Central Theatre (Booth 1947); the Tech Theater (Booth 2509); andEngineering HQ Theater (Booth 744). These show-floor presentations are free to all expo visitors.

Early-bird conference pricing of $499 (2-day pass) and $299 (1-day pass) ends Aug. 28. After that, prices are $699 (2-day pass) and $399 (1-day pass). Onsite, prices go up to $899 and $599, respectively. Visit the website for group discounts.

Expo passes are free for qualified registrants before Oct. 23 but will cost $179 on-site. Register now!

What: MD&M Conference (paid): Research & Development - Track A
When: Wed., Oct. 23

Where: Room 208AB

8:30 to 9:15 a.m.
Keynote: Digital Health Innovation—Evolution or Revolution? A Look into the Next Decade of Digital Health
Teresa Prego, vp of marketing and market development, Global Kinetics

9:15 to 10:00 a.m.
Panel: Replacing Pills with Electricity: The Reality and Future of Bioelectronic Medicine
Moderator: Patrick Ganzer, principal research scientist & bioelectronic medicine lead, Battelle
Panelists: Kip Ludwig, associate professor, Grainger Institute of Engineering, thrust lead at University of Wisconsin-Madison
John Rondoni, vp product development, operations, quality, Inspire Medical Systems Inc.
Doug Weber, associate professor of bioengineering, University of Pittsburgh

10:15 to 11:00 a.m.
The Patent Landscape for Medtech’s Hottest Technologies
Christopher Turoski, law professor and director of patent programs, University of Minnesota Law School
Deepak Sharma, engineering project manager, FlexDex Surgical Inc.

11:00 to 11:45 a.m.
Regulatory Opportunity Assessment for Exploratory Technologies
James Kleinedler, principal, regulatory affairs, emerging therapies, interventional cardiology, Boston Scientific

1:15 to 2:00 p.m.
Keynote: From Zero to $5.75 Billion: Making Medtech Powerhouses
Christopher Velis, founder and executive chairman, Miraki Innovation

2:00 to 2:45 p.m.
Panel: Fostering Innovation: How to Spark Creative Thinking
Moderator: Adam Reinhardt, manager, embedded software engineering, cardiac rhythm management, Boston Scientific
Panelists: Kate Dudgeon, director of research and strategy, Worrell
Bob Wilson, manager, business consultant, Boston Scientific

3:00 to 4:00 p.m.
Effectively Managing & Shaping R&D Team Challenges
Shantanu Shivdekar, staff product development engineer, Ethicon

What: MD&M Conference (paid): Product Development - Track B
When: Wed., Oct. 23

Where: Room 206AB

8:30 to 9:15 a.m.
Keynote: Digital Health Innovation—Evolution or Revolution? A Look into the Next Decade of Digital Health
Teresa Prego, vp of marketing and market development, Global Kinetics

9:15 to 10:00 a.m.
Panel: Building Better Cross-Functional Teams for the Digital Health Explosion
Moderator: Ruth Barry, director of electrical engineering, bb7
Panelists: Binita Sinha, program director, Olympus Surgical Technologies America
Javaid Masoud, vp, research and technology, Acist Medical
Tammy Mae Moga, principal global privacy and security, Medtronic

10:15 to 11:00 a.m.
Panel: The Top 5 Things You Need to Know About the Implantable Internet of Things
Moderator: Bill Betten, president, Betten System Solutions LLC
Panelists: Mark Wehde, section head, Division of Engineering, Mayo Clinic
Brian Kronstedt, senior product development manager, Preventice Solutions
Krishnan Kasthurirengan, vp-medical devices, Mindteck

11:00 to 11:45 a.m.
Preparing to be a Data-Driven Medical Device Organization
Srihari Yamanoor, president, DesignAbly

1:15 to 2:00 p.m.
Keynote: From Zero to $5.75 Billion: Making Medtech Powerhouses
Christopher Velis, founder and executive chairman, Miraki Innovation

2:00 to 2:45 p.m.
Panel: How Miniaturization Is Driving Design in Top Medical Device Categories
Moderator: Bill Betten, president, Betten System Solutions LLC
Panelists: Donna Bibber, vp, Isometric Micro Molding
Lefteris Kampianakis, senior applications engineer, Cactus Semiconductor, A Cirtec Co.
Kevin Verzal, program director, Inspire Medical Systems Inc.

3:00 to 4:00 p.m.
Project Management Best Practices for Engineers
Perry Parendo, president, Perry’s Solutions LLC

What: MD&M Conference (paid): Quality & Manufacturing - Track C
When: Wed., Oct. 23

Where: Room 207AB

8:30 to 9:15 a.m.
Keynote: Digital Health Innovation—Evolution or Revolution? A Look into the Next Decade of Digital Health
Teresa Prego, vp of marketing and market development, Global Kinetics

9:15 to 10:00 a.m.
FDA Case for Quality: How to Structure Your CMMI Assessments for Competitive Advantage & Improved Results
Mark Rutkiewicz, vp, quality, Innovize
Cindy Clague, R&D director, Medical Device Innovation
Al Crouse, senior quality director, CVRx Inc.

