The Innovation Lab will enable the company to test its new packaging solutions to overcome the challenges of supply chain handling


The Innovation Lab in Heywood, near Manchester in England. (Credit: Macfarlane Group UK Ltd)

UK-based protective packaging distributor Macfarlane Packaging has inaugurated its second packaging Innovation Lab at its flagship Northwest Regional Distribution Centre in Heywood, near Manchester in England.

Built with an investment of £1.3m ($1.61m), the 5,000ft² customer facility will create solutions that overcome the demanding packaging challenges.

The Innovation Lab will also enable the company to test its new packaging solutions to overcome the challenges of supply chain handling.

Macfarlane Packaging’s design head Richard Garratt said: “Ongoing investment in our Innovation Labs allows us to push forward with the latest tools and technology to deliver creative solutions that reduce cost, improve sustainability and enhance customer experience.

“The new centre offers market-leading testing capability, including technical offerings with ISTA testing, load containment and climatic conditioning, all accessible remotely through an advanced video conferencing system that connects our UK and European operations together.”

According to the protective packaging distributor, the Manchester site has a Packaging Optimiser software to lower the total cost and measure the CO2 equivalent impact of packaging.

The lab has a network handling simulator that evaluates packaging solutions as per the International Safe Transport Association standards.

It also includes an atmospheric conditioning chamber that offers precise temperature and humidity testing for various uses.

Additionally, the Innovation Lab supports full design, digital print and Computer Assisted Design (CAD) prototyping for making same-day packaging samples.

Other features include stretch wrapping and pallet load containment testing, a packaging automation showroom for new packaging machinery and a HoloLens mixed reality headset and augmented reality design tools.

Macfarlane Packaging national account director Rachel Fellows said: “Our Northwest Innovation Lab is uniquely equipped to help us do that and I am confident that it will be an asset for our customers – existing and new – as we work together to ensure their products are effectively and efficiently protected on their route to market.”

The company’s Innovation Lab in Heywood builds on the success of its first facility located in Milton Keynes, Buckinghamshire. The first facility was opened in 2016.