Personal Care White paper Packaging trends femcare products
White paper Packaging trends femcare products
Latest trends in packaging femcare products
Double output, smaller packages
Converters are the center piece of femcare product packaging. Quite recently, their output was doubled with a single stroke. Almost simultaneously, the package sizes for femcare products diminished significantly. New stacking solutions are under way to provide suitable answers.
Published in o-com consumer/nonwovens 01/2011
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Stackers are the link between the manufacturing and packaging processes. Here is where paper hygiene products are counted and grouped into packaging units, lined up and stacked into formation, so that the packaging machines can pick them up and package them into foil.
Question: Mr. Rothbauer, converters and the packaging process, i.e. the stacker and packaging machine compete head to head with regard to capacity increase. Of course, it is the overall capacity that counts in the end, which has to be achieved by making the various elements compatible. Presently, however, it seems as if converters have taken the
Rothbauer: We succeeded in raising the peak performance of converters in a single stroke. For over 15 years, converter performance has remained pretty stable, that is for one-lane production. Currently we have achieved doubled or slightly more than doubled output for prepacked thin femcare products, i.e. panty liners. That means we doubled performance.
Obviously, we also have the packaging systems to cope with such improved output, and we offer systems that come with a slightly higher capacity to provide buffering as needed.
Question: Would such a system be an exceptional market leader?
Rothbauer: At present, we see a general trend towards increased efficiency, which will be achieved by a new machine generation that is currently being developed step by step and then launched by converter manufacturers.
Question: Can the one-lane design help to save space in the production departments?
Rothbauer: Exactly! In addition, the machines are much more efficient. In two-lane machines, machine availability of one machine has to be multiplied with availability of the other, which leads to a significantly lower overall availability value. In addition, the machine operator can cut costs for additional infrastructure, as for example raw material procurement and labor.
Question: ‘But this is just one aspect of the multitude of changes presently taking place in femcare product packaging. What about package formats?
Rothbauer: In parallel to the increased output, the numbers of units inside the femcare packages have decreased, in particular as it relates to panty liners. Today, we have counts of ten or less. Six products per package may become a standard. Accordingly, we need to increase the efficiency of the packaging systems. What is required is an almost doubled packaging performance to cope with the efficiency of the converter.
Question: And how will you solve this task?
Rothbauer: Currently, we are working with two different approaches. Each solution accommodates certain typical requirements. We have a new stacker model designed exclusively for one-lane high-end output. In this system, the product stream is divided by a product splitter located upstream of the stacking unit. The approach comes with high output and good flexibility, all at the same time. The second system splits the product flow later, inside the packaging machine.
Question: Could you give us a first glance at the system that was designed for peak performance?
Rothbauer: At this point, we cannot give away any technical details, but we did succeed in bringing the output of the horizontally operating stacker to the required level. We are aiming at further efficiency improvements and already achieved success in related testing. But due to inadequate converter performance, verification for routine production still has to be made. Thus, there is still some leeway for converter performance. In the tests that we ran in co-ordination with a converter manufacturer, we did achieve twice the present standard output.
Question: And the second solution with the splitter?
Rothbauer: The splitter is positioned in front of the packaging system, i.e. also in front of the stacker. It splits the products into two streams behind the converter outfeed.
Question: Isn’t a design with two downstream packaging lines rather a drawback with regard to format changeover, as t may require some additional changeover effort?
Rothbauer: No, in most cases it isn’t. Because the splitter enables the manufacturer to run a ten count on the one packaging line and a twenty count in parallel on the other, for example. At this point, we could, of course, consider twolane solutions instead of one-lane packaging lines. On a two-lane packaging machine, however, it would be logical to run symmetrical format constellations.
Question: What peak performance is feasible with this flexible solution?
Rothbauer: With this approach, we are able to achieve the required duplication of the current packaging output.
Question: Is this worth the additional effort?
Rothbauer: When considering investing in the high performance range, customers rather buy one top machine than two average systems. This is profitable, because the one high performance machine does not cost twice as much as one medium-performance machine. Simultaneously, this allows economized use of labor, which represents a significant cost factor. Another important criterion for operating companies is flexibility of a system with two packaging lines, not only with reference to the various package sizes. And yet another aspect is the alignment of the product inside the package. Customers will continue wanting to package products on the crimping edge and in upright position or they will require all kinds of rotary movements to package newly developed products. At present, we are working on several function modules at once to satisfy all these requirements. I am sure we will be able to offer a number of interesting solutions.
Question: How about machine reliability?
Rothbauer: As mentioned, the one-lane solution exclusively aimed at top performance, is best with regard to availability.
If one lane fails in a two-lane packaging machine, the entire system has to stop. The variant with a product splitter and two packaging lines, however, is more flexible. But for this variant, too, additional constellations are thinkable. One variant in particular is worth mentioning: It would be equipped with two machines of average output following the splitter. Possibilities, requirements and needs are highly diversified, and so we will try to find the one particular optimum solution together with the customer to achieve the best flexibility, availability and maximum output.
Question: When will the machines, the splitters and the high performance stackers be available on the market?
Rothbauer: The one-lane highperformance stacker is already available. We will bring the splitter to the market nearly at the same time, i.e. at the beginning of the second quarter of 2011. We started several projects simultaneously to be able to cover as many requirements as possible right from the start.
Thank you very much, Mr. Rothbauer, for this information!