10:15 to 11:00 a.m.
Improving Quality in Manufacturing: How Implementing Both ISO9001:2015 & ISO13485:2016 Benefits Your Organization
Matt Pawluk, director of quality and manufacturing, Evolve Manufacturing Technologies Inc.

11:00 to 11:45 a.m.
Risk Management as a DFM Tool for Improved Process Risk
Michelle Jirak, senior design assurance engineer, Biomerics Advanced Catheter

1:15 to 2:00 p.m.
Keynote: From Zero to $5.75 Billion: Making Medtech Powerhouses
Christopher Velis, founder and executive chairman, Miraki Innovation

2:00 to 2:45 p.m.
Tracing Device Performance Issues in Medical Electronics
Jason Clevenger, principal scientist, Exponent

3:00 to 4:00 p.m.
What Manufacturing Engineers Can Teach Design Engineers About Cost & Quality
Deepak Sharma, engineering project manager, FlexDex Surgical Inc.

What: Medtech Central Theatre (free to all expo attendees)
When: Wed., Oct. 23

Where: Booth 1947

10:25 to 11:00 a.m.
Secrets to Solving The 5 Hardest Design Problems in Medtech
Brian Mullins, director, design and development, Kablooe

11:00 to 11:45 a.m.
#WeAreNotWaiting: Building an Artificial Pancreas & Other Open Source Healthcare Innovations
Dana Lewis, founder, Open Source Artificial Pancreas System (#OpenAPS)

12:00 to 12:45 p.m.
Panel: Is Silicon Valley Eclipsing Minnesota as Medtech’s Most Innovative Hub?
Moderator: Amanda Pedersen, news editor, MD+DI/Informa Markets
Panelists: Nikhil Murdeshwar, Senior Principal Research Engineer at Olympus Surgical Technologies America
Dave Saunders, Chief Technology Officer at Galen Robotics
Cristin Moran, Ph.D., CEO, Growth Sciences

1:00 to 1:45 p.m.
Panel: Exploring the Connection Between Your Manufacturing Process & Patient Safety
Moderator: Connie Conboy, director, MedAccred
Panelists: Ann Sheldon, vp global supplier quality, Medtronic
Scott Goolsbey, supplier controls manager, Stryker

2:00 to 2:45 p.m.
MedFuse IoT Topic To Be Determined (TBD)
Speaker TBD

3:00 to 4:00 p.m.
MedFuse IoT Topic TBD
Speaker TBD

4:00 to 4:45 p.m.
Panel: Improving Your Speed to Market by Streamlining Process Validation
Moderator: Erik Sherburne, quality manager, Advanced Molding Technologies
Panelists: Chad Baber, senior metrology specialist, Advanced Molding Technologies
Casey Strong, site manager, Zeiss

What: Engineering HQ Theater (free to all expo attendees)
When: Wed., Oct. 23

Where: Booth 744

10:15 to 11:00 a.m.
IoPP (Institute of Packaging Professionals): MN’s Annual Packaging Achievement Award for Top Students & Packaging Schools

11:15 to 12:00 p.m.
Sponsored Session: Protolabs & PolyOne

12:15 to 1:00 p.m.
Panel: The Brave New World of Robotics
Rob Spiegel, senior editor, Design News/Informa Markets

1:15 to 2:00 p.m.
How New Materials Are Revolutionizing 3D Printing
Jack Heslin, president/founder, 3D TechTalks

2:15 to 3:00 p.m.
Sensor Advancements Driving IIoT Innovation
Sai Yamanoor, IoT R&D applications engineer, Praxair
Srihari Yamanoor, president, DesignAbly

3:15 to 4:00 p.m.
Prepping for the 5G Factory
Joshua Ness, senior manager, 5G Labs, Verizon

4:15 to 5:00 p.m.
Preparing for AI on the Manufacturing Floor
Sai Yamanoor, IoT R&D applications engineer, Praxair
Srihari Yamanoor, president, DesignAbly

What: Tech Theatre (free to all expo attendees)
When: Wed., Oct. 23

Where: Booth 2509

11:00 a.m. to Noon
Becoming Compliant with the MDRs, A Real Life Case Study
Speaker TBD

What: MD&M Conference (paid): Research & Development - Track A
When: Thurs., Oct. 24
Where: Room 208AB

8:30 to 9:10 a.m.
Keynote: Going for Zero: Bringing Technology Closer to Patients
Ranndy Kellogg, president/CEO, Omron Healthcare Inc.

9:15 to 10:00 a.m.
Next-Gen Innovation in Material Choices
Jackie Anim, principal material engineer, Ethicon & OneMD (JNJ)

10:15 to 11:00 a.m.
Failure is Not an Option: Overcoming Materials and Coating Challenges for Implantable Devices
Jay Jayashankar, materials and process development engineer, Cardiovascular Systems Inc.

