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Glass packaging isn’t going anywhere.
If you need proof, look to the statistics:

  • Consumers will increasingly look to glass as a packaging choice in 2017.’ (EcoFocus Trend Study, 2017)
  • A survey of 2,000 adults age 21+ in the U.S. finds that 95% of wine drinkers prefer drinking wine that comes in a glass bottle, with taste (80%) and quality (81%) leading as the top reasons consumers prefer wine packaged in glass. (SurveyUSA, 2016)
  • With bottling industry’s increasing focus on green operations, Glass is 100% recyclable and can be recycled endlessly without loss in quality or purity. (Glass Packaging Industry, 2017)

A lot has changed in the last 50 years of glass packaging:

As early as the 1960’s, most bottlers were producing beverages through machinery that ran at 150 bottles per minute. Today there are lines that fill more than 1200 bottles in a minute. The bottling industry worldwide has been, and is still, constantly looking for ways to increase efficiencies in their operations. Over 50% of the beer produced every year worldwide is bottled in glass containers and brewing companies are increasingly trying to gain efficiencies in glass bottle filling lines.

Although there are a lot of issues that affect the efficiency of a filling line, breakage and the downtime associated with it are two of the issues that can be measured and corrected, thus being an area of focus. Over the last decade there has been a big push as well to reduce the weight of the glass bottles. Fillers want to reduce costs but at some point putting less glass in the bottle will cause the bottle to be more fragile and break easily. Glass bottle makers are under pressure to produce glass bottles with low weight but strong enough to withstand the pressures in the filling lines.
 


 

"Fillers want to reduce costs but at some point putting less glass in the bottle will cause the bottle to be more fragile and break easily."

 


 

How is industry handling breakage today?

So, presented with this conundrum (low weight and low breakage in the lines), the glass industry introduced a way to rate a bottle’s resistance with a standard measurement, expressed as IPS or inches per second (centimeters per second or CMS is also used). IPS is a measurement of the velocity that a bottle receives with an impact. The higher the impact, the higher the velocity.

How important is breakage you ask? Well, if we go all the way back to 1940 there was a Congressional Subcommittee that found the average breakage in 186 US bottling plants was 3%. Use that number along with the hundreds of thousands of bottles being produced today and you have an enormous amount of breakage and the resulting downtime. In the industry, the expression is, “There is no time for down time”.

And how important is light weighting? One of the leading soft drink businesses in the UK, Britvic, worked out a successful weight reduction for its 275ml bottle, reducing it by 20g. The result was a saving of 4,000 tons of glass per year.

What’s next?

The blogs that I will post over the next few weeks are my explanation in simple terms of what IPS is, how it is measured and thoughts on different ways that things could be measured more effectively to push efficiencies in bottling applications.