The current trends surrounding packaging got me thinking.

Are we seeing a reversal of many things, not just packing, but in general to a more simplified situation?  I have worked for over 30 years in the caps and closures industry, (Thank you Mr Parker, Re: Dragon Plastics!).

When I started out many caps were simple and functional, plain screw on caps nothing fancy. A live hinge flip top cap was really the cutting edge of design.  We have progressed so far. Often a closure is not just a closure, it’s a multi component device needing features for dispensing, dose, security, product integrity, product freshness, etc etc.  Packaging has become more and more complex in many cases requiring multiple materials to achieve the ever-increasing demands placed upon it.

These demands come from many angles. Consumer expectation, regulations, marketing, increased line speeds, tighter tolerances and commercial to name but a few.  

Then we come to the now, with the dramatic rise in awareness for the packing being used every day.

Which brings me to my point……are we going to see a regression to the days of old.  I took a picture of a glass milk bottle the other day and posted this to LinkedIn as an example.

As a kid in the 70’s milk in a glass bottle was delivered to your door via a milkman in an electric milk float, empty milk bottles collected at the same time. The bottles returned to a central hub, cleaned and reused for milk.  If this supply model was in place now it would be the most amazing example of rounded thinking and environmental greatness. But we got rid of this and replaced it with plastic bottles. Progress? Will we see the return of glass milk bottles and the return and reuse system?

Packaging free shops are on the rise, a new trend which is growing in Europe. But hold on, haven’t we seen this type of shop before?  Isn’t this the old grocery shop on the corner of street or in the local village? It really isn’t a new concept.

For the plastic packaging there is a clamour for products to be made using Bio polymers and PCR materials.  And quite righty too. We need to be reusing these materials that we have generated. Plastic packaging is not going to disappear, it’s an excellent solution for many purposes and can have benefits which outweigh the impact of being a plastic.  But these material types have restrictions for their use, and the type of designs that can be created. There are technicalities that I won’t go into here, but certain engineering features, processing and colours for example are not possible.

That long wish list of demands that I mentioned earlier, dispense, multi-components, tight tolerances, complex designs etc.  Its possible that we will see some of these take a back seat to the overriding demand that PCR material for example must be used.  The material used in any pack format immediately gives you a frame work in which you can work. A more simplistic design could be the outcome as a result.  

Do we have a return to old corner shop, the clink of milk bottles in the morning, your food shopping in a brown paper bag and more importantly chips wrapped in newspaper (They did taste better!).  Do we have a return to an older more simple style of packaging?

For bottle tops……..anyone need any 28mm R3 caps? 

Doubly important – anti-choke and childproof closures also need to be suitable for senior citizens

It all began sometime in the 1970s or thereabouts. A detergent manufacturer had the idea of providing his products with a closure that couldn’t easily be opened by children. The reason behind this was that his cleaning agents often smelled so delicious and were so colorful that especially small children were tempted to take a big mouthful. And that could and can still have disastrous results. Anything is conceivable, from nausea and chemical burns to serious health consequences. At any rate, a handful of developers got together and started thinking about how best to design childproof closures to ensure that they couldn’t be opened by a child of about three or four years of age. On the other hand, though, an adult was to be able to manage this without any problem and as intuitively as possible. After all, the packaging was not supposed to stop anyone from using the contents nor of course from buying the product. This marked the birth of closures that are commonly referred to as “childproof closures”.

 

Childproof closures are not necessarily choke-proof

 

Over the years – caps and closures had become increasingly intricate with a great deal of attention to detail – it happened again and again that whole closures or parts of them were swallowed or even inhaled (or in medical terms “aspirated”) by toddlers. At worst, this could cause suffocation. Here again, the packaging industry was required to develop childproof closures that made it impossible for them or their parts to get into the respiratory tracts. Especially in the pouch closure segment, the so-called weldspouts were and still are relatively small and light to match the overall packaging unit. In its main fields of application in the cosmetic and detergent industries, the spout size has not played a predominant role to date. But in recent years, the pouch and its merits have been discovered and implemented increasingly in the food industry as well. Fruit purees, yoghurt drinks and baby food, for instance, are very popular among children as a quick snack or between meals. In particular small children up to around 3 years of age explore the world not only with their hands, eyes and ears, but frequently with their mouths and tongues as well. That’s why a child sticks anything interesting or exciting into his or her mouth straight away – unfortunately including objects and things that have no business there. As a result, there have been cases in the past when the closures – or their components – landed in the child’s mouth and were swallowed. And no-one really wants to even contemplate the serious consequences of such accidents.

