We don’t just produce packaging. We create a packaging experience - The Noel D'Cunha Sunday Column

PrintWeek catches up with Frank Hornung, global CEO, Edelmann on the 110th anniversary in Chandigarh. The Edelmann India plant in Baddi which caters to the beauty, consumer brands and healthcare sector requires a lot of testing and precision, Noel D'cunha and Rahul Kumar try to understand the process; plus grasp the global trends in packaging. Read on....

06 May 2023 | By Noel D'Cunha

Noel Marshall D'cunha (NMD): Kudos on your 110 birthday. Welcome to India.
Frank Hornung (FD)
: Thank you.

NMD: One mantra that Edelmann believes in which you have adopted in India?
Most people consider packaging as just a “pretty wrapping” for their products. We have always believed that with our quality, expertise and passion, we don’t just produce packaging, we create a packaging experience.

NMD: And how do you create this packaging experience?
We have been designing and producing high-quality packaging solutions for the health care, beauty care and consumer brands sectors since 1913. Our solutions enable our customers to optimise their processes across the entire supply chain, thereby genuinely adding value. At the Edelmann Group we use only the latest methods, technologies and production machines, constantly aligning everything we do with sustainability and economic viability. 

NMD: Share the Edelmann details, please for our readers ...
 More than 3,000 employees around the world form a motivated team with great agility and passion producing creative, reliable packaging solutions and offer extraordinary service. All of that together results in our packaging experience, which is unique in the industry. Our team has internalised the philosophy behind it all. They live it every day, in every project.

NMD: I see.
This is how we are actively helping to shape our future today.

NMD: Edelmann India plant is in Baddi which is considered as a pharma hub in north India. Also since pharma is an industry which requires a lot of testing and precision. Can you share what are the QC parameters in the Edelmann plant located in Baddi, Himachal Pradesh?
We apply the standards QC parameters all over the world including Edelmann India, which has in-house quality testing laboratory with state-of-the-art testing equipment and uses pre-predefined quality checklist at each process that ensures that the products being made conforms to the critical requirements of the pharma industry. 

NMD: How so?
We measure board GSM, bursting factor, board stiffness, caliper, barcode grade, scuff resistance etc. at every stage like incoming, in-process and final inspection. Also we measure defects ppm, complaint cost rate, non-conformities, wastage percentage etc. to improve the factory operations.

NMD: Clients need you, too. How have you become or become more of an advisor to your client and not just a supplier? 
Edelmann comes with a vast experience in design, technology and sustainability. This is known in the market and among our client base. Being an advisor for our clients is key to adding value to your products and services. We are leveraging our expertise and are offering customised solutions in particular in the fields of expertise mentioned. We are undertaking an effort to understand our client's needs. To become an advisor, it's essential to thoroughly understand the client's business objectives and specific requirements. This allows you to propose tailored technology solutions that address their unique challenges and pain points. 

NMD: How do you concept-sell your technology assets to your customers? 
We share relevant case studies. Demonstrating your technology's efficacy through real-world examples and success stories instills confidence in your clients. We present case-studies and samples that show how our products helped other clients achieve their goals. Finally, we offer consultation and support throughout the development phase of the packaging. This helps solidify our advisor role.

NMD: As a packaging converter, what kind of automation expectations are there from the machinery manufacturers?
All production steps can benefit from more automation, such as colour management and inspection systems, loading and unloading gluing lines, consolidation of various production steps into one only and logistics. Many solutions do exist but often they are viable only at large scale volumes. Automation needs to become economically justifiable at small lot sizes.

NMD: In what way? Please explain.
As a packaging converter, there are several automation expectations from machinery manufacturers to ensure efficient, cost-effective, and high-quality production. These expectations may include: In order to benefit from digitalisation, the packaging machinery should seamlessly integrate with other equipment and systems, allowing for real-time data exchange and communication. This level of connectivity enables better process control, remote monitoring, and predictive maintenance. Simultaneously, machinery needs to become user-friendly in operation. Manufacturers should provide machinery with intuitive interfaces, easy setup, and accessible training materials. This minimises the learning curve for operators and reduces downtime associated with equipment changeovers or troubleshooting.

NMD: Any expectations from the machine manufacturers?
We expect machinery manufacturers to increase environmental consciousness to minimise energy consumption, reduce waste, and utilise greener technologies. The thing is, lot sizes may vary a lot and also customers seek for differentiation. Hence the equipment needs to become more flexible and adaptable. Machinery should be designed to handle a variety of packaging sizes, and formats, as well as adapt to changes in production requirements. This allows converters to cater to the diverse needs of clients and remain competitive in the market.

NMD: That's quite a lot.
This lists only the most prominent expectations. Other improvements are expected in the fields of speed and precision. Safety, and scalability.

NMD: What is Edelmann doing in terms of cartons and leaflets compatible with the automatic machines that a pharma company has?
First of all, we cooperate intensively with pharma companies to design and develop cartons and leaflets that are tailored to their specific machinery requirements. This is beyond shape and construction but includes the selection of the right material, considering the creasing strength requirements for the high-speed automatic machines used in pharma companies.

