September 12, 2023
min read
How iMonitor helps Varden in their
mission to rid the world of packaging waste

The world produces 353 million tons of plastic waste every year, nearly half of that attributed to packaging. With so many discarded single-use pouches, blister packs and containers polluting ecosystems, governments have started to phase out petroleum-based plastics, creating a demand for sustainable alternatives.

Enter Varden. The Melbourne-based company develops packaging solutions that use paper made from agricultural waste like sugar cane bagasse and rice straw. FMCG brands can license Varden’s Paperseal technology in high-speed manufacturing/filling lines to create packaging with barrier performance that outperforms plastic and that can be more readily composted or recycled. And Varden relies on iMonitor at their factory.

"We had to go all-out from a quality aspect, based on the caliber of the companies that we deal with,” said Lucas Ogden, Varden’s Quality Controller. “So, when we were drafting our quality management documentation, we went looking for a digital system to manage the paperwork side of it.”

“It’s proven really useful,” Ogden said. “It’s gotten us out of difficulties as we’ve developed new products and as we’ve gone through the obligatory food safety and consumer safety approvals.”

iMonitor helps Varden stay agile, clutter-free and compliant

Varden uses its factory to develop, prototype and test the solutions it will license to customers. They use iMonitor to digitize processes, run test batches and more. With iMonitor, Varden has been able to achieve important goals, from keeping their factory tidy and paper-free to meeting FSSC requirements.

“As a demonstration facility, we put an emphasis on tidiness and minimal waste,” Ogden said. “The goal was to get every single bit of paper batch record, CCP—that sort of thing—off the floor, and we have.”

With all its processes digitized in iMonitor, Varden can easily manage demo batches and track products from receiving ingredients through finished products.

“We put as much in there as possible to minimize the tools we need,” Ogden said. “The raw materials-to-finished product traceability is there, goods received, pallet records the batch management is there, to the point that we don’t need any advanced ERP system.”

But the biggest benefit, Ogden said, has been the “body of evidence” iMonitor provides to show compliance for achieving FSSC certification while building out its factory.

“We’ve got the processes, start-to-finish, built in iMonitor, and we use that to demonstrate our audit milestones for FSSC,” Ogden said. “That allowed us to take that first certification journey, which is very documentation- and systems-based, when we would otherwise be twiddling our thumbs.”

Digitization with iMonitor keeps Varden agile. If a solution requires a new ingredient or a different approach for producing specific kinds of packaging, Varden can use iMonitor to quickly scope out new processes.

“We can mock it up, and see how the record-keeping responds, which is really useful,” Ogden said. “You can build a process, capture operator inputs, and take that through a mock audit all within a few hours, and that is really fantastic.”

You can build a process, capture operator inputs, and take that through a mock audit all within a few hours, and that is really fantastic.

Using iMonitor features to minimize errors, maximize efficiency

iMonitor’s label printing and scanning features are fundamental to Varden’s processes, not just for keeping their factory paper-free, but for ensuring accurate data capture.

“With pen and paper, you’re always going to have that problem that naturally propagates—like, is that a 3 or an 8?” Ogden said. “You get rid of the paper, you get rid of those errors; a computer can’t scan a barcode incorrectly. So, that’s a pretty key part.”

Varden plans to reduce manual data entry and increase efficiency even more with iMonitor’s IIoT Integration.

“We’ll be taking the last bit of manual work out,” Ogden said. “Instead of taking a reading of a machine three times a day, we’ll be able to take that value directly from the machine.

iMonitor’s digitized processes, label scanning, and other features have helped Varden run an efficient factory. As for Ogden, whose focus is quality control, it’s the instant, end-to-end traceability that makes iMonitor such an asset.

“With everything indexed and digitally searchable, if an auditor needs to see documentation or if we ever had a recall event, what conventionally would take hours of rummaging through filing cabinets now turns into a quick, Google-type search,” Ogden said.

Benefits Summary

How Varden uses and benefits from iMonitor:

• Process digitization and modelling

• Clean, paper-free batch management

• Instant, input-to-output traceability

• Label printing and scanning

• Reduced data entry errors

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