neue verpackung: Coveris has 26 branches in the EMEA region. What was the decisive factor in setting up the innovation center in Halle?
Christopher Tuchscherer: Aside from the fact that the DACH region is one of the strongest markets in terms of sales in the Films and Flexibles segment, Halle is also relatively close to the center of our 27 locations. This gives us the best direct access for our customers. In England, we already have the Pack Positive Centre. This center is mainly concerned with development in the retail sector and for our Labels & Board branch. This makes the Pack Innovation Centre in Halle the perfect complement - both topical and geographical. Together, the two centers form the spearhead of the Coveris Group when it comes to the latest packaging technologies, optimal production processes, outstanding packaging design, individual customer innovations and training. Our site in Halle is currently being (highly) modernized, which has also resulted in synergies with the Pack Innovation Centre - so, altogether, it is the ideal location.
neue verpackung: How would you describe the target group to which the center's services are directed?
Christopher Tuchscherer: Of course, it is mainly aimed at all Coveris customers and also those who would like to become one, but also at our development partners, students or other people interested in packaging. It is open to anyone interested in packaging in the broadest sense. With its testing facilities, the Pack Innovation Centre offers our customers and our own R&D team in particular an ideal platform and the opportunity to test product ideas until they are ready for practical use - without having to use machines in production.
neue verpackung: What can I expect as a customer on site?
Christopher Tuchscherer: For any customer or interested party who, for example, has a new product idea but is not yet sure which packaging shape, material requirements and packaging design will ensure an optimum result, the Centre offers far-reaching opportunities to find an answer together.
From the initial brainstorming to the production of the first small dummy products, our Coveris Fast Track Innovation Concept enables us to put feasibility to the test. Entire validations as well as the entire production process can be run through on site without our customers having to interrupt their own production for this. Of course, we also offer product training on hot topics from the world of our sustainable paper and plastic packaging solutions (e.g. MonoFlex or Paper Bag Portfolio) to prepare our partners for future market requirements.
neue verpackung: The site had opened its doors in the summer of this year - are there already initial success stories that exemplify the benefits of such a competence center?
Christopher Tuchscherer: We have already had very intensive innovation discussions, among others with some strategic customers from the confectionery industry. Due to the current increased efforts to make packaging more sustainable, we have jointly packaged the customer's original filling material in an innovative sealable paper on a vertical form fill and seal machine with multi-head scale. Our sustainable packaging solution made from renewable raw materials was able to prove in the presence of the customer that it neither impairs the productivity of our customer's production facilities nor the required product safety. The advantage for the customer: he receives the first dummy packaging and the certainty that the strategic continuation of a possible packaging changeover is viable without any problems. Not having to run this process on their own machines saves our customers a lot of time and money.
neue verpackung: Since you have industrial packaging machines on site for testing: once the packaging has been fully developed, can I as a customer also have smaller special productions packaged directly?
Christopher Tuchscherer: This depends on the specific project requirements and must be judged in dialog with the customer. Our machinery is equipped with a vertical and horizontal form fill and seal machine, a thermoformer and a traysealer. Whether customers with their original filling material can pack smaller batches with our packaging films on these machines depends on the type of filling material, as well.
neue verpackung: Above all, an innovation center like yours should be a venue. Now the opening of the site fell in the middle of the rampant Covid-19 pandemic. What does your hygiene concept look like to enable visits anyway?
Christopher Tuchscherer: Since the Coveris Group generally produces system-relevant products for the food industry, among others, a very strict hygiene concept already existed before the Covid-19 pandemic. However, this has been extended. We check if our visitors are coming from a current risk area, limit the number of visitors and in general: wearing masks, regular hand washing and disinfection, keeping your distance and measuring your temperature! For those who cannot be on site, we are finalizing a project that will enable digital visits.
The questions were asked by Philip Bittermann, Editor-in-Chief of neue verpackung
The Pack Innovation Centre covers an area of over 400 m2. The production area is equipped with packaging machines, including a thermoformer (thermoforming machine), a traysealer (tray sealer) and two form fill and seal machines, offering a full range of industry standard packaging types for testing and validation.
Cross-functional and individualized seminars complete the customer experience. The area for the workshops was designed as an open space, giving room for exchange, discussion and the transfer of knowledge and expertise. The individualized seminars and workshops are held for internal and external target groups and are offered by Coveris in-house experts. Industry specialists support the events with their knowledge and thus provide an outlook on trends in the packaging world.
Alongside the Pack Positive Centre in Leeds, England, the Coveris Pack Innovation Centre is the second component of Coveris' future-oriented initiatives.