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Pragmatic Approaches

By: Jeff Falk
Posted: June 22, 2010, from the July 2010 issue of GCI Magazine.

page 7 of 9

Achelpohl: There are tremendous cost savings to be found within any company’s operations if it starts asking questions about how it operates. New procedures are being developed that save water and downtime during changeover. Machinery is being designed to handle different gauges and smaller packages. We are even seeing companies changing their air compressor usage, and adjusting how they power their line, all in an effort to be sustainable, increase their efficiencies and reduce costs.

GCI: From your vantage point down the supply chain from the consumer, what have been the challenges in meeting evolving consumer aspirations for sustainable products and brands that can, increasingly, demonstrate sustainable efforts?

Abramowicz: The increased demand for sustainable innovation from both consumers and retailers has challenged materials providers to enhance efficiency throughout our own supply chain, as well as the supply chains of our customers.

The lightweighting of metal packaging has certainly helped to reduce the weight of products in shipping. Crown has also worked to help consumers enhance the tracking of products for increased efficiency. A few years ago, our company worked with QinetiQ to develop a new generation of RFID chips that can be used with metal packaging and liquid products for a lower cost than traditional chips. Traditional chips would not work with either due to signal reflection, detuning and grounding issues. The chip acts as a wave guide to capture radio waves. By helping our customers better track their products, they can enhance their supply chains to be more energy-efficient through improved inventory management.

Achelpohl: The biggest issue we see from a machinery perspective is the significant adjustments to equipment that have to be made in order for a company to leverage the new materials or smaller gauge packages. A new packaging concept is what we’d call “origami,” or art, something rare and only used by a few people until you get the machinery up and running to handle a large-scale production run. Once this is in place, brand owners are able to create the new and exciting (and sustainable) packaging that consumers are looking for.