11:00 to 11:45 a.m.
Managing Biocompatibility Risk: Applying the New ISO 10993 Standards
Speaker TBD

1:30 to 2:45 p.m.
Strategic Partnerships with Big Medtech: What Medical Device Manufacturers Need to Know
Mike Gillespie, director, business development, Johnson & Johnson

3:00 to 4:00 p.m.
Panel: Research, Develop, Produce & Repeat: Making the Most of Your Research Funding
Lars Oddsson, Ph.D., chief technology officer and co-founder, RxFunction
Panelists: Paul Wagner, chairman/CEO, MN Wire
Ed Hlavka, president, EH Consulting

What: MD&M Conference (paid): Product Development - Track B
When: Thurs., Oct. 24
Where: Room 206AB

8:30 to 9:10 a.m.
Keynote: Going for Zero: Bringing Technology Closer to Patients
Ranndy Kellogg, president/CEO, Omron Healthcare Inc.

9:15 to 10:00 a.m.
Point/Counterpoint: Device Development—Slick Function or Fancy Form?
Tom Kramer, president/CEO, Kablooe Design
Len Czuba, president, Czuba Enterprises Inc.
Steve Goedeke, president/CEO, Cardionomic

10:15 to 11:45 a.m.
Panel: The Art & Science of Prototyping on the Path to Approving Great Products
Moderator: Erik Scott, director and technical fellow, Medtronic
Panelists: Danny Gelfman, senior principal solutions designer-Healthcare Innovation Team, Medtronic
Andrew DiMeo, innovation and design coach, Trig
Yair Safriel, MD, chief medical officer, Pharmascan LLC

1:30 to 2:45 p.m.
Effectively Using MLM Principles for Better Product Designs
Mihir Shah, founder/CEO, UE LifeSciences

3:00 to 4:00 p.m.
Better Practices for Transitioning from Design to Manufacturing
Janet Whipple, partner, medical devices and invitro-diagnostics, Validant

What: MD&M Conference (paid): Quality & Manufacturing - Track C
When: Thurs., Oct. 24
Where: Room 207AB

8:30 to 9:10 a.m.
Keynote: Going for Zero: Bringing Technology Closer to Patients
Ranndy Kellogg, president/CEO, Omron Healthcare Inc.

9:15 to 10:00 a.m.
Automation Challenges Slowing the Advance of IIoT in Manufacturing
Lou Zhang, chief data scientist, Machine Metrics

10:15 to 11:00 a.m.
Best Practices for Implementing Sensors & AI in Your Medical Device Manufacturing Efforts
John Danese, industry director, Life Sciences, Birlasoft

11:00 to 11:45 a.m.
Making Connections: Integrating Production with Quality
Bob DePalma, vp, regulatory affairs, Pyrexar Medical Inc.
Terrance Holbrook, director of product, MasterControl

1:30 to 2:45 p.m.
Making Impossible Parts: Injection Molding & 3D Printing Combined for Complex Shapes
Rich Oles, president/CEO, ALBA Enterprises

3:00 to 4:00 p.m.
Panel: Implementing Manufacturing Automation: Tips & Tools for Integrating Smart Manufacturing Technology
Moderator: Christopher Wiltz, senior editor, Design News/Informa Markets
Panelist: Scott Bliss, vp of operations and COO, Innovize

What: Medtech Central Theatre (free to all expo attendees)
When: Thurs., Oct. 24
Where: Booth 1947

10:25 to 11:00 a.m.
Women’s Health Innovation for the Developing World
Mihir Shah, founder/CEO, UE LifeSciences

11:00 to 11:45 a.m.
Fireside Chat with Randy Kellogg and Dave Albert, MD
Moderator: Daphne Allen, editor-in-chief, MD+DI/Informa Markets
Ranndy Kellogg, president/CEO, Omron Healthcare Inc.
Dave Albert, MD, founder and chief medical officer, Alivecor

12:00 to 12:45 p.m.
Interactive Experience: Try It Yourself - Virtual Reality (VR), Augmented Reality (AR), & Three-Dimensional (3D) Printing at Mayo Clinic
Amy Alexander, senior biomedical engineer, Radiology, Anatomic Modeling Laboratory, Mayo Clinic

1:00 to 1:45 p.m.
Implantable Therapeutic Devices: Designing for Patients, Physicians & Payors
Yair Safriel, MD, chief medical officer, Pharmascan LLC

2:00 to 2:45 p.m.
User Interfaces for Wearable Technologies - How Small Is Too Small?
Speaker TBD

3:00 to 3:45 p.m.
Demonstration: Developing & Manufacturing a Surgical Robot: Partnership Strategies for Successful Launch
Kal Fishman, chief technology officer, Sensus Healthcare
Corey Ryan, manager–medical robotics, North America, KUKA Robotics

