Smartphones – Brand & Packaging Opportunities

Posted in Associations, Branding, Design, Events, Innovation, Marketing, Materials, Technology, Uncategorized on March 25th, 2013 by Chris Penfold – 12 Comments

smartphonesIf you enjoyed the recent Pack To The Future (#PTTF3) event, you will undoubtedly love this one too. Brian Weeks of Interactive Product Solutions, who spoke at PTTF3 on ‘Printed Electronics in Packaging’, is running a similar event in London that I believe will appeal to you.

Event details:
The theme is ‘Game Changing Developments for Brands and Packaging based on Smart Phones’ & will focus on commercial realities in relation to the impact of smart phones on specific business areas.

Session is designed to be highly interactive and they are operated as ‘working group sessions’ to stimulate discussion and action.

The day will conclude with a facilitated discussion for about 1 hour when we review the presentations and points raised and debate the commercial implications.

Mobiles are changing the game for:

  • Brands
  • Retailers
  • Packaging converters
  • Security solutions providers

Fact: More than half of mobile phones being used now are Smart Phones – 130 million+ of them are being used in Europe today and the number is continuing to grow rapidly month on month.

This means major interactive opportunities for Brands, their suppliers and solution providers in:
Marketing Communications – Mobile Marketing & Promotions
Product Promotion & Authentication in the hands of consumers.

This new world presents many questions & challenges:
Do you understand how these solutions might work for you or your customers?
Can you afford to ignore the activity & innovation going on in the smart phone-enabled mobile marketing / promotion area?
Has ‘easy’ Product Authentication been on your wish list?

The aim is to enable participants, from across the value chain, to explore how they may exploit new technologies for their companies benefit.

We believe significant opportunities exist for companies, who may have traditionally focused on limited media channels to communicate with their customer, to not only broaden their approach but also use their packaging to maximum effect.

Speakers will include:
1. Introductory session by Brian Weeks of Interactive Product Solutions
‘Bringing Products & Packs into the Digital Space using Touch Transfer Technology’

2. Andrew McPhee of Obvious Engine who deliver technology & products that make the space and objects around you come alive, bridging the online to offline gap for Product Makers, Retailers, Games – Companies and Brands
‘Augmented Reality and the Interactive Product Experience’

3. Christian Guichard of Authentication Industries whose unique tailored solutions for Brand owners deter counterfeit products through a mix of encrypted data and printing techniques -
‘Innovative Approaches to Product Authentication’

4. Glenn Needham of Near Field Solutions will answer the question about how NFC will establish itself for focused Consumer interaction -
‘NFC Product Authentication’

5. Jeremy Plimmer of Product & Image Security Foundation
will present an overview of smart phone enabled product authentication solutions emerging in the marketplace –
‘Smart Phone enabled Solutions for Consumer Authentication & Supply Chain Management’

6. James Bevan of Vandagraf International will present an overview of market sizing and forecasts in the mobile world –
‘Existing Markets & Emerging Opportunities for Smart Phone Enabled Authentication & Brand Promotion’

Some other players invited to participate include: Alpvision, AuthenticateIT, Digimarc, Gentag, Graphic Security Systems Corp, i-movo, Inksure, Popimscode, Printechnologies, Schreiner Etiketten, tesa Schribos, Yottamark and others – Attendance to be confirmed.

For the agenda or more information on the Session, (which is open to non-members and can be attended purely on a single Session basis – you don’t have to be a full member of the Programme to attend) go to the Session webpage

The final Agenda and Session Welcome Pack will be sent out about 1 week prior to the Session.
Numbers are limited to 30 and the fee for attendance(£120 + VAT) can be paid by Purchase Order/BACS or by credit card.

When: 16th April 2013  – 10.00am for a 10.30am start (coffee from 10.00) and finishes at about 16.00.
Lunch is included.

Where: Institute of Materials, Mining & Minerals (IOM3) Head Office, Carlton Terrace in Central London.

If YOU or any of your friends or colleagues would like to come, please ask them to REGISTER BY email to Brian Weeks via: .

Hope you can make it!

