Tata Steel’s whole business is geared towards understanding its customers’ needs. The company offers a range of different services backed up by world-class research and development facilities, a customercentric new product development process, a knowledgeable account management team staffed with experts on individual market sectors and a range of customer technical services engineers who proactively help customers improve everything from the efficiency of their manufacturing lines to the performance of the end product in use.
Tata Steel is interested in developing new, improved approaches to the opening of steel-based cans and potential solutions ideally should meet the key success criteria:
- Simple to introduce into the can manufacturing process
- Significantly easier to open than the pull-tab system
- Tamper proof from manufacture to consumer
- Cost competitive with the current product
In 1959 the pull-tab can-opening method was developed in the US, transforming the popularity of cans as containers for food and beverages. The development removed the need for a separate tool, hugely increasing convenience for consumers. However, whilst a significant improvement the pull-tab system in its various forms (the most recent development was ca. 1989/90) still has challenges, not the least of which is that it can still be hard to open for the elderly, infirm or disabled, spawning a new range of tools to assist with opening the cans. It is over 20 years since the last significant iteration of the pull-tab system.
With an increasing range of competing packaging materials like Tetrapak and pouches available, Tata Steel's customers see the opening behaviour of cans as one of the biggest threats for the future of canned food. Losing business to alternative packaging materials would, however, have a huge environmental impact. Metal is the only packaging material that is infinitely recyclable, whilst other packaging materials often end up in landfill or in the sea. Tata Steel thinks it’s time explore new concepts for developing improvements or alternatives!
Any and all ideas, however radical, will be considered that meet the key success criteria. However, technologies for which IP is owned by others be accepted.
A successful collaboration could mean joint development, contract research, technology acquisition and a supply agreement (to be negotiated).
This is a global challenge and Tata Steel are willing to collaborate with both individuals/freelancers and other industry participants/universities etc. and solutions can be at any stage of development, from concept to market-ready.
If you have or are developing solutions, or if you have expertise in this area and would like to get in front of Tata Steel, please click "Apply" to submit your solution/expertise to the Network.