What: Engineering HQ Theater (free to all expo attendees)
When: Thurs., Oct. 24
Where: Booth 744

10:15 to 11:00 a.m.
Panel: So You Want to Start a Start-up
Speakers TBD

11:00 to 12:00 p.m.
Topic TBD
Speaker TBD

12:15 to 1:00 p.m.
Panel: Is Your Resume Better than a Robot’s?
Rob Spiegel, senior editor, Design News/Informa Markets

1:15 to 2:00 p.m.
Panel: The Current Benefits & Future Value of Generative Design
Rob Spiegel, senior editor, Design News/Informa Markets

2:15 to 3:00 p.m.
Consumer Packaging: Why Big Brands Are Revisiting the Milkman Model
Tony Rossi, vp, global business development, Loop

3:15 to 4:00 p.m.
3D Printing & Blockchain: The Next Steps in Additive Manufacturing
Jack Heslin, president/founder, 3D TechTalks

Packaging recovery tops sustainability conversations

Packaging recovery tops sustainability conversations

These past few months have been a flurry of packaging and sustainability conferences. From Minneapolis to Paris, it has been rewarding to participate in the global discussion on making packaging systems more sustainable.

Here are key takeaways and perspectives gained from this season’s whirlwind tour at SPC Engage: Minneapolis, GreenBiz’s Circularity ’19, Plastic Free World Conference and Expo, and the International Product Stewardship Forum.

SPC Engage: Minneapolis

Growing global concerns over litter in general and marine plastic pollution specifically, mean that recovery has taken center stage in the packaging sustainability conversation. The focus on recovery and plastics has not always been the focal point in conversations on packaging sustainability, as we saw only a few years ago with many campaigns focused on ending deforestation that lead to commitments like the Consumer Goods Forum 2020 commitment.

These other issues remain very important. However, recovery and end-of-life, especially for plastics, are undoubtedly the packaging sustainability topics dominating headlines today and are top-of-mind for consumers. As a result of the global outcry on pollution, packaging recovery has risen to the top of many companies’ sustainability agendas.

However, the conversation on recovery is increasingly about more than just recycling and recyclability. The community of non-governmental organizations (NGOs), as well as industry and government commitments like the New Plastics Economy Global Commitment and UK Plastics Pact, call for us not only to make all packaging recyclable but also to explore alternative materials with a better recovery story, and alternative business models that move us away from single-use all together.

NGOs like A Plastic Planet assert the narrative that recyclability alone cannot create a circular plastics packaging economy—particularly given that only 9% of all plastics ever produced globally have been successfully recycled. Other solutions must also play a role.

Reuse is among the key solutions being discussed more seriously

At Circularity ’19, keynote speaker Tom Szaky from Terracycle featured beautiful videos and images of reusable, durable packaging being used through the recently launched packaging reuse platform, Loop. The event also featured pitches from promising startup companies working to promote models like reusable ecommerce packaging and reusable to-go cup solutions for Asia. This was followed by a talk about the Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s new report on reuse models for packaging.

Compostable, biobased solutions are quickly gaining momentum but the conversation can be confusing

In Frankfurt at the Plastic Free World Conference, bio-based alternatives for conventional plastic packaging got a lot of attention, both fiber-based packaging and bioplastic materials. Depending on many design factors, bio-based packaging can be recyclable, compostable, both or neither. This topic is inherently confusing since “bio-based” is a sourcing concept, not a recovery concept and these are often conflated.

In the case of fiber, paper-based packaging tends to have a higher recycling rate than plastics, on average—and can also be compostable, in some cases, depending on design decisions made. However, it is important to avoid making substitutions just for the sake of recovery without also considering other lifecycle impacts. NGOs like Canopy make this argument clearly—asserting the need to avoid sourcing fiber from endangered, old-growth forests, as more companies explore paper packaging options. In other words, do not trade one negative environmental impact for another.

Compostable plastics also took a lead role at A Plastic Free World Conference and were also discussed at Circularity and SPC Engage: Minneapolis. This area of recovery is undeniably growing in interest, with the WEF recently citing compostable bioplastics as one of the top emerging technologies of 2019. Conversations are ongoing about when this option makes the most sense for packaging and the need to develop recovery systems to support it, the need to avoid communicating these materials as “litter friendly,” which is one of the problems with using the term “biodegradable” without context, while at the same time acknowledging that if plastic does end up as litter, conventional plastics are overengineered in the sense that they will stay in the environment for around 500 years.

Packaging optimization has a conflicting but evolving role in the conversation

Another aspect of “turning off the tap” is the idea of simply using less material. Material efficiency has long been a sustainability trend in packaging, with much packaging moving towards a lightweight, often flexible format.

As pointed out in Paris at the International Product Stewardship Forum, Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) fees in Europe were traditionally determined according to the weight of material put onto the market, which pushed companies increasingly towards flexible formats. However, flexible packaging is sometimes not recyclable, and usually not curbside recyclable with today’s recovery technologies.