 

Rotatable in all directions – simple, even for small children and the elderly

 

But how can the little ones be protected against such terrible things happening during their explorations? The product developers at MENSHEN investigated this issue very thoroughly. Some time ago they came up with several versions of a pouch closure which cannot be swallowed because it has a diameter of around three centimeters, about double the size of a customary closure for this type of packaging. And even if the very improbable case of swallowing the closure did happen, its open structure is designed so as to allow the person to continue breathing. In addition, it is virtually impossible for a child to loosen or twist off any parts of the closure without some sort of device such as a knife or nippers. So, our ChokeSafeCap – that’s our name for this closure at MENSHEN – really is pretty well thought out. Thanks to its large diameter, it is easy to handle, enabling simple and convenient opening and closing – not only for the kiddies, but for the senior citizens among us, too. Thumbs up for this super closure!

Running Like Clockwork

DTS: It flashes, bleeps and moves – but where’s the driver?

Isn’t something missing there? This or something similar is usually the initial reaction upon encountering a driverless transport system (DTS) for the first time. “Er, a what?”, is generally the next question asked. The DTS can actually be explained quite simply and quickly: a sort of pallet truck or lift truck drives to a specific place in a production hall where it picks up pallets with finished goods and then brings them to the dispatch area. That’s where the boxes are labelled and made ready for shipping before being loaded. Although it doesn’t sound very spectacular, this process is repeated around a thousand times a day. The only major difference with the DTS is that there is no-one to be seen far and wide; no human being who pulls, drives, controls – whatever! – the pallet.  

 

There must be a person around whenever a vehicle is moving – but not with DTS!

 

It really makes you take a second or even a third look and rub your eyes. Because nothing can be that is not supposed to be! Because wherever vehicles of any kind are in motion, one automatically expects to see a person at the wheel or controls. We are used to this with cars, bikes, lawn mowers, vacuum cleaners – and of course with pallet trucks as well. Where automobiles are concerned, large-scale trials have been in progress for some time to steer cars without an active driver. And it is meanwhile not uncommon to see lawn mowers and vacuum cleaners flitting, as if by magic, across the grass to be cut or carpet to be cleaned. But driverless “helpers” in the production and logistics areas? Yes indeed! The DTS is already an element of Industry 4.0, Internet of Things, or Fourth Industrial Revolution. But, no matter how you choose to call it, this development is unstoppable. In a few years it will be practically the norm to have a lot of work carried out without any active human involvement. Especially in the fields of production and dispatch at corporations, there are – naturally enough – numerous tasks that are repetitive and take a long time. For people, this is very tiring in the long term; concentration levels suffer and, in time, the quality of work and the ultimate results as well.   

 

People are needed elsewhere

 

In most cases, the manpower is needed much more urgently somewhere else to be target-oriented and motivated and satisfy customer requirements with good work and good products. The internal transport vehicles at MENSHEN also move through the factory halls as if by magic, like beads on a string. At first, they were given a respectfully wide berth. Meanwhile, though, the DTS has become part of the everyday work at MENSHEN and everyone knows that the system is not a danger to anyone and that it will definitely not run anybody down. With up to 400 pallets to be shipped from Finnentrop each day and more than 60 semitrucks departing daily, this is an enormous help. At the same time, the people – who remain vital to the company – can be more sustainably and effectively deployed elsewhere. Thanks to DTS!

Packed in a pouch – lots of good reasons in favour

Recently at the supermarket: Strolling through the aisles, it really hit me how differently the various products are packed – the range of options is really impressive and interesting. We have already reported in detail on the actual usefulness of packaging. Bottles, tubes, jars, tubs or, as here, pouches – the types of packaging are as diverse as the products that are worth protecting. And, in many cases, the packaging has a closure – more often than not one made by MENSHEN.

 

This time we are focusing on a form of packaging which has become a familiar sight on our supermarket shelves in recent years and has gradually taken over a number of segments – the pouch. Pouches are known under several different names, such as “flexible packaging”, “Doypack”, or “stand-up pouches. For us today, it is simply the pouch.

 

It all began with juice. Meanwhile though, pouches are used to pack a huge variety of food, detergents, cosmetics, motor oil, and even for surface compound prior to mixing it. So the range of applications is extremely diverse and multifold. But what actually makes the pouch so popular and what makes it stand out from other packing options?

