Departure: Heathrow, 07:35
Last week, the Innovation team packed their bags and headed for Dussledorf!
Of course, it would have been rude not to engage in the wider German cultural delights, however, Team 3D had another mission. Amongst the copious amounts of Currywursts, the Product team spent many hours extracting as much industry knowledge as possible in 2 days from the delights of Interpack!
Interpack is huge! It’s quite literally the “worlds biggest and most important trade fair of the packaging sector” and that really doesn’t give it justice. Picture 15 supersized supermarkets, packed back to back with the newest innovations in manufacturing machinery. A maze of machines: folding, cutting, forming and moulding every packaging solution you can imagine… the Technical Innovation Nerds were in heaven!
Whilst it’s one thing understanding the differences between a quad pack and flow wrap, it’s just as valuable to understand the individual manufacturing stages taken to produce them. Understanding this, allows us to create both innovative and manufacturable solutions.
Interpack is quite literally full of hundreds similar machines, producing similar products, but with their own unique manufacturing advantages. It’s important to design packaging that makes best use of our manufacturers unique machinery, so that we can produce the highest quality and most cost effective packs. Seeing all these machines in one place is the best way to inspire innovation.
One of our favourite finds was the square bottom gusseted bags which can be found on Three Sixty’s latest coffee bean packaging. A five panel quad pack which allows different sides of the pack to take advantage of different materials. We’re working on some great packs with transparency, which couldn’t otherwise be achieved through traditional quadpacks.
One machine that caught our attention was ASB’s all-in-one ‘Step’ moulding technologies. Their unique set up combines both the injection moulded pre-form stage and blow moulded bottle stages into one seamless process. This allows designers like us the flexibility to create custom pre-forms for more specific requirements. For example, we can have greater control over thickness and we can create non-standard necks, where traditionally we’re limited to off the shelf stock pre-forms.
Not surpisingly, we found companies taking advantage of the latest augmented reality and motion tracking technologies. Trivisio is one example of a head mounted display, with a transparent near-eye screen that lets you view the world whilst simultaneously viewing projected imagery displayed on the screen. The headsets allows a remote maintenance team guide the customer through set up and servicing their machinery, right before their eyes.
Whilst a cynic might argue it’s another human role lost to modern technology, we’re more impressed with the advantages this could offer. The technology makes it possible for customers in any country to take advantage of specialist knowledge, eliminates call out maintenance charges and could increase machine life. We’re sure it won’t be long before we see more examples of this technology rolling out into the wider consumer environment.
Finally, we were pleased to see quite a lot of companies demonstrating their latest recycling capabilities. We were both surprised and impressed to learn how one company is successfully recycling laminated foils. The secondary usage of course will have more impurities, and can only be used for lower grade products, such as refuse sacks. However, it’s great to see companies driving sustainability and it’s equally important we keep advising our clients to do the same!