The EU’s waste directive amendments will require modular EPR fees for packaging that reflect a wider range of sustainability criteria, looking more closely at features like recyclability, reusability and use of recycled content.

So material efficiency has been and will continue to be a part of the discussion on packaging sustainability, but the recovery element remains critical to address. This is where projects like CEFLEX and Materials Recovery for the Future come into play in efforts to increase the recovery of flexible packaging.

Recycling needs to continue to play a key role in the solution to plastic waste and needs to be disrupted

While recycling alone may not offer a full solution, it remains the most developed and scaled system we have in place around the world today.

In some places, basic recycling infrastructure, including access to collection, would make a big difference, which is where we see a flood of projects like the Alliance to End Plastic Waste and Circulate Capital come into play. But the recycling system of the future is also one that needs to evolve. New infrastructure projects like Project Holy Grail are gaining momentum for improving sortation using chemical markers. Chemical recycling—defined by Chemical Recycling Europe as any reprocessing technology that directly affects either the formulation of the polymeric material or the polymer itself and converts them into useful products like monomers, basic-chemicals alternative fuels and other value-added material—also continues to gain momentum.

Recovery needs to be safe and then circular

Material health is gaining a lot of momentum in the conversations on recovery. At Circularity ’19 we heard Bill McDonough from the Cradle to Cradle Products Innovation Institute introduce the idea of retox—where we cycle products over and over through recycling, but some of these materials we are recycling are toxic. So we are also cycling toxic chemicals.

At the same time, conversations are evolving on the presence of persistent, carcinogenic chemicals like per- and polyfluoroalkyl (PFAS) found in some paper coatings, as well as other toxic chemicals found in plastics additives. As the industry becomes smarter on the circular economy, we have to think about what, exactly, we are recycling and evaluate if these are chemicals we want to keep in play.

In the midst of this quickly evolving and increasingly multifaceted conversation on packaging sustainability, many companies are still struggling with the basics.

For example, what is recyclable? Recyclability is a function not only of technical feasibility but the whole recycling system, from consumer engagement, collection, sortation, reprocessing, to end markets. Many companies are just beginning this journey to understand what recyclability means and how this applies to their packaging.

As we discussed at SPC Engage: Minneapolis, there is still a considerable disconnect between end markets and the role of the brands. Brands need to demand recycled material to create viable end markets—since without end markets, a product cannot be considered recyclable.

This is especially important today given the collapse of Chinese end markets for many recycled materials. There is an urgent need to create demand for these materials at home, which requires understanding and buy-in from the brands to use more recycled content, as well as a larger industry conversation to broaden the definition of end markets so they can be more inclusive of chemical building blocks in the future. The industry is struggling to understand recyclability at the same time that society is exploring more diverse recovery options, as well as calling upon industry to rethink business models even more fundamentally.

The good news is that the quest for sustainable packaging is an opportunity for innovation. More so now than ever, sustainability is linked to innovation. From exploring opportunities for reuse systems that help capture new customer markets, to materials that support not only recovery but also enable new smart packaging technologies, to exciting new recycling technologies, the opportunities are ripe.

The conversation on packaging sustainability today, as I have observed it, is that there is no single silver bullet. The solutions are emerging on multiple fronts and evolving simultaneously. It is encouraging to see so much activity on packaging sustainability and I am excited to see how the conversation continues to evolve.

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MinnPack 2019 (Oct. 23-24; Minneapolis) is where serious packaging professionals find technologies, education and connections needed to thrive in today’s advanced manufacturing community. See solutions in labeling, food packaging, package design and beyond. Attend free expert-led sessions at multiple theaters around the expo.

Packaging in space!

Photo credit: NASA and astronaut/lunar module pilot James Irwin 1971: Astronaut David Scott, commander, gives a military salute
1971: Astronaut David Scott, commander, gives a military salute while standing beside the U.S. flag during the Apollo 15 lunar surface extravehicular activity (EVA).

More than five decades ago, it was quite a leap for packaging engineers to design and produce containers and materials that could function on a spacecraft. So during Space Week and on the cusp of the 50th anniversary of NASA’s historic moon landing (July 20), let’s celebrate the ingenuity of packages that have trekked into space.

Over the years, hundreds of books and shows have documented and analyzed our forays into outer space. But little has been shared about the product packages that helped keep all the astronauts alive during their voyages from the earth to the moon and back.

Whether you’re a space enthusiast (like me) or not, Packaging Digest has two out-of-this-world treats for packaging professionals:

1. A slideshow of packages designed for space travel, courtesy of NASA and the Air Zoo museum in Portage, MI (near Kalamazoo). Of the packages on display at the Air Zoo, exhibits and collections manager April Bryan says, “One thing we learned through the research process is that companies like Del Monte, Crest and Stouffers made products for the astronauts. Crest definitely went into space. For Apollo 11, Stouffers helped feed the astronauts during their post-moon landing quarantine.” Click the View Gallery button under the image at the top of the page to start the slideshow.

