How to offer quality packaging without excessive price increases? Manufacturers of industrial packaging are showing the way: using cheaper recycled material, participating in the development of logistics concepts and betting on their own electricity supply using renewable energy.
Manufacturers industrial packaging They are greatly affected by price increases. Their containers, pallets, technical parts and workpiece supports are mostly made of plastic. It is a light and resistant material, but for the production of plastic packaging using the so-called injection molding requires a lot of energy. In addition, manufacturers depend on granules that are in high demand and unavailable in desired quantities.
“In the long term, this does not mean only an increase in the price of all charging support, availability sooner or later becomes the decisive criterion. Rising transport costs make the situation worse. That’s the problem large industrial packaging They need a relatively large amount of space to transport customers by trucks and trains. In a situation like this, it is difficult to achieve savings,” said Udo Schwabe, marketing director of the German branch of the Swiss container company Utz Group.
Customers are increasingly demanding
While the company’s financial margin is shrinking, customers are increasingly demanding. Whether it is wholesale or the food or pharmaceutical industry, all relevant sectors want to reduce their carbon dioxide footprint and valuable packaging produced in a sustainable way, protecting resources, which in this way do not lose stability. In addition, companies rely on highly automated transportation techniques to ensure frictionless material flow. This places high demands on packaging.
“This also applies to industrial packaging: it protects the product by using less packaging material. Less material means less space needed for the packaged product,” explains VDMA expert Vera Fritsche.
In addition, the containers must be recognizable, so that they can be controlled through different logistics systems.
Fritsche points out that coding plays a very important role, especially in terms of product traceability throughout the entire distribution chain, as well as for all intralogistics.
Basically, the new in-mold marking technique is becoming more and more important. This technique allows for particularly durable labels that are easy to clean, but it is more expensive and more labor intensive than the conventional barcodes used so far. In the next step, they are simply glued to the package, while in-mold labeling is integrated into the production of the container. The pre-printed labels are placed in the injection molding tool and combined with the molten plastic mass when the liquid plastic is injected into the tool.
Requirements for packaging suppliers also include being able to offer space-saving containers.
“Spaces for transportation and storage are not only increasingly scarce, but also more expensive. Companies are transferring pressure to the packaging industry. “We want to get containers whose volume can be reduced, whether they are collapsible, conical or rotating,” explained Fritsche.
A big challenge for packaging manufacturers is to offer the necessary innovations without compromising quality and at the lowest possible costs. For example, Cologne-based barrel specialist Greif, explained CEO Dirk Heidmeyer, wants to achieve further cost and efficiency potentials in the short term, on a company-wide basis.
“In this way, we have two fundamental goals for our customers: firstly, we want to do everything necessary to keep the packaging costs for our customers as low as possible, secondly, improving the income situation must contribute to securing the future in the sense of ‘Safe Choice’. Greif’s commitment is always to be able to offer high-quality packaging with the highest possible security of product and supply,” he pointed out.
No two packages are the same
Building customer loyalty through particularly safe packaging is the goal pursued by the German packaging group Schütz. His novelties are the so-called Foodcert packaging for the food industry, which is based on the latest industrial standard FSSC 22000 (Food Safety System Certification). Among other things, it prescribes great precautions for cleaning during production, in order to reduce the risk of contamination. In addition, Schütz produces its Foodcert packaging just in time, i.e. synchronized with needs, based on specific individual customer orders. In this way, long storage times and contamination are avoided.
Fritsche referred to another example of reusable packaging that protects resources: the so-called DS Smith Packaging’s Xfach folding reel for shipping rubber seals, hoses, ropes and the like.
“It can be assembled with two maneuvers. When the coil is folded flat, all parts stay together and this prevents loss during return transport. Thanks to the sturdy construction of corrugated cardboard, the collapsible reel can be reused multiple times,” he said.
One of the strengths of Utz is also the sustainable and economical production of its plastic load carriers. In the company’s own recycling center, boxes and pallets are turned back into granules. At the same time, the company is developing new packaging materials such as Wood Plastic Composite, a mixture of wood and plastic. To obtain its own green energy, Utz also invests in its own solar installation and cogeneration plant.
Along with sustainability and cost reduction, flexibility in production and readiness to supply play a fundamental role at Utz.
“There is one thing that can be seen: instead of a universal solution for reusable packaging, as was the order of the day a few years ago, individual solutions for sectors and customers are currently being sought,” said Schwabe.
Utz, in cooperation with meat processing companies and the global standardization organization GS1, developed a new meat container called E-Performance, which thanks to the improved floor geometry and angular construction is particularly stable and for better identification Inside the supply chain it has a label on all four sides of the mold .
On the other hand, Utz developed a transport unit for a chain of drugstores that can be transported on wheels without much effort to the destination within the company. The base of this expedition tower is a transport trolley, on the upper platform of which there are four notches for the wheels of the next trolley. This allows them to be stacked in the warehouse, which saves space. Utz also supplies large industry. The group’s Swiss headquarters designed a large package for the international technology group, consisting of a folding pallet box, various internal divisions and deeply drawn middle panels. The packing unit is used all over the world to transport turbine blades for gas and hydropower plants, if they are being overhauled.