Macfarlane launches new packaging Innovation Lab in the North West

Macfarlane Packaging, the UK’s leading distributor of protective packaging, has opened its second packaging Innovation Lab at its flagship Northwest Regional Distribution Centre in Heywood, near Manchester.

The 5,000 square foot customer facility is fully equipped to create solutions for the most demanding packaging challenges and fully test them to ensure they can withstand the rigours of supply chain handling.

Macfarlane’s new Innovation Lab builds on the success of its first facility in Milton Keynes, which opened in 2016. With an investment of £1.3million, the Manchester site features:

  • Bespoke ‘Packaging Optimiser’ software, designed to reduce total cost and measure the CO2 equivalent impact of packaging
  • Stretch wrapping and pallet load containment testing
  • Network handling simulator that evaluates solutions to International Safe Transport Association standards, emulating real world supply chains, including conveyor impacts, vertical drops and last mile logistics
  • Atmospheric conditioning chamber, providing precise temperature and humidity testing for applications such as food or pharmaceutical storage and delivery
  • Full design, digital print and CAD prototyping for making same day packaging samples
  • HoloLens mixed reality head set and augmented reality design tools to showcase solutions to customers in-situ
  • Packaging automation showroom, demonstrating the latest packaging machinery

Rachel Fellows, National Account Director at Macfarlane Packaging, said:

“At Macfarlane, we are focused on protecting our customers’ products with packaging that’s tailored to their business needs and goals, while reflecting their brand and minimising the impact on the planet. Our Northwest Innovation Lab is uniquely equipped to help us do that and I am confident that it will be an asset for our customers – existing and new – as we work together to ensure their products are effectively and efficiently protected on their route to market.”

“The North of England is famous for its industry and innovation. Our Northwest Innovation Lab is ready to support customers locally and internationally to protect their products, profits and environmental goals.”


Richard Garratt, Head of Design at Macfarlane Packaging, added: “Ongoing investment in our Innovation Labs allows us to push forward with the latest tools and technology to deliver creative solutions that reduce cost, improve sustainability and enhance customer experience. The new centre offers market-leading testing capability, including technical offering with ISTA testing, load containment and climatic conditioning, all accessible remotely through an advanced video conferencing system that connects our UK and European operations together.”