Technology & innovation

Excellence – Engineered. Solutions – Delivered.

Our innovation capabilities enable us to address multiple customer needs and to respond to fast-changing consumer trends. We draw on the unmatched flexibility of our system to create modular solutions which give customers the optionality they need. We spend approximately 3% of sales on R&D and, in addition to the significant proprietary know-how in our solutions, our innovations are patent-protected.

lab technician

Our unique technology

The unique advantages of the SIG offer lie in our proprietary filling technology and sleeve-based system. We offer a range of packaging formats, volumes and opening solutions, providing our customers with more than 270 packaging options. Our customers fill more than 10,000 food and beverage products into our packs. The flexibility of our system limits change-over downtime and results in better asset utilisation for many customers. As well as a high level of reliability, our system offers low waste rates for both the packaging and the finished product.

our promise chart

Product innovation and differentiation

Product and packaging solutions

Our philosophy of packaging innovation starts with the consumer. We conduct ethnographic research using industry-specific methodologies to capture a multitude of articulated and unarticulated consumer needs. We work with leading experts to develop comprehensive concepts and solutions which we then test with consumers to see how they select, transport, use and dispose of the package.

To bring new packaging solutions to the market, we work in close collaboration with our customers. For example, combiblocXSlim was developed to provide small packages in a range of nine different sizes ranging from 80ml to 200ml. The packages are produced on a high-speed filling machine running at 24,000 packs per hour and capable of handling regular, high viscous and particulate product recipes. There is also an aluminium-free package option.

We collaborate closely with our customers to support them with the development and implementation of new product concepts. Brands are increasingly seeking to premiumise their products to meet consumer lifestyle aspirations. Consumer behaviour is shifting in favour of convenience and on-the-go consumption, with a trend towards snacking and a blurring of the boundary between food and beverage. Our drinksplus technology allows fruits, nuts and cereals to be incorporated into yoghurt-based products or drinks and can easily be added to a customer’s existing filling machines.

Recent launches

In 2019 we saw recent breakthrough innovations such as combismile, Heat&Go and SIGNATURE PACK scale up and rapidly gain market traction. combismile, launched in China at the end of 2017, is driving our presence in key growth categories. combismile is a new generation of on-the-go packaging to help producers meet the growing consumer demand for mobile, healthy and individual food and beverage experiences. It is now being rolled out beyond the Asia Pacific region, with launches in the USA and South Africa in 2019.

We also introduced multiple new products in 2019. The launch of combistyle is a proof point for SIG’s core strength of flexibility. This new format can be filled on existing filling machines which are already producing standard combiblocMidi and combifitMidi shapes. This means that customers can fill three different carton formats on one line, optimising their asset utilisation. From a consumer perspective, combistyle has a distinctively shaped corner which stands out on the shelf and provides a more comfortable and safer grip.

And it is not just the carton that is new. combistyle features SIG’s new combiMaxx closure in a centralised position, which is fully resealable and leak-proof with easier opening and better pouring.

particulates filling image

The unique particulates filling technology from SIG Combibloc lets customers create new products that combine a drink with extra pieces, such as crunchy grains or juicy pieces of fruit.

Innovating for the environment

SIG’s pioneering role in sustainable packaging was demonstrated by the launch in 2010 of EcoPlus, the world’s first aseptic carton without an aluminium barrier, resulting in a 28% reduction in carbon footprint1.

This concept has also brought new advantages for the consumer. In Asia, we have launched Heat&Go, an aluminium-free format which allows beverages to be heated in a microwave and enjoyed warm. Both the quality and the shelf life of the product are fully preserved and on the same high level as standard packs.

The introduction of EcoPlus was followed by SIGNATURE PACK which, besides being aluminium-free, has a clear link to 100% plant-based renewable materials.

In 2019 we went a step further by being the first in the industry to offer beverage cartons made with recycled polymers produced from post-consumer waste. Working in partnership with our supplier SABIC, we have developed a process for collecting and treating low quality, mixed plastic waste, transforming it into high quality, food grade material.

Combining convenience with commitment

In February 2019, SIG introduced the first straight paper straw for aseptic carton packaging. This was soon followed by the world’s first U-shaped paper straw launched at Gulfood Manufacturing 2019 in Dubai. Both straws use FSCTM-certified paper and are available globally. The wrapper for the straw has also been redesigned to remain attached to package during straw removal by the consumer, in order to avoid littering. This innovation responds to the widespread concern about the damage done by discarded plastic straws, while maintaining the convenience required by consumers.

Smart factories

Differentiation through service excellence

There are increasing business opportunities with customers that go beyond packaging solutions.

Our experience in designing and implementing complete packaging lines means that we provide everything from single-system solutions and optimised upgrades to complete turnkey solutions for intelligent, automated and fully integrated plants – delivered through our best-in-breed partner network.

Our Digital Platform Strategy builds on many years’ experience of connectivity for our filling lines, supporting our customers in improving overall equipment effectiveness (OEE). Building on this experience, SIG has co-developed Plant 360 Asset Management with GE Digital. This solution addresses increasing demands in the food and beverage industry, particularly the need for higher productivity, quality and uptime. Enhanced and expanded digital data can be retrieved and evaluated at any time by SIG’s reliability engineering team. New analytical technology and asset management software enable customers to move from preventive to predictive maintenance of filling lines. For example, spare parts will no longer be replaced at fixed maintenance intervals – instead they will only be replaced when potential failure is predicted. This means lower capital expenditure for the customer as well as optimised quality.

Watch how Plant 360 Asset Management has been launched for the first time in the Middle East.

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SIG has developed the Plant 360 Controller – a new digital monitoring and control solution to optimise every angle of filling plant operations.

Connected packs

Digital marketing and traceability solutions

In today’s digital and on-demand world, consumers are more informed and empowered than ever. They are constantly sharing experiences online and looking for new ways to have conversations with brands. Consumers expect individual products to act as interactive media sources.

In 2019, SIG launched PAC.ENGAGE to provide a variety of communication options for brands to interact with consumers directly on the package. With a simple scan from a smartphone, the unique QR code can launch dynamic engagement in the form of lucky raffles, loyalty programmes, fun quizzes and more. Flexible, easy to build modules can be customised for any brand and provide valuable insights and actionable data about purchasers.

IoT and smart packaging innovations are opening up new possibilities for both interaction and tracking. SIG is helping customers to integrate complete transparency into the value chain at all times. In Brazil for example, we have worked with the milk co-operative Languiru to introduce one-click tracking, supported by automated data collection across the supply chain. A QR code on the pack enables consumers to track the contents from the farm or collection point and has become a hallmark of quality.

Two major Tech Centres

R&D and continuous innovation are at the heart of everything we do. Our R&D is mainly conducted in two major Tech Centres in Linnich, Germany and Suzhou, China.

At these centres we design, engineer and test innovative packaging structures and shapes and new product formulations. Our customers can visit the centres themselves to try out the new product formulations in an industrial setting. In Linnich, the Tech Centre has food accreditation, enabling us and our customers to carry out consumer trials, with products marketed directly in retail.

Our new Tech Centre in Suzhou is enabling us to serve faster the rapid innovation cycles which are typical of Asia Pacific and Oceania. Currently the centre is driving the expansion of combismile into new and growing categories such as dairy alternatives and vegetable protein drinks. This is an illustration of the close connection between consumer demands, product development and packaging which is fundamental to the way we serve our customers.

PAC.ENGAGE provides a variety of communication options for brands to interact with consumers directly on the package.

1Source: Certified by an independent institute according to the relevant ISO standard.