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Dow Pack Studios makes packaging better

By Jenni Spinner+

11-Dec-2013

Dow Performance Packaging offers design and engineering assistance at its Pack Studios centers.
Dow Performance Packaging offers design and engineering assistance at its Pack Studios centers.

Dow’s Pack Studios help food industry customers turn ideas into effective product packaging.

Even the brightest food industry professionals could use assistance in product packaging creation from time to time. Through its four regional Pack Studios, Dow Performance Packaging lends a hand to food firms, collaborating with them to help create effective packaging, and make existing packaging better.

Nestor de Mattos, group marketing director for Food and Speciality Packaging at Dow Performance Packaging, explained to FoodProductionDaily the idea behind the recently launched Pack Studios, and how the centers use collaboration, laboratory facilities, and production services to help food industry customers make their ideas reality.

FPD: How was Dow’s Pack Studios service created?

de Mattos: Dow Performance Packaging recognizes that the market continues to demand greener, more cost-effective plastics packaging, but we were missing an arena for our team and our customers to come together to tackle the packaging challenges of tomorrow, today.

Pack Studios stands on three core values: Collaborate, Innovate and Accelerate. This enabling capability not only leverages our world class technologies, but also provides state-of-the-art labs and commercial-scale equipment to validate new product applications. Our vision for Pack Studios is that it will become a go-to destination when our customers need to explore new packaging ideas and processes; therefore accelerating the timeline of getting new packaging on to store shelves.

What services does it provide?

Pack Studios offers a variety of services that give customers the chance to roll up their sleeves and get hands-on during the development process. Pack Studios features a collaboration room to inspire solution-based thinking, laboratory facilities for material development and sensory science testing, and fabrication and testing equipment to validate packaging applications.

Direct customers and other members of the packaging value chain who visit Pack Studios have the opportunity to collaborate with a dedicated Dow technical team and a global network of industry professionals that have a wealth of experience in packaging application, materials and design – knowledge that spans across the entire value chain.

Customers are able to test applications in rigid packaging, shrink wrap, stretch hood films, as well as flexible food packaging. This allows customers to minimize the downtime associated with prototyping and testing at their facilities, along with the wear and tear on their own equipment while being one of the first to feature unique packaging solutions.

All these components aim to accelerate packaging solutions to store shelves and provide brand owners a way to differentiate their packaging from their competitors.

How does a food client engage the services at Pack Studios?

Existing customers looking to improve their packaging’s performance can contact their Dow representative to schedule an appointment; new customers looking to work with Dow’s wide portfolio of packaging solutions can contact the commercial team.

Before visiting Pack Studios, a Dow scientist will discuss the objectives of the session and ensure that any pre-work is done. This enables a Pack Studios visit to be efficient and provides the best opportunity for success.

What’s more common: approaching with product creation, or revamping an existing product?

There really is not one approach that is more common because customers come to us throughout all stages of development. Pack Studios provides an environment to develop innovative plastic packaging solutions, for food and other applications, as well as the know-how to reinvigorate existing product packaging.

We relish the challenge of creating something new and different, such as some of the first drink stand-up pouches. Our specialists have also been involved in more recent developments including baby food pouches and sachets.

As food packaging evolves to keep up with ever-changing consumer demands, customers may reach out to us to assist with updating existing plastics packaging so they are competitive with what’s new to the market.

For example, a customer may want to add additional capability to their package, such as better barrier performance or incorporating single-serving solutions, without sacrificing the visual identity the package is known for. This is an opportunity for us to work closely with the customer to develop updates or additional features for their existing packages.

Regardless of the objective, Pack Studios provides members of the value chain with the ideal combination of experts and tools to accelerate lightweight, sustainable plastics solutions that can provide benefits over traditional packaging options such as metal, glass and paperboard.

What kinds of problems or concerns do customers of Pack Studios typically have?

Two of the biggest needs they have are addressing consumer trends and sustainability. Dow’s suite of sustainable technologies effectively incorporated into packaging designs at Pack Studios can definitely help customers align a greener footprint with consumer preferences. 

Pack Studios is an ideal setting to bring together converters and brand owners  so all parties can work together to overcome challenges during primary, secondary and tertiary packaging. A specialist can guide them through combinations of solutions that can help replace their traditional packaging designs and test ideas with runs on the center’s full-scale equipment.

What kinds of questions do you help clients answer?

Dow can help answer a wide range of questions about packaging design, development, functionality and sustainability. Our extensive experience with rigid and flexible packaging makes us well-equipped to work intimately with our value chain members and solve complex packaging problems.

A common theme is how we often do more with less, which has led to innovations that negate the need for corrugate from shrink packaging and creating lighter weight rigid packages.

One of the features tied to Pack Studios is our sensory science lab where we can address taste and odor, as well as tactile objectives, all with a group of certified panelists. This is a great resource to use when looking for ways to upgrade or alter existing packaging solutions.

The Pack Studios testing labs and panelists enable all parties to see where improvements can address things like food safety, product security and increased shelf life, without sacrificing product quality. The commercial-scale equipment enables customers to see just how the material runs and make informed decisions without interrupting their own operations, providing considerable time and cost-savings advantages.

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