NMD: Partnership with the machine builders?
Edelmann traditionally cooperates with the machine builders in the pharma industry. Often, filling lines are tested with Edelmann samples and the knowledge of Edelmann in structural
properties of folding boxes and their impact on filling lines makes Edelmann a cooperation partner to most machine-builders in pharma.

NMD: You keep a keen eye on global markets. Which are the trade agreements, and advantageous certifications that a packaging professional in India should be aware of?
We work to the highest standards of our industry. ISO 9001, GMP, BRC, Sedex, CDP or Ecovadis are the most prominent standards and certifications which Edelmann is keen on.

NMD: You are one of the rare pharma factories in India with EcoVadis credentials. What has been the feedback in India about the ESG transition?
The feedback in India about the ESG transition has been generally positive. Companies like us that hold EcoVadis credentials demonstrate their commitment to social and environmental responsibility, which can lead to various benefits like an enhanced reputation, increased consumer trust, and stronger stakeholder relationships. As a result, there is a growing awareness and appreciation of ESG adoption in the Indian pharmaceutical sector, encouraging more companies to embrace sustainable practices and prioritise ethical business conduct.

Edelmann India factory

NMD: In India do you think there is an increased level of consumer interest in sustainability and eco-packaging? 
In India, there has been a growing awareness and interest in sustainability and eco-friendly packaging among consumers. The Indian government and businesses are making efforts to address environmental concerns, but there is still room for improvement.

NMD:  Is India doing enough? What are some of the things we should do?
Eco-packaging and sustainability can be promoted for instance by the following considerations: Implement stricter regulations. This means, the government should enforce more stringent regulations around packaging waste, single-use plastics, and recycling guidelines. In addition, one must invest in recycling infrastructure. The industry should invest in the development of efficient waste management and recycling systems to improve material recovery rates and reduce landfill waste. The industry body and associations should create  awareness campaigns. This will encourage responsible consumer behavior through educational campaigns about the environmental impact of packaging and the benefits of recycling. Plus everyone must support eco-friendly alternatives. This will encourage the development and use of sustainable packaging materials and technologies, such as biodegradable, compostable, recycled / recyclable materials and materials from renewable resources such as fibre. And finally, encourage corporate responsibility. We must support businesses that adopt eco-friendly practices and promote sustainability through certification programs and incentives.

NMD: And what are some of the things we need to avoid or not do?
Avoid over-packaging. This means reducing unnecessary packaging materials and prioritising eco-friendly alternatives. o Don't rely solely on consumer behavior. Trying to promote individual behaviour change is important, it is crucial to also address systemic issues like implementing regulations, supporting innovation, and fostering corporate responsibility. And finally, don't ignore the local context. try to acknowledge and address the unique challenges concerning waste management, recycling infrastructure, and sustainable packaging in India to develop tailored solutions.

NMD: Huge task ahead ...
Oh yes. Ultimately, the shift towards sustainability requires the collective effort of the government, businesses, and consumers in India to create a more environmentally-friendly future.

NMD: Any green packaging model launch or project that has impressed you? Any scope of activities such as OHS?
There is no single project that was impressive in nature. The industry is taking small steps and each development step is an evolution rather than a revolution.

NMD: Final thoughts?
Edelmann India is following all the required guidelines of Occupational health and safety as per the local laws, as well the international standards. We also have plans to get Integrated Management System (IMS) certification by the end of 2024. IMS certification includes ISO 9001(Quality processes), ISO 14001(Environmental processes) and ISO 45001 (Occupational Health & safety processes). 

NMD: Looking forward, how do you see the future for the packaging industry in India over the next five years?
Packaging is India’s one of the fastest growing sectors. We are very bullish on the growth of the packaging industry for the next five years with a CAGR growth in double digits. The demand for packaging in India has risen exponentially spurred by the rapid growth in consumer markets, especially in processed food, personal care, and pharmaceutical end-user industries helped by increasing income levels, and changing lifestyles which will further drive consumption across various industries leading to higher demand for packaging product solutions.

The top five prerequisites that a consumer should seek from packaging - according to Frank Hornung, global CEO, Edelmann

The role of end consumers is crucial in driving demand for products, shaping market trends, and promoting responsible and sustainable practices among businesses. Consumers have the power to influence how companies produce, package, and distribute their products. 

When it comes to packaging, consumers should seek the following five prerequisites:

Sustainability: Consumers should look for packaging made from eco-friendly materials, such as recycled or biodegradable materials. This helps reduce the environmental impact of packaging

Clear labeling and information: The packaging should provide clear and accurate information about the product, its ingredients, and its origin. This enables consumers to make informed choices based on their preferences and values. 

Safety and hygiene: Packaging should be designed to protect the product from contamination and damage during transport and storage. Look for packaging that is tamper-evident
or has proper sealing mechanisms to ensure the product's safety.

Ease of use and accessibility: Consumers should seek packaging that is easy to open, handle, and dispose of. This includes resealable packaging for products that require multiple uses, as well as packaging that is easy to open for individuals with physical limitations.

Minimalism and waste reduction: Opt for packaging that uses as little material as possible without compromising the product's safety and quality or at least are evidently produced by applying eco-friendly processes and technologies. This helps minimise unnecessary waste and encourages producers to adopt more efficient packaging solutions.

By being mindful of these prerequisites, consumers can promote responsible packaging practices and contribute to a more sustainable and environmentally friendly market.