The Future of Package Design – Beyond the Box

By David

Package design technology is on the rise, and so are its expectations to create and deliver.

Meeting consumer demand used to mean creating the best product available. But times have changed. Today’s consumers aren’t as easy to please. They’ve come to expect sustainable and eco-friendly packaging in their retail products, as well as a commitment from brand manufacturers to share these environmentally-conscious values.

As Consumer Packaged Goods and Retail companies shift greater focus towards rethinking packaging design, they need answers to meet these growing demands for sustainability. Brand manufacturers must now create packaging designs not only with increased functionality and greater efficiency, but with stronger shelf performance.

To do this, they’ll need to explore innovative avenues for devising new packaging design strategies. But before they can even think about to incorporate new design features, CPG and retail companies must have their design processes down to a science, or they’ll quickly find themselves grouped with the statistical majority of package failures.

Today’s plastic bottle takes 450 years to decompose. Could tomorrow’s bio-plastic do it in 5?

As if appealing to consumer values and contributing to the environment wasn’t enough, packaging designers concentrating their efforts on sustainability have been quick to discover the potential economic benefits in using renewable materials. For example, manufacturers have found that minimizing the use of corrugate cardboard in packaging has potential to reduce shipping costs, decrease the potential for product damages, and even save shelf space.

The solution for recyclable package designs calls for optimizing resource management and energy consumption, while integrating reusable elements. Packaging suppliers and design agencies need sophisticated research tools to manage these complexities. To avoid falling into a tangled process of redundant rework and organizational disconnect, inventing the next packaging breakthrough requires the means to navigate the design cycle – and it starts with the ability to control what you create.

Can package designers do more with less?

Today, we can make 3 tin cans with the same amount of material it used to take to make just one.

Packaging manufacturers have made this possible by learning to innovate through re-creation – taking existing elements and exploiting previous design assets, then applying them to new concepts. But testing the feasibility of a physical prototype takes time and resources many packaging innovators don’t have. And with 50 percent of new packaging performing worse than what its replacing, innovators need every tool available to make sure their end product functions the way it should.

Did you know:

Integrating design, engineering, and simulation can cut design time 50 percent and lower material costs 30 to 50 percent while improving sustainability and consumer delight?

What package designers need is an application built around the innovation process from “concept to shelf.”  In order to apply existing packaging concepts into new geographies with minimal investment of time and resources, design teams need to be able to collectively assess multiple sources of data and share all of their digital assets across a unified virtual dashboard. Instead of relying on other agencies and suppliers for what they need, the ability to instantly access and reuse previous designs, labels, and materials, expedites the innovative design process and increasing productivity.

To accelerate expansion into new markets, packaging designers must be able to adapt designs for line extensions, new sizes and local preferences quicker than competition. From executing change order requests with “where used” analyses, to simulating mold, manufacturing, and package performance, synchronizing product data across a single platform allows package designers to bring products to market faster and more efficiently.

By integrating design, marketing, engineering, and manufacturing systems across a single business platform, packaging manufacturers can bridge the gaps responsible for undermining the innovation process and avoid costly rework, delays, quality issues and recalls.

And like all innovators seeking to eliminate uncertainty, package designers looking to ensure their new initiatives deliver the results they want know that when it comes to concept development; seeing is believing.

Could we see our creations before we craft them?

Brand manufacturers have no more than 8 seconds to “wow” a potential buyer. With more than 40,000 different products on retail shelves, brand manufacturers simply can’t afford to let their products go unnoticed. To ensure packaging innovations effectively communicate value and stimulate customer engagement, CPG and retail companies must be able to uncover true shopper insights in the context of a realistic retail environment.

This is why brand manufacturers, design agencies, packaging suppliers and artwork designers need a virtual template for integrating visual creation, digital comparison, system of record, proofing tools to eliminate errors throughout the packaging design cycle. Using a cloud-based technology, all parties throughout the supply chain can instantly monitor individual contributions made onto each stage of the design process to ensure brand consistency across multiple product lines.

Creating and testing new packaging concepts virtually is critical in guaranteeing product shelf success. This virtual interface provides stronger visualization and design sharing, allowing technical packaging engineers to collaborate with industrial designers. Together they can identify optimal design strategies, explore package feasibility from conception, and select the best packaging candidates based on consumer feedback and manufacturability. With the means to image how design concepts will look alongside competition, brand manufacturers can ensure all key design elements of the “perfect package” are translated on the shelf, without losing sight of the finished product.

