Macfarlane Packaging launches 'dynamic' Innovation Lab

Jez Abbott
Thursday, March 31, 2016

Macfarlane Packaging has invested £300,000 in an 'Innovation Lab' to help clients crack even the most demanding packaging challenges.

The new site in Milton Keynes brings together interactive touchscreens, protective packaging design software, a printer/cutter, packing benches and samples under one roof. It is a resource which, Macfarlane said, could help customers make six-figure savings.

Commercial director Ivor Gray said: “Research has shown us a customer spending £100,000 on packaging is typically spending £1m on the total packaging process.

“Other costs are storage, transport and logistics, the packaging process and damage and returns, which have a huge impact. If we can save customers 10% of that £1m, that's a £100,000 saving.”

Gray added: “We are trying to get customers to see beyond purely packaging. Some are further down the line than others in that journey. So we wanted an innovation lab with all the components to make sample products and help customers focus on making packaging processes more efficient. We will set learning objectives.

“This is a much better and quicker way of helping customers than going back and forth from the first, initial contact to providing them with a solution.”

The lab has an Epson SureColor SC-P9000 violet spectro printer that accurately prints 99% of Pantone colours and has a built in X-Rite spectrophotometer for colour measurement.

Also in the facility are an Epson digital proofer, a KM627 sample and display cutting table and an AG/CAD sample table with Kasemake CAD software.

Customers will be able to work with protective packaging experts from Macfarlane and its partners to understand more fully the total cost of their packaging process.

Partners include packing specialists FP International, Ranpack, Sealed Air and stretching-machine supplier Aetna. Also involved are DS Smith and Smurfitt.

Customers will design packaging that meets their protective packaging and cuts packaging costs, storage space and transport costs and also reduces damages and returns.

Visitors will be able to use packaging machinery, consumables and benches and learn how to speed up the process of creating a bespoke packaging using printed samples and new processes.

Gray said that doing this in one location enabled Macfarlane to speed up the process of creating customers' bespoke packaging.

“The Macfarlane Packaging Innovation Lab is a stimulating, open, dynamic and engaging place,” he said. “Innovation starts with the people who work for us.”

New business development director Donna Lynch said: “We have already arranged creative days at with customers including Home Retail Group and online beauty retailer FeelUnique.

“We expect it to be particularly suitable for online retailers, addressing click and collect, damages and returns, customer experience, automation, load containment and speed and ease of packing.”

FeelUnique ecommerce and retail operations director Craig Wheeler said: “This facility could make a big difference to online retailers where customer experience is vitally important.

“The online retail environment moves at a terrific pace, so being able to bring even our most demanding packaging challenges and work in one location with access to the latest packaging technology and materials to create a solution that meets our needs is a major step forward.”

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