Sustainable packaging challenges conquered with Cama’s expertise, at leading global home and healthcare manufacturer
There are many reasons why companies might look to reinvent their packaging infrastructure and routines, such as the need for higher speed, greater throughput or enhanced flexibility. However, with modern legislation and current consumer sentiments in mind, the overriding factor these days is sustainability. With single-use plastic being broadly shunned globally, it is not surprising that many companies are moving over to recyclable materials, with cardboard being one of the most popular choices. The issue this creates is that to fulfil environmental objectives and mandates, companies have to undertake a complete redesign exercise – from the new materials and concepts for primary product packaging, through new machines and plant layout configurations, through secondary packaging, again with new materials and packaging designs, all the way through to final palletising.
Easier, streamlined transition
This can be a daunting task – even for large companies – but for one leading global home and healthcare product manufacturer, the entire process was made significantly easier and more streamlined as soon as Cama Group came on board. The customer in this project owns brands that are recognised the world over and, as an indirect responsibility, must be seen to be taking the lead in sustainability efforts. In many markets its products are packaged in secondary containers that also double as shelf-ready display cases. The problem is that many of them contain plastic, in the secondary shell/skin and in the trays used to orient the products. The challenge in this case was to revert to a 100 % cardboard packaging concept that was quick and easy to open and display and would present the products in a way that did not detract from the quality of the brand. In this instance the product was a self-administered cold remedy, but this is a challenge that the customer is seeing across its entire healthcare product range and is actually a challenge for the home healthcare industry globally.
“In the first instance we had a major role in a lengthy design exercise chaired by the customer, in order to create a new secondary packaging design and display concept for the product,” explains Alessandro Rocca, Sales Engineering Director at Cama Group. “Unlike other companies, we have a highly experienced packaging-design team within Cama, and over the years it has helped create thousands of great packaging ideas… some simple, some incredibly intricate.
Matching technology with space availability
“After a lot of testing and deliberation the new design concept was finalised, with consideration for packaging-machinery capabilities too,” Rocca adds. “The machinery obviously has an input in all design exercises, as there are multiple technologies out there. But in this instance a lack of factory real estate meant that only certain machine types and styles could be deployed, and these would help define the packaging design. Other companies invited to tender suggested top-loading machines, but fresh out of the Cama research and development department is our new FW746 wraparound case packer, the latest addition to our class leading Breakthrough Generation (BTG) series.”
Many of Cama’s competitors struggle when they have to combine high-speed secondary packaging within a limited space. Not only can Cama meet speed requirements repeatably and efficiently, but, thanks to the FW746, it can do so in a machine some three meters shorter than industry competitors.
The standard for secondary packaging
“The FW746 also benefits from being part of the BTG family,” Rocca explains, “which is setting the standard in secondary packaging! Their modular, scalable and hygienically designed frameworks house contemporary automation solutions – including advanced rotary and linear servo technology – which can be tightly coupled to in-house-developed robotics, to deliver the all-important flexibility and adaptability required by modern packaging operations. The machine range is also based on a digital platform that supports full Industry 4.0 capabilities, including AR, VR and virtual testing, training and operation.
“The actual packaging procedure was relatively simple, but with a few twists,” Rocca elaborates. “We had to flip the products 180° prior to secondary packaging, and came up with a very simple concept, which as well as delighting engineers at the customer, was far more reliable than more complex ideas on the market. The customer also wanted a full traceability-and-checking system in place, that would check, print & verify the carton and its coding before it moved to the palletiser. This is then shared across a network, which also tightly integrates the machine with up and downstream processes.
“We are fortunate to have a very strong relationship with this customer, having delivered packaging solutions to its various factories all across the globe,” Rocca explains. “But this depth of understanding and trust that has taken years to grow, does not mean we take the relationship for granted. First order or 100th order, we put the same amount of effort, dedication and expertise into every job we do, conscious that there are other competitors out there that are envious of our reputation and technology.
“Although this was a reasonably standard packaging request, we had to devote significant resources to this project – including our packaging design team – in order to ensure a fully satisfied customer,” Rocca concludes. “You may think it fortunate that we had a machine that fitted the application perfectly, but this was not down to luck. We really study the market and predict what it will need, and the proactive introduction of the FW746 is just part of the future based on modern packaging demands.”