During Summer 2008, Maui Brewing Co., Lahaina, Maui, HI, began rolling out a new approach to multipack beer can packaging. Working with PakTech (www.paktech-opi.com), the brewer is launching 4- and 6-packs of its specialty beers (CoCoNut PorTer, Bikini Blonde Lager, and Big Swell IPA) in unique handled ring carriers with dust-cover tops. Initial markets are in Hawaii, California, and Japan.
The QuadPak and 6Pak handles are made of injection-molded high-density polyethylene (HDPE). The durable, lightweight handles feature a dust-cover option that ensures can-top cleanliness for the consumer as well as a convenient area for UPC-coded labels. Handles can be manually applied, or PakTech can provide automated application equipment.
Dust cover a 'must have'
Maui Brewing founder Garrett Marrero comments, "As far as we're concerned, the dust cover is not an option. It's a must have. It keeps the can top clean and provides for a better experience, if the consumer chooses to drink directly from the can."
The aluminum cans, supplied by Ball Corp. (www.ball.com), are manufactured at Ball's plant in Kapolei, Oahu. Cans are inked directly in a 6-color print process and baked to cure the ink. The procedure allows for adjustment of ink gradients and overlays to produce high-quality graphics.
Maui Brewing's automated canning line is supplied by Cask Brewing Systems, Inc. (www.cask.com). It runs at speeds approximately 30 cans/min.
Looking to automate
Marrero explains, "We apply the handles and covers manually. Cans are placed into trays by hand to arrange them, and the rings simply are pressed down and clipped on. When we scale up, we'll look at an automated machine for applying the rings."
Maui Brewing is the first brewery to use PakTech's handles on a high-volume project. Marrero says, "Of all the issues we've tackled, secondary packaging has proven to be the most difficult. We've struggled to find the best packaging that not only meets our environmental mission, but also holds up to shipping and use. We feel that PakTech has met our needs in an environmentally friendly way that is certain to create a buzz. It's been extremely successful so far. We barely are keeping up with orders."