A consortium of organisations led by Skelmersdale-based secondary packaging company TrakRap has been awarded a grant by Innovate UK to develop a prototype that could change the way aerosols are packaged and improve industry safety.
The consortium, which comprises DHL, the Manufacturing Technology Centre in Coventry and the University of Bradford, plans to use the grant to build a prototype stretch wrapping packaging machine specifically for use in the aerosol industry, to replace the shrink wrapping systems which are currently used.
The use of shrink wrapping to package aerosols is inherently dangerous as the high temperatures required to shrink the film carry significant explosion risks.
The grant was secured from Innovate UK, the agency responsible for driving scientific and technological innovations to grow the UK economy, following the successful completion of a proof of concept.
The proposed prototype eliminates the need for high temperatures entirely by using a 100 per cent recyclable polymer stretch film. Its innovative technology will also reduce energy requirements by over 90 per cent and reduce the use of plastics by over 60 per cent compared to current shrink wrapping technologies, offering additional financial and environmental benefits to users.
DHL will provide the production line on which the finished prototype machine will run for several months under manufacturing conditions, while MTC will model the prototype machine in a virtual factory, allowing the design to be tested and amended before physical production occurs. The University of Bradford will evaluate the performance and characteristics of various films to ascertain their suitability for use with the machine.
Martin Leeming, CEO of TrakRap, said: “It’s no secret that aerosols present significant challenges to the packaging industry; they are pressurised and highly inflammable by design, so the need to protect them – and those working with them – at every stage of the packaging process is of paramount importance.
“Historically, packaging manufacturers have been able to get around the problem by using traditional packaging methods, but a safe, energy efficient solution which sets the bar for the whole industry is still required. With the backing of Innovate UK, and the support of our partners, we’re confident that we will be able to provide it.”
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