 

Pouch packs: ideal for the environment and for transportation

 

After giving the matter some intensive thought, it is really astonishing that there are not lots more everyday things available in a pouch. Firstly, it is environmentally friendly because it can be recycled and even reused, depending on the application. Besides this, a pouch has an 80% lower CO2 footprint than, for instance, a glass bottle. To say nothing of transportation: the pouch is much lighter, requires less space – especially when empty – as well as protecting the environment due to the lower amount of fuel required per pouch. Imagine a truck transporting empty bottles to a filling plant. A truck can hold around 100,000 bottles made of glass or plastic, whereas it can move as much as seven times that number of pouches with the same filling volume. It’s simply healthier, more cost-effective and more convenient.  

 

Barrier meets marketing

 

That’s the first point. But a decision in favor of a pouch also brings lots of additional benefits when the filling and storage processes are taken into account. The airless pouch enables clean filling in a flash. If necessary, it can be heated without any difficulty to achieve a longer shelf life without the use of preservatives. And once the pouch has reached the supermarket shelf, thin, multilayer laminates with excellent barrier properties provide protection against oxygen, ultraviolet rays and other influences which could have a negative effect on the quality and durability of the product.

 

On the subject of shelves: Pouches are excellent advertising media and brand ambassadors as well. Thanks to their outstanding stability, they are ideal for the best presentation of products at the POS. In this, they are supported by practical options for reclosing the pack – with MENSHEN weld-spouts. The pouch stands out with an eye-catching, brilliant print and promotional message to match the product, or allows a clear view of the content by implementing transparent foils and windows. Anything goes! Additional advantages include individual shapes and a soft, pleasant feel. An optional euro-hole provides further presentation alternatives at the POS.

 

No matter how you look at it, the pouch with the appropriate MENSHEN weld-spout is definitely an all-rounder and the ultimate solution.

Genuine enjoyment is the result of scientific research

On the coffee market, there are currently fascinating, remarkable things going on – in the true sense of the word. Germany is traditionally a country of coffee drinkers. In 2016, the average amount of coffee consumed by each German was 162 liters (in comparison: 104 liters of beer, 148 liters of mineral water). And all this coffee is drunk in a variety of different ways: 86 per cent prefer ground filter coffee and whole coffee beans for fully automatic coffee machines. The remainder favor the practical, convenient way of making coffee with pads or coffee capsules made of plastic and aluminum. And these coffee capsules are our topic for today.

 

Coffee capsules made of aluminium need more energy than plastic

 

Which version of Nespresso®*-compatible coffee capsules is then better? For a start: there is no universally valid right or wrong answer to that. It is, however, also a fact that the energy requirement for producing coffee capsules of aluminum is several times higher than that needed for manufacturing plastic coffee capsules.  Apart from that, the extraction of aluminum from bauxite produces toxic red sludge. Although the recycling rate for plastic is slightly lower than for aluminum, the remaining plastic is thermally reutilized, thus providing heat. Heat that means mineral oil and natural gas can be saved elsewhere. That doesn’t work with aluminum.  

 

And what about the aroma stability of the coffee in the different types of coffee capsules? An important question, because exposing the coffee powder to oxygen has an impact on the aroma which depends on the barrier properties of the coffee capsule and/or of the material used. So, how “tight” are aluminum and plastic where oxygen is concerned? Even though it may sound illogical at first, it is an actual fact that oxygen molecules are so small that, over time, they find their way and eventually reach the coffee. In tiny amounts, it is true, but enough to slowly impair the flavor.  

 

In this case, aluminum is a step ahead of a “conventional” plastic such as polypropylene (PP), the material generally used for making coffee capsules. For some time now, however, MENSHEN have been implementing a copolymeric high-barrier layer which is inserted between two layers of PP by a special technique (co-injection) during the production process. This complex provides excellent barrier properties against oxygen and other gases. In consequence, the new combination is in no way inferior to aluminum.    

 

Coffee capsules made of plastic – top marks for barrier properties and tightness

 

What else is important for supreme coffee enjoyment? Right, the taste! And that is significantly determined, not only by the aroma protection with the barrier properties described above, but essentially by the proportion of coffee powder to water. It goes without saying that if too little coffee powder is brewed with too much water, the result will usually be weak, flavorless “dishwater”. On the other hand, if there is insufficient water for the brewing process, the result will be too bitter or too strong. Or the tiny amount of coffee in the cup is simply maddening – it might taste alright, but is unfortunately only enough to moisten one’s tongue.