2. Stories about packaging in space from a famous astronaut who is still alive today (scroll down).

As a side note…If creating packaging for space sounds like a dream job for you, check out this open position for a packaging engineer at SpaceX, the company founded by Tesla CEO Elon Musk with the goal of lowering the cost of space travel so mankind can colonize other planets, such as Mars.

Lovell talks about packaging

Astronaut James (Jim) Lovell never landed on the moon, sadly. But he did travel there twice with the Apollo 8 and Apollo 13 missions, coming within about 60 nautical miles of earth’s lone satellite. During the 2014 Flexible Packaging Association fall meeting, Captain Lovell enthralled attendees (me included) with his stories of space, and the role packaging played in transporting and protecting products used on the spacecrafts.

In these select quotes from Lovell’s entertaining and inspiring luncheon speech, we learn that engineering packaging for waste management was one of the toughest challenges! Enjoy.

Innovation in packaging: “I did a little research on the flexible packaging industry and, I have to tell you, you’re a really exciting industry! When you think about it, everything comes in a package. From the stuff that’s in those large containers on a ship down to the aspirin that’s in a little bottle. The idea you have of innovation, of initiative, of imagination, is really prevalent in this particular industry.”

Vacuum packaging: “In NASA, we used a lot of packaging, of course. Everything was packaged at NASA, too. I’ll give you one example [from the early days of NASA, the Gemini and Apollo days]…we used a lot of freeze-dried food. Peas look like little flat things until you rehydrate them. We put them into a plastic package; one end of it had a little nozzle on it. But we vacuum packed these things so we could pack a lot in there [the spacecraft]. Then when you wanted to eat, you take the water gun and put it into the nozzle and it puts water back into the bag again. All the food would be rehydrated. And, for those days, it was pretty good. It kept us alive.”

Use a utensil or just squeeze: “If the food is thick enough, you can eat it with a spoon. Otherwise the water or anything has to be in a squeeze bag.”

NASA’s waste management challenge: “…One of the greatest challenges, the biggest problems NASA engineers had, in the early days of the space program was how to package a waste management system. You have to remember, the early days of Mercury…the early flights were very short. We didn’t think about that at all. As a matter of fact, we told the astronaut before he got in to be sure he went to the bathroom because there were no facilities on board.

“But then, when the days got longer—Gemini’s was five, eight and the last one was 14 days—it dawned on the engineers that, yes, we have to figure out some way of waste management.

“Like all good engineers, they went after it tooth and nail. They decided first of all that they’d build a round commode and put a hose in the bottom to make a pressure differential so it would be replacing gravity, which was zero gravity.

“The design engineer gave this device, after he had it all figured out, to the test engineer. We had a zero G airplane and it would do parabolas. At the top of a parabola, if the pilots were very careful, they could get zero G as it went over the top before it started to come down again and they had to pull out. That zero G would last about 20 seconds, 25 seconds. There were no windows on the plane and all of a sudden you’re floating.

“So this test engineer took it up. They warned him ahead of time because they were getting this thing ready, ‘Have a lot of food here in the next couple days. Be ready.’ So this test engineer went up. Later on in the day he came back and threw the thing up on the desk. He says, ‘Look. Twenty seconds isn’t enough time for anything.’ (audience laughter)

“So one thing these engineers finally had to come up with has to do with your business—packaging. What they finally came up with was a plastic bag, about this round, that came down about this long. Half way down the plastic, there was a little plastic insert just big enough for one finger to get inside. Because of zero gravity again, you need to get something in there. Then at the side of the pouch, you had a piece of toilet paper and then you had a little disinfectant bag. Because, on a two-week mission, we couldn’t throw anything over the side and you didn’t want them to blow up.

“Let me set the scene…

“This is my Gemini 7 flight with Frank Borman. Two weeks. Nine days have gone by and Frank says, ‘Jim, this is it.’ I said, ‘Frank, you only have five more days left to go.’

“I won’t tell you how you do all the stuff. I’ll just let you know that…position in life is everything.

“That was some of the hardest problems NASA engineers had to do.”

Business lesson learned from the aborted Apollo 13 mission: “Always, always expect the unexpected. When everything is going right, profits are up, product is selling, always look down the road there to see if there’s something coming in—an impending crisis.”

“Because when I started to maneuver—and remember that I had spent hundreds of hours learning how to maneuver a lunar module in simulators—but when I wanted to pitch down, it went into some wild gyration. I wanted to go left; it went right. I wanted to go up; it went down. What’s going on here? Why can’t I control the spacecraft?

“Then it dawned on me…that I had attached to the lunar module the command service module—a 60-thousand-pound dead mass. I needed the command module with the heat shield to get back through the atmosphere for a safe landing. The lunar module had never been designed to have the command service module attached to it and be maneuvered. I literally had to learn all over again. I had to know, when I put an input in, what the output was going to be to get to the proper attitude.

