The aluminium cans that you use to drink not only contains juices and coke but so much science. 15000 cans are manufactured in one-second worldwide. A light and strong container we can have spherical containers like fruits. It requires the least raw material. (Sphere is the only shape which has maximum volume and minimum surface area). But it is difficult to manufacture spheres. And it has only 74% packing efficiency. That means 26% of space in a box goes waste.
Next, we can think of the cuboid (rectangle area). Here edges are sharp and weak. And the packing efficiency is also not good.
Finally, we come to cylindrical containers. We can rapidly manufacture them. The packing efficiency is 91%. The cylinders have a curved surface. The curved surfaces always have more strength than flat surfaces.
The bottom of the can is always “domed”. Because of:
1. The arched surface gives strength.
2. The semi-spherical surface requires less material than a flat surface.
To open, a lever arrangement is provided on the top. Lift, press, and Drink.
Along with beverages, some gases like carbon dioxide or nitrogen is filled up. Hence, twice the atmospheric pressure is there inside the can. The pressure reinforces the strength of the wall of the can. A filled coke can actually bear and withstand the weight of a man. The wall is only .75 microns(0.075mm) thick, Or it is as thick as human hair. (one gram saved in the manufacturing of cans will save 200000 tonnes of aluminium globally per annum)
Today, 70% of recyclable materials are used in the production of cans. Also, plastic is being replaced by aluminium foils now.
Metal cans, especially aluminium cans used for beverage and aerosol packaging, are the most recycled packaging units across the globe. They can be recycled at the end of their lifecycle without degradation in quality, and that makes them the preferred packaging material for brands across industries, ahead of other materials like plastic and paper. The demand for aluminium cans in the U.S. and Europe has always been on the higher side. With the growing middle-income group population, changing lifestyle, and evolving consumer preferences, the consumption rates in the Asian and South-east Asian countries are also rising steadily.
Following are the top five aluminium can manufacturers who are shaping up the aluminium packaging growth story globally:
Amcor is a global leader in packaging solutions supplying a broad range of rigid & flexible packaging products into the food, beverage, healthcare, home and personal care packaging industries. The company operates 128 flexible packaging units across 35 countries. In 2015, its flexible packaging business reported a total sale of Euro 4,996 billion. Amcor’s signature product Composite Can has high aluminium content and finds application across a wide range of product categories.
Amcor participates in a number of recycling programmes. It is an active member in industry bodies such as Aluminium Stewardship Initiative, European Organization for Packaging and the Environment, and the Sustainable Packaging Coalition. Presently, the company is out on a buying spree.
Ball Corporation this year has become the world’s largest beverage can manufacturer. The combined company now accounts for 60% of beverage can supply in North America, 69% in Europe and 74% in Brazil. With a current market cap of $10.3 billion Ball Corp is currently working on post-acquisition integration across the merged company verticals.
For 2015, Ball achieved new standard for carbon emissions of their beverage can by reducing it 10% against the 2010 base target. It has now set a 25% carbon emissions reduction goal for 2020. Recently, Ball has joined as a leading member in NASA’s Green Propellant Infusion Mission (GPIM) which will develop green alternatives to conventional chemical propulsion systems for aviation and spacecraft reducing about 75% emissions.
Silgan Containers LLC
Silgan is America’s largest provider of metal food packaging solutions. Its expertise in can making can be traced back to 1899 when the Carnation Company began making its evaporated milk cans. Today, the company holds about 50% of the U.S. market share. Silgan manufactures most of its products in the U.S. and Europe. With the competition from foreign-based companies using cheaper, outsourced labour from emerging markets rising, the company is being faced with mounting pricing pressures. In response to these pressures, Silgan has begun acquiring smaller competitors to expand its market share, investing in new technologies to increase manufacturing and production efficiency and most importantly, better controlling its raw materials costs through future contracts.
The Philadelphia, U.S. based packaging company Crown Holdings produces a comprehensive range of aluminium cans to match various beverage applications, food packaging and distribution channels. With operations in 40 countries and net sales of $9.1 billion, Crown is uniquely positioned to bring the best practices in quality and manufacturing to growing economies in Asia, Eastern Europe, South America and the Middle East and North Africa.
Ardagh is essentially an R&D and innovation-driven company. It has lately come up with a wide range of beverage packaging solutions. Its interactive printing technology in aluminium bottles and cans which embeds a watermark code in print ready artwork promises to serve as a great marketing solution and anti-counterfeiting technique for brands. Among Ardagh’s latest feats winning 2016 Canmaker Cans of the Year competition remains the foremost. The canmaker’s re-closable aluminium bottle for two of Coke’s best-selling brands earned it gold in the coveted Bottle category.
There is Arconic, Novelis, Constellium – the big names in the industry who have well-structured downstream divisions, and then there are pure packaging industry players such as U.S. based Reynolds Group Holdings Limited, India’s Al-Can Exports, and Anheuser-Busch Packaging Group/Metal Container Corporation.
The global metal cans demand is projected to reach 431,573.9 million cans by 2020, growing at a CAGR of 2.9% from 2014 to 2020. With the above aluminium can manufacturers stepping up their product differentiation and innovation pursuits the demand for the aluminium cans is expected to rise further in the medium to long term. Next time, when you drink from a can, appreciate the engineering.