DOST breaks ground for Php160-M high-tech packaging lab
SOON, the Philippines will have its first-ever Simulation Packaging Testing Laboratory (STPL) and Green Packaging Laboratory (GPL).
SDN — Science and Digital News learned from DOST that STPL and GPL will be housed in a new building worth around Php160 million that will be constructed inside the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) Complex in Bicutan, Taguig City.
On March 5, The Industrial Technology Development Institute (DOST-ITDI) broke ground for the new building.
Just how important is packaging to a product?
It could spell success in the market such as the case of a food product or personal care products, among others, packaged in such a way that brings charm to a consumer’s discerning eyes. And more.
“Not only does good packaging ensure the safety of the many products in the market for consumers, but it also provides product identity, making one brand distinct from another,” the Science and Technology Information Institute (DOST-STII) said in statement.
And the STPL and GPL come at a time of fierce competition among manufacturers as they “dressed” their products to invite consumers and, hopefully, turn their attention into a completed sell.
What manufacturer would not like that! After all, the business of business is to make business.
Dr. Annabelle V. Briones, director of DOST-ITDI, spearheaded the ground-breaking ceremonies as DOST officials and the building’s contractor lowered a time capsule to the ground adjacent to the ITDI’s office.
DOST Secretary Fortunato T. de la Peña assured the department’s recognition of packaging’s critical role “in making Philippine products competitive in the global market.”
DOST Secretary Fortunate de la Peña.
“We can see the evolution of the packaging center and while it has achieved a certain level of expertise on its own, on learning by doing, they ave a strong belief that they need to partner with world leaders in packaging technology to further harness its people and facilities in developing new packaging technologies,” the DOST chief said.
The “packaging center” he was referring to, apparently, was the Packaging R&D (Research and Development Center or PRDC, one of DOST’s flagship programs launched on September 24, 1999.
Various industry sectors such as the Packaging Institute of the Philippines (PIP) supported the PRDC, of which was established to address issues concerning poor packaging technology and design; lack of understanding/knowledge on packaging’s relevance; limited availability of packaging options; lack of information on the norms and regulations (e.g. mandatory labeling, safety packaging) and consumer preferences in overseas markets; limited access to packaging materials in the region; and lack of testing facility for packaging, de la Peña recalled.
ITDI Director Dr. Annabelle V. Briones.
A decade later, he continued, PRDC managed “to develop its capacity in packaging research, design and testing and became a vital government unit to the private sector.”
On August 29, 2009, PRDC became a formal division under ITDI, which is now known as the institute’s Packaging Technology Division (PTD), he said.
“I was witness to these two important events as undersecretary of DOST. Now this year or 20 years after, as the secretary of DOST, I am again witnessing an important event of PTD, the ground-breaking ceremony for the establishment of the (SPTL) and (GPL),” de la Peña in a speech said at the event.
Also present, among others, are Dr. Rowena Cristina L. Guevara, DOST undersecretary for R&D; Dr. Enrico C. Paringit, executive director of the Philippine Council for Industry, Energy and Emerging Technology Research and Development (DOST-PCIEERD); Daisy Tañafranca, project leader and chief senior research specialist of ITDI; and Paulo Buñag, president of PIP.
While at it, de la Peña urged the building contractor — RITVIT Corp. — for the packaging laboratory to finish the job this year.
“I am calling the attention of the contractor, RITVIT Corp., to complete the project before the end of 2019. PTD will be happy to celebrate its 20th year anniversary since its inception as PRDC and 10 years as PTD,” the DOST chief said.
Delivering goods is more than meets the eyes
DOST Undersecretary for R&D Dr. Rowena Cristina L. Guevara, DOST Secretary Fortunato T. de la Peña, PCIEERD Executive Director Dr. Enrico Paringit (back), and PIP president Paulo Buñag.
Guevara emphasized that delivering goods is not only the transport of products to their destinations.
Delivering goods, she apparently meant, has more than meets the eye.
“There is science and technology (S&T) in the distribution of goods, that packaging is not just a container. For example, Omni channel means that with the current trend on E-commerce from the traditional 3 to 5 touches, the product now goes to about 25 touches at different levels of handling and environmental hazards in the supply chain,” Guevara explained.
“It is, therefore, important that the design of transport packaging must be able to protect the product while in transit at minimum cost possible,” the DOST undersecretary said.
She further pointed that handling and environmental hazards include shock, vibration, compression, temperature, relative humidity and pressure, among others.
This is where the role of simulation comes in handy.
“With SPTL, all these environmental hazards can be simulated and the results or data derived will be used by PTD’s packaging engineer as basis in designing the structure and cushion requirements of specific product per market destination,” added Guevara.
On the other hand, the GPL will be co-located inside the SPTL, serving as a hub for R&D on new and sustainable packaging technology, she said.
Among the functions of the GPL include focusing on the use of indigenous and raw materials and renewable materials, and innovation processes to reduce carbon footprints, she said.
Guevara also revealed that ITDI’s PTD is opened to collaborate on R&D with the private sector, academe and other research institutions here and abroad.
“I am very happy to be part of the ground-breaking ceremony of SPTL and GPL. The establishment of these facilities are very timely and relevant to the growing packaging and testing requirements of the local industries,” said Guevara.
Meanwhile, de la Peña underscored the importance of partnering with “world leaders in packaging technology” such as Japan to learn from them. In doing so, ITDI would be able to fully harness its people and facility as it strives to develop new packaging technology (that meets world standards).
Partnership with JICA
The DOST secretary mentioned as example the partnership between the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) with ITDI-PRDC when it was still a program in 2005 to 2009 in the project “Improvement of Packaging Technology for Philippine Food Products in the Regions.”
JICA in 2013 granted another project to PTD (former PRDC) titled “Enhancing the Competitiveness of Fresh and Semi-Processed Agricultural Products through Application of Appropriate and Sustainable Packaging Technology” which was implemented ending 2017.
The two projects, de la Peña said, contributed significantly to PRDC’s core competence and capacitated PTD on transport packaging technology focuses on fresh products.
De la Peña noted the Philippines’ tail-end standing in technology and innovation concerning the efficient connection of logistics in supply chain management.
But with the SPTL, the DOST secretary is confident it “will serve as a hub for logistics companies and industries catering to the growing demand of E-commerce in developing and testing the performance of their transport packaging.”
In relation with this, de la Peña said the PTD will also be focusing for the next five years through its GPL on the development of green and sustainable packaging technology that addresses issues surrounding environmental protection. (EKU)