“But, I’ll tell you, when you are in deep trouble, you’d be surprised how quickly you learn.”

Moral of the story of Apollo 13: “What’s the moral of this story? I shouldn’t be here. No oxygen. No electrical power. No propulsion system. Two hundred thousand miles out. Attached to another spacecraft whose sole job was to land on the moon in order to get back again. I’m here because of the dedication to that crew back in mission control, back in April 1970 in Houston. Because they used good leadership, not just at the top of the organization like Gene [Krantz], but leadership throughout the group. And they used teamwork. Because teamwork is the glue that puts many organizations together. And then initiative, motivation. Because they figured out how to keep us from getting poisoned with CO2. And, finally, they had a lot of perseverance. Because some of the things they thought of weren’t going to work.

“I’ll leave you with a little saying that maybe a lot of you have heard. But I think it’s kind of apropos: There are three types of people in this world. People that make things happen. People that watch things happen. And people who wondered what happened.

“Back in 1970, there were people who made things happen.”

You, the global audience of Packaging Digest, make packaging things happen all the time on this good earth that benefit the world, too. Thank you!

Interest in reusable packaging swells

Interest in reusable packaging swells
Reusable packaging, like the Tropicana refillable glass bottle sold on the new Loop circular shopping platform, is an example of the resurgence of reusable packaging.

Bold sustainable packaging initiatives by Nestlé and TerraCycle that are focused on reusability gained worldwide attention, along with other sustainable developments, from our global audience in February 2019.

Based on page views, here are the top five articles people read last month from Packaging Digest:

5. How Nestlé is innovating its way to 100% recyclable or reusable packaging

The world’s largest food and beverage company has ambitious sustainable packaging goals. Walt Peterson, Nestlé USA’s manager of packaging innovation and sustainability, talked about them in February at WestPack 2019. Here is the 28-minute video of his presentation, where he talks about how Nestlé is harnessing partnerships and cutting-edge technology to get there, including its participation in the ground-breaking Loop initiative (www.loopstore.com). More on Loop is coming up…

NEXT: Sustainable packaging to the power of 10

Sustainable surprises 2018

4. 10 sustainable packaging surprises in 2018

Our annual review of top articles in 2018 about sustainable packaging continues to resonate with Packaging Digest readers, appearing as the fourth best-read article in February 2019. It’s a broad look at the topic, from new technologies and awards to management strategies and emerging trends.

1. Amazon incentivizes brands to create Frustration-Free Packaging

2. L’Oréal’s paper bottle: Easy on the earth but tough in showers

3. 4 sustainable truths impacting food packaging today

4. P&G’s PureCycle cleans recycled PP to ‘near virgin’ quality

5. How Conagra rewards packaging line workers for cutting waste

6. How packaging recyclability can shift sustainability expectations for startup beauty brands

7. Japan’s Kao Group makes sustainability look raku raku (‘so easy’)

8. 5 factors affecting sustainable packaging moving forward

9. 5 environmental advantages of corrugated packaging

10. Sustainable packaging innovators earn kudos

NEXT: Food cans nix BPA linings

No-BPA-can-linings

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

About a year ago, the Can Manufacturers Institute made the bold announcement that, in reaction to market demands for more options in food safety, at least 90% of today’s food cans have replaced linings that previously contained the controversial chemical bisphenol-A (BPA).

The news is still making the rounds.

Reader comments over the last year show that the issue isn’t totally resolved:

Feb. 20, 2018: “I wonder if/when the beverage industry will adopt BPA free liners, as currently none has implemented such liner. Especially considering that consumption of canned beverages far exceeds that of canned foods.”

Nov. 20, 2018: “So WHAT actually IS the Lining Now?”

Dec. 2, 2018: “The linings are most likely closely related to BPA like BPS, BPF or vinyls compounds (BADGE, BFDGE). Those lining haven’t been studied as much and are not known by the general public. Recent studies showed that they are potentially as harmful as BPAs. Companies can put out BPA free cans and give a false sense of security to their customers by switching to other compounds that are as bad but unknown.”

Dec. 29, 2018: “Aldi stores sell spring water in plastic bottles that say right on them that they are BPA free.”

Mar. 4, 2019: “The problem is different sources gives different info on whether BPA is still in cans. Some say that BPA remain in most cans.”

Do you have something to add or ask? Click the headline above and leave your comment at the bottom of the article.

NEXT: What packaging professionals say about Loop’s reusable-packaging model

2. Packaging peers react to Loop’s daring reusable-packaging model

Experts in packaging sustainability and packaging professionals on social media mostly praised the news about Loop, a new circular shopping platform where consumers in Paris and New York can buy popular branded products in durable reusable packaging. (Spoiler Alert! The Loop-announcement article is coming up next. It was the top news of February 2019. This was a follow-up article to that.)

