Packaging for Multi-channel Communication
The future begins with innovations: from 29 September to 1 October at the exhibition centre Nuremberg. This is because we are also expecting trail-blazing, new and further developments in the packing industry from the approx. 1,500 exhibitors at FachPack 2015. The total of around 37,000 trade visitors will experience innovations across the packaging process chain - and thus in all four FachPack segments: packaging, technology, finishing, logistics.
With the coffee-to-go in your hand, doing your shopping quickly on your smart phone and collecting your orders on the way home after work - these are extremely realistic scenarios for consumers in the near future. Online retailing is growing at an above-average level, unpacking the ordered goods is the first point of contact with the product.
Packaging must deliver more in multi-channel communication than just simply protecting the product and impressing on the shop shelves - it also has to succeed with value-added. This is where marking technology assumes additional functions: it manages the orders and directs them to the correct recipient. In this connection, the structural transformation in the retail trade is posing new challenges for the packaging industry in all areas across the process chain.
Packaging: convenience and individualization
Foodstuff packaging is continuing to be driven by the convenience trend. Stand-up sachets have conquered new product segments and offer real value added. They have been further developed as squeeze bags for baby food in the to-go sector. As a result, fruit pulp, yoghurt specialties and vegetable puree are fed to babies from the practical bag whilst on the move. Also practical: the screw-top serves as an adapter for screw-on feed spoons or dummies which are available from online shops.
Bags have even managed to quietly make inroads on to the tinned goods shelves in the supermarkets: sauces and instant soups, which only need to be heated up, are replacing the well-known dry and powder products in the flat, square sachets. An additional trend is the individualization of products: the product range extends from muesli, which the consumer can have mixed in the preferred variation, right up to the creation of personal tea specialties - a bold, audacious concept for automated machine technology. The innumerable variations due to the consumers' required combinations have to be produced and packed, while the label must also contain the respective individual details and information. This is where innovative solutions in labelling technology are required.
Another important field for labelling and marking solutions: they help to clearly identify products. Brand fakes are particularly a problem for the health and beauty industry, a problem which is being intensified by online shopping. Fakes are becoming increasingly professional and are not only causing considerable damage for the brand manufacturers, but also endangering the health of the consumers. The standardized serialization of pharmaceuticals packaging is placing new requirements on the handling of growing data volumes. All products and logistics information must be registered and stored for each individual pharmaceuticals packaging. Individualization and track & trace systems for efficient, full-coverage product tracking as well as secure product authentication and reliable protection against falsification are based on intelligent software architecture which can be combined with modern machine and printing technology.
Technology: modular machines required
The diversity of product variations is posing great challenges for the packaging machine manufacturers. Today flexibility means that machinery and facilities must not only for example fill yoghurts in equally sized tubs, but also completely control various packaging sizes and styles. The machine design is decisive for the efficiency, performance and flexibility of fully automatic packaging systems. The individual components must therefore be optimally coordinated with each other and quickly replaced if required. Tray-sealers are for example designed in such a way that they can process all the tray formats and materials within the product size. The cover film or protective glass are also flexible. Adjustments and product changes can be made increasingly quickly - all possible without using tools thanks to quick-release caps and fasteners. Modular design enables the use of various functional modules in the same machine housing and set-up area. The machines can therefore be put into operation more quickly, more easily upgraded or retrofitted thus also offering scope for future requirements.
Refinements for the unpacking experience
Unpacking or unboxing is becoming a cult trend: on innumerable Youtube channels users in unboxing videos comment on unpacking their ordered goods. In e-commerce the packaging is mostly the first contact with the product. Nevertheless, in online shops we frequently find only a simple listing of the products with small photos. One cosmetics supplier has gone one step further here and is attractively presenting the newly designed packaging in a sales clip: Once the cap is loosened, the sachet unfolds and the cream jar becomes the focus of attention. Cosmetic products are thus also popular in folding boxes with a reflective lid film so that the consumer always has a small cosmetic studio with them when opened.
Refinements such as haptic effects and a shiny appearance transform the over-the-counter retail shopping experience into an unpacking experience for online shopping. Packaging is becoming interactive through QR (quick response) codes or augmented reality. Like other product information, these features are being applied using marking technology. Here too, the key word individualization plays a role: in addition to barcodes, QR, logos and character sets, ink jet printers can also print unique codes which are used for tracing and tracking or for promotional coding such as interactive prize competitions. They can be activated using your smart phone or PC.
Images: R. Eberhard, messekompakt.com, EBERHARD print & medien agentur gmbh