If brand manufacturers wanted to increase design performance while beating the clock of competition – could they do it?

The answer is yes. And it starts with visibility.

Brand manufacturers are realizing more and more every day that when it comes to the package design world, creating the box starts with thinking beyond its walls. But collaboration is a team effort. And with the added complexities of consumer demands and industry standards, brand manufacturers wanting to thrive in a competitive marketplace need to be able to see the big picture. They need a partner that not only understands the cycle for inventive package, but can virtually lead them throughout the process.

Consumer Product Goods and Retail companies need to appeal to the mass market, while addressing a social agenda of implementing sustainable packaging design methods along the way. Brand manufacturers who can succeed in creating a packaging design that delivers both enhanced consumer value and sustainability benefits will drive consumer engagement and brand interaction. And craft a legacy of winning products at shelf. By managing the complexities of design with Perfect Package, brand manufacturers and packaging suppliers have the power to illustrate what change will mean for the future of packaging and help us realize that future…sooner.

Discover package designs trends today’s consumers are demanding and what brand manufacturers are doing to create them.

Download the “Future of Packaging” report to learn:

  • New trends in sustainable packaging
  • How packaging can influence shoppers
  • Key technologies to accelerate design efforts

…and how Dassault Systèmes helps brand manufacturers foster a deep connection between retail companies and their shoppers, through innovative packaging design.

There is a better way to develop new packaging which avoids costly mistakes and delays, the Dassault Systèmes Perfect Package 3DEXPERIENCE® can help cut design time and costs by 50% while virtually eliminating potential quality issues and recalls.


Think a Zero RFI Goal Is Impossible? Consider These Strategies for Improving Project Coordination

By Marty R

clicktotweetClick to Tweet: “Early collaboration can reduce RFIs,
reduce change orders on AEC projects”

The typical commercial construction project generates on the order of 3,000 to 20,000 RFIs (Requests for Information). It’s a staggering number, especially considering reviewing and documenting each RFI takes time. Studies show each RFI resolution costs about $1,000 in time and labor, even when BIM design tools are utilized.

RFIs are an indication of a lack of understanding of the design, as well as a lack of close coordination among the project teams. Further, RFIs are the source of changes in scope, costing the project owner more time and money than expected.

clicktotweetClick to Tweet: “AEC projects generate 3k-20k RFIs per project; indicates lack of understanding & coordination”

For AEC teams aiming to improve performance and predictability in construction, the goal should be to reduce RFIs as much as possible.

One way to do this is to get all team members on the same page early in the design process. A building lifecycle management (BLM) approach can facilitate this, drastically reducing RFIs and change orders.

Related Whitepaper: End-To-End Collaboration Enabled by BIM Level 3: An Architecture, Engineering & Construction Industry Solution Based on Manufacturing Best Practices 

BLM success story: One Island East, Hong Kong

Swire Properties Ltd. applied BLM processes and technologies for its One Island East tower in Hong Kong. The 70-story, 1.75 million square foot project was delivered on time, and with zero cost overruns.

3D clash detection became a primary vehicle for early collaboration and enhanced coordination. Over 2,000 issues were identified and resolved prior to tender. As a result, the One Island East project team issued just 140 RFIs—a 93% reduction from traditional construction coordination processes.

clicktotweetClick to Tweet: “How a 70-story 1.75Mill sq ft
project was delivered on time, with 0 overruns.”


One Island East,
Hong Kong

Incentivizing the shift to early collaboration

The benefits of closely coordinated teams might be clear cut for to the project owner: a project that is delivered on time and on budget. However, individual members of the design and construction team might not be so quick to invest in a change to BLM processes that enable this improved coordination.

Typical construction project budgets include a healthy contingency, meant to cover overruns caused by RFIs and change orders. A portion of the contingency can be reallocated as a fee for the design firm and subcontractors to work on identifying issues that create RFIs.

clicktotweetClick to Tweet: “Reallocate AEC contingency budget to
architect & subs as incentive for preventing RFIs”

Thus, re-allocating a portion of the contingency becomes an incentive for eliminating jobsite problems before they arise.  Technology can support the detection and resolution of these problems earlier—when these issues are less costly to resolve.

The benefits of a collaborative approach

Such early coordination among team members can dramatically reduce RFIs, preventing budget and schedule inflation. Moreover, owners benefit in the long run by having a project team focused on improving operational performance.

AEC teams that put the tools in place to improve project coordination are better prepared to turnover a project that can ease maintenance and operations throughout the building’s lifecycle. And they’ll be able to improve their own bottom-line as well.

