Nuts & Bolts

Ice cream melting in hand 21852164_s

It’s Hot in Southern Asia and the Middle East

By Patricia Davies

It’s hot in Southern Asia and the Middle East. At certain times of the year areas like the Arabian Peninsula and the Indian Sub-Continent record temperatures in excess of 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit). At least that was the information I worked to when I developed cosmetic packaging many years ago.

Our products were stored at 46 degrees C for eight weeks and vigorously tested during this time to ensure both the product and surrounding componentry and packaging withstood these high temperatures. Once satisfied that the products were stable in high temperature conditions along with testing combinations of low temperatures and humidity, the products were then transit tested by drop testing and generally abusing them.

Our products were perfect or they wouldn’t be shipped. Shipped! SHIPPED……..did I say SHIPPED?  NOBODY THOUGHT OF SHIPPED!

Well that’s not strictly true because the development department did do all of the testing already described plus much more in the naive assumption that our transport department shipped the products in accordance with the validated shipping instructions that accompanied the release dossier.

One day nonchalantly going about my business I received a box of lipsticks that had undergone a strange transformation en-route to it’s destination. The lipstick salves had drooped and the shipment had been rejected.

Oh heck; but not my problem to sort out because I dealt with packaging not the product. WRONG!  I got lumbered with finding out why the lipsticks had drooped.

Well, the lipsticks sent back were quite firm but had obviously drooped somewhere along the line.

When a woman puts a lipstick to her lips it has to be firm and upright. If it is flaccid and droopy it’s no good. It might firm up again but if the shaft has bent it can be difficult to handle. You can’t put a bent shaft against your lips.

I had to find out why they were bending.

First I questioned the transport department to get the predictable answer that they had to cut costs so were no longer using refrigerated shipping containers. But that was OK because they had checked the temperatures along the shipping routes and the temperatures were below our test temperatures.



Sorry for the rant!

My boss had an idea. He bought a data logger, known as an intelligent disc. All we needed to do was send it inside a consignment of products to our Middle Eastern company and get them to post it back to us. We would download the data and find out what temperatures our products were subjected to when in transit to these far away lands. That is what we did. The data logger came, we plugged it into a computer and set it up, put it in the consignment and off it went. Never to be seen again!

Our sister company received it and posted it back to us, and we waited for it…and waited…and waited..

Then one day we received a letter from a very apologetic airport security department. They had intercepted a suspicious package that they thought contained a bomb and had blown it up in a controlled explosion.

They thought it was a bomb! Our data logger containing six weeks of data including the eagerly awaited temperature measurements had been mistaken for a bomb and had been blown up. Well thanks airport security, I love you too!

We had a spare one so I got it out to look at it and realized that, yeah, it actually did look like a bomb!

So we bought a different type making sure that the next one didn’t look like a bomb and went through the whole process again.

Oh well!


Pat's photoPatricia Davies is a sought after consultant and advisor due to her 25 year expertise in packaging technology.

She is expert in development of cosmetic components, toiletries, personal care, all aerosol, glass and plastics, fragranced products, household consumer goods, setting up laboratory tests of all packaging types at customer premises, sachet seals and IHS failures, including evaluation and test reporting giving expert conclusions and recommendations.

Her expertise extends to all areas of compatibility testing.  She consults hands-on in technical evaluation of new pack concepts, problem packs, NPD assessments, and cosmetic pack and redeveloping / rectifying component failures. She has trained teams of technologists and laboratory staff.  Pat has also written technical manuals, documents, and SOP’s with complete compliance to QMS.

Prior to opening her consultancy, PackLabs, Pat worked for Yardley of London, DDD Ltd (Bodyshop), Julius Mellor (M&S), Muller Dairy, and Church & Dwight, Co., Inc.  Additionally, she has worked on projects for Holland & Barrett, M&S, Next, Sainsbury’s and Tesco.

Pat can be reached at

Chess on the world - 3D 16974542_s

From a mouse to an Apple – How US giants lead the way.

By:  Paul Alves

Why the United States of America are number one in the economic world stage.

The planet is littered with fast moving innovative leaders in business but none really compare to the might of the US big boys. From a mouse to an apple their brands can claim global recognition and Kudos.

What makes them so successful? What is their magic mojo that sets them apart from their competitors?

Is it their marketing or the fact that they are innovative? First we need to remember that for all success of the giant brands such as Disney, Walmart and Apple, there will be thousands who fail or just about stay afloat, desperately treading the water to avoid sinking.

I’m going to develop and divide this post into two parts. I won’t talk you through every major US business leader as this would take us a lifetime – so I’ll focus on the food, entertainment and technology industries.

We are not trying to decode business models, as they are often too complex, and difficult to explain. We will highlight examples of the industries’ leaders’ tactics and strategies.

