As a producer of a wide range of liquid products for household use, McBride Ieper Household must comply with regulatory requirements affecting child safety. The company develops certified child-safe packages for all of its corrosive products, thereby adopting a sustainable position in terms of safety. Thanks to its systematic approach, this is accomplished efficiently and without any significant additional costs.
Corrosive products require child-safe closures
McBride is the European market leader in the production of private label household and homecare products for various chain store brands including Ahold, Aldi, Auchan, Delhaize, Leclerc, Metro, and Rewe. The McBride Ieper Household manufacturing site produces detergents, allpurpose cleaners, abrasives, kitchen and bathroom cleaning products, glass cleaners, agents for unblocking drains, as well as other sanitary cleaning products. Its production is integrated vertically: McBride manufactures the products and the containers and fills the latter. ‘This integration has multiple advantages, including child-safe system developments,’ says Ria Claeys of the Research and Development Packaging Department. ‘We receive first-hand information on the corrosive characteristics of products we develop for our clients. Based on this information, we know if we must foresee child-safe packaging. If so, we immediately integrate it into our packaging design process.’
Reduce costs and limit production time
McBride uniformly opts to have all of its child-safe packaging certified by the Belgian Packaging Institute (BPI) (see also Feature). ‘Our clients, the major chain stores, are increasingly requesting this certification,’ observes Claeys. ‘By guaranteeing perfect child safety, we contribute strongly to our company’s durable reputation. In addition, it ensures product stability since certification applies only to a unique container with a specific shape and grip in conjunction with a specific cap. In other words, we can not modify the shape or the cap on a whim.’ Still, the additional costs remain limited. ‘That is because we efficiently handle product and packaging development,’ stresses Claeys. ‘Most customers want personalized packaging for obvious commercial reasons. We can often have our designs certified as a variant of an existing packaging. This reduces costs and production time, and additionally allows us to limit the investment costs of our client.’
Good to remember
- The product designers at McBride immediately notify when a child-safe closure is required. The Packaging Department rapidly takes this into account.
- As part of its sustainable approach, McBride systematically opts for the certification of its child-safe packaging.
- During the development stage, nothing is left to chance. Bottle and cap must fit perfectly.
Chain stores want customized packaging. Often, this packaging can be certified as a variant of an existing packaging. This makes a big difference in terms of cost and production time.
How does McBride develop child-safe containers?
Step 1: match the thread of the cap with the container
McBride purchases caps from specialized suppliers. These caps are theoretically child-safe, but that is not enough to achieve certification. ‘That is why we always require technical details from our suppliers,’ says Claeys. ‘The thread profile and the neck dimensions are particularly important. We adapt our design so that the cap perfectly matches the neck of the container, without any leak and without coming loose.’
Step 2: measure and test prototype
McBride then makes several prototypes of the new container. ‘We carry out an initial examination of these prototypes,’ says Claeys. ‘We accurately measure whether the container precisely matches the specifications. This work demands great precision. A mere two-tenths of a millimetre can make the difference between a good design and one that leaks or one whose cap comes loose too easily. After all measurements are confirmed, we carry out an extensive leak test.’
Step 3: request certificate
If the prototype is satisfactory, the container goes into pre-production and is sent to the BPI to be certified. ‘The procedure for a new bottle/cap combination takes two to three months on average,’ notes Claeys. ‘Indeed, the practical tests involving toddlers and adults require a great deal of time. However, with variants of an existing container, a mechanical test carried out in the laboratory often suffices. In that case, the procedure takes one or two weeks maximum.’
Chain stores increasingly request certified child-safe packaging. Such certification also assures our client that their product is stable, since the certificate only applies for the packaging as a whole.
Ria Claeys, Research and Development Packaging chez McBride
McBride and the environment
McBride supplies about 90% of European supermarket chains with household and homecare products, primarily under their own brands. The company attaches great importance to the impact of its activities on the environment.
- McBride was the first company to sign the Sustainability Charter of the AISE (Association Internationale de la Savonnerie, de la Détergence et des Produits d’Entretien).
- The company’s environment management system complies with ISO 14001.
- The Group makes every effort to minimize the quantity of packaging per ton produced. In recent years, that share has come down from 105.20 kg/ton in 2003 to 98.73 kg/ton in 2010.
- McBride Ieper Households has installed photovoltaic panels that provide approximately 5% of the plant’s electricity needs.