Armand Schoonbrood, COO at Mondi Corrugated Packaging, explains what it takes to create truly innovative packaging
Over the past decade the packaging industry has undergone a massive change due to the rise of e-commerce, the growing importance of shelf-ready packaging and stringent requirements for logistics packaging. With traditional, volume-driven stationery retail and distribution in decline, the packaging industry now has to accommodate individual product sales via smartphones and e-commerce platforms. Concurrently, the huge range of products available on the supermarket shelves demands space-efficient yet eye-catching solutions. What is more, in the industrial sector packaging manufacturers have to carefully assess when to use lightweight and when to use heavy-weight materials in order to meet the high standards of global logistics while also minimising the use of natural resources.
These trends have their ups and downs for the packaging industry – on the one hand, retail and logistics now consider packaging as more than just a commodity, but rather as a tool to appeal to customers, inform them about their products and create a long-lasting experience. On the other hand, packaging manufacturers need to come up with creative designs that are aesthetically pleasing, but also transport the product safely and cost-effectively to its destination. Above all, packaging must be sustainable, using materials that are light, recyclable, reusable or compostable. Fibre-based packaging, as a renewable material, is hard to beat.
Times of change call for innovation, and innovation leads to progress. At Mondi Corrugated Packaging, this mantra is our guiding principle. Our mission is to never stop improving the work we do to delight our customers, every day. In practice, this means that our employees collaborate and share best practices every step of the way. As a result, we have successfully introduced hundreds of sustainable corrugated packaging solutions as an attractive alternative to traditional packaging to the market, benefitting a range of sectors from food and beverage, to personal care and electrical goods. This is the story of how Mondi Corrugated Packaging combines sustainability with economic efficiency and cost effectiveness, while addressing the challenges of its customers.
Thinking outside the box – in order to innovate it
Before we dive into examples, let me explain what innovation means for Mondi and our customers. For many, innovation is the most recently released smartphone or gadget. In business, however, innovation has to deliver more than just a new product: it means simplifying or enhancing the production process, ideally at lower costs; offering significant added value; or identifying a new need. In practical terms, at Mondi Corrugated Packaging this means completing 9,500 projects each year for customers from automotive, shelf-ready and retail markets.
Most recently, the World Star Awards, a global competition that recognises innovative packaging solutions, honoured seven of Mondi Corrugated Packaging’s solutions, thus we received the most awards in our industry overall and outperformed ourselves with our record of five awards in the previous year.
Among the awarded products was the Glass7Box, a packaging solution designed for Riedel, a company with a long-standing tradition and expertise in the production of premium wine glasses. Glass7Box is a universal glass packaging, unique in that its compartments can fit seven different types of glasses without compromising on product protection. This design is the answer to our customers’ demand for packaging solutions that are suitable for a whole range of products, which is also beneficial in terms of sustainability, including material and resource efficiency. The Glass7Box is the perfect example of how we can address the ongoing trend towards increasing assortment depth and broader product portfolios.
Cindy Stephan, project manager at Riedel, commented: “The Glass7Box is a real breakthrough in terms of packaging for Riedel, as it reduces our need to hold large quantities of different packaging. Its ability to hold seven different glass formats ensures faster product changeovers where production is concerned, and we also benefit from the economies of scale associated with bulk orders. Crucially, the product does not compromise on product protection and it also feeds directly into our own sustainability initiatives.”
Focusing on sustainability, Mondi’s side support product won an award in the Transit category for its considerable contribution to reducing CO2 emissions in transit packaging. Developed by Mondi Tire Kusan in Turkey, the product is a corrugated cardboard corner insert which acts as a corner support when transporting heavy items such as hearting boilers, for example. The new product replaces EPS foam filler and offers far better impact absorption capabilities due to its hollow structure - a fact that has been verified in official customer drop-tests. Where corrugated board is substituted for foam, some 86% less warehousing space is required to store it.
In addition, its production produces 56% less CO2 when compared to EPS, while up to 81% less CO2 is produced in the transportation of products. For example, where EPS allowed 144 pieces of white goods to be transported on a pallet, some 752 are possible using side support, reducing the number of trucks required from 347 to just 67 per year.
