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Amcor opens test lab in Ghent for e-commerce packaging

Australian company Amcor has opened a laboratory next to the Ghelamco Arena in Ghent, Flanders. There, all kinds of e-commerce packaging will be tested for tears, leaks and other failures and defects on an “obstacle course” that mimics the packages’ real-life journeys from warehouse to customer.

Amcor people talking

In the near future, we will be opening a second lab here as well. This second lab will focus on enhancing the sustainability of our films and polymers. In short, the future of Amcor Ghent, which employs 450 people, is looking bright.

Ingo Baeyens
head of Amcor's research and development labs in Europe

Obstacle course

As part of a tour at the brand-new test facility, an Amcor lab technician puts a bag of dogfood in a cardboard box, which he then fills with plastic air cushions. The package is consequently pounded to the ground nine times in a dropping machine, before being shaken for two hours on a vibratory plate. Finally, the cardboard package is pressed firmly together by another harness.

“In this way we simulate what an average package has to endure after it has been ordered online and shipped,” says Lab Technician Kenneth Anciaux. He then goes on to inspect the box for any damage worth mentioning and opens the suit: the bag of dogfood has survived the hours-long ordeal without tearing, allowing it to receive an ISTA certificate. “Some packaging fails the test,” adds Ingo Baeyens, head of Amcor's research and development labs in Europe. “Caps or nozzles are often the weakest links in the chain. When they fail, the customer receives a product that is leaking or torn.”

Bumpy road

"E-commerce is becoming increasingly important,” says Virginie Maes, marketing manager for Amcor Europe. "However, products bought online face far more obstacles on their way to the customer than products that are shipped from a factory to a supermarket. The first risks of falling arise in the warehouse, where parcels pass through many hands. Then follows the long and often bumpy road to countries across the world. Finally, packages can be further damaged when being handled by couriers as they deliver them to the customer’s door via van.”

“Packaging today needs to be more compact,” adds Baeyens. “Nowadays, boxes are often too big and stuffed with filling material that needs to be thrown away by the customer. Amazon, the world’s largest player in the parcel market, is already asking manufacturers to make custom boxes for products. What’s more, by 2025, every part of the package will need to be recyclable.”

Bright future

To anticipate these developments, Amcor chose Ghent out of its 45 European branches as the first test facility. “In the near future, we will be opening a second lab here as well,” Baeyens concludes. “This second lab will focus on enhancing the sustainability of our films and polymers. In short, the future of Amcor Ghent, which employs 450 people, is looking bright.”

More info

Amcor
Reported by
Het Nieuwsblad newspaper
22 October 2019

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