A connection is made: lightweight and sustainable connectors
Finding packaging solutions that are sustainable, lightweight and easy-to-use have become a hurdle that the industry is desperately trying to overcome. Charlotte Richardson Andrews finds out more about a new flexible solution.
UK-based flexible packaging and filling system manufacturer, DS Smith, might just have the answer to the dilemma that has been facing the industry when trying to find lightweight and sustainable connectors, with their new product Strivo, the twist-lock, bag-in-box connecting system and complementing fitment.
Offering a simple connect, twist and lock functionality, Strivo looks set to become an industry standard for dispensing machinery fitments, being a suitable conduit for high or low viscosity liquid beverages, fruit aggregates and products that fall under FDA and EU regulations. With its user-friendly, easy to clean and sanitize design, this one-piece construction firmly locks into fitment seals to keep products fresh - ideal for an industry under increasing pressure to maintain sanitation standards and shelf life.
We speak to DS Smith's Marianne Abreu about these new innovative connectors.
Charlotte Richardson Andrews: You recently unveiled new product, Strivo. Can you provide us with a detailed description of the product and its functionality?
Marianne Abreu: Strivo is a two-piece connecting system consisting of a silicone valve and a bag-side fitment. Strivo connecting system is used to connect bag-in-box (BIB) bags to dispensing equipment.
The silicone valve connects to the line-side connector of the equipment. Due to the specialised silicone valve, it is a leak-free quick connect-and-disconnect system. To connect, you simply twist and turn slightly, which replaces competitive connectors that require multiple turns to secure into the fitment.
For dispensing equipment that requires nightly cleaning, the removal from BIB bags is quick and easy. To get really specific, in terms of exact specifications, the design includes an acetal 1/2in line side connector, an optional acetal 1/4in line side connector, an LLDPE disposable dust cap, retaining ring, silicone valve, ESL housing (with an aseptic option available) and a short or tall dairy spout.
CRA: Can you tell us a bit about the bag for oxygen sensitive products you've developed - what it is and what it does - and how it compliments / works in conjunction with Strivo connectors?
MA: The Strivo bag-side fitment is good for a variety of film materials for BIB bags. Strivo can be used with bags that carry a full range of products, from high acid applications, extended shelf life (ESL) products to aseptic products.
CRA: Can the connecting BIB bags be personalized to adjust to differing tube sizes found in dispensing machinery?
The Strivo line-side connectors are stocked in ½in and ¼in outer diameters (OD). For a small fee, Rapak can provide custom solutions ranging up to ½in OD down to a feasible size to draw product through.
CRA: Is Strivo suitable for higher viscosity fluids?
MA: Yes. Strivo was designed with higher viscosity products in mind, especially for fruit purees and liquids with pulp or particulates. Even condiments can be easily dispensed through the Strivo connector system.
CRA: Can Strivo be used for aseptic and extended shelf life (ESL) products? How does the product speak to concerns regarding sanitation and shelf life?
MA: Yes. Strivo can be used with the full range of products from high-acid applications to extended shelf life (ESL) products to aseptic products. Secondary shelf life is improved by using BIB packaging as contact with outside air is eliminated as the bag collapses and there is no need for an air return. Plus, the product remains refrigerated at all times within a refrigerated cabinet.
CRA: Does Strivo offer a solution to the wrap rage era in terms of ease of use?
MA: Yes, because it is an easy quick connect and disconnect.
CRA: How does Strivo speak to concerns regarding sanitization?
Strivo comes at a time when there is a growing interest for a hygienic solution when dispensing liquid foods. Its one-piece construction makes it a viable option for convenience stores and quick-serve restaurants (QSR) as it is easy to clean and sanitize. Strivo also addresses the complexity and cost concerns associated with competitive connectors.
CRA: Who will Strivo appeal to in terms of producers and manufacturers? Is the technology suitable for off-the-shelf products in supermarkets, or was it designed with mass b2b usage in mind?
MA: No, Strivo is designed to connect BIB bags to dispensing equipment that would be used in restaurants or convenience stores. This is not a product that would be used in the household. Strivo was designed in collaboration with numerous dispenser equipment manufacturers and through inputs from quick service restaurant operators.
CRA: Is it cost effective?
MA: Yes, this is a very cost-effective solution as compared to other connector systems, such as QCD or Encore, or the 1,900 connectors marketed by other BIB manufacturers. This product will be much less expensive as a line-side connector, and much easier to engage.
CRA: You showcased Strivo at PackExpo this year in Las Vegas, Nevada, US. Was it well-received?
MA: Absolutely. The excitement was abounding, and interest in the product was immense. Strivo was built to test the waters on innovation in connector systems for BIB in dispensing equipment. Keep your eyes out for this product - we believe it will evolve and replace many of the existing line-side connector systems in the market today.