Student Starpack Awards – open for entry

Posted in Academia, Associations, Awards, Branding, Design, Events, Innovation on November 23rd, 2011 by Chris Penfold – 11 Comments

The Student Starpack Packaging Design Awards are open for entry. Rachel Brooks explains the briefs on offer for 2012, and catches up on developments within the Starpack Advisory Board.

Student Starpack 'Best in Show 2011'

Student Starpack 'Best in Show 2011'

The Student Starpack Awards challenge students to solve problems set by brand-leading FMCG companies, design agencies and manufacturers, and win recognition of their excellence. Designed to encourage students to take up a career in consumer packaging design, they are the only awards in the UK aimed exclusively at providing a platform for new talent emerging from universities, colleges and schools……

Check out further info at The Packaging Society site:

Student Starpack Awards – further information

Have you recently developed packaging that is worthy of an award?

Posted in Associations, Awards, Design, Events, Innovation, Product News on June 10th, 2010 by Chris Penfold – 16 Comments
Starpack packaging awards logo

Starpack packaging awards 2010

If you’ve got a recently launched product that displays some unusual, differentiated, innovative or unusual packaging – or just looks really ‘cool’ – why not enter it into the Starpack Awards?

The Starpack Industry Awards are the pre-eminent UK awards scheme for packaging design and innovation. The Starpack Awards have been recognising innovative packaging design and technology since 1960. That makes 2010 Starpack’s 51st year!

This year’s categories have been chosen to reflect key areas of packaging applications and packaging development.

The closing date for entries is 25 June 2010.

Design Cognition are proud to support this great initiative which is designed to promote innovation in the industry. If you’ve got a great idea but don’t know what to do with it – why not give us a call, to review your options.

You can find out more about The Starpack Industry Awards and get an application form, by following this link to the IOM3 website. GO FOR IT!!

Pharmaceutical packaging – celebration of success – foundation for the future

Posted in Associations, Design, Government, Healthcare & Pharma, Legal, Machinery, Materials, Opinion, Safety, Uncategorized, cost-optimisation on March 11th, 2010 by Chris Penfold – 11 Comments
Blister Packaging

Blister Packaging

The following article is one that I’ve recently written for the Packaging Professional magazine, which details a fascinating 25 year transformation in the way we work and do business in the pharmaceutical packaging industry. Over that period the industry itself has undergone huge change and with recent economic pressures and the rise of generic competition is likely to continue unabated.

Back in the 1980’s, before the days of email and the internet, working in packaging could sometimes be a lonely business, especially in an area like pharmaceuticals where regulatory requirements, standards and process were constantly being updated as authorities, such as the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the UK Medicines Control Agency (MCA), evolved  increasing powers and rules. A situation where ‘fit for purpose’ packaging could be a matter of life and death.

Pharma companies are strictly regulated and need to work to tight and common standards and most companies were running similar, machinery, quality systems and packaging materials. So learnings from one company could greatly help another and save having to ‘reinvent the wheel’. It was also important for the industry to provide a collective view to positively influence proposed legislation and regulations, with a common and pragmatic ‘voice’.

So back in 1984, the ‘seed’ of an idea for a group was ‘sown’ by Alan Haskins of Roussel Laboratories and Roy Gray of ICI Pharmaceuticals, after Roy’s boss had visited the USA and seen a successful American group working in the same sector. This was a defining moment and the group would not have happened without their collective vision and proactive approach. The first Pharmaceutical Common Interest Group (PCIG) meeting took place on 16th October 1984 at Sysonby Lodge, which was the head office of The Institute of Packaging (IOP) at the time). The meeting was chaired by Alan Haskins, with Roy Gray as Secretary and an attendance of 18 people from 15 pharmaceutical companies from across the industry. There were 37 questions raised & discussed at that meeting on a range of topics, including: a New British Standard for aluminium flexible tubes, label adhesives, Tamper Evidence and EAN bar codes – themes that would arise again and again over the years.

It was agreed that there would be three meetings per year and venues would rotate across the various company sites, but over the years most were actually hosted by the IOP.

