As part of the Durables Forum, guests received a tour of Avery Dennison’s facility, witnessed product displays, and participated in a panel discussion that highlighted collaboration and product development. In addition, Oscar Palacios, global purchasing director, Electrolux Major Appliances, and Markus Mingenbach, global segment director, Durables, Avery Dennison, examined durable goods from the perspectives of the brand owner and label material suppliers in a keynote address, entitled, “The Wide World of Durable Goods Labeling.”
UL (Underwriters Laboratories) also took part in the event, explaining and simplifying the process of compliance and public safety in durable labels. Avery Dennison and UL have worked together over the last four years.
“The concept of [the Durables Forum] is somewhat unique in that it’s focused on a particular segment,” said Darrell Hughes, vice president and general manager, Materials Group, Avery Dennison. “It really fosters some great dialogue in terms of what we can do. ... It was more successful than I thought it would be.”
“In the Durables space, there’s such a need for knowledge transfer, from the brand, from a technical perspective, and I think that was a strength of the event,” added Mark Bouffard, senior communications manager, Avery Dennison. “What we heard from the customers was a lot of great feedback and direction, and a lot of technical expertise and knowledge transfer.”
Durable goods and equipment labels are designed to perform in a multitude of hostile environments, conditions and temperatures. These spaces include appliances, industrial, automotive, consumer electronics and electronic components. This range of materials must withstand harsh conditions, all the while being cost effective and minimizing waste. The materials, including pressure sensitive, RFID, films and coatings, among others, also need to meet certain specifications and requirements, such as those from UL.
New products displayed during the Durables Forum included Select Solutions drum labels designed to meet the latest GHS standards, a TurnLock laminating system for use on items like fire extinguishers and automotive parts, and NFC and RFID technology, including temperature monitoring devices.
“There’s a strong message about the power of collaboration and the expectations of high performance partnerships between end users, suppliers and material providers like us,” explained Kelly Hall, vice president of sales, Avery Dennison. “That dynamic is really powerful when the end user is communicating their strategies, plans and requirements, and we’re effectively communicating the capabilities that we have and working together in that sort of triangle. That can be really powerful if we’re open, honest, creating transparency and if we’re challenging each other.”
From concept to reality
Noelle Sieradzki, vice president of research and development for Avery Dennison’s Materials Group, North America, guided a tour through the company’s labs, including those for testing and the Concept Laboratory where ideas are hatched.
The Innovations Center features 30-35 technicians and Ph.D. scientists. It houses multiple sections, including those for abrasion testing, film manufacturing and a wet/formulations lab to experiment with top coats or silicone formulations for release systems.
Sieradzki described the Concept Laboratory as “an absolute gym,” a resource available to both converters and end users. Lauren Kalb, technology manager, explained the lab’s functions while concepts developer David Nichols II showcased Avery Dennison’s collaboration with Amazon on the Kindle Fire.
The Concept Laboratory focuses on speed and cost-effectiveness in brainstorming new product ideas. “The idea is to show materials or concepts and have it look like the real thing but do it very quickly here,” said Kalb. “We want that feedback so we can learn more about what is needed and required. Giving something physical to someone to get their feedback gives us a whole lot more information than if we just tried to engage through asking questions and conversation. We’ve done a lot of work to find out if this is a concept worth pursuing. Then, once we know that there’s interest, then we can go and use the rest of the labs and the facilities to make the materials and test them to make sure we create a quality and consistent product.”
The process involves taking ideas from business development managers, the sales team, customers, employees and from the team itself. A graphic recorder will then initiate the brainstorming with a design. The lab also maintains the ability to create, print and diecut one custom label to see where it would fit on the packaging.
In some cases, the lab technicians will utilize a 3-D printer to create a mold needed for the thermoforming process. Development can occur rapidly, sometimes in as little time as a few hours. “We have the ability to change our adhesives and change our products to deliver things that are not just functional performing but really are very good and give us sense based on sound or based on feel,” said Sieradzki.
