Marriage of convenience
impressive innovations FROM 2011
Packaging materials and equipment expected to impact the market. 29
elements merge in
functional design 22
frozen bonanza 26
Tray lids a
perfect fit 36
Plantation brand sugar from U.S. Sugar Co., is the first
product to be packaged in the new carton.
Zipbox, a new carton technology that consists
of a poly-coated paperboard carton incorporating an integral plastic header with an attached
zipper, could revolutionize consumer cartoning.
Jack Mans, Plant Operations Editor
A new carton technology could be
opening new marketing vistas for U.S.
Sugar Corp. It is the first company in
the world to market its product in a
revolutionary new cartoning concept
that integrates a poly-coated paperboard
carton with an attached flexible film
header containing a zipper. Zipbox is a
joint venture between T.H.E.M. and the
Zip-Pak division of Illinois Tool Works
An innovative package format that
combines the stability of a carton with
the convenience of a resealable flexible
package, Zipbox facilitates direct-filling of
products without needing an inner liner.
T.H.E.M. (Technical Help in
Engineering and Marketing) is the
primary inventor of Zipbox. ITW is
the worldwide licensee and commercial
interface to brand owners and converters.
Plantation brand sugar is first
The first product to be packaged in the
new carton is Plantation brand sugar from
U.S. Sugar Co., but the Zipbox is suitable
for a variety of consumer applications,
including cereals, snacks, cookies,
frozen foods, pet foods and
powdered laundry detergents. In
fact, anything that can be packed
today in a carton with a liner,
pouch or canister is a candidate for
Among the many features of the
new Zipbox is a DoubleZip pressto-close zipper on top that allows for
easy opening and closing. An airtight
seal configuration on the package
bottom eliminates the need for an
additional liner to maintain product
freshness. The zippered pouch folds
down before filling for efficient
sealing and shipping and is easily
opened when the top flaps are lifted
up by the consumer.
According to Neil Kozarsky,
president and CEO of T.H.E.M.,
the liner-less design provides for
a minimum of 10 to 40 percent
additional content, and/or source
Zipper and film are on rolls on the
front of the assembly machine (top). It
attaches the zipper to the film (bottom
left) and then attaches the plastic
header to the carton. (bottom right).
through directional and tensioning rollers
insights, product shelf-life and
as it enters the machine and is then folded
to form a “C” shape with the trough of
“Bringing a brand new
the “C” facing upward. The zipper is
package format to market can be
challenging for brand managers,” pulled directly into the machine and is
inserted down into the trough in the film,
Kozarsky says. “As we learned
which is heat sealed above it.
with our stick pack business, by
The film then passes over a right-angle
enabling short-run production,
plough so it is traveling beside the cartons.
we can provide guidance
Ploughs open the sides of the film and
to companies who want to
rollers fold it over the edges of the carton,
implement the Zipbox, allowing
after which heated bars come together
them to conduct research and
and heat seal the film to the cartons.
bring it to market faster.”
Registration marks on the film regulate
T.H.E.M. has a fully
Ultrasonic units seal the film between the cartons, and a
the film travel so it is always perfectly
guillotine cutter descends to cut the cartons apart.
aligned with the cartons.
center located at its Marlton,
reduction, when compared to traditional
Ultrasonic units seal the film between the
NJ, headquarters, with pilot
bag-in-box packaging and 40 to 60 percent production to scale up capabilities.
cartons, and a guillotine cutter descends to
better cube-out on pallets. In fact, he says
Frank Kelly, business manager of Zipbox cut the film, producing Zipbox blanks. The
that the Zipbox’s rectangular footprint
Zipbox blanks discharge onto each other on
for ITW, says, “The Zipbox concept has
offers better space efficiency than standa conveyor that gives a speed blip every 20
generated considerable excitement from
up pouches and canisters all the way from
cartons to separate the stacks into groups.
CPGs and consumers as an intuitive,
manufacture to retailer shelves.
easy-to-use carton unlike any
William McDaniel, president and CEO package style on store shelves
of U.S Sugar Corp., says, “My customers
today. Demonstrating the
are always looking for new packaging
ability to produce Zipbox
ideas, and there has not been a lot of
on a broad scale is the next
innovation in the sugar category for a
step in revolutionizing the
number of years. I like the idea that the
way products are brought to
Zipbox offers the best qualities of cartons
and resealable pouches.”
Producing the Zipbox
According to McDaniel, the Plantation
The Zipbox cartons are
line extension offers some key potential
produced on a Model MP2
benefits for U.S. Sugar. “It will address a
Assembly Machine from Zipnumber of issues that retailers have with
pouches throughout distribution. First of all, Pak Systems. This is the same
machine that is used to apply
it’s unique; it will stand out on the shelf in
comparison to the traditional packages. The zippers to flexible bags.
In this operation, folded
Zipbox merchandises well on shelf; it is very
cartons, which are supplied by
stable and secure.
