Successful product development should always start with fully understanding what the customer needs are. For barrier coated boards, customer applications include cups for hot and cold drinks, plates and packaging for frozen foods. Each of these has its own requirements from the paperboard. Some applications require good stretch properties of the board and some need barrier coatings on both sides.
Secondly, it is crucial to understand how the paperboard should be designed to achieve these requirements and what kind of raw materials and production technology can be used. At this stage the product development work must be done in laboratories and on pilot machines. This preparatory work is key to gathering data necessary to identify the right base board design, appropriate coating technology and raw materials to be used. The laboratory measurement devices and systems that are developed at this stage can be used as part of the final production process and for product quality control.
A totally integrated approach
The base board plays a key role – 60 per cent of a barrier coated board's properties originate from the base board and the rest from extrusion coating technology. The Metsä Board team is experienced at optimising base board properties for different applications and combining this with cutting edge extrusion coating technology.
So far, I have just described the technology and raw materials needed for product development, but in the key role there is also the highly skilled staff working in different departments. The product development department can't work in isolation, they need the input from a wide variety of teams including sales, production and logistics. Cooperation is needed throughout the process so that customers will get the new product on time and presented in the way they want it.
When different teams work together to create new products it is called "integrated product development" and our recent PE coating project has worked exactly like that. Sharing information and learning new things every day is often the most rewarding part of the project. Remember big puzzles are solved better together!