Cracking the market - BAP technology
Years after its success in the USA, Marks & Spencer is the first UK
retailer to take up a new system by Bapco Closures. Sales and Marketing
Director, Neil Fowell, explains the technology.
A decade might be a long time in another industry, but in the packaging arena it is an incredibly short period, especially when you consider that it can take anywhere up to three years to make even the smallest structural change to an item of packaging.
Bapco Closures was founded back in 1998, with a sole purpose to eliminate leakages from milk bottles. Work with the dairy industry allowed the company to create a closure that not only prevents milk from escaping, but also makes it easier to open. It is named BAP Technology because of the unique double-induction welding process that bonds the aluminium and plastic on the closure to the container.
The closure system is two-part injection-moulded and features an overcap and spout with an integrated fused foil laminate. Once milk was filled into the container, the closure was positioned and induction-welded into place. The introduction of a welded foil closure system removed the need for traditional peel and seal foils, so leakages were non-existent.
The design also includes an easy-to-open spiral ring pull on the foil, allowing consumers to open the pack with ease. They can then reseal the product as it has an injected neck and an injected closure. The reseal is something the dairy industry still does not have today, having only resolved transportation leakage up to the point of first use.
There are two stages involved in fitting a Bapco closure to a container. The first is to pre-assemble and injection-mould the closure.
The same closure can be used across a range of container types. By changing the foil membrane, the Bapco closure system can be compatible with Polyethylene, Polypropylene, and Polyethylene terephthalate blown, injection-stretched and thermo-formed packaging, or even paperboard.
The second stage uses Bapco induction welding equipment, which ensures a full hermetic seal for secure pack integrity.
Since the welded foil holds the vacuum, rather than the overcap, it is easier to twist off, granting consumers an easy-opening closure. The foil is removed by an intuitive ring pull, creating a continuous low force shearing action.
Reaping the benefits
For many years, glass has been the packaging of choice for food and drink products because it provides a cost-effective and solid container that protects the product from the point of production to end use. However, development of a welded foil closure system means that plastic containers have an effective closure solution to withstand the severe vacuum, heat and pressure conditions, imposed on them by commercial pasteurisation, retort processes and hot fill operations.
Furthermore, welding a fresh foil seal between the container and neck finish guarantees tamper evidence, prevents counterfeiting and, more importantly, takes up the structural requirements within hot fill or retort environments. This allows the overcap to be lower in profile, so there is no further requirement for a tamper band, and there are less structural requirements for the cap itself. All this added together results in an overcap that weighs considerably less as it has no food process requirements to cope with – the wide mouth 82mm Twister overcap is only 7.3g.
The real struggle in achieving buy-in when introducing new closure technology is changing the way that brand owners approach packaging. Most use separate manufacturers for containers and lids, since there are a limited number of necks for glass containers. The company’s belief is that the closure should be designed first rather than be a generic solution on a standard thread.
North America has a far bigger food and drinks industry than the UK, so it is true that there is more scope for niche packaging technology, which has made cracking the UK market more of a challenge. However, successful work with G’s Marketing – a leading food manufacturer – has allowed Bapco to start making an impact on the UK industry.
Using this technology, Marks & Spencer recently re-launched a range of products in lightweight plastic containers. Although, to date, the chain is Bapco’s first and only customer in the UK.
Bapco Closures, The Atrium, Curtis Road, Dorking, Surrey, RH4 1XA. Tel: +44 1306 646404 www.bapcoclosures.com