British packaging company DS Smith has announced the launch of its new research & development (R&D) and innovation centre, called ‘R8’.

The facility, which is located near Birmingham in the UK, is home to the company’s group innovation and R&D teams.

DS Smith said that this site has been opened to support manufacturing related research and to maximise the efforts and innovations needed for addressing the increasing requirement for sustainable packaging.

R8 includes a total of four laboratories, a 4,000m² pilot hall, conditioning chambers, an ideation and design studio along with prototyping areas.

It also has dedicated collaboration spaces that will allow associated teams to carry out early technology, material development, ideation, concept development, testing, product development, prototyping and customer pilots, all at one place.

R8 site is equipped with a modular Pilot Line, which has been developed in Italy and uses robots to manufacture boxes from various components and then fill them at high speed.

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DS Smith Packaging Division CEO Stefano Rossi said: “We will be partnering with customers to help them transition to circular economy by focusing on novel packaging solutions that deploy new materials and technologies.”

According to the company, the new facility will help the company as well as its customers and partners to speed up the R&D efforts related to various new packaging fulfilment solutions.

Some of the key areas of exploration for DS Smith’s teams at R8 include reusable fiber-based packaging and technologies, advanced barrier technology for food and industrial applications, and alternative natural resources in papermaking.

The development and use of smart packaging for tracking and monitoring the supply chain is another key focus area.

Rossi added: “We believe in sharing expertise to help customers reduce waste, streamline production and increase sustainable productivity.

“At the heart of this is a commitment to reducing plastics, paving new pathways for alternative fibres, and designing out waste.”