Providing a comprehensive study of flexible film fundamentals conducted over the course of two days at the company’s technical center in Neenah, Wis., the seminar has attracted an impressive list of participants, among them more than 100 employees of consumer goods powerhouse Procter & Gamble (P&G).
“Alcan’s packaging seminar provides a solid foundation in the field of flexible packaging,” says Lee Arent, principal engineer at P&G. “We expect students to gain general competency running flexible packaging projects after this training.”
More manufacturers like P&G are recognizing that strategic supply partners can be an essential part of employee development. Not only do supplier-sponsored education programs ease the strain on a company’s resources, they provide highly specialized expertise, as well as external perspective on packaging trends.
As Arent explains, “The marketplace is changing at an ever-increasing pace. There is a growing realization that we cannot do everything in our own laboratories, and innovation needs to come from both inside and outside. Courses like those offered by Alcan Packaging allow our employees to learn from professionals in a specific area.”
Typically, seminar students are new to their companies or new to the packaging function. Throughout classes given during the two-day event, students learn the basics of raw materials selection, substrate technologies, film extrusion, lamination, printing and testing. In addition to accessing the pilot plant, students also receive analytical lab and manufacturing plant tours.
Duane Buelow, vice president of product development at Alcan Packaging Food Americas, who runs the seminar program, stresses that rigorous educational standards have been placed on the curriculum.
“This training is based on educating attendees on packaging,” Buelow says. “It is not a sales pitch or a way to spread propaganda. We have built the packaging seminar with a university mentality. Our instructors are engineers immersed in the day-to-day responsibility of answering customers’ packaging needs.”
“One particularly valuable element of the training is that students can learn about a topic and then go to Alcan’s pilot plant to actually see the process operating,” Arent says. “Students would have to make many trips to various suppliers to see all the technologies that Alcan has under one roof.”
Since starting the educational program in 1993, Alcan Packaging has run more than 150 seminars and trained more than 2,600 people. The seminars serve the entire range of Alcan Packaging’s customers, including food and other consumer goods partners.