On LinkedIn, the chatter harkened back to the old days when reusability was standard operating procedure:

Robert Lilienfeld says, “Back to the future. And, premium brands are the way to do this, as they have both the margins and interested customer base to be successful.”

Gunther Brinkman shares, “Our grandparents could manage to leave the bottles outside for the milkman, and our children re-use growlers at their favorite micro-brewery. If the economic incentives are there, this is an idea whose time has come.”

Packaging Digest also reached out to industry experts, including Brian Wagner, co-founder and principal, PTIS LLC, who thoughtfully presented a thorough analysis of the pros and cons of this reuse model.

What do you think? Share your comments here or on the article pages.

NEXT: Everything you need to know about Loop and you don’t even need to ask

1. Loop and big brands boldly reinvent waste-free packaging

No surprise that the biggest packaging news of the year, which we posted on Jan. 24, hits our #1 spot for the month of February.

Will Loop be the milkman model for the future? The initiative is a new ecommerce and retail shopping platform where all the products are sold in reusable, recyclable packages—Häagen-Dazs ice cream in a stainless steel pint, Tropicana orange juice in glass bottles, Pantene shampoo in aluminum cylinders.

Our extensive coverage of the news includes a 43-minute video of an interview with Loop inventor Tom Szaky, CEO of TerraCycle, along with a Q&A from the TerraCycle team that gives all the pertinent details, such as:

• How Loop was developed and why;

• What the root causes of waste are;

• How Loop challenges the idea of who “owns” product packaging—from consumer back to the brand;

• What Loop’s immediate growth plans are.

If you haven’t heard about Loop yet, click on the headline above to hear about this audacious venture.

You can also click on the “Subscribe” link at the bottom of all our webpages to sign up for Packaging Digest newsletters that are of interest to you so you get news like this as it happens.

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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!

Here’s how Home Chef refreshes packaging every couple of weeks

Here’s how Home Chef refreshes packaging every couple of weeks
Home Chef makes frequent packaging updates of ingredients and nutritional info for its seasonal meal kits, thanks to digital printing and processes.

Digital printing and digital workflows help meal-kit company Home Chef update its paperboard packaging every couple of weeks with exact ingredients and nutritional facts for its many seasonal menu offerings—fulfilling its need for packaging and labeling flexibility.

Each week, Home Chef prepares 24 new graphic files for folding carton sleeves for its fresh, refrigerated, ready-to-cook meal kits. Once packaging supplier Zumbiel Packaging receives the art, it prints/cuts/glues the sleeves within 48 hours. No later than two weeks after Zumbiel receives the files, the filled meal kits go to market nationwide.

Zumbiel entered this example of its digital capabilities in the 76th annual North American Paperboard Packaging Competition, an industry competition organized by the Paperboard Packaging Council. Winners will be announced at PPC’s Fall Meeting (Oct. 23-25; Minneapolis).

Regarding this “digital” trend, one of the judges this year, Tony Hitchin, general manager of Pro Carton, said in a press release, “Digital print and cutting is being used much more widely, and not just for personalization, but also to add speed and flexibility to the supply chain.”

Other paperboard packaging trends

Another paperboard packaging trend reported by the Paperboard Packaging Council based on entries to this year’s competition is how beverage packaging is embracing sustainability. According to PPC, “The beverage market is by far the largest end user of folding cartons in the United States, with an estimated 23.0% (1.11 million tons) of total carton shipments in 2018.”

Of this year’s entries, the judges noted how plastic is being replaced with renewable paperboard. For example, highly decorated carton-based beverage multipacks for bottles and cans have been ousting plastic hi-cones and shrink wrap. This allows high-end finishings and design techniques unique to paperboard.

Judge Dr. Nona Woolbright, associate professor of Graphic Communications at Clemson University, said in the press release, “I noticed an overall increase in the use of finishing techniques. When these applications were added to beautifully designed and exciting pieces, the overall visuals were stunning.”

Speaking of new design techniques, here are some seen in this year’s entries:

• A ‘virtual window’ on a Tampax Pearl carton. Supplier PaperWorks Industries Inc. substituted a plastic window for a descriptive graphic of the product inside. Designed to appear as though it were a window on the pack, the graphics have appropriate shadowing and depth-of-field.

• Intricate laser die cutting that eliminates the need for printing;

• Gradient glitter that either changed in color or intensity from top to bottom of the carton; and

• Innovative new tamper-resistant designs.

 Last year, Packaging Digest reported on these “4 emerging paperboard packaging trends”:

1. Digital escalation
2. Everyday upscale
3. Dual- or multi-use designs
4. The cannabis craze

It’s interesting to see the slight shifts in the paperboard packaging trends from year to year.

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MinnPack 2019 (Oct. 23-24; Minneapolis) is where serious packaging professionals find technologies, education and connections needed to thrive in today’s advanced manufacturing community. See solutions in labeling, food packaging, package design and beyond. Attend free expert-led sessions at multiple theaters around the expo.