A conversation with Alexandre Basson, Group Marketing, Strategy & Business Development Director, PRECISION VALVE
AEROSOL EUROPE: At the Aerosol & Dispensing Forum, during Paris Packaging Week in January of this year, you put two aerosol actuators on the market whose technology seems almost revolutionary. What is so unique about this technology?
ALEXANDRE BASSON: You are absolutely correct in your reference to these two groundbreaking products, SMART 35 and STYLISH 52, which are the first of their kind to be powered by the revolutionary and exclusive STORM Technology.
STORM Technology is truly one-of-a-kind, as it allows for exceptional spray quality without requiring an actuator insert, although itis only applicable to spray products and not gels or foams. The technology behind STORM is both uncomplicated and intricate. To put it simply, STORM Technology involves the creation of a cavity between the stem and the actuator exit, which encourages particle breakup, acceleration, and haphazard distribution, resulting in superior spray quality. This process can be called a Disruptive Break Up, or DBU, which sets it apart from traditional technology. The outcomes of this technology are remarkably impressive in many cases.
AEROSOL EUROPE: To what extent have you taken sustainability into consideration when developing these aerosol actuators?
ALEXANDRE BASSON: Actually, from the start. It all began with the simple realization that protecting the environment is costly in today's world. It's become a common belief that consuming eco-friendly products almost always means paying extra, and this is not limited to aerosols alone, but extends to everyday products such as organic food, energy-efficient appliances, and cars. Governments have imposed or are planning to impose taxes on conventional products to offset the high costs of eco-friendly alternatives. This economic dilemma has given rise to the need for affordable, eco-friendly products, which has become even more pressing in the face of rising inflation in Europe, the UK, North America, and Latin America.
Against this backdrop, PRECISION asked itself the question of how its products could be both environmentally friendly and affordable. From the start, the marketing brief given to the development teams was straight forward yet radical: design concepts that use 30-50% less material,do not require over-capping, and are preferably made of a single resin to facilitate recycling. Less material means lower production costs and energy consumption and sometimes reduced plastics taxes. Single-resin parts are more cost-effective and simpler to manufacture. Eliminating the cap translates into less material, no assembly, and exemption from plastic packaging taxes in certain countries, such as the UK.
AEROSOL EUROPE: What factors played a role in the naming – SMART 35, STYLISH 52?
ALEXANDRE BASSON: To name our new actuators, we wanted names that were both original and meaningful, reflecting the results achieved. We believe that our innovative solution to radically lighten the actuators, designing them from the outset without an overcap and as a single piece using.
STORM Technology, is a very elegant and clever solution. An actuator that is only 35mm and weighs 2g all-inclusive - isn't that SMART? For the second actuator,we wanted to communicate that creating an environmentally friendly, minimalist, and optimized product doesn't mean sacrificing aesthetics. Despite the technical constraints of weight and vertical compression resistance, our STYLISH actuator is exactly that - a stylish product that enhances its shelf appeal.
AEROSOL EUROPE: Do these two products complement the PRECISION portfolio or are they enhancements of existing aerosol actuators?
ALEXANDRE BASSON: SMART 35 and STYLISH 52 represent the vanguard of a new generation of actuators that PRECISION is proud to offer to the aerosol industry. In the midst of the ongoing complexities of the world since the Covid crisis, it is crucial to provide solutions that are tailored to the new paradigm, which is defined by two key tenets: sustainability and cost-effectiveness.
AEROSOL EUROPE: Surely design also played a role. What factors were important here?
ALEXANDRE BASSON: Design played a crucial role in the development of these two actuators, with PRECISION leveraging the expertise of two centers of excellence in the United States and Germany. The German team led the project on the pure design front, while the American team focused on optimizing the STORM Technology. Clear guidelines were established for the design of these two actuators, with a focus on achieving the lightest, most attractive, and most ergonomic product possible for the consumer, while still adhering to technical constraints such as product resistance, vertical compression resistance, and capping on the filling line. Our R&D teams, sales and marketing teams at PRECISION, as well as our partner clients, provided feedback and conducted tests with users throughout the development process. This approach is a classic example of product development within a B2B2C environment.
AEROSOL EUROPE: How did the industry react when you presented your innovations in Paris?
ALEXANDRE BASSON: As you know, we introduced these innovations in two stages. First, the STORM Technology at the ADF Paris 2022 in June of last year, and then in January of this year, the new disruptive SMART & STYLISH actuators at the ADF Paris 2023. To link back to your previous question about the names of our products, we also questioned the registered name of our proprietary technology: STORM. Besides the fact that it generates a truly "chaotic" flow of particles, which is perfect for a spray, we also wanted to signify that PRECISION was going to"take the world by STORM," and that's exactly what happened. After an initial period of skepticism, customers began testing their respective formulations, and in the vast majority of cases, were amazed by the tremendous results obtained. Once again, we never claimed to have a miracle solution that works in all cases, but the STORM Technology is truly impressive for a large number of different products. On this front, it is a great success that is confirmed every day in our laboratories and those of our customers around the world.
As for the SMART and STYLISH actuators, they arrive in a context perfectly adapted to their purpose. Environmental regulations are emerging everywhere, often very different, and a large number of countries are facing inflation the likes of which have not been seen for decades, particularly in Europe, the priority destination market for these new products. Aerosol manufacturers, who must find more environmentally friendly solutions but also reduce the cost of their products and safeguard their margins, can only be interested in this offering, which is completely disruptive but so relevant. Therefore, we are particularly satisfied and proud of the reception received by our new actuators.
AEROSOL EUROPE: Surely you’re planning additional innovations. When can we expect the next ones?
ALEXANDRE BASSON: We are currently working on other innovative concepts with the goal of introducing them by in the beginning of next year and starting production in 2024, if everything goes well. Our team is highly optimistic and confident that these new concepts will exceed expectations. While we cannot reveal too much, we can confidently say that the best is yet to come.
AEROSOL EUROPE: Trade events are good platforms for innovations. Do you already have one in mind?
ALEXANDRE BASSON: There are few professional exhibitions worldwide dedicated to the aerosol industry. PRECISION participates throughout the year in several of them: the Indian Aerosol Expo in New Delhi, AMPAT, which you organize in the USA, and in Ningbo, China. However, it seems that the ADF Paris has become the world reference for this industry. We successfully presented our STORM Technology and SMART & STYLISH actuators there, and we hope to have the opportunity to showcase PRECISION's next innovations at the event in 2024.