Another example of a successful innovative partnership comes from a customer in the automotive sector. In an attempt to simplify the transportation of valuable but heavy goods, Mondi and Scandinavian partner aPak AB collaborated on the ‘Simple Sphere’ project for a Swedish car manufacturer, which received both a WorldStar Award and a ScanStar Award in 2017. Mondi developed transport packaging for car bonnets, which are exported from Sweden to China. The judges, and the customer, were impressed by the innovative twist-lock construction for extremely fast set up in less than 30 seconds without screws, glue or tape. In addition, the new heavy-duty cardboard material is lighter than the previously used wooden crates; withstands humidity and condensation; and features a unique anti-corrosion solution using patented VCI technology. As a result, the ‘Simple Sphere’ offers shorter assembly and dismantling times and is an environmentally friendly alternative to wood crates.
Inspiring the workforce to stay ahead of the game
At Mondi Corrugated Packaging, we believe that creativity and innovation are the heart and soul of our industry. That is why we foster close cooperation between our 100 designers and offer regular workshops to share best practices with our customers and retailers. In 2014, we introduced an internal competition, the Mondi Design Challenge, to encourage local and regional teams to present their most innovative, successfully implemented projects that year. In the past four years, almost 200 corrugated projects were submitted, with approximately a third coming from Poland. Mondi Corrugated Packaging operates six plants in Poland out of a global total of 16.
Mondi’s integrated digital platform, meti, is yet another internal expert tool to actively support product development and optimal innovation processes. Designed as a knowledge sharing database, it provides access to over 5,000 product descriptions, including images and background notes, and benefits designers and sales teams alike. It helps Mondi employees select, customise and enhance existing designs to fit their new purpose. The platform comprises a host of specialised tools, such as metiboxFinder, which is a search tool for all the stored projects. Once selected, the projects can be edited to meet new requirements using the metiboxDesigner, and then processed further using metiboxAnalyser to make sure they offer reliable and efficient benefits throughout the entire product lifecycle. In a final step, the selected designs are verified by quality control experts in metiboxLab to ensure they meet the highest performance requirements before being shared with customers. Jan Blankiewicz, Product Innovation Manager, explains the positive impacts of using the meti platform: “Each of us strives to create better packaging, every day. We are passionate about challenging the status quo and meti definitely improved our innovation process and inspires our daily work.”
Praise from satisfied customers backs up our company’s successful track record and reinforces our goal to be the true ‘Home of Innovation’ in the markets we serve. “Mondi understands our requirements and continuously comes up with ways to improve our corrugated boxes. They are more than just a converter – they are part of our team,” Roza Altın, Packaging Development Director at Ulker, explains. “We have been able to increase productivity, improve shelf visibility and effectively deliver our products to customers.”
“When it comes to the implementation of innovative ideas, Mondi has exceeded our expectations. They match our requirements in terms of environmental and economic challenges, and we trust in their innovative strength,” Magnus Sidling, Key Account Manager Automotive at aPak, states.
Armand Schoonbrood has been the Chief Operating Officer at Mondi Corrugated for the last 5 years. He started his journey with packaging back in 1985 as Financial Controller in Mondi Maastricht. His main focus is quality and innovation. His mission at Mondi Corrugated is to retain and further develop its status as a successful, service-oriented and truly innovative packaging partner for its customers.
About Mondi Corrugated Packaging
Mondi Corrugated Packaging is a business segment of Mondi Group and a leading supplier of corrugated packaging in Europe, with strong focus on Central and South-East Europe. Through a network of 16 plants the company provides innovative design and state-of-the-art printing and gluing technology. The packaging types range from standard transit cases and heavy-duty containers to upscale consumer displays. They are applied as shelf- or retail-ready solutions, transport cases or large containers when shipping FMCG's, perishables, industrial and dangerous goods as well as other products.
Mondi is a global leader in packaging and paper, delighting its customers and consumers with innovative and sustainable packaging and paper solutions. Mondi is fully integrated across the packaging and paper value chain – from managing forests and producing pulp, paper and plastic films, to developing and manufacturing effective industrial and consumer packaging solutions. Sustainability is embedded in everything Mondi does. In 2017, Mondi had revenues of €7.10 billion and underlying EBITDA of €1.48 billion.
Mondi has a dual listed company structure, with a primary listing on the JSE Limited for Mondi Limited under the ticker MND, and a premium listing on the London Stock Exchange for Mondi plc, under the ticker MNDI. Mondi is a FTSE 100 constituent and has been included in the FTSE4Good Index Series since 2008 and the FTSE/JSE Responsible Investment Index Series since 2007.
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