 

The magic word in this case is tightness. To ensure true coffee enjoyment, a precisely defined amount of water is needed to flush out the coffee capsule and its contents. Should any of this amount in some wondrous way get lost during the brewing process – and sometimes more than 10% disappeared during our tests – this inevitably has a negative impact on the taste sensation. Quite apart from the visual astonishment! If an espresso, the size of which is already rather limited at 30 ml, is suddenly even smaller than usual, the amount becomes negligible. The cause of this miraculous loss of water is to be found in the tightness of the coffee capsule used.      

 

Because very high pressure is built up in the brewing chamber of the machine, the coffee capsule – and in particular the broader end with the collar – has to withstand this pressure and provide a seal to the coffee machine so that no water can leak out and escape. MENSHEN have developed the “diamond grid” for just this purpose – a circumferential system consisting of numerous small diamond-shaped structures that ensures virtually complete tightness. In the tests conducted by us on different versions of coffee capsules from a variety of suppliers, the MENSHEN solution lay ahead of the market leader by far!

 

The preparation of coffee is consequently anything but trivial – many factors need to be optimally coordinated to ensure that drinking a cup of coffee is a pleasure. And because MENSHEN coffee capsules perform brilliantly in all areas, it is thus more than just an alternative to the version made of aluminum.

 

*Brand owned by a third-party company that is neither in a company law nor any other business relationship to Georg MENSHEN GmbH & Co. KG.

Packaging Matters

How appropriate and environmentally friendly are (plastic) packaging materials really?

Well, packaging has been in use for thousands of years – in a huge variety of shapes and with a wide range of functions. Every day, Mother Nature shows us that most products get damaged or go bad without some kind of packaging so that they can no longer be used or are even a risk to mankind. Packaging protects the product and, consequently, us people against potential dangers that the content could cause. Just think of chemicals in the school lab or a kitchen knife on a shop shelf!

Packaging: More favorable generation of CO2 than in food production

Packaging protects and is thus meaningful in most cases. This can best be illustrated with an example from the food industry. Every year, around 60 million tons of food perish in Europe and are then inedible and have to be disposed of. Each kilogram of meat produces around 13 kg of CO2 before it reaches the point of sale in a shop. The situation with fruit and vegetables is similar. Packaging made of a suitable material prevents the various foodstuffs from deteriorating for a much longer time than could ever be achieved without the package. As a result, this foil contributes towards helping to prevent food from being thrown out. What is amazing is that the production of the packaging needed for this purpose generates just 0.2 kg of CO2 compared to 13 kg for the meat, fruit or vegetables – which would otherwise be unfit for eating. That is 65 times as much!

Protecting products with packaging is at the same time climate protection

And what about the plastic waste in the seas and oceans – also referred to as “marine litter”? A regrettable and disgusting dilemma – and one that could be avoided! There is of course a reason why plastics reach the oceans. And every single one of us can do their bit to ensure that it stops. All this waste does not jump into the water by itself. A properly functioning recycling and deposit system can put a stop to this misuse of the oceans as rubbish dumps. In Germany, around 50% of plastic packaging materials are recycled. Thermal utilization ensures that the remaining amount is used for community heating systems in residential areas, thus making the additional use of heating oil and gas unnecessary. In consequence, even after its designated use as a packaging, plastic is put to good use a second time.

“Zero pellet loss” against marine litter

MENSHEN also contributes in other ways towards cleaning the oceans. For several years now, we have been involved in the “zero pellet loss” campaign. This means that we have committed to create the necessary technical and organizational preconditions for avoiding granulate spillages and preventing it from getting into the environment. Even though only a very low proportion of the waste in seas and oceans is granulate, we want to set an example.

Packaging – as ever, an important and fascinating topic. We’ll stay on the ball! Read more here in the near future!

You’ve probably heard of the Internet of Things.

It’s the trend toward including internet access in everyday items like washing machines, fridges, heating systems, and security systems.

Many are now controlled by home hubs or smartphone apps which can turn on your heating or lights, or monitor your home’s security.

When it comes to packaging, smart technology is about to revolutionise the industry.

Several businesses in the food and pharmaceutical industries are experimenting with connected packaging, giving them real-time information about how their customers use their products.

For example, it could give sauce manufacturers details about how users squeeze the bottle or how easy it is to open the lid.

That would feed back into research and development for the next generation of sauce bottles.

It might also give important information about how quickly a product is used.

Analysts predict that the health and beauty and pharmaceutical industries, and lifestyle businesses will be early-adopters of this technology.