Malnove Inc., are fed from a Zipbox cartons are placed in a magazine with the zipper
“It is priced competitively with the
section facing upward. The cartons are filled through the
magazine at the inlet end of
traditional offerings, particularly when
bottom, so the cartons are rotated 180 deg and are placed in
the machine onto a vacuum
you consider total distribution and
the carrier with the tops facing downward.
conveyor that transports them
logistics costs. To emphasize the last
through the machine. The
point, cost is very, very important. Our
vacuum helps maintain the
analysis on a total system basis resulted in
spacing between the cartons,
us moving forward with the Zipbox.”
which is critical, and top belts
McDaniel continues, “We are in the
travel simultaneously with the
early testing stages with key retailers. If
cartons to help maintain exact
our activities with the [Zipbox] raw sugar
control and spacing, which is
product are promising, we plan to expand
¾ in. in this case.
to a complete line of sugars. In fact, we
Zipper and film are on rolls
think retailers will almost require it.”
on the front of the machine.
To facilitate implementation of this new
The zippers are DoubleZip
packaging concept, T.H.E.M. installed
zipper profile from Zip-Pak
a short-run demonstration packaging
and the high-barrier EVOH/
line at its headquarters in Marlton, NJ.
PC/PE coextruded film is
This enabled consumer-packaged goods
Fingers on the two sides of the chain squeeze open the
supplied by Curwood Inc.
companies (CPGs), like U.S. Sugar, to
carton, after which hot-melt glue is applied to the two ends of
the plastic header.
The flat film is pulled
source filled Zipbox packages for consumer
The cartons are filled through their bottom
ends by an auger filler that uses a race-track
arrangement of 10 funnels that travel above
the cartons during filling.
Carton erecting, filling and
Carton erecting, filling and sealing is
done on a system designed and built by
Yeaman Machine Technologies. In this
process, the Zipbox cartons are placed
in a magazine with the zipper section
facing upward. Suction cups on a rotating
arm pick individual cartons out of the
magazine and travel in a circular path to
place the cartons into the lug chain of the
The cartons are filled through the
bottom, so the arm rotates the cartons
180 deg during the transfer, so that they
are placed in the carrier with the zipper
tops on the bottom and the open carton
bottoms facing upward.
According to Bill Yeaman, president of
Yeaman Machine Technologies, handling
cartons with the zipper attached is what
separates this operation from standard
cartoning operations. “We had a lot of
trials and challenges before we finalized the
system to properly seal the cartons,” he says.
The box must have side gussets so that
the film headers will take shape properly
when the carton is erected. To erect
properly, the plastic headers have to be
partially folded in the same direction as
they enter the lug chain, so the cartons
travel past an upward sloping steel plate
that pushes them all backward as they
enter the chain.
Fingers on the two sides of the chain
then come together to squeeze open the
carton. Next, hot-melt glue is applied to
the two ends of the plastic header, after
which lugs rise and fold the plastic up
onto the two end panels of the carton.
The next difficulty was that the folded
plastic end flaps would pull loose before
the glue set. To solve this, Yeaman installed
metal brackets that slide down on each
side of the carton to hold the end flaps in
place. They rise to allow the cartons to be
transferred to the filling section.
Yeaman is designing a different style
carton erector that uses a horizontal ram to
form the carton and Hartness Intl. Inc.,
which is a sister company to Zip-Pak, is also
working on a proprietary carton erector for
use with the Zipbox.
The formed cartons make a rightangle transfer into the carrier chain that
transports them through the filler. The
sugar is filled by an auger filler from
All-Fill Inc. The filler uses a race-track
arrangement of 10 funnels that travel above
the cartons during the filling process. In
this operation, the cartons are upside down
and are filled through their bottoms.
After filling, the cartons are transported
through the sealing zone of the cartoner.
During Packaging Digest’s visit, T.H.E.M.
was gluing the sift-proof bottoms with
hot-melt glue. The gluing system can be
replaced with a heat-sealing system if the
customer prefers that bottom.
The entire ZipBox production line
is being moved to the Power Packaging
contract packaging plant in Batavia, IL in
January 2012. Production for U.S Sugar
and future production of other products
will be done there. Power Packaging, an
Exel company, is the nation’s largest contract
manufacturer of consumer packaged goods.
According to Jim Ellis, senior director of
sales and marketing, Power Packaging has
partnered with T.H.E.M. on projects for
years and was involved from the beginning
with the Zipbox project. Ellis says, “Zipbox
is an exciting first-to-world innovation
that solves unmet consumer needs, meets
CPG manufacturer and retailer green
initiatives, and provides a unique branding
opportunity for multi-serve products.
“Generally, new packages resonate with
some groups and not with others. Zipbox
is highly intuitive and tested equally well
across all demographics in focus groups.
CPGs and retailers are no different—
everyone is interested in Zipbox.”
0 More information is available:
All-Fill Inc., 610-524-7350.
Curwood Inc., 920-527-7300.
Hartness Intl. Inc., 800-845-8791.
Malnove Inc., 402-330-1100.
Power Packaging, 630-377-3838.
Yeaman Machine Technologies,
Zip-Pak, Div. of Illinois Tool Works Inc.,
Zip-Pak Systems, 770-921-1777.
Reprinted with permission from PACKAGING DIGEST, January 2012. On the web at www.packagingdigest.com.
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