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PackEx GmbH: Packaging Solutions for a Green Future

PackEx GmbH
PackEx GmbH

The expansion of the medical sector has substantially increased the volume of packaging waste, impacting the environment significantly. This stresses the need for packaging providers to develop innovative solutions that minimize environmental harm. Dedicated to sustainable packaging practices and delivering a seamless client experience, PackEx GmbH stands out for its future-driven approach. The company specializes in customized packaging solutions, offering folding boxes, shipping packaging, labels, and solid board materials.

Emphasizing sustainability, PackEx adopts small batch production methods resulting in up to an 87% reduction in raw material consumption and overall resource usage. Central to their innovative business model is a commitment to minimizing CO2 emissions. The company offers clients a host of advantages including accelerated market entry, decreased operational costs, and enhanced product management options. With a focus on quality assurance through Video Quality Assurance protocols, PackEx ensures adherence to strict standards.

Julian Erhard, Managing Director & Co-founder at PackEx GmbH, brings extensive expertise to his role in the organization. His significant contributions have been instrumental in driving the company towards success and growth.

In a recent interview with our team, Julian shared valuable insights into the world of medical packaging, shedding light on PackEx’s journey to becoming a recognized expert in the industry.

Can you provide a brief overview of your professional journey in the medical packaging industry and how it led you to your current role within your company?

I originally started out in the printing industry. During my training as a Press Operator, I learned the traditional printing process and products. Therefore, it wasn’t a big leap to transition to the related packaging industry.

After completing my studies and a short trip in the banknote industry, I worked at Faller Packaging for over three years. With almost 2,000 employees and well-established processes, the renowned company produces packaging for the pharmaceutical industry.

In 2017, we founded PackEx GmbH as a spin-off. With physical distance, new processes, innovative procedures and the courage to question and rethink established processes, we aimed to bring a fresh perspective to the industry.

Please share some key highlights about your company’s establishment, its mission and vision, and how it has evolved to become one of the leading medical packaging solution providers.

Through technology that guarantees us not only CO2 savings, but above all fast delivery times, we enable our customers to act and react quickly and agilely to the dynamic requirements of the market. Everything we do for our customers is geared towards sustainability and automation.

At our chosen location in Worms, we work with the latest and highly specialized machines, lasers, and robotics. In October 2018, we produced the first folding carton using a completely new process. We have been growing ever since.

In line with the motto “Why compensate when you can avoid from the outset?”, we have organized our production in such a way that we do not need to offset CO2 emissions. Compared to conventional packaging companies, we save up to 1,389 tons of CO2 per year. This proves that profitability, sustainability, and manufacturing in Germany are not incompatible.

How does your company maintain a customer-centric approach to meet the diverse needs of clients in the healthcare industry?

We always strive to adopt the perspective of our (potential) customers and address their specific problems by offering solutions. Easy access and a straightforward ordering process are also part of our service offering.

In general, there are three customer groups for us:

One group has a need for small-batch packaging production while maintaining flexibility and a simple, straightforward ordering process. They have been repeatedly told that only large runs are economically viable. We work with a cloud-based virtual warehouse for quick reorders and enable our customers to produce runs of just a few pieces without significantly increasing costs.

The second group of customers values sustainable packaging without greenwashing – both in production and parcel shipping.

The last group wants to avoid working with several suppliers. As a one-stop-shop, we provide high-quality standardized folding boxes, labels, as well as shipping boxes.

How does your company ensure a strong international presence, and what challenges and opportunities does this global reach bring to your operations?

PackEx has been growing every year since its foundation in 2017. Despite the corona crisis the turnover could be tripled in 2021 and doubled in 2022. In 2023, we experienced again a great double-digit growth.

So far, our customers are mainly in Germany, some in Austria and Switzerland, and a few in France. In order to accelerate our growth, the main focus is on internationalization, initially in other European countries.

How does your company integrate sustainability into its medical packaging solutions, and what initiatives are in place to contribute to environmental responsibility?

PackEx was founded out of conviction even before the whole sustainability trend and therefore has the topic authentically anchored in its DNA. We wanted to use our pioneering spirit and create innovative technologies to help build a world worth living in for future generations.

For our products, we only use FSC certified paper – meaning more trees are planted than cut down. We solely work with cardboard for our folding boxes and corrugated cardboard for shipping boxes. However, when it comes to sustainability, it’s not as simple as avoiding potentially harmful materials – all processes must be geared towards avoiding CO2.

Our printing inks and the absence of finishes were also selected with sustainability in mind. Instead of the established die-cutting process with tools, we use an innovative laser-cutting process – eliminating the need for individually produced tools. We also apply the Braille digitally, thus saving on tools in production, transport, etc.

Our shipping solution also differs from the standard: We use parcels instead of shipping on pallets. Our shipping packaging is tailored to every order—ensuring we only ship goods and not air. Shipping by parcel service also enables us to achieve considerable CO2 savings of around 1.4 tons per year. Often, it is the small measures that have a big impact.

How does your company prioritize quality assurance and compliance with industry regulations?

For our packaging, we set high standards that comply with pharmaceutical regulations. With PackEx, quality control is therefore integrated into the production process. In terms of an efficient production process, quality assurance is video-based.

With the help of cameras, we ensure seamless 100 % monitoring of each single carton and sort out faulty products in the final production step. This means that even the smallest errors, especially in the Braille area, can be detected and corrected.

What are the key trends and developments that your company anticipates in the medical packaging industry, and how are you preparing to address them?

In the medical packaging industry, we anticipate a growing focus on accessibility, even for non-prescription products. We’re preparing by exploring innovative packaging solutions to enhance accessibility. Additionally, we’re investing in agility and flexibility to navigate dynamic market dynamics, ensuring we can quickly respond to changes and deliver high-quality packaging solutions to our customers.

How does your company plan to contribute to the broader healthcare ecosystem, beyond providing packaging solutions, to improve overall patient outcomes and experiences?

Mistakes can be fatal, especially when taking medication. Braille, therefore, plays a central role. Conventionally, it is punched into the packaging material. This has disadvantages: the surface of the carton board of the dots can “burst open” during production, the design is limited by the tool, and costs are incurred.

PackEx has therefore introduced “Digital Braille”, which is barrier-free and independent of the pharmaceutical industry: Using an injection process, the Braille is applied to the surface of the packaging with pinpoint accuracy, creating raised areas. A special UV varnish is used for this.

With innovative ideas, we aim to not only improve the production method but also enhance the quality of packaging for the pharmaceutical industry.

Precision in Packaging

A significant achievement for PackEx GmbH was the implementation of digital braille technology in its packaging solutions. This innovative approach eliminates the reliance on traditional tools, streamlining the braille production process for faster delivery and reduced environmental impact. Moreover, digital braille enhances readability for visually impaired individuals compared to conventional embossed methods, thereby improving accessibility.

Another noteworthy project milestone entails the integration of laser technology into PackEx GmbH’s operations. This technological advancement empowers the company to address the intricate and unique demands of medical inlays effectively. Leveraging laser technology enables PackEx GmbH to craft unique packaging solutions tailored to individual product specifications, ensuring optimal protection and presentation quality.

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