In 2014, the Concepts team received 150 requests, and often they will go through trial and error multiple times in the same request.
As part of the Forum, Avery Dennison conducted a panel discussion, featuring Palacios, Mingenbach and Sieradzki, as well as Brad Schlenk, national sales manager of The Printing Plant, and Jim Thompson, senior staff engineer at UL.
The group discussed ranging topics that included creating value in the supply chain, collaboration between converters and end users, understanding changing regulations and overcoming obstacles in all of these processes.
The panel highlighted one of the Forum’s main takeaways: collaboration to develop new solutions. “I’m here to validate this culture of collaboration,” explained Schlenk. “The success we’ve had with the early adoption of TurnLock was an opportunity we had and an end user who was willing to take a look at an alternative method of labeling. We do have a willingness because of the size of the organization and a culture internally of trying to see what we can do to stretch ourselves a little bit to bring value to even our largest current customer base.”
In order to improve the standards and regulations processes, Mingenbach suggested approaching companies with new ideas to increase simplification. He cited the varying standards in the automotive industry. “I do believe there’s an opportunity to bring information to these companies about alternative ways of doing things and consolidating the standards that we know and to bring in information on how things could be done differently,” he said. “How might this help a company become more efficient and take complexity out of the process, which in the end will save costs?”
Mingenbach added that finding willing partners is an important facet, as well. Collaboration with technicians can lead to more efficiency. But according to Sieradzki, communication must also occur in-house. “One of the things we’re doing is quite simple and that’s more communication with our R&D teams,” she said. “Another thing we’re trying to do is to source products from one region for the world until we have enough scale that we can actually start manufacturing in the region where it’s being purchased.”
The panel worked to educate the converters on hand in the durables space, too. This included overcoming barriers and obstacles. “The biggest fear we always had with durables was that we didn’t know enough,” said Schlenk. “But I guess the message is you don’t have to know enough right now because you have resources to tap into. The biggest obstacle to overcome is the fear factor that you have, whether it’s not knowing the materials well enough yourself or UL, but the way that Avery Dennison can work with you should help you get over that hurdle.”
Over four years ago, Avery Dennison approached UL seeking a partnership to become lab certified. Products for ink adhesion, peel strength, chemical resistance, and others are marked with a UL stamp to signify compliance. According to UL, the company “certifies, validates, tests, inspects, audits, advises and trains in order to navigate customers across the supply chain. It collaborates to establish standards that create level playing fields and works to develop pathways for new innovations.”
UL’s stamp appears on nearly 22 billion products throughout 113 countries. Avery Dennison is one of 159 UL laboratory testing and certification facilities.
“One of the challenges we had is we always had to get in line,” Sieradzki said. “Sometimes we would have loved to shuffle some things, even some things that Avery Dennison has put in, and we weren’t able to do that. Becoming lab certified has really given us the flexibility to meet all the different timelines that we have.”
The partnership has been beneficial for both sides, and UL has the opportunity to simplify the process for the customer. “We want people to understand that we’re not a roadblock,” said Janine Ritchie, market development manager, UL. “We want to collaborate with the customer.”
The facilities were developed to support customers in UL and cUL recognition for durable goods labeling. The Global Client Service Laboratory at Avery Dennison is designed to function with the same materials and tools that are used in UL’s own labs. Testing supports UL standard 969 and CSA standard 22.2 no. 0.15 for nameplates and safety labels. This process includes the testing of multiple substrates, inks and ribbons.
During the Durables Forum, Mark Alessandro, Don Berlin and Ajay Desai explained the UL testing process and walked customers through the labs for an in-depth look at the various testing methods used on products seeking certification. The group highlighted weathering, defacement and abrasion as three of the eight tests conducted for approval.
“With us being an extension of UL, we have a good relationship with them in determining what it’s going to take to get materials certified and how quickly we can get it done,” explained Desai. “We can cut a lot of time out between you submitting directly to UL because it goes straight into our labs in terms of the test cycle.”
For more pictures of the event, click here for the slideshow.