At the last Swiss Packaging Awards, we won the packaging award with the new smartSlide closure in the “Technology” category. However, it was a long and sometimes difficult path before we could finally call the beautiful trophy our own.
If we take a look at the packaging market, we soon see that only few market launches are true innovations. New forms and colours, new designs or also just new names are launched frequently. Occasionally, someone tries something completely new, however, this does not always achieve the desired success. Things often turn out better with systems that are already well developed. And, just between ourselves: every time we have a new type of packaging, we don’t want to have to learn how to actually get to the product all over again.
Ideas with added value
Nevertheless, in packaging development, we have to continue to look for new ideas that offer real added value for the consumer. In 2009, we asked a group of students from Stuttgart University to create designs for “Duschverpackung 2020”, the revolutionary new packing for shower gel. We were particularly impressed with the idea for a sliding closure. There had never been anything like that before. The students’ sketch was very simple. However, we immediately saw that the technical implementation would present a real challenge. How could the system be sealed? How could we ensure that it would be intuitive to use? And how could we keep within the tight budget requirements?
The prototype is a result of intensive development work
First of all, a suitable supplier had to be found who was interested in this exciting idea and who also had the technical expertise to turn it into reality, as well as the inventive ambition. This took some time. In 2011, together with Inotech, we entered into an intensive development phase that resulted in the prototype tools and a joint patent. Based on the prototypes, we optimised functionality before performing a usability test. Of course, we’d already tried it out ourselves, but unbiased opinions are crucial. The result was very satisfactory. We already had all named critical issues on our optimisation list and participants were impressed with the concept. The advantages of real one-handed operation and the fact that the packaging can be stood upside-down were well received in the test. The prototype was named “SmartSlide” and, in this still not quite fully fledged state, we entered it for the Swiss Packaging Award 2016 and succeeded in impressing the jury.
Fine adjustments before market launch
You might ask why smartSlide isn’t on the market yet. Launching such an innovative closure on the market requires courage and the willingness to take risks and to invest. Investments have to be made in new tools that, in turn, only pay off with a correspondingly high annual volume. As Mibelle Group development is conducted with its customers in mind, we wanted to fine-tune the product with a customer in order to meet the latter’s requirements in full.
Once again, this example shows the willingness of the Mibelle Group to invest in long-term, innovative ideas. However, innovation processes are characterised by an endless number of new approaches and attempts. And not every good idea is commercially successful straight away.
However, we shall continue to search for new ideas. After all, nothing ventured, nothing gained.