New to the United States flexible packaging market, Schur Packaging’s Kevin Howard tells FP his take on the industry, which applications are most appropriate for pre-made pouches, and how machinery can help improve production.
Q: What, in your opinion, are the differences between pre-made pouches and rollstock (i.e., appearance, stability, shelf presence, etc.)?
A: In my opinion, pre-made pouches coupled with an effective fill/seal machine provide package design flexibility and can offer a simpler plant operating environment.
Rollstock can offer a good total cost solution for relatively simple package designs with limited SKU/high volume products. A pre-made pouch can be made in a wide range of sizes as well as unique shapes, which the packaging designer can use to win “the first moment of truth” encounter with the consumer as he peruses the retail shelves.
For example, my company can provide pre-made pouches in the shape of a triangle for use as a piping bag for icings and creams. (See footnote D photo) We can offer novelty shapes such as sports jerseys and holiday shapes such as jack ‘o lanterns and hearts for seasonal promotional packaging options. (See footnote E photo) Through the use of creative welding techniques, we can provide a stand-up pouch with side by side dual compartments, enabling a customer to offer a ready-meal concept with a protein, vegetable and starch packed on one side and an accompanying sauce in the adjacent pouch. (See Footnote A photo)
Alternatively, a stand-up pouch with a top and bottom compartment allows our customer to offer their edibles in the bottom “bowl” with a handy plastic fork in the top compartment. (See Footnote B photo) Or, in place of an eating utensil, a marinade could be filled in the top compartment with a frangible seal offering squeeze-n-mix marination of the fresh protein in the bottom compartment. (See footnote C photo)
From the perspective of plant operations, customers utilizing a packaging system comprised of pre-made pouches and a fill/seal machine can focus their energies on their core competencies and not have all of the resources needed to run and maintain a complex packaging conversion operation at the same time. They will also experience a tremendous reduction in changeover time and associated costs, such as the packaging and product waste generated in the changeover process. The right pre-made pouching system can enable five minute changeovers with one operator. That same operator can solve most of the small issues which would arise during daily production.
This combination of package design and operations benefits from a high quality pre-made pouching system, allows growth minded small to mid-size companies the ability to offer comparable or better packaging solutions as their larger competitors, but with a fraction of the capital investment. Large companies can benefit from this technology in their efforts to launch new products and seasonal promotions without sacrificing plant capacity.
Q: Your company offers pre-made pouches that fit only a Schur®Star machine; are there any components that Schur offers that might be added to existing machinery (non-Schur brand), to be able to use the Schur®Star pouch system?
A: No. Our proprietary fill/seal packaging system is engineered to deliver maximum benefits to our customers by utilizing our pre-made bags and pouches which are specifically designed to be used on our Schur®Star packaging machine. These pouches are linked together on a carrier chain used to convey the chain of pouches through the fill and seal process on the Schur®Star machine.
Q: How can machinery help improve the filling process, and help the CPG/customer reach its ultimate goal (selling the most product)?
A: We all understand the tremendous revenue growth packaging can bring to companies who sell their products through retail channels. Packaging which offers robust colors and features, along with flexibility in shape, size and film structures can help drive the consumer’s buying choices. However, there are sometimes significant operational challenges to commercialize the creative ideas and concepts brought forth by packaging designers and marketers.
Because of the way our bags and pouches are moved through the Schur®Star fill and seal system, we satisfy plant operations requirements to fill our bags manually or with automated filling methods while enabling the creative freedom of the packaging designer’s desire to offer custom shapes, sizes, bag features and with high quality 10 color flexographic printing.
Q: What’s new at the company?
A: We are proud to announce our recent move to a significantly larger packaging conversion facility in Elk Grove Village, Illinois. The increased space in this modern facility will allow a three-fold increase in our capacity to serve the North American marketplace.
This issue of Flexible Packaging spotlights today’s flexible films; packaging line automation along with a case study; coverage on COVID-19 medical mask material, hand sanitizer packaged in single-use sachets; and sanitizing wipes, along with a brand renew of a popular jerky snack brand.