Performance Review

Innovation and 
intellectual property

Vetropack is continuously optimising the ancient craft of glass production. With innovative, high-quality and environmentally friendly products, Vetropack adapts to customers’ expectations, thereby positioning itself successfully in selected markets. When developing its Strategy 2030, Vetropack defined the topic of innovation and digitalisation as one of five strategic directions for the next ten years.

Innovation strategy and portfolio

With Strategy 2030, Vetropack is emphasising that innovation is highly relevant for the company. Not only does the open innovation strategy focus on product development, such as the further development of VIP Glass technology, it also targets the all-encompassing development of container glass production along the value chain. For this purpose, the company is using new digital marketing and sales channels and improving its planning processes.

Vetropack wants to give innovation a further boost across the Group and established a new innovation centre at its Pöchlarn site in Austria in 2020, amongst other projects. An innovation team will be formed there in 2021 to further develop VIP Glass technology, for example, and design new products on this basis. Another objective is to develop digitalised glass bottles that enable complete lifecycle transparency and traceability, which is relevant not least due to the trend towards reusing glass packaging multiple times. For example, the innovation centre is therefore working on a system for giving multi-trip containers a QR code so that Vetropack can easily see in future how often they have been in circulation.

Vetropack Story: Renovating the white glass line

Despite the challenging market environment, Vetropack pressed ahead with developing and commercialising lightweight glass packaging in the reporting year. The VIP Glass bottles, which are especially light and stable thanks to a special thermal hardening process, achieved excellent results in performance tests. The first customer appreciated this innovation so much that two more deliveries were made in 2020.

Vetropack Story: VIP Glass

The company also made great progress with digitalisation and automation, migrating the SAP system to the latest technology (SAP4Hana), for example. This measure enabled various work and planning processes to be harmonised further, which has a positive effect on the speed and flexibility of product planning.

Performance Review: Digitalisation and automation

Process innovation with suppliers

From increasing efficiency in the glass production process and improving organisation right through to developing products – Vetropack is focusing on cooperation with its suppliers in almost every strategic area of innovation. This is particularly important because each Vetropack glassworks is unique and has different conditions that can be optimised in a variety of ways. By doing so, the company not only benefits from its own expertise going back many years, but also from that of the furnace builders and other manufacturers of equipment for container glass production.

Performance Review: Energy efficiency and renewables

In 2020, there were various initiatives implemented working closely with suppliers that are worth mentioning. For example, Vetropack received support from the company Horn with the renovation of the furnace at the Straža glassworks. The energy management system introduced at the same site was installed together with Siemens. At the St-Prex glassworks in Switzerland, the processing plant was upgraded with the aid of a supplier to be able to process a higher proportion of used glass. A closed loop system to recycle water at the Kremsmünster site was also installed in close collaboration with the manufacturer.

Vetropack Story: Glass sorting machines Vetropack Story: Label remover Performance Review: Optimising use of raw materials

Product quality was also improved further with the help of various suppliers. In the reporting year, Vetropack joined forces with inspection machine manufacturer Symplex to work on the full inspection of all glass containers produced, further minimising defects such as cracks and impurities. By using lubricating robots, less waste was produced and the need for manual work was further reduced. In 2019, Vetropack introduced improved glass tear feeder machines in a joint project with Bucher Emhart Glass. These are now in use on all new installations and are considered the new industry standard.

It would also not be possible to implement forward-looking initiatives, such as the use of self-driving forklifts in automated stores currently being investigated in the new plant in Italy as part of the “Future” project, without direct collaboration with innovative suppliers.

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