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Can carton board survive the ride?

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Carton board is an essential element of packaging and Australian innovation has allowed manufacturers to test its strength. Laine Lister writes for Packaging Magazine

Anyone who has recently made a trip to their local Aldi supermarket would have noticed most of the stock is still standing in its original packaging.

This is becoming more common in other large supermarkets across Australia and is the popular new trend known as shelf ready packaging.

Carton board - used in packaging - is everywhere in our day-to-day life, from cereal boxes in the morning, and the case that holds our red wine to the box our perfume is packaged in.

Carton board is an essential part of packaging and there are good reasons why it is so popular for many industries.

It is a versatile medium, flexible yet strong, and has a surface that allows for promotion, which is particularly relevant to the new shelf ready trend.

Carton board is by no means a new material, yet it has proved to be a fabric for the future, used by the up-and-coming designers of the packaging world, and it is becoming more common on supermarket shelves.

With all its benefits in the supply chain, it is important that manufacturers use corrugated carton board to its full potential.

There have been documented cases of products distributed in carton board being damaged resulting in millions of dollars lost by big companies.

If it were possible to ensure that carton board used in the packaging of goods in distribution would not lead to spillage, manufacturers could save in more ways than one.

The cost involved in the loss of produce can be enormous, however; the cost of packing with boxes that are the wrong dimension, stiffness and bulk can also cost manufacturers a hefty sum.

End-users pay for higher specification boxes than needed because of unaddressed problems incurred in manufacture.

An Australian technology development company has come to the party on this one, developing an innovative piece of equipment to assess a carton board’s performance capability for each package.

The device enables the box-maker and the packer to accurately measure the damage that is unseen but endemic in the corrugated box making process.

The team at XQ innovations created the BQM-1, a small, hand-held, battery-operated device that scans carton samples and provides an assessment of the carton’s capability to perform.

XQ innovations managing director Brian Reiter said that in the manufacturing process, corrugate boxes incur a relatively high degree of damage that is seen in the crushing or distortion of the flutes.

From an engineering perspective, the flute is the sine curve between the two walls of carton board and can be damaged when being die-cut, printed or transferred by belts, the carton’s ability to withstand a vertical load depends on the strength of the flutes.

Crushing of the flute is rarely seen and the box is thought to be normal, even though a variation of more than 30% in box performance occurs through such damage.

If these are damaged, the ability of the package to survive in the supply chain is reduced and that is when we see bulging, bursting and even collapse, which compromises the stability of the pallet.

There has been enormous interest from brand-owners and the company is looking to market the unit offshore, in the future, Reiter said.

Microflute board

As the retail market changes, bringing trends such as shelf ready packaging, new and improved types of carton board are becoming available.

These days, packaging manufacturers must consider recyclable and environmentally friendly mediums.

Satisfying this trend is a microflute board by Visy , which is expanding fast into the primary packaging segments including food, dairy, frozen and pet food.

This new style of board is high strength and lightweight, with surface for promotion, that has proved ideal for shelf ready packaging.

The product is easy to handle and is said to be stronger than traditional carton board, which may help to protect the product in distribution.

Designers of the future

Carton board is being tailored to adapt to the changing expectations of the market, consumers and designers for convenience.

It has been one of the most popular packaging mediums available and is moving with the times.

Up-and-comers to the carton board and packaging world have plenty of exciting ideas and the general consensus among this crowd is that carton board is here to stay.

The Southern Cross Package Design Awards displayed a host of talent and has given an insight into the future of carton board and the packaging industry.

Winner of the Amcor Cartonboard Australasia Award, Michelle Merrifield of Chisholm Institute said her winning design of a perfume box was created to be more than a disposable package.

“In a competitive market place, a clever package is as important as the product itself and carton board was a perfect medium to create the environmentally aware package and one that complimented the product”, said Merrifield.

Silver award recipient Danielle Rogerson of Box Hill Institute of TAFE said environmental considerations inspired her design and that she found carton board to be a versatile medium to work with as a designer.

Some people are unaware that carton board is much more advanced than its previous grey, speckled ancestor and can produce high quality print jobs, said Rogerson.

Carton board is a preferred medium of designers as it can be folded, scored and die-cut to almost any shape according to Box Hill Institute of TAFE graphic art designer Connie-Marie Albanese.

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