E-commerce drives cardboard packaging innovation

Cardboard packaging innovation

Abbe creates and delivers corrugated cardboard solutions for its many clients. During the pandemic, it has grown its list of customers and is busier than ever as it provides products to retailers dealing with the e-commerce boom. Packaging Automation Manager, Russell Speechley, tells MHD about the innovative and sustainable technological solutions Abbe offers to keep up with the growing demand.

Abbe is a family-owned and operated business that has been manufacturing and delivering corrugated cardboard solutions for more than 30 years. The wider Abbe group includes Austcor, ZacPac and supplies timber products through Abbe Industrial Packaging.

It partners with leading Australian businesses to create innovative packaging designs suited to its customers’ products. 

Outside of the company’s traditional offering of quality packaging manufacturing, Abbe offers state-of-the art automated packaging systems and on-demand packaging equipment solutions. As the exclusive agents for CMC in Australia and New Zealand, its range includes automated 3D packaging technology such as CMC CartonWrap 1000, CMC CartonWrap XL, and the newly introduced CMC Paper-PRO.

Russell Speechley, Packaging Automation Manager at Abbe, says the company has been working hard to keep up with the ongoing demands triggered by the e-commerce boom.

“After extensive overseas travel to understand the future direction of e-commerce, the business partnered with CMC to support the consumables the equipment uses,” Russell says. “Abbe invested in fanfold manufacturing capability five years ago.

“Fanfold is continuous sheets of corrugated cardboard material that is palletised within the confines of a standard pallet. This provides efficiency in transport and storage of raw material on a customer’s site where a CMC machine is located.” 

Fanfold has been extensively utilised in US and European markets for many years and is also commonly known as Z-fold.

Russell explains how manufacturing and supplying corrugated material while offering competent service technicians is an essential element for the support of the automation unit of the business.

“As a service, we provide to our clients automation equipment that suits their needs,” Russell says. “A full service offering which also includes the maintenance of the high-speed equipment. This can be offered as a dedicated onsite maintenance resource or periodic or planned interval and breakdown support.”

He notes the pandemic has increased demand for online products that use corrugated material as its main form of packaging. This global e-commerce boom has increased interest in Abbe’s products and automation solutions. He attributes the growth in new fulfilment centres to driving the demand.

The CMC CartonWrap technology has been widely adopted by leading e-commerce retailers such as Catch, Cotton On and Booktopia – just to name a few.

After the worldwide success of the CMC CartonWrap range, CMC identified the increased need to package multiple picks efficiently. After years of development and innovation they introduced an additional machine to the range – the CMC Genesys. This high-speed machine can seamlessly pack from CMC Patented Vary-Tote to carton at 850 units per hour without the need for staff to remove the product from the tote.

CMC Vary-Tote is used to measure the size internally in the system of the order pick, and then makes the box automatically to suit that order. It can also be used to handle multiple picks.

Russell says the CMC Genesys system is unique and has significant benefits both in terms of creating a package that is the right size, easy to open, as well as having the added feature of being resealable for a return if required.

Initially launched in 2020, the CMC Genesys won the E-commerce 2021 Award at the Packaging Europe Sustainability Awards.

The reason this technology is recognised as environmentally friendly is due to the reduction of material required, as the package is made to the exact size of the contents and the fact that the package is fully recyclable.

“An order pick is inducted by scanning its dimensions and making the right-sized box inline to satisfy that particular order pick,” Russell says. 

He says it also achieves benefits in labour efficiencies, throughput speeds, and the elimination of void fillers because the company is using 3D scanning for ‘right-sized’ packaging.

The process produces a robust, strong box with a reduction in volume over traditional packaging methods, which then leads into transport efficiency gains, so that you’re shipping less air when you are optimising the volumetrics. 

“By reducing the number of trucks or loads out on the road by a significant percentage, you can in turn reduce the carbon footprint. It will also minimise damage, wastage, and returns, which can be quite significant,” Russell explains.

In addition, this style of packaging can provide protection against damage in transit. Return rates have been reduced up to 30 per cent depending on the nature and specifications of the product.

Russell also reinforced that corrugated packaging is a sustainable material that is 100 per cent recyclable and Abbe offers fully recycled and FSC certified grades.

The combination of both CMC CartonWrap and CMC Genesys solutions allows Abbe to satisfy the diverse needs of Australian fulfilment centres with efficiencies enabling flexibility and growth.

Abbe can print externally or internally on its materials, which can add to the marketability of the delivered product. This means it can be customised, personalised, and branded. 

Abbe also uses CMC technology and other technological solutions for small and medium-sized businesses that want to automate their operations. 

One offering that can be provided is the CMC Paper-PRO high-volume auto-bagging system. This is a continuous fed machine that uses Kraft paper which is suitable for apparel and smaller, less fragile items. CMC Paper-PRO creates a durable paper satchel in a ready-to-ship format via a fully automated line which can also incorporate a shipping label option. This is a highly sustainable product which can offer a replacement to soft plastics.

He says there are a lot of large items that require a different type of solution and Abbe addresses each of them on a case-by-case basis. 

An example he gives is automation that can make a small cosmetics box right up to a box for a garage roller door, which can be three to four metres long – and everything in between.

“The overall justification for an ROI is a function of bringing supply chain, package optimisation, sustainability, labour savings, and customer experience together,” Russell says.

“We work to find a solution that satisfies specific demands, by gathering and analysing data in order to understand the needs of a particular client, so that we can provide the perfect automation solution for that site.”

For more information on Abbe Corrugated, click here.


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