The Rocky Road to Success
Resilience and Creativity in Product Development
New product development is not for the faint of heart, whether you are developing a pharmaceutical product or the high-performance packaging to go with it. At Constantia Flexibles, we know what it takes to see a pilot project through from idea to market-ready solution. On the one hand, it requires close collaboration between our clients, our raw material suppliers, and our in-house technical experts. On the other hand, it takes persistence to keep going even when we hit a bump on the road to success. Application Engineer Alejandro Sánchez from the Technical Department at Constantia Tobepal guides us through a client project that proves the old proverb: “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again!”
It’s always the same experience – that feeling of excitement when a new project is on the horizon. And this project was particularly exciting, because it presented a real challenge for our team: a new customer was looking for a novel stick pack solution for their range of hormonal gels, which would offer superior performance on their machines, high barrier properties and a supplier that provides a great & fluid support. The challenge? We had to come up with a laminate for the stick packs that could handle an ethanol content of between 55 and 70 percent and accommodate the different properties of male and female hormone formulas. Our answer was an emphatic yes – we’ve never met a challenge we didn’t like! Besides, this project would open doors for new applications and new customers, so we were aiming to make it a success.
From day one, we knew that it would be essential to establish a close working relationship with our clients. That started with a visit to their production facilities, where a team of sales reps and technical staff from our side met with the client’s Quality, Purchasing, and Production teams. We quickly realized that our values were in sync – open, transparent dialogue and a work ethic focused on fast, effective action. Several meetings followed that allowed us to see the project from many different points of view. Probably the most productive encounter of them all was when the client’s team came to our facilities. We were able to help them understand how laminates are manufactured and highlight the key issues that can affect the speed, performance, and success of the packaging process.
After identifying the product specifications in terms of stick pack size, quantity per unit, lanes per packaging line, and volume per batch, as well as the printing options and the specific requirements of the target markets, we narrowed it down to a few laminate options that looked promising in theory. The client tested our product and a few laminates from our competitors. The first round did not turn out as well as any of us had expected, with trace impurities and delamination issues arising during the trials. So, we all went back to the drawing board to start again. This can be pretty frustrating, not only for me and my technical colleagues at the Product Excellence Center, but also for the commercial team who had put a lot of effort into liaising with suppliers and calculating a price.
Never the types to let a setback get us down, we got right back to work. We are all quite accustomed to this roller coaster of emotions (some would say we even thrive on it!), where the highs of pride and anticipation are followed by lows of irritation and uncertainty. Taking a creative approach, we started to use alternative manufacturing methods in the second round of trials – and we had to do it fast to keep up with the client timeline. You can imagine our excitement when initial trials came back with no delamination, no degradation, and no impurities – and the same results on the client’s packaging line! We were proud that we had persisted until we found the right solution and the client was happy that they could get the product to market on time. A real win/win situation and an exciting new approach for particularly challenging chemicals that we are already offering to new customers.
If you are looking for a development team resilient enough to see your new project through to success, contact us and let’s get started!