For example, some companies prefer to lead the way by distinguishing themselves as innovative creators, continually introducing new products and services ideas, others  however are value providers, offering their products or services at an attractive price point. Capabilities are cross-functional combinations of technology, processes, skills, and mind-sets that work and follow the market needs.

A good example is:

Leading food chain supplier Walmart’s policy strategy is based on the best price you can get every day – their motto “Every Day Low Prices.” However, the strategic implementation of this policy in pricing decisions is purely tactical. All depending on the local markets, regions, and agreed prices set with main suppliers.

Walmart leads the way by investing large sums of money on information technology and distribution centers. Secondly they concentrate their focus on particular timing of the investments, channels partners and ways in which they are financed, these are very specific tactical aspects.

Managerial incentives is the third main category of their business model, for example, the use of high-powered incentives for store managers at Walmart is a great strategy choice. In some places, setting a specific contract for the manager in the store, with targets is tactical.

The main strategic tactics used by some US companies break free from static plans to be adaptive and directive, emphasizing learning and control, which reclaims the value of strategic thinking for the world we now live in.


Paul AlvesFrench born Paul is an experienced business strategy consultant, with over 20 years of experience under his belt.

Now based in the UK, Paul owns CTH, a consulting business offering small and medium size companies advice, support and project management whilst promoting innovative ideas and helping business survive.

Paul is a dynamic self starter fluent in English, Portuguese and of course French.

Specialties include:

Digital marketing – including SEO and project management, Sales and marketing advice, Copy-writing

To contact Paul:


Or call him in the UK at CTH – Consultants to Help  – 07983870416

America Facts per the BBC:  – Main industries: Food and live animals, computer devices, electricals, vehicles, chemical products, military equipment and aircraft.  Link:

Walmart –

Disney –

Apple –

Photo Copyright : Letizia Giuffrida/123RF

Studio portrait of a teenage girl painting herself 4441674_s

Nail enamel bottles are not meant to explode are they?

By:  Pat Davies

Well, no you wouldn’t think so!  But I once worked as a packaging technologist for a prestigious cosmetics company that made the most high quality color cosmetics. It was one of my developments (yes mine!) that caused a furor throughout the company when after the launch of a high quality cosmetics range of which I was the technical person in charge of the development of the packs, the small glass bottles of nail lacquer began to explode.

Customers began sending their complaints to us and making claims for damages after their bedroom walls were spattered with nail lacquer. They got covered with it too, all over their cloths, in their hair, up the walls, over the furniture, ruining carpets, ruining dressing tables.

Oh that heart sinking feeling when the exploded bottles are sent back in the post with photographs of spectacular explosions and the resultant damage. Along with nasty letters and legal claims.

With glass exploding this was serious, and it had my name all over it – Pat Davies, the Packaging Technologist from Hell!

On inspection of the broken glass I confirmed the breakages were internal pressure breaks. But WHY? WHY? What’s happening?

I spent hours / days in the lab with these blasted bottles trying to replicate the phenomenon. Heating them up, cooling them down, testing impact resistance, drop testing, NOTHING!

Off I went to Germany to the glass manufacturer where we looked at stress patterns in the polarimeter, and the glass quality. Microscopic examination of glass looking for faults….NOTHING!

Meanwhile, there were top level management meetings. We sent samples off to GTS (Glass Technology Services) and all the while the legal department were compromising legal claims.

What a disaster. We needed to recall the product. Marketing were up in arms and I was baffled.  HELP!!

Then one day in the lab I decided to overfill the bottles to brimful and put the caps on. Bearing in mind that none had been sent out overfilled according to the production records and warehouse stock checks. This was not the problem.

But, the bottles cracked in my hands as I applied the caps to over filled bottles. The ones that didn’t crack blew up when I shook them….RESULT!

You see bottles filled with anything need a headspace. Room for the liquid to expand! If there is insufficient headspace the principle of hydraulics apply. Liquids will not compress and the only way the pressure will release is by the bottle breaking.

After more investigation it turned out that the nail lacquer bulk was stored outside and filled online immediately after being brought in from subzero temperatures. It was a very cold winter so the nail lacquer was very cold. It was filled and then expanded as it warmed.

By the time it got to the customer, it was so expanded that the bottles were by now pressurized. It only needed to be shaken and BANG! The things exploded with spectacular results.

Phew! It wasn’t my bottles. It was the daft and dippy production manager’s fault. A qualified engineer and a highly intelligent man by all accounts. But, then again . . . . .

Photo Copyright Frenk And Danielle Kaufmann/123RF

Chess on the world - 3D 16974542_s

What Is A Business Strategy And How Can It Help You Win More Clients?

By:  Paul Alves

An effective business strategy is an internal and external set of categorized topics.  In other words, it’s a bit like a roadmap, that when clearly communicated, will facilitate processes and decision making within any company or organization in order to make a profit.

