A new anti-glug bulk packaging bottle from Class Plastics is making a difference to efficiency at Grow Hard, a supplier of fertiliser for hydroponic farmers in Australia, Canada and the UK. Tim Grey reports.
Blow moulding, explains Class Plastics’ MD Daniel Carapellotti is more of an art than Science. After 17 years of the company, he’s in a good position to know. There have been plenty of changes in the industry over that time, with increased automation, computerised techniques and design innovations. But, the latest step, in the development of Class Plastics is its new Anti-glug bottle.
Anyone who’s ever poured detergent, oil, chlorine or fertiliser from a 20-litre bottle knows exactly how irritating, messy – and even dangerous – is the chugging, sloshing motion it makes as it liquid tries to escape from bottle. So, drawing from new solutions the world over, Class Plastics came up with solution.
The anti-glug bottle’s design is elegantly simple. By employing a hollow handle, the bottle is able to ‘breathe’, which allows the liquid to flow smoothly. But if the design is simple, its development is more complicated.
“That’s really the basic technical aspect,” explains Carapelloti. The hard point is actually to mold it, and get the right tooling to make sure we do it on a consistent basis.”
To bring to bottle to market, it took Class Plastics over two years of research, design and testing. The blow pin, for instance, needs a specific design in order to create the hollow handle, and it took Class Plastics up to half a dozen tries before getting it right.
“The critical part of anti-glug is to make sure that the handle is hollow, and that requires a bit of art. It’s a very big investment,” says Carapelloti. “It’s a pretty big process. You’ve got machinery, and you’ve got people, and usually the two don’t mix well. So, it’s creating a good system, and having good procedures, recipes and standards that our production staff can follow.”
The consistent quality of Class Plastics’ products is point of pride for Carapelloti. Releasing a sub-standard bottle to market was never an option. “Class Plastics is known in the industry for its consistent products, so we’ve got to be careful not to tarnish that reputation,’ he says. “Leak testing is very important. Probably the most important aspect of the process is that we don’t send out products with holes in them.”
IN FOR THE LONG HAUL
For customers like Mike Harding of Grow Hard, a supplier of fertiliser for hydroponic farmers in Australia, Canada and the UK, reliability is a massive priority. “We’ve had instances in the past working with other packaging suppliers where they weren’t up to scratch for Australian logistics,” says Harding. “It has got to be strong and durable packaging, because Australia’s a big country for us to transport product around.”
“It’s farmers who’ll benefit most from anti-glug design,’ says Carapelloti. “I think it’ll make a difference to a lot of industries, particularly agriculture. Farmers regularly handle 20-litre bottles, so making it easier for them to pour helps them immensely,” he explains. “Dispensing time is cut by about 30-40 per cent, so you’re not standing there for the same amount of time. And, you’re not getting pulsation. When you’re getting that glugging, it’s putting a lo9t of force on your body.”
STACKED FOR SUCCESS
Ease of use is not the only consideration with the anti-glug bottles, looking good at point of sale is critical too. With dark plastic and an interlocking stacking system, the bottles are designed to look good in a palate in-store. “Compared to our generic items, when the anti-glug bottles stack, they interlock. It means, you’ll get labels facing one way,” says Carapelloti. “They look good on a palate or on a shelf.”
For his part, Harding believes the bottle design helped moved his products into a more premium category. “It’s brought us up into the market with some European products similar style bottle, he says. “When I first saw our label on the bottle, I thought wow, it looked really good, really European to me.”
The opaque plastic and the hollow handle design also help protect the liquid eliminating spoilage. “We use to use a lot of the natural coloured bottles, but with the Class Plastics bottles we get a lot less spoilage,” says Harding.
This was, of course, Class Plastics’ intention. The hollow handle also lets the bottle be filled to the top, which is beneficial during transportation.
“There are disadvantages to not filling it to the top. You can create a void, and gases can fill up, which can actually be detrimental to the bottle, particularly when it’s in transit,” says Carapelloti. “The key is getting the product from A to B.
With all of Class Plastics’ product range, the company is working on strength and reliability improvements. “We’re always trying to improve our bottle, whether it’s by weight or strength,” Carapelloti says. “The finer contol we have, the better we’re able to pinpoint where we need to distribute the plastic.”
The anti-glug bottles, for instance, are recommended to be stacked tow high, but can withstand much heavier loads.
“Stackability is very important, here at Grow Hard, it’s stacked two high but there are places where they need to stack it three or four high,” he says. “The recommendation is two high, but the actual practice is beyond that. So, we’ve got to make sure our bottles can withstand the pressure. “
Next up, the company’s working on a durable barrier for more corrosive products. “The next stage of the anti-glug is to make it a mono-layer barrier drum that stops parmeation,” says Carapelloti. “There’s a lot of product out there that eats through the plastic wall, so we’re looking at adding in a wall of nylon that adds the barrier in the drum and stops that parmeation process.”
With continuing investment in new technology, Class Plastics is hoping to make the anti-glug system the new industry standard,” says Carapelloti. “We have become a bit of a leader in the cube market, instead of a follower.”
Source: Packaging News, Jan – Feb 2016