O-I is to build an R&D innovation center in the US that it claims could revolutionize glass melting and forming.
The firm plans to break ground on the 18,000 square-foot facility in Ohio in the fourth quarter of 2012, and targets completion in late 2013.
O-I hopes the three-year $35m investment will spur the release of next generation manufacturing and inspection equipment.
A research and development center capable of melting and forming glass in a small-scale manufacturing environment will be the centerpiece of the facility.
Stephanie Johnston, director of global commercial strategic planning, told FoodProductionDaily.com speeding the development of product innovation efforts is an area of great focus.
“What's important about this center is that it will give us a real-world setting to test and refine emerging glass making technologies. These capabilities could then be more efficiently deployed into O-I's 81 plants across the globe.
“This platform approach is what will help us move more quickly in bringing innovative packaging concepts to the market. In the future, this new R&D center will include the ability to prototype these product innovations, which could help us move even faster.”
O-I said in the future, the center will be able to prototype product innovations, like the VersaFlow jar – part of the Versa platform of functional food packages – and the Vortex bottle.
Primary area of focus
Johnston added: “Our process R&D teams have set glass melting and forming as their primary areas of focus. With this new R&D center our researchers will have a small-scale manufacturing environment where they can more efficiently test out new ideas and technologies in a real-world space. As a result, they can focus on the areas of research with the greatest potential and can, potentially, go farther faster.
“O-I efforts in innovation are all about focus, discipline and delivery. Moving quicker is a natural result. The R&D center will help us apply, learn and refine more quickly than current facilities and resources allow.”
The center aims to test breakthrough ideas for implementation into manufacturing environment, smoothing the transition from patent to plant.
“Providing our scientists and engineers a real-world environment for research and development helps us target our efforts on the concepts with the greatest potential for impact,” said Kim Houchens, vice president of research and development.