Chairmanship of PET group
Interview with Lother Brauer chair of the PET plenary Cetie group
June 30th 2020 was an important date for Cetie, as it was the last participation of Lothar Brauer to Cetie activities after many years of strong involvement in chairing the main group of the plastic branch of Cetie: the PET-plenary group.
This group will be led from now on by Bruno Königseder (Aptar) and co-chaired by Alessandro Falzoni (Sacmi).
Josquin Peyceré, leading Cetie for only one year, would not have missed the opportunity of interviewing Lothar!
Josquin Peyceré: How did you initially come to participate in Cetie?
Lothar Brauer: I joined BERICAP in 1991, and became Director R&D, then integrated the Sales Service and Mold/Tool Technology in 1998 for the entire BC-Group (with Design Centres in Europe and Turkey); Our French subsidiary, had participants in CETIE and they made me aware of the opportunity of participating to their working group, at a time when Cetie was beginning to deal with PET bottles.
JP: Did it change your role inside Bericap?
LB: Not directly, but I did integrate and consider the benefits of setting standards and working on it; when introducing the Product Data Management system in our company, the structure was set to focus on multiple uses of components (i.e. neck finishes) which is a prerequisite for standardisation.
JP: Do you have an example of a situation in which a Cetie document brought decisive help?
LB: Reducing the number of test procedures for a variety of customers! Many of the tests used to be very similar but needed to be made individually for each customer many times just because of minor differences (i.e.+/-2…3°C or so). The standardisation of test procedures was of great help to focus on the really important matter.
Another example: Neck finishes needed to be checked carefully to find out whether they fitted to a particular closure, which was designed for a finish that had already been approved and industrialised in some regions. Standardisation of the neck finishes reduced the risk of errors and simplified the job of many people.
JP: What are the differences between the work in working groups in 1999, and now?
LB: The complexity of the work items has increased, following the advancements in technology and the changes associated with light-weighting if finishes and closures; safety margins have been reduced “eaten up” due to weight reduction; design (“fit for purpose” and “as good as necessary” vs. “as good as possible”) and resin choice became more important.
The number of CETIE members within the working group has increased (meetings are usually with 35 to 40 people), which is good; but proportionally the number of active and knowledgeable participants is lower. More people mainly participate to gather information… which is less in line with the working principles of such organisation like i.e. CETIE or ISBT (International Society of Beverage Technologists based in the USA).
JP: Does it mean that the work done in Cetie directly brought technical progress on the products?
LB: There is probably not “that big thing” but a lot of little but steady and at the end important steps (with the above-mentioned subjects/ matters) and a certain dedication that made the success.
JP: What impact has a Cetie standard in the World (in Europe and outside Europe)? Have you seen an evolution in the visibility of Cetie documents?
LB: I do see basically two segments:
It was led in the past by ISBT with a strong focus on soft drinks, introducing the ‘PCO 1881’ neck finish which is one of the main world standards. Then the innovation pace came to Europe, through lighter water and Hot-Fill finishes, and also the introduction of Aseptic filling technologies, which required a huge work in CETIE to support these evolutions; OEM’s (equipment manufacturers), well represented in CETIE have validated, supported and pushed this innovative process. Brand owners of any size (all over the globe (meanwhile even including the US!) are asking: “is this finish standardised and industrially approved?” In many cases, the reference is a CETIE standard and this answer is enough to make it directly accepted.
Flat cap test methods have been standardised via ISBT in 2004 and reviewed and “modernised”/ updated between 2017-2019 by CETIE and finally in a joint working group published as the 1st joint document between CETIE and ISBT. Cap ovality, Cap nomenclature, Bottling guides exist in CETIE only, and have been recognised in ISBT already and will receive its global recognition surely over time.
JP: You, who have also contributed for a long time to ISBT, do you find the way of working very different at Cetie?
LB: Within ISBT (in particular the Packaging Technology) decisions regarding the application of work items and approval of methods or finishes are based on data-driven commitment and approval on strict rules, Cetie is more flexible and sometimes too flexible. But Cetie benefits from the participation of the OEM’S regarding technical and commercial feasibility, which makes a great difference.
JP: Which relations with the competitor does the regular working group imply?
LB: One is getting familiar with individuals from the competition and guess some hints about their position or intentions even though no industrial secrets will be disclosed and no proprietary matters will be discussed. More innovative companies (or individuals) have a great chance to set the standard and can finally get a competitive advantage at least for a limited period of time. Followers can stay in the race by running just aside from the most daring ones.
JP: What do you recall from your Cetie experience? Any success you would be particularly proud of?
LB: Objectifying discussion about cap deformation/ ovality; working on the new finish GME 30.37 together with the main companies in the World, and its extension to regular Carbonation (despite the disturbance because of the SUP/ Tethering issue).
JP: Has the job of the Chairman changed much?
LB: being an accepted chairman, making the Working Group successful and accepted, requires: modesty, knowledge and competence, independence, some retentiveness but at the same time being a bit pushy and output-driven; giving sufficient room for discussion but making sure it sticks to the matter and the heavy agenda; patience and persistence is needed too!
JP: Thank you, Lothar, I think that everybody recognises these qualities in you!
This is a good profile description for the next recruitments of chairmen in Cetie! We wish you a wonderful ‘after-Cetie’ time! And I personally thank you again for the job done and the pleasure it was to work with you!
The Cetie PET- Working-Group meets 5 times per year, bringing together 55 companies or federations of the plastic bottles and cap sector. It has recently published several guides (cap ovality, qualification test manual), nomenclatures, and neck finish datasheets. This group is currently working -among others- on a new finish for tethered caps and high-carbonated content, and a 25,5-mm diameter / 8,5-mm high Snap-on neck finish for plastic closures, with or without tamper-evident feature, dedicated to non-carbonated content.
Josquin Peyceré for french Magazine Liquides & Conditionement N°407
- Liquides & Conditionement N°407 (FR)