One of the original members, Mike Shorten, who worked for Boots Pharmaceuticals at the time and is now retired, recalls:

“The PCIG soon became my most important network. Forty pharmaceutical practitioners across all sectors of the industry provided a powerful resource that could offer practical experience about most issues and without any consultants’ fees! A great strength of the group was the willingness of its members to talk openly about issues and share best practice and then to collectively influence new regulations and standards”

How the CIG has changed over the years

I have myself have been a member of the group for over 18 years (since 1991) and over that time can recall a great deal of camaraderie, focused help for each other and pragmatism having helped us all deal with issues as diverse as use of high barrier blister materials, bar coding issues and leeching of preservative through polyethylene bottles.

As issues became apparent, some common themes evolved and a number of dedicated ‘sub groups’ were set up to focus on specific topics. Four of these were Working Groups for Digital Artwork & Reprographics (DAR), Validation, Child Resistance and Quality Standards. The DAR subgroup was set up at a time when ‘desktop publishing’ was a buzz word being used as artwork generation moved from ‘old fashioned’ layout board, to a digitised computerised system.  At the time there was no common standard. There was a range of hardware (PC & Mac based), a number of operating systems, and various artwork creative software packages on each platform. The ease by which artwork could be generated and manipulated raised its own issues in terms of artwork version control and (in the early days) data going ‘missing’ sometimes between approval and print – which had the potential to cause a catastrophic result. So the group played a critical role in sharing ‘best practice’ and setting appropriate standards.

The Validation subgroup was formed in 1992, the founding Chairman being Mike Harwood of The Wellcome Foundation, Dartford. A subsequent Chairman (1993-98) John Cooper (of Pfizer at the time) recalls “The original intent was to develop a set of guidelines for validating pharmaceutical packaging equipment and then issue to IOP members, but as the guideline developed and the information was shared informally with machine manufacturers it became obvious that it would be of a wider benefit to publish a ‘book’. As I was a member both of the PCIG and Institute of Quality Assurance Pharma Quality Group (IQA PQG), I suggested that this was published jointly as a monograph in the series which was already established by the PQG. The monograph was published in 1998 and launched at a joint meeting of PCIG and PQG at the Royal Pharmaceutical Society in Lambeth with over 200 people in attendance, including the MCA Head of Inspection and Enforcement, Gordon Munro!” That was another defining moment in the ‘life’ of the PCIG and evidence of the esteem with which the group was held within the pharmaceutical industry. The third edition of that monograph is presently due for print.

It was not uncommon in the early days for PCIG meeting attendance to be around 35-40 people, with standing room only. Questions would be collated by the Secretary and shared at each meeting. It would sometimes take 3 or 4 hours to go through them all, one-by-one. As the years have gone by and we have moved in to a digital age, email has enabled members to converse more easily and questions can be asked and answered sometimes within minutes. So the focus and frequency of face-to-face meetings changed to providing more of an opportunity for discussing in more depth, processes, procedures, technology and impending legislation, and to keep in touch with old colleagues and friends. Together with the myriad of mergers among the pharma companies, this has meant attendances have dropped.

Where we are going with it in future
The PCIG (now called the Pharmaceutical Packaging Forum – PPF) is still active, with a core of ‘stalwart’ members and a new voluntary Secretary, David Pethick, former Director of Packaging Development at GSK. David is upbeat about future for the group and says “the pharma landscape, increasing demands and changing regulations on packaging present as much, if not more of, a challenge as when the PCIG was first established. I see both a need and role for a vibrant PCIG to help the pharma packaging professional meet those challenges, whether that be from simply providing networking among its members, to wider influencing, technical leadership, training needs or whatever”.

Pharma packaging legislation/regulation has changed enormously, and the Society recently received an enquiry about training courses on this. Feedback from PCIG members showed a high level of similar interest. Whether or not such a course could be developed is still a work in progress, but both David (for PPF) and Ian Morris, Training Manager at IOM3, would be interested in readers’ feedback.

Ultimately, the future and utility of PCIG, as over its past history, is reliant on the members who actively value and contribute to it.

Chris Penfold

If you work in Pharma and are interested in knowing more or in joining the PPF group, you can contact David Pethick (the Secretary) at dppk@btinternet .

On my own part (Chris), as well as continuing to be an active member of the PPF and a consultant, I am also the External Relations Officer of the East Midlands Packaging Society, for which you can find more information at: East Midlands Packaging Society.