Effective business strategy planning is like Google map providing you with detailed directions, showing you the best route, in order to achieve the desired goals for your business. It’s also a cobweb of relationships with customers, employees, suppliers and investors within the business that creates and captures what we call economic value.

Why are developed countries doing better than anyone else?

Well, it often comes down to ingenuity, innovative spirit, vision and objectivity, but let’s try to understand how. In order to win and keep a global economic supremacy, these countries had to sell a strategy concept and help promote their innovative businesses. So, how do they do it?

It generally starts with governments discussing subjects around a meal, then country A visits country B, bringing its company representatives and the deal is done, so both are playing a partnership role. So, generally the President would play the salesman role, by selling its luxury goods to other countries. The USA, Japan, the UK and France have often applied this strategy.

Can we say that these creative, organized countries have gained an advantage by doing so? Would they sell more, gain trust and popularity? Yes, probably. This is a long and structured process that requires experience, time, and vision with great people behind it pulling the strings.

In order to help my case, I will illustrate here five of the world’s best performers. In this article I will start with the Japanese and their business strategy techniques. In later articles, I’ll be talking about how the USA, Germany, the UK and France developed and use their strategies.

In “The Art of Japanese Management” by Richard Pascale and Anthony Athos – Published by Penguin Books Ltd, 1986 – we can clearly understand how the Japanese have been so successful over the last 50 years.

Why did the Japanese perform better in sectors such as: automobile, computing, consumer electronics Industry?

Firstly, I feel duty bound to let you the reader know how and why the Japanese transformed and conquered the world. This mega decisive factor in Japan’s global success is called – skill in business and marketing strategy implementation.”

Post WWII, the Japanese were dominated, broke and had no manufacturing industry. So, they travelled to the US to study marketing principles and modern techniques. Five years passed by, and Japan grew stronger and adapted meticulously what they had previously learned.

From 1960-80 they literally become market leaders in almost every single sector, selling on a global scale. They carefully “decide which industries to enter, which market segments to serve and the exact approach to penetrate those markets.” From (Kotler and Fahey, 1982)

In my view, they are a fantastic example of genuine business creativity and philosophy of life. Personally, I am a big fan of their philosophy and culture.

How can a small country, shaped by centuries of wars, become a strategic marketing master in a global market scale?

As I mentioned, much of Japan was annihilated and there was a lack of natural resources, but they had brilliant people, with realistic ambitions, making things clear for them as to what route to pursue.  They re-invented themselves very quickly. So, they peacefully reused their military strategy framework and clever marketing strategy.

They were able to select and analyze the markets demands, understand the consumer’s perspectives and priorities, adapting themselves and ultimately creating solid and competitive gaps.  And the result is what we know today.

The highly regarded system comes out of a pragmatic structure based on 7 elements (also known as McKinsey 7S Framework): a) Strategy, b) Structure, c) Staff, d) Systems, e) Skills, f) Style, and g) Super cultural shared values.

Culture is an interesting phenomenon in business. It’s powerful, effective and affects hiring, retention, quality, group solidarity, among other factors.

…..Ends here – –>> To Be Continued

Photo Copyright : Letizia Giuffrida/123RF

Used Blister Packs photo

Wrapper Rage!

By Patricia Davies

In 1961, the first man went into space. In 1969, men walked on the moon.  In 1976, we landed a spacecraft on Mars and sent high resolution color photographs of the Martian landscape to Earth.

But in 2013 we cannot make a blister pack that actually OPENS!

The unopenable packs in question are the notorious hermetically sealed blister packs and clamshells. Heat sealed to perfection to prevent theft, tampering and damage they cause a buildup of anger as the consumer struggles to get a simple store bought item out of it’s plastic packaging.

We have all been victim of these packs. Beginning with our bare hands, pulling and tugging, sometimes biting in a vain attempt to make a hole in the impenetrable plastic casing.  As our frustration rises, it takes our blood pressure with it making the tamest, tempered, consumer curse and swear as we leave it to go and find a sharp implement. Sometimes scissors, perhaps a kitchen knife, with the fiasco ending in tears with cut fingers, bruises and even sprains.

People are calling it “wrapper rage.”

The packaging industry, of which I am a long term member, knows perfectly well how to make packs easy to open while maintaining tamper evidence and protection. But it costs money. There is no financial advantage to add a tear strip or a perforated edge, so they don’t do it. Their financial advantage is to get the webbing on the machine and wallop it through at the fastest speed. So there can be no perforated areas, no metal foil backs that can be easily broken, no tear strips.

I am a middle aged woman with a disability so my weakened hands can’t handle these Superman strength packs.  Having recently bought a pack of screws that was bullet proof, I had to note the comparative ease of opening over the counter drugs and prescription medicine packs.

Packaging companies can keep their excuses that their packs have to be tamper proof. I know they do.  But it just doesn’t make any logical sense that if I want an aspirin I can have one with no problem at all, but if I need a screw I’ve got no chance.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s