By Kyle Ous & Rob Kaszubowski | Packaging Optimization Engineers
For four days, engineers and manufacturing industry professionals from around the world invaded McCormick Place in Chicago to experience first hand the newest ideas in processing and packaging technology at PACK EXPO International.
Being the packaging engineering consultants that we are, we scoured the show floor seeking any new equipment, material, or methodology that could lead to productivity improvements for our clients. With more than 2,000 suppliers exhibiting, across 1.2 million square feet of space, needless to say – we had a lot of ground to cover!
Sniffing out true innovation required a bit of detective work because most every exhibitor claims to be introducing a breakthrough innovation, but after closer inspection many ultimately ended up amounting to little more than new spins on old equipment. We spent a lot of time asking questions and sorting through the claims to find what made a meaningful splash on the show floor.
From what we gathered there was a strong focus on e-commerce fulfillment at this year’s PACK EXPO. Shippers know that new dim weight shipping rates are about to take effect and suppliers have responded by offering a multitude of on-demand box solutions to right size packaging. Here are just of few of the innovations that caught our eye.
Sealed Air’s I-Pack
Sealed Air has a long history in food and beverage supply chains, and the company has applied much of that packaging knowledge to a diversity of industry verticals.
It’s I-Pack Automated Void-fill Reduction System automatically measures the dimensions of contents and folds and glues a box to fit perfectly around them using curb side recyclable corrugated.
This automated approach to custom box-sizing is likely to be popular among many shippers.
Callisto One-Piece Bliss Box Erector
Callisto Mechanical showed its one piece bliss box erector machine, which reduces the materials needed by 15-25% without compromising the strength of the package. Instead of the usual two or three pieces required to assemble a bliss box, this machine uses a single die cut piece of corrugated. The result is somewhat stronger than a typical bliss box.
Berry Plastics Qubic
Qubic containers save space at every step in the supply chain from warehousing to retail display — even pantry and refrigerator space in homes.
Berry’s new printing capability allows high-quality graphics to adorn its Qubic containers at a competitive price without relying on adhesive labels, shrink sleeves or In-Mold Labeling.
In addition to some exciting evolutions in packaging materials and processes, PACK EXPO also saw the announcement of Project 6-Amazon.com-B, a new ISTA performance test co-developed by Amazon for items weighing more than 70 pounds. Amazon joins Sam’s Club and FedEx in implementing a customized test protocol for its vendors, and this is expected to result in improved exception rates for the retailer.
Tip of the Innovation Iceberg
As the manufacturing world continues down its evolutionary path, striving to meet the changing needs of the business and addressing corporate sustainability initiatives, some of these new innovative ideas will take off while others will flounder. The innovations that can provide long-lasting return on investments while increasing productivity and overall operational efficiency will stand the test of time. We are most likely only seeing the beginnings of larger changes to come in the future.
If you need help identifying the latest technology advances and best packaging solutions for your supply chain, contact the packaging engineers at Chainalytics for unbiased advice.
Rob Kaszubowski is a Manager of the Packaging Optimization practice at Chainalytics. In addition to leading client engagements, Rob is responsible for advancing Chainalytics’ project delivery methodology and mentoring consulting staff within the practice.
Kyle Ous is a Packaging Consultant for the Packaging Optimization practice at Chainalytics. He is the lead on several packaging and supply chain cost reduction projects where he executes on opportunities that lead to improved supply chain performance.