Friday 25 April 2014

Progressive Diaper Design (Part 1)

More from INDA Vision 2014 in Dallas...

Carlos Richer of Richer Investments (USA) repeated his 4-hour tour de force workshop on diaper design and production and as in 2013 he targeted new entrants, especially those in the developing economies.  He noted that only 20% of his audience had been at last year’s Orlando workshop so he would cover similar ground but add many new observations.  He listed some of the mistakes made by new entrants in the emerging markets:

  • ·         There is no need to concentrate SAP in a target area.  It should be uniformly distributed throughout the entire area of the diaper so that the skin feels dry everywhere.
  • ·         Sandwiching the SAP between layers of pulp is also wrong, because this makes the surface wetter.  It is however necessary to protect thin backsheets from the sharp SAP crystals and a  pulp bottom layer would provide a good cushion.
  • ·         Free-swell capacity of a diaper gives impressive numbers for marketing, but is irrelevant to customer satisfaction.  Retention under appropriate pressure is the only absorbency measure of any value to the diaper designer.
  • ·         You can have too much breathability.  The most comfort is obtained mid-range because excess breathability leads to urine cooling too quickly and the dry-feeling diaper becoming uncomfortably cold sooner.
  • ·         Hour-glass shaped cores are no longer the best.  They should be rectangular with the straight leg cuffs glued on outside the core area.
  • ·         Channels in the leg cuffs near the waist to improve ventilation are a bad idea and lead to increased leaks.  Leg cuffs should be sealed in at the waistband.
  • ·         Permeable SAP is needed for better strike-through.  If it is, the acquisition layer is wrong and the diaper will feel wetter.  The ADL should hold enough urine for a non-permeable SAP to have time to absorb it.
  • ·         SAP content tends to vary too much from diaper to diaper.  The standard deviation of absorbency after centrifuging several diapers is a good measure of SAP variability.
He commented on the observed differences between P&G and KC globally.  KC have been growing by acquisition and their diaper range shows many types differing in chassis shapes, widths and lengths.  P&G on the other hand develop all products in house and have very consistent designs around the world. 

With regard to “training pants” it was now clear that this description of the pull-up diaper was hindering growth in the USA and EU.  The Asian market was growing faster at the expense of regular diapers because they were not being linked with potty training.  They were becoming the preferred option from about size 3 upwards.  The US and EU diaper/training pant markets had declined by 1.5 to 2% since last year.

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