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Ensis invention to reduce export product damage

3 April, 2006

Ensis invention to reduce export product damage

A new invention by Ensis to measure the stiffness of corrugated boxes will help exporters reduce the risk of product damage through faulty boxes.

The instrument, a "Dynamic Stiffness Tester" or DST, can be used by corrugated board manufacturers to monitor and minimise poor manufacturing performance to avoid damage that occurs during the manufacturing process.

Ensis is a joint venture between New Zealand Crown Research Institute Scion in Rotorua and Australia's CSIRO to enhance the breadth, depth and scale of research capabilities in both countries.

Speaking at a major Australasian Pulp and Paper conference in Melbourne, Ensis Papro Senior Scientist Ian Chalmers says the strength of corrugated boxes can be deduced from stiffness that is a good indicator of their general performance.

"Corrugated boxes are widely used in the packaging industry to move foodstuffs and hardware from the manufacturer to the market. In New Zealand special requirements are needed to export horticultural products like apples and Kiwifruit to Northern hemisphere markets.

"Corrugated boxes are the preferred packaging medium but often need to be over specified to make up for deficiencies in the box manufacturing process. By providing a reliable quantification of board quality, shear stiffness measurements will reduce these deficiencies.

"Until now, there has been no easy way of measuring the shear stiffness of corrugated board, and therefore no consistent way of telling how it is likely to perform on an everyday basis.

"The invention came about after Ensis was asked what was available in the New Zealand marketplace to test this property of corrugated board, and we realised there was nothing available to do the job."

Ian Chalmers says the DST works by oscillating or vibrating a sample of board to measure its torsional stiffness.

"The instrument requires only a small sample cut from the board or box, which is then placed in the DST. Ten seconds and four oscillations later, an accurate result for stiffness is produced.

"The instrument's ability to measure damage to corrugated boxes has been shown to be quick, reliable and repeatable," says Mr Chalmers.

He says experienced use of the DST will allow grammage reductions without reduced performance in corrugated board or boxes.

"There is clearly a market for the new device, which is exciting. We have already received orders from local corrugated board manufacturers and also envisage marketing it offshore through an international licensee.

"We are confident we have developed a product, with its own unique IP, that will maximise the efficiency of corrugated board and boxes, and therefore be beneficial to the industry," says Mr Chalmers.

The project is part of the wider Smart Packaging research program at Ensis Papro aimed at developing innovative technologies to enhance the function, performance and cost-competitiveness of paperboard packaging.


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