Sidel: Customised products are the future of packaging
Isabelle Maillot, VP, product innovation, Sidel told FoodProductionDaily packaging will have to proactively help the consumer to choose and allow for mixing several flavours.
Information in the Cloud
“Through the packaging, the product could proactively propose recipes. This would be dependent on consumer behaviour, which would be analysed due to connected technologies,” she said.
“For example, your fridge could analyse the turnover of your vegetables, what kind you like, if you drink more soda than water and so on and send the information to the cloud.
“This information would then be transmitted to the product you bought, and the consumer would be reminded about the shelf life of the product or encouraged to balance their diet the next day, for example by sending the message 'drink me now with an apple'.”
Maillot has a master’s degree in mechatronics engineering from Supmeca Engineering Institute, France. Her career began as a trainee with Sidel in Atlanta, US. She has been working for the company for 13 years in various engineering and management roles in the US and France, from efficiency and maintenance improvement manager to technology development manager.
She started her new role in product innovation in September 2012.
“The hardest thing about my job is the communication aspect, to sell a product internally and to convince people about the need to start working on a topic today to bring it to market tomorrow,” she said.
“It is also very difficult to choose between the many ideas and opportunities, which are proposed to us both internally and externally.
“Making a decision to not evaluate one opportunity can mean we may miss a “game changer”. Sidel has always been an innovative company however, it is very easy to kill an idea at each stage of its development.
“An innovation, by definition, is something that will disturb the established way of doing things. You have to find the proper balance around being in some way a “believer”, following a feeling that you are progressing in the right direction.
“During the early stages of development, you don’t often have much data to review and guide you in the decision-making process. Instead you have to be stubborn enough to fight for your corner, while at the same time learning to listen objectively to criticism and accepting when a project needs to be stopped for a reason.”
Maillot said on one hand, her role is very operational, which makes it exciting to work with different teams of technical people, such as mechanical engineers, automation engineers, simulation engineers and various scientists.
On the other, it is very strategic in building a technology road map for the future, anticipating trends due to close relationships with key customers, broad academic network and with the marketing teams within Sidel.
“When we present one of our products to the market, I feel proud to be able to make a difference,” she said.
“Also, when a customer recognises the value of what we have delivered, it is worth all the effort, energy and occasional learning curves we experienced during the development process.”