NMP Systems’ Nature MultiPackTM solution groups beverage containers into a stable, easily ‘openable’ or separable pack using dots of adhesive rather than shrink film.

With the Carlsberg Group, this technology will for the first time be used for cans. The machine built for the brewery group was presented at drinktec, with expected production to begin in 2018. With the project, NMP Systems also becomes the 10th member in the Carlsberg Circular Community that works on developing more sustainable solutions.

“At Carlsberg, new developments of products and their packaging are not simply an end in themselves; they’re always geared towards the customer,” says Myriam Shingleton, Vice President for Group Development at the Carlsberg Group. The Group thus invests in market research to find out how consumers think and what their demands are. “We want to show that we’re bold enough to embark on more daring ventures – as long as they’re beneficial to the people who buy our products.” The packaging plays a big role here, as this is the buyer’s first point of contact with the product.

Carlsberg thus tests any packaging innovation carefully. Its usefulness is of prime importance; the product must be quick to locate and identify and easy to carry and unpack or take apart. Added to this is the demand that any waste can be conveniently disposed of. These are all requirements the Nature MultiPack™ from NMP Systems satisfies, the Danes believe. Additionally, sustainability is becoming increasingly important to the consumer and customers, for which reason the Group is launching an industry-leading sustainability programme called Together Towards ZERO. Snap Pack fits perfectly with the ambition and targets to reduce carbon emissions and eliminate waste as a concept. 

Can stability must withstand all handling requirements. Besides catering for the aforementioned aspects of convenience and sustainability, Carlsberg also hopes the Nature MultiPackTM will pump new impetus into its marketing activities: the packaging innovation scores with its precise alignment of cans. For example, at the point of sale a billboard effect can be achieved by aligning a specific part of the cans precisely next to one another to create a new, larger complete image.

The Nature MultiPack™ is to be applied at Carlsberg for the following formats: 2 x 3 or 2 x 2 cans per pack with a handle and 1 x 4 or 1 x 3 cans per pack without a handle. These options have been made possible by a demanding development process, to which Carlsberg “has contributed its profound knowledge of the market and consumer demands”, as Norbert Pastoors, both executive vice-president of Packaging at KHS GmbH and managing director of NMP Systems, puts it.

One of the special challenges was the development of the adhesive which with just a few dots holds the filled cans together to form a pack which is stable enough for transportation. The consumer must also be able to easily divide it up with a single twist. “The can presents us with a completely different surface from its predecessor the PET bottle. An adhesive is thus needed which works in combination with the printing ink and can lacquer without damaging it,” says Pastoors.

The stability of the can pack in particular was subject to intensive testing to prove that it can survive the stacking and palletizing processes and all further logistical requirements. For the customer’s particular application this resulted in a certain temperature range within which the new pack is used, for instance, or the specification that the system be operated in a dry, silicone-free environment.

Machine has potential outside the beverage industry In this way Carlsberg achieves an output of up to 45,000 cans per hour with the Nature MultiPack™ project. The cans used have a diameter of 54 millimetres minimum and a maximum height of 200 millimetres. The potential of the machine is by no means fully exploited with packs of beer in cans, however. The adhesive can also be used for carbonated soft drinks and in applications outside the beverage industry.

“We see great potential for spray cans, for example,” explains Norbert Pastoors, going on to stress, however, that KHS will first focus on the beverage industry. Other developments are also being advanced together with Carlsberg. One of these is the Direct Print Powered by KHS™ direct printing system – also in cooperation with NMP Systems which is responsible for the global marketing of the packaging systems developed by KHS. The direct print process enables an immediate change of decoration on and the production of personalized beverage containers through digital printing. 

Consumer testing for optimum results “Carlsberg’s strategy is to network with competent partners in the packaging industry. We mutually benefit from our shared expertise, allowing us to come up with new systems faster and more effectively,” states Myriam Shingleton. KHS subsidiary NMP Systems also relies on cooperation.

“We’ve been working very closely with Carlsberg for many years now – constructively, with transparency and keeping an open mind as regards new ideas and in this case more sustainable alternatives to secondary packaging. To make an innovation like the Nature MultiPack™ for cans a worldwide success we need a strong partner like Carlsberg, for which reason we are happy to join the Carlsberg Circular Community” Pastoors summarizes. NMP Systems has thus also taken the results of consumer analysis on board for the Nature MultiPack™ and put them into practice.

Firstly, a handle had to be fixed to the pack so that consumers could recognize it as such without the usual shrink film and be able to carry it easily. Secondly, the packs had to be formed into two rows as customers are familiar with this as the standard format. From the user’s point of view informing customers as to how an innovation works is also very important. In any event, Carlsberg is so convinced by the joint development that the brewery group has already secured itself the option of a second machine. 

More info: