What is Product Identification? An Interview with Packaging Europe

What is Product Identification? An Interview with Packaging Europe

This article originally appeared in Packaging Europe on May 11th, 2017.

A Q&A interview with Joakim Weidemanis, Vice President & ‎Group Executive for Danaher’s Product Identification Platform, in which he discusses the platform, its structure, goals and benefits to both brands and the packaging industry.

Q: The Product Identification Platform comprises a number of Danaher companies. Why have they come together at this point?

A: The platform has come together as a result of increased demand from our customers for connected solutions that cover more of the packaging value stream. This has largely been driven by the levels of complexity involved in bringing products to market, especially new products. Because of this growing complexity, our customers, especially from fast moving consumer goods companies, are looking for simplified ways to do everything, packaging designs to marking and coding and traceability. The platform, with its extensive range of technologies, enables them to leverage packaging as a consumption driver. For our packaging industry customers, experiencing higher demand for shorter runs with more variations requires stronger processes and quality systems. 

Q: What has driven the idea to form the Product Identification Platform in terms of trends and business needs?

A: The Product Identification Platform has been built over time as Danaher acquired companies with capabilities in this space, because we see a great need to develop technologies that enable the entire value stream to bring products to market faster, with higher quality and traceability of course.

Importantly, Industry 4.0 or the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) has been a big influence. We know that there is growing demand in the marketplace for how we can apply the new interconnected nature of business to the packaging value stream, therefore we are taking Industry 4.0 technology, incorporating it into our hardware and merging it with our software solutions to provide added value and new offerings to our customers. As a concrete example, in the first few months of this year alone, Videojet connected several hundred printers to VideojetConnect, our cloud-based remote service option, giving customers valuable data they need to run packaging lines more efficiently.

Many hardware devices available from our companies now also have software components that can be accessed online and connected to each other. The business need driving that is the desire to operate more efficiently and often to make a higher volume of packaging changes more frequently. Companies selling consumer goods know that when they contextualize packaging to regions, to languages, to consumer personas – they sell more product. But to make lots of changes requires strong process muscle and smarter technology, both of which we can deliver for them. We also help packaging printers and converters adapt their operations to efficiently manage the operational complexity of executing more jobs at shorter run lengths, in order to satisfy their customer demands and stay competitive.

Q: Can you outline the core competencies of the Danaher Product Identification Platform as a whole?

A: We enhance a company’s ability to bring products to market successfully, which is a function of timing and relevance. We do this at the product concept stage with Pantone color trends and inspiration. We do this through the next stages of product packaging design, preproduction, packaging and labelling manufacturing with Esko and X-Rite solutions. We do this through the product production and filling stage with Videojet’s solutions for marking, coding and visual inspection. We do this after products have been sold through Laetus’s traceability program. We help customers to do all these things at the right time, as fast as possible, at the highest quality.

All in all, we help customers digitize, connect and automate the packaging value stream. In March 2017, McKinsey found that consumer packaged goods is the laggard industry in terms of digitizing its supply chain, so there is great need to just digitize what is a very physical workflow. We have many technologies that check quality in an automated – or mostly automated – way to save time and errors. We’re not just streamlining processes, we’re helping our customers to actually improve their capabilities for the long term. 

The companies represented in the platform are all Danaher-owned, and part of our culture within Danaher is that everyone can contribute to continuous improvement, and therefore everyone’s creativity contributes to innovation. Our companies are now cultivating a time of very fruitful innovation. This has been driven by our Danaher Business System, which helps us eliminate process waste to make room in our schedules and budgets to invest in breakthrough innovation. 

In fact, we are also now helping some customers apply the Value Stream Mapping tool to simplify their own operations and achieve greater productivity and quality. These are 2-3 day workshops that we conduct very selectively. 

Q: What sectors/verticals could most benefit from these solutions?

A: We think there is the greatest potential for improvement in the consumer goods industry. We work with companies across that ecosystem, on the brand side and on the supplier side – whether they are consumer goods manufacturers, pre-media companies, printers, converters, design agencies or individual designers. We serve these in particular and have deep knowledge in each sector.

Q: What are the key benefits of this alliance to customers?

A: The way the platform looks at a business as a greater value stream is important. Because the platform companies have so many roles to play, we are able to look at a business from a far broader perspective than other companies trying to sell a particular point solution. 

Innovation and speed are at the heart of this. By digitizing tasks and solutions within the packaging value stream and connecting our machines and software to the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), we make the tools accessible and bring visibility into the process, which is now quite opaque for many consumer goods executives. 

We enable all of our customers to execute an increased volume of variations at the increased speed that their businesses demand. In Lean terms, you could say we remove waste from the process and enable faster change-overs through our technology. One of the ways we do this is by encouraging different parts of the value stream to utilize common systems, and by sharing systems they quickly realize value and simplify their workflow.

Q: What new technologies will the platform present at Interpack 2017?

A: Four members of the Product Identification Platform exhibited at Interpack 2017, at stand A01 in Hall 6:

Videojet Technologies, a world-leader in the product identification market, providing in-line printing, coding and marking products, application specific fluids, and product lifecycle services, will present a total of four new products at Interpack 2017. These include a revolutionary new continuous inkjet printer, designed to incorporate powerful onboard intelligence and intuitive interaction to drive enhanced productivity, a high throughput CO2 laser, engineered to process complex codes at highest speeds, and two additions to its advanced family of thermal transfer overprinters (TTO). 

Laetus, an industry leader in inline quality control, has a number of solutions on display. For cross-industry serialization and traceability, the versatile MV-70 F 130 TL will be present, alongside the CS-60 – a mobile packing station ideal for location-independent manual rework and quality checking of individual folding boxes and small production volumes. Security for the pharmaceutical production and supply chain will also be covered via the MV-70 F 180 CW + TL – a reliable Mark & Verify technology, the MV-50, for serialization in confined spaces, and the CS-115 – the most versatile semi-automated aggregation station for single and/or multi-level aggregation processes. For optical inspection, POLYPHEM Conveyor solutions will also be on display. 

Esko will show unique, smart software that incorporates its wealth of expertise in the packaging arena, informing brands on how to manage brand color accuracy across the global supply chain. In addition, Esko's 3D technologies, including Studio and Store Visualizer, will be available to view, and present hyper-realistic 3D images of packages from design through positioning on store shelves. Finally, Cape solutions to optimize packaging logistics will also be on display, alongside leading solutions for producing high quality, consistent print results with flexo printing - the most cost-effective print technology for the packaging industry.

X-Rite Pantone will be presenting a number of products at Interpack 2017 across two separate workstations. The first will focus on brand, design and pre-media, and how achieving print color consistency allows customers to get products to market faster. PantoneLIVE products and services will be on display – from the company’s Visualizer, mapping and rationalization solutions, to color libraries. The second workstation will focus on packaging, production and quality control, and will demonstrate how customers can improve deliverables to brands at the same time as driving new business. eXact Scan, Xp and standard spectrophotometers will be present, alongside ink formulation and NetProfiler quality assurance software.  

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