Meeting Modern Challenges in Drum Packaging Industry
While sustainability is high on the agenda of many companies in the industry, it is certainly not the only factor influencing buying decisions. Increasing competition in the highly fragmented lubricants industry means manufacturers are increasingly looking for ways to differentiate and improve brand quality. Product differentiation can help underpin advanced pricing models or foster brand loyalty, a key marketing strategy.
"In a competitive field like lubricants, especially in an automotive industry, being able to differentiate yourself from the competition is critical." "Brand image is important to our customers, as is quality printing and product decoration," said Alain Sirejacob, Manager of Steel products at Graf. "Packaging helps customers differentiate their products and support higher value products with high-impact packaging design."
Leon Ten Hove, Marketing Manager of Kroon-Oil Netherlands, said: "High quality digitally printed steel drums are essential to the success of our brand. We are already using digital printing to support our promotional programs. Importantly, it helps enhance our brand position by providing us with better brand identity and protection."
Greif's research also highlights that brand maintenance, anti-counterfeiting and product integrity are key issues for the global lubricants industry. There are multiple solutions to address these challenges, including more brands of packaging and tamper-proof technology and equipment. But cost is an important factor, so finding cost-effective ways to address these issues is critical for industrial packaging suppliers and customers. For example, embossed logos on caps and the use of UV or infrared invisible markers.
Interestingly, research shows that with the growth of specialty and premium lubricants, such as white oils for food applications and specialty lubricants for wind turbines and aerospace, there is a growing demand for special packaging.
For Greff, this led to the introduction of food-approved varnishes and linings, the absence of BISphenol A, which some believe is harmful to human health, and cleaner steel drums. When used for highly sensitive filling of goods, cleaning drums should be specially cleaned with compressed air. This replaces the traditional manual cleaning process using solvents, which results in a loss of 1 liter of solvent per drum, or 1.7 kilograms of CO2 emissions per 55-gallon drum.
Climate Change Impact of Lighter Steel Drums
Lifecycle CO2 equivalent -- CO2 equivalent in the Lifecycle
By contrast, using compressed air has almost no carbon dioxide impact. As a result, it will be safer for the environment and workers, and will use fewer resources.
Another area of growing demand is better packaging logistics and smart packaging solutions, such as real-time tracking technology. Greif's GCube Connect is an example of a wrapper that provides tracking information via iot based devices. Sirejacob said tracking can save money by reducing working capital, optimizing production schedules, and automating purchasing and sales processes.
"While smart technology and looks help differentiate high-end products, the reality is that the costs often outweigh the benefits for many small businesses," Richards notes. However, choosing cheaper alternative packaging options may compromise product integrity and operational safety. In these challenging times, striking a balance between economical packaging cost, durability and reusability seems to be important features."
The COVID-19 crisis has undoubtedly created significant risks and uncertainties for lubricants companies and industrial packaging suppliers worldwide. Many key questions about the market's recovery and performance over the medium term remain unanswered. Despite the macro uncertainties, Greif's pre-pandemic research suggests that any kind of recovery is likely to see a greater focus on smart packaging solutions, better branding, product protection and more specialised packaging, all of which benefit from sustainability across the lubricants value chain.
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