The news was not necessarily covered extensively in the media, but a few weeks ago, Alufoil, the European Aluminium Foil Association, made a special accolade to Guala Closures as part of its annual awards for producing a connected wine capsule dedicated to wineries.
Guala is one of the world leaders in the market for bottle caps and closures. Wines and spirits, mineral water or olive oil: the company sells more than 15 billion caps and capsules in more than 100 countries every year. While the headquarters of this international group, founded in 1954, is located in Italy, in the small Piedmontese village of Spinetta Marengo, some 80 km north of Genoa, its main development and innovation centre has been established in Luxembourg since 2017.
Introduced to the market in January 2018 at a symposium in Sacramento, this connected capsule is equipped with an electronic chip containing various information about the product contained in the bottle. This system also provides optimal traceability through high-frequency Near Field Communication (NFC) to the tablet or smartphone of the user wishing to check the origin and quality of the bottle.
In addition, the host capsule of this chip can be fully customised by customers, who can choose their own colours and introduce brand specific designs, embossed or stamped.
“This closure really stood out in every category it entered, as it offers everything from consumer engagement – providing great marketing opportunities – through to product protection – with its security features – and it is a major technical innovation,” explained lead judge for 2019, Laura Fernandez, Senior Packaging Technologist at Marks & Spencer, to justify this special prize awarded to Guala.
The group is familiar with receiving awards, as it is acknowledged every year, most often in the “Marketing & Design” category. However, in the last two years, Guala has also been recognised more specifically for technical innovation. In 2017, it was for aluminium capsules produced specially for the Salute brand’s range of liqueurs, which can be branded with digital printing technology and then metallized by spraying. Then in 2018, for its Imagic process (developed in partnership with the University of Luxembourg) which uses the principle of electromagnetic forming, originally developed for military use, to create almost any capsule shape.
“Innovation is clearly part of our DNA,” explains Piero Cavigliasso, the director of the group’s technological innovation department, who oversees operations based at Technoport de Foetz.
“We focus in particular on everything that can enable us to develop automated systems, in order to reduce production costs and enable the implementation of processes to manufacture smaller quantities more easily.”
Supported by the aid mechanism of the RDI law in force since 2017, Guala has found the ideal site in Luxembourg to pursue its development. Several of its innovative projects, supported by Luxinnovation, have raised a total of more than €1 million in public funding. “The group has been able to take advantage of R&D support, but also of local expertise and the Luxembourg economic environment, to develop a profit centre here around services and products with high added value,” says Pascal Fabing, Head of Corporate R&D and Innovation Support at Luxinnovation. “We appreciate all the more that we can contribute to this approach, in a concerted way with the company and the Ministry of Economy”.
Blockchain et Big Data
From Guala’s point of view, satisfaction is also required: “This support from the public authorities is very important here. We were pleasantly surprised by their efficiency and quick availability of funds,” says Cavigliasso. “On several occasions in the past, we have taken the decision to manage our development projects from Luxembourg, precisely because of this support which, compared to other regions or countries we have surveyed, is very important here”.
Guala Closures obviously does not intend to stop there and the group is already working on other projects, in particular within the framework of the Composite Industry Luxembourg consortium, in collaboration with the List, to develop capsules in biological and composite materials.
“We are very receptive to the idea of implementing sustainable projects and products that can be easily recycled or reused, composed of natural products,” explains Mr. Cavigliasso.
The company is also working in the field of blockchain and Big Data, with a Luxembourg start-up, Compellio, a specialist in the registration and certification of documents via blockchain, in order to develop a highly sophisticated platform to trace and protect containers in an optimal way.
Photo Credits : GCL Technologies