Changing consumer preferences, sustainability requirements, as well as the growing need for customisation of added-value packs and new selling or shipping units, are forcing manufacturers to adapt their production models and supply chains.

To meet the need for extreme case counts while still dealing with the standard high-production formats, Sidel is launching Cermex EvoPack, an Industry 4.0-enabled case-packing platform for shaped containers in wrap-around blanks, trays, and Shelf Ready Packaging (SRP).

Nowadays, consumers are becoming more demanding in their individual shopping needs, wanting to shop conveniently. Not only does the continuing e-commerce boom reflect this, but it can also be seen in the renaissance of smaller urban stores, with major retailers returning to the city centres to grant easy access to everyday necessities.

“Certain FHPC sub-categories or players sometimes have customisation needs for up to 40% of their production volumes. Until now, the most common way for producers to approach these requests was to use manual repacking services,” says Didier Saussereau, packing product manager at Sidel.

Sidel says that these repacking activities generate costs not only via the extra packaging material used, but also by the additional manual labour tasks, which now exceed the acceptable limits as regards manufacturers’ competitiveness and margins. The associated environmental waste is making repacking even less sustainable. Finally, the additional handling during repacking may potentially generate scratches or scuffing on the products.

“To reduce and simplify repacking, we are seeing an increasing need for small case counts to help producers reduce the number of products per shipping unit down to the in-demand batches of two, three, or four products. These offer the opportunity to manage, store and ship products more easily and flexibly for downstream tasks at distribution centres or within e-commerce order preparations,” comments Saussereau.

In parallel, demand for complex product set-ups will remain and will still require manual repacking manipulations. So, with upstream technical capabilities to supply larger case counts, producers could ship the same number of products with less secondary packaging used and wasted.

“Now being able to produce both small and large case counts will help them better anticipate trends and accommodate new channels, as long as the traditional high production volumes of the standard formats are still handled on the same production line and packing solution,” Saussereau adds.

Cermex EvoPack offers a secondary packaging size range to manage reduced case counts, containing only two, three or four products, as well as very large transit cases with 24+ containers intended to go into repacking, while at the same time also being able to handle standard high-volume case formats.

“With its flexible and extreme case count capabilities, the platform can help producers restore industrial margin thanks to significant cost savings as regards the use of material, equipment and energy. Additionally, it will certainly greatly contribute to meeting their carbon footprint reduction and sustainability goals,” Saussereau says.

Delivering a ratio of up to 60 cases per minute in a footprint of less than 30 square metres, Cermex EvoPack reportedly offers fast and repeatable format changeovers ranging from just five minutes for a case format change up to 15 minutes when changing both bottle and case formats.