To learn more about how AEC professionals can benefit from the collaboration enabled by BLM, download the Dassault Systèmes whitepaper.


BLM Processes Reduce RFIs

clicktotweetClick to Tweet: “Think a Zero RFI Goal Is Impossible?
Consider These Strategies for Improving Project Coordination”

It’s a Wrap

By Catherine

Written by Catherine Bolgar

Whether you like them or not, eggs, cheese, mushrooms or shrimp are likely to be part of your future shopping basket—as the raw materials in a new kind of plastic packaging.

New materials promise not only to reduce our reliance on petroleum products such as plastic, they also cut waste. Packaging accounted for more than 75 million tons (or 30%) of solid waste in the U.S. in 2013, while the European Union generates around 79 million tons of packaging waste annually.

However, waste from the agriculture industry is now being turned into biodegradable packaging materials. For example, Kirsi S. Mikkonen, a researcher at the University of Helsinki, is developing packaging films made from hemicelluloses, byproducts of the forestry industry and agriculture.

Cellulose, the part used by industry, makes up only 40% to 50% of wood, while hemicellulose and lignin each account for about 30%. Hemicelluloses can be retrieved from wood chips or, in thermo-mechanical mills, from wastewater.

Dr. Mikkonen converts the hemicelluloses into films that act as an effective barrier against oxygen. Edible films could protect food from drying out or spoiling, or even within food, to separate pizza crust from sauce. By coating paperboard with the films, she can make plastic-type containers.

Hemicelluloses and lignin can also be used in aerogels, which are porous and light but strong.

“When you put an aerogel in water, it acts like a sponge,” Dr. Mikkonen says. “It absorbs water and you can press it out, and it recovers its shape. We could make something like a soft pillow that could absorb moisture or drips from meat, or it could release active compounds and be used as active packaging.”

Innovations in active packaging abound. The Fraunhofer Research Institution for Modular Solid State Technologies in Munich has developed a sensor film that detects molecules called amines that are released when meat or fish starts to spoil. As amines build up, the sensors turn from yellow to blue, indicating the level of spoilage. Many companies now sell labels and films that keep fruits and vegetables fresh by absorbing ethlyene.

Egg whites could provide another form of active packaging. Alexander Jones, a researcher at the University of Georgia in Athens, Georgia, mixed the egg-white protein albumin with glycerol to create a plastic with antibacterial properties.

Albumin plastic could be used for food packaging, to decrease spoilage. It could also be mixed with conventional plastic to add antibacterial properties to medical products, says Suraj Sharma, associate professor at the University of Georgia’s College of Family and Consumer Sciences.

Another reason to mix in conventional plastic is that albumin plastic is too brittle to be used alone for, say, a catheter tube, which needs flexibility, Dr. Jones says.

He also tested plastics made from soy and whey proteins. Soy proteins had no antibacterial properties—“it actually fed bacteria,” he says. Whey proteins mixed with glycerol made antibacterial plastic, but whey plastic minus glycerol acted like soy-based plastic, promoting bacteria growth.

The protein-based plastics have other advantages. They compost quickly, and the manufacturing process uses lower temperatures than for petroleum-based plastics, thereby saving energy. Whey, a byproduct of cheese processing, requires treatment before disposal, so diverting it into plastics would be a boon.

For now, egg whites are far more expensive than polyethelyne. But Dr. Jones believes that we might tap waste streams to get cheaper raw materials.

Egg producers have eggs they don’t ship for various reasons,” Dr. Jones says. Using those “would reduce waste and also not compete with food as an end use.”

Shrimp shells are another waste source that can be turned into plastic. Harvard University researchers have turned chitin, a polysaccharide found in crustacean shells, into a strong, transparent material called shrilk, which can be used to make plastic bags, packaging and even diapers.

Meanwhile, Ecovative, a packaging company in Green Island, N.Y., uses mushrooms as the key ingredient in its compostable packaging. The root structure of a mushroom, called mycelium, acts like a glue. A mix of mycelium and agricultural byproducts is molded into different shapes, replacing styrofoam for example.

Packaging today is essential for society to function,” Dr. Mikkonen says. “We need packaging to deliver food from the maker to the retailer and then to the consumer. But it produces lots of waste. It’s really important to develop some biodegradable alternatives.”


Catherine Bolgar is a former managing editor of The Wall Street Journal Europe. For more from Catherine Bolgar, contributors from the Economist Intelligence Unit along with industry experts, join the Future Realities discussion.

Photos courtesy of iStock

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