In the pharmaceutical industry, there are many potential applications.

How about a pill bottle which alerts a pharmacy if an elderly relative forgets to open the lid and take their medication?

Or, a bottle which only disposes an exact, safe dose?

These developments are not too far in the future. There is already a bottle with an alarm system which warns patients a dose of medication is due.

How does smart packaging work?

Technology already allows manufacturers and distributors to:

  • Monitor the shelf life of a product
  • Respond to changes in the environment
  • Communicate the history, condition, and information about a product to a user – in France, consumers can read the stories of the previous users of their recycled bottle
  • Help ensure product security

The use of computer chips and sensors in packaging is set to expand rapidly in the next few years.

They can be used to send information back to the manufacturer or another ‘hub’ like a pharmacy or health centre.

US-based drinks brand Gatorade, owned by PepsiCo, is developing a water bottle with a smart cap containing hidden sensors and a microchip alongside a smart sweat patch to be worn by athletes and weekend runners.

Professional sports teams in the USA are already trialling the system and early prototypes were used by the Brazilian football team during the 2014 World Cup.

The sweat patch calculates how much moisture is being lost by the athlete, while the smart cap records real-time data on the athlete’s hydration.

This information is then sent to the coach who can monitor the situation.

Field trials are also giving athletes visual alerts on bottles when they should be hydrating

The company is also set to launch small, snap-on pods to add to the bottles of its drink – adding different levels of electrolytes, carbohydrates, and calories to keep athletes at their peak performance.

The smart cap and sweat patch are expected to be released onto the commercial market either later this year or in 2018.

Professional athletes are expected to get the first chance to buy these systems this summer.

So, is smart packaging right for your business?

The cost of materials will play a key role in determining which businesses adopt the new technology in the next few years.

Potentially, there are huge benefits in helping you develop user-friendly packaging designs, alerting your business to usage trends, and giving your customers added value.
Do you need advice on packaging for your business? Call Menshen’s experts on 02920 473147. Find out more about our range here: https://menshen.co.uk/.

The right packaging can make a cosmetic line. The wrong packaging, however, could break it.

It’s the first thing your customers see, forming the first impression of your cosmetics and your company.

Use the right packaging and you could create a cosmetic line which speaks directly to your ideal customers.

Here are five things you need to do to ensure you get it right:

 

Understand your target customers.

Do your market research in your key demographic and find out what your customers want and need.

If you’re selling to Millennials, be aware that they will be researching your products online before going into the store to buy them. Your packaging needs to look fun, fresh, fashionable, and funky to attract them.

Millennials, however, are also very cost-conscious, marketing data shows. They will be looking for the best value products – so your packaging should not be adding too much to the overall cost if they are your target market.

Using standard packing with eye-catching graphics may well be the best way to go to market to these people.

If you’re marketing to women in their forties, they are prepared to spend more on any items they perceive to be of the best quality.

For that reason, the quality of your packaging is of vital importance to their spending decisions. If the product looks of excellent quality on the outside, it is likely to be of excellent quality on the inside.

Consider whether your packaging needs to be bespoke – helping you stand out from the competition.

 

Think about how your customers will use your products.

How they use your products has a huge bearing on the ergonomics of your packaging. Does it need to be easy-open for use on the go? Do you need to show how much has been used to help your customers keep on top of when they need to buy more? For cosmetics which will be carried in bags, for example, the weight of packaging will be important – tubes may well be a better option than jars.

 

Your packaging must travel well.

For any items carried in bags pack integrity is of critical importance.  Lesser quality packaging will be more prone to leakage giving an instant negative perception of the product and brand. Saving costs at the front end of the project does not always translate to a successful product life cycle.

 

Treat your product with respect.

Choose the right material and thickness to ensure it has a long enough shelf life. You’ve invested in the creation and production of your cosmetics, don’t waste money because of spoiled or spilled goods. You want as much of your product as possible to get to the shelves.

 

Size matters.

The more expensive your product, the more likely consumers are to buy smaller sizes of it, research has shown.

Get your sizing range right. Asking people to pay for larger pots of expensive product because there aren’t enough smaller options will be a little off-putting.

Think long term. Customers who initially buy smaller pots and love your products will come back and switch to the larger ones if they see it as a better deal in the long run.

Your smaller pots are the way you get into great relationships with your customers.
Looking for advice on packaging for cosmetic companies? Tell us what you need. Call our Menshen UK experts on 02920 473147. Visit www.menshen.co.uk