Food Packaging, Container Manufacturing Assessment

© Photo Fraunhofer CMI

Automatic sensing of stock features

© Photo Fraunhofer CMI

Infeed stock for system

© Photo Fraunhofer CMI

Overall feedstock conversion system.

Food Packaging, Container Manufacturing Assessment

Fraunhofer CMI worked under contract from a major US manufacturer of food packaging containers to evaluate their current manufacturing processes and operations and to identify opportunities for incremental improvements as well as game-changing opportunities through the use of disruptive technologies.

Objective

The same high volume manufacturing processes are often used for decades with just minimal, although continuous, improvement and refinement. At certain junctures, a manufacturer must assess opportunities for the introduction of new technologies in order to remain competitive. Fraunhofer was hired to help the client benchmark their existing operations and recommend new technologies that will address their existing challenges and increase the overall efficiency of the operation. 

Methodology

Fraunhofer CMI started the process by sending a group of technology and business experts to tour two manufacturing plants to observe the processes and interview company employees to identify “pain points.” A list was developed of key problem areas in need of improvement. A process of Technology Scouting was begun to bring together possible solutions using Fraunhofer’s internal expertise, university contacts, existing company technology, research from industry experts, journals, and scientific literature. The goal was to create a range of solutions for process improvement and plot them on a two dimensional Assessment of Technology chart in terms of Technology Attractiveness and Impact against Technology Fit for client. The Assessment of Technology chart would be used to rank ideas and select the best ones for further development and implementation.

An Innovation Summit was convened with senior management from the company to add additional ideas for improvement into the process. All the ideas were developed into Technology Data Sheets showing evaluation criteria including “field of application”, maturity of technology, costs (investment & operational), maintenance/service, and effort for implementation. The ideas were placed on an Assessment of Technology chart which was used in a down-selection process to identify the best ideas for further development.

Results

A few key ideas were selected for future development. These ideas were spun out into separate projects to be developed by Fraunhofer for the client. 

Future Directions

Fraunhofer CMI continues to work with the client to develop systems and equipment to implement the most promising ideas identified in the Innovation Summit.