You can find more help and advice on various aspects of pharmaceutical packaging at our sister site: The Pharma Gateway

Brewing & beer packaging – gets the ‘thumbs up’

Posted in Associations, Branding, Drinks Packaging, Events, Marketing, Opinion, Training on January 25th, 2010 by Chris Penfold – 13 Comments

On the 9th December 30 members of The East Midlands Packaging Society (me being one of them) visited The Marston’s Brewery at Burton Upon Trent, UK. The Marston’s Beer Company is the brewing division of Marston’s PLC and is responsible for some of Britain’s best-loved beers, including Marston’s, Banks’s, Jennings, Hobgoblin, Mansfield and Ringwood. Their award-winning ales collected five international brewing medals at the Millennium International Brewing Awards.

We had a great and insightful visit – shame if you missed it. If you live within travelling disctance of Nottingham/ East Midlands, why not come along to one of our future events?

You can read the full ‘visit report’ and find out more about the forthcoming East Midlands Packaging Society events by clicking the following link: Marston’s Brewery East Midlands Packaging Society Visit Report

Chris Penfold

External Relations Officer, East Midlands Packaging Society (part of IOM3)

The enigma of packaging innovation

Posted in Associations, Branding, Cosmetics & Toiletries, Design, Drinks Packaging, Food Packaging, Gift Packaging, Healthcare & Pharma, Innovation, Opinion, Technology on January 7th, 2010 by Chris Penfold – 11 Comments

“Innovation is the key to our industry breaking out of recession, says Keith Barnes, chairman of IoP: The Packaging Society”, a subject that is ‘dear to my heart’. There is much rhetoric spouted from many quarters (not just the packaging industry for that matter) who only pay ‘lip service’ to innovation. In these recessionary times it is sad to see that true ‘innovation’ either ‘thrown out of the window’  totally or is put ‘on the back burner’ in anticipation of ’sunnier days’. Luckily some companies have had the foresight to see beyond the present ‘mire’ and are using innovation (in product developments, processes and the way they think) to position themselves and their brands in such a way that they will be ‘ahead of the pack’ when the economic climate has improved. Indeed, at Design Cognition, we are lucky enough to be working with some of these forward-thinking companies and I ‘tip my hat’ to them. If you’d like further information on particular areas of innovation and how Design Cognition can help, you can find out more and contact us here: Design Cognition Innovation

Chris Penfold

In his article, Keith says “Despite being the world’s third largest industry, packaging is still sadly perceived by the vast majority of people as  cardboard boxes and wrapping paper. As chairman of The Packaging Society, and with the industry’s support, I am determined to change this image. With the best will in the world, this will not happen overnight. What’s more, the task is going to be made increasingly difficult by so many companies and individuals focusing on their survival in the current economic climate.”

Sourced from Packaging News 6th January 2010, Keith Barnes

You can read the full article here: The enigma of  packaging innovation

Chartered Environmentalist + WRAP Technical Advisors x 2 = Good News

Posted in Associations, Awards, Design, Design Cognition News, Drinks Packaging, Environmental Issues, Food Packaging, Gift Packaging, Healthcare & Pharma, Opinion, Recycling, cost-optimisation on December 14th, 2009 by Chris Penfold – 17 Comments

Just a quick note to confirm that both Annie and myself have been honoured with the title of Chartered Environmentalist (CEnv) by the Society for the Environment, through our membership of the Institute of Materials, Minerals & Mining (IOM3) and because of our life-long commitment to developing sustainable packaging solutions in our day-to-day projects. It’s nice to have it recognised and, by implication, recognition of the fact that packaging actually provides a beneficial (environmental) role in society.

This also sits nicely with our appointment last year as Technical Advisors to WRAP (the UK government-run Waste Resources & Action Programme) in ‘Waste Minimisation – Packaging Product Waste’. I feel that a key component of this has been our understanding of the requirements of present environmental legislation, in particular the Producer Responsibility Obligations (Packaging waste) and Packaging (Essential Requirements) Regulations, which have been key in a number of recent environmental & sustainability assessments

‘Sustainable development’ to me is all about taking a ‘helicopter’ view of any product development to understand:

  • environmental impacts throughout the whole supply chain (from raw material extraction, through use & disposal, to reuse and recovery) whilst
  • attempting to meet consumer convenience needs,
  • BUT minimising the overall environmental impact through intelligent design of pack (primary, secondary & tertiary), using the optimum material specifications & most economical footprint possible.

