As the government embarks on targets for reductions in plastic waster and net-zero carbon emissions, Marcus Schneck, CEO at norelem, looks at how - through boosting the productivity and efficiency of standard components - we can strive for a more sustainable packaging industry.
Packaging is ever present in our modern lives. Almost everything comes in some kind of protective shield, from small toiletries to big parcels. The increase in consumption and the ever-expanding number of products out there means that there is an equally increasing amount of packaging materials required. On a planet with an ever-changing ecosystem, one that is seemingly running out of resources, the rate at which packaging materials become waste materials cannot be maintained.
However, just as important as the materials that make up the packaging is the machinery and manufacturing equipment used to produce them – the efficiency at which they operate and make use of the energy sources that they operate upon.
With the British Government’s commitment to reaching net zero emissions by 2050 and their Smart Sustainable Plastic Packaging Challenge seeking to dramatically reduce plastic waste by 2025, there is now intense pressure on packaging manufacturers to innovate and develop new materials and innovative construction methods that reduce their environmental impact. In fact, much has already been achieved to make packaging and the packaging industry more sustainable, with many product and manufacturing innovations acting as great strides towards a greener future.
As a vast economic player with a huge impact on sustainability, the packaging industry is constantly trying to optimise the way products are packaged, from sourcing more environmentally friendly materials to recycle more and minimise packaging as much as possible – a lot is already in motion to make packaging more sustainable.
One aspect to make the industry more sustainable is looking at increasing efficiency and productivity of machinery and production processes to reduce waste, speed up packaging, and most importantly ensure that the machinery is as environmentally friendly as possible. So, where is the link between standard components and an increase in sustainability in the packaging industry?
Efficiency and productivity through standard components
In order to create a more sustainable packaging industry, norelem focuses on three main areas of improvement through the use of standard components. These all relate to increasing the lifetime of components – how wear resistant and durable they are, how easy they are to maintain, and the cost of cleaning them. These factors ultimately make them more sustainable because products that have a long lifetime do not require additional energy to be used in the manufacture of replacement parts. Similarly, longer lasting standard components require less maintenance and lead to sturdier machinery and smoother processes.
However, before we delve deeper into the “how”, we should outline what components norelem provide that are designed to increase efficiency and productivity in packaging manufacturing.
norelem offers standard components that can be used in two different fields of packaging. The first are components that go into general packaging manufacturing, such as ball transfer units, net sleeves, plastic protective net caps, net maps, and plastic separators for euro containers.
The second field of standard components aide in packaging manufacturing in hygienic areas, these are operating parts and machine elements that fulfil stringent hygiene requirements and are part of norelem’s range of Hygienic DESIGN. These ranges include radii, transitions, bevels, and surfaces that are designed to impair wetting and can either be easily cleaned or not require cleaning.
The role of materials in increasing sustainability
norelem champions the use of stainless steel with high-quality alloying elements and high-quality plastics with high chemical resistances. These materials not only ensure that the product has a long lifetime, but that when the product can no longer be used it can be recycled instead of going to waste.
An example of this would be the Hygienic DESIGN range, which is characterised by flowing radii and transitions. These components are free of grooves, burrs, or uneven head seating, as well as having very small inner radii and a mean surface finish of less than 0.8 micrometres, which ensures easy cleaning. To facilitate frequent cleaning, the product is resistant against a lot of cleaning medias.
In addition to this, norelem ensures that required practices are met in the manufacturing, designing, and engineering of its standard components that are likely to be used in Hygienic DESIGN. Specifically, the EU10/2011 and FDA CFR21 directives, which pertain to the manufacture and marketing of plastic materials that either will or could come into contact with food.
Logistics and sustainability go hand in hand
One of the key areas of improving sustainability is logistics. When products are delivered to customers, the net sleeves, plastic protective net caps, net mats and plastic separators protect the products from unwanted damage. Meaning that energy need not be wasted in providing replacements for any damaged parts.
As it pertains to productivity, the ball transfer units make the handling of the goods easier and helps the employees a lot when they are packaging heavy and big products - the aided efficiency that the product provides means that there is less downtime and less energy wasted when the transfer units are being made use of.
Finally, boosted sustainability as a result of high-quality materials is especially true of the Hygienic DESIGN range. The high-quality stainless steel means they can be used in difficult areas for longer than products with no such high-quality standard, meaning energy need not be wasted in the manufacture and installation of replacement parts.
This boosted productivity and efficiency is not only true for norelem’s direct clientele. norelem has pushed for the provision and implementation of services that will help engineers select the right components. This ensures that energy components are not wasted themselves or that excess energy is used in fulfilling returns or excessive maintenance.
By pioneering high-quality materials, with low maintenance and cleaning costs, standing times of machines can be reduced. An ever increasingly efficient and productive packaging manufacturing industry is imperative to making the industry more sustainable.
If you would like to find out more about norelem’s standard components, please visit www.norelem.co.uk