I believe that key to our CEnv award was our continued application of the principles of sustainable environmental management and development in our work. Over my 30 year career ‘the environment’ has become ever-more prominent on everybody’s agenda, evolving from the early days of the ‘Topfer Decree’ to the more recent ‘Plan A’. We have endeavoured throughout to apply the principles of sustainable environmental management and development in all of our work as ‘environmental packaging champions’:

  • Acting as an internal consultants for marketers & other business stakeholders – advising on ‘fitness for purpose’ and ‘environmental best-practice’.
  • Highlighting issues with existing packaging to our work colleagues
  • Applying ‘sustainable principles in the hundreds of packaging developments on which We’ve worked

Moving forwards, I pledge that Design Cognition will continue applying the principles of sustainable development and environmental responsibility in all of our work. As CEO of a company that not only develops packaging but also acts in a consultancy capacity (advising on packaging ‘sustainability’ & ‘the environment’) I carry the mantle with a great deal of pride and self-fulfilment – enjoying making a ‘real difference’ in the world.

  • Our initial discussions with clients always encompass sustainable aspects – and that will continue
  • One of our ‘values’ (shown on our website) is to be ‘environmentally aware’:
  • “bearing in mind our impact on the environment and eco-systems in all that we develop and in our day-to-day business”
  • Through this ethos I will encourage all in Design Cognition to ‘live’ our environmental policy as a holistic approach to encompass not only work we do for clients but also in our day-to-day business activities.

We look forward to working with you :-)


Global experts meet this week to develop environmental standards

Posted in Associations, Business News, Environmental Issues, Government, Recycling, Tweets on December 10th, 2009 by Chris Penfold – 8 Comments

Stockholm, Sweden — Experts from 15 countries are meeting this week to begin developing standards to cover environmental issues related to packaging such as reuse, recycling and composting.

recyclingAbout 70 delegates from China, Japan, Korea, the United States and 11 European countries are meeting in Sweden for the first gathering for the SC4 Packaging and Environment committee.

Published on 12th Dec 2009 and brought to our attention by our Twitter friend @packagindiva – thanks JoAnn! It would be good to get some consistency in this area. Well overdue. What to you think? Chris

The full article can be read here:

Visit to Marston’s Brewery Burton on Trent. 9th December 2009 7.00pm

Posted in Associations, Drinks Packaging, Events, Training, Uncategorized on December 2nd, 2009 by Chris Penfold – 16 Comments

09 12 02 East Mids Pack Soc logo NEW Official Factory Tour and Buffet, 7pm start

Why not come and spend an informal evening with the

East Midlands Packaging Society

- people that know how to organise a p*** up in a brewery!


The tour will last approximately 3 hours

& includes a fully guided tour of the Victorian Brewhouse,

Fantastic beer! Why not come & try one?

Fantastic beer! Why not come & try one?

Burton Union Systems and the Bottling Plant,

plus a great opportunity to sample 4 x half pints of their

superb ales (soft drinks also available) & opportunity to purchase Marstons merchandise.

Cost of tour inc refreshments £10 per head.

Marston’s Brewery, The Brewery, Shobnall Road,

Burton-on-Trent DE14 2BW (get directions here)

For further details please contact David Smalley:

0115 847 7007,

More details about EMPkgS events can be found at

Unilever joins P&G in rejecting BRC logo scheme

Posted in Associations, Design, Environmental Issues, Recycling on November 20th, 2009 by Jane Bear – 8 Comments

That’s another of the ‘big boys’ out.  I really hope that it might prompt a re-think of the BRC scheme.  I believe there is a lot of value to the scheme it’s self, but it needs a bit of fine tuning if it’s to gain credibility with the larger multi-national brands (Jane)

Unilever has told Packaging News that it will not be signing up to the British Retail Consortium’s on-pack recycling logo, following the news that its FMCG rival Procter & Gamble ruled out joining the scheme.

via Unilever joins P&G in rejecting BRC logo scheme |