Nonwovens Industry spoke with Wipes Academy instructor Rob Johnson, principal of Smith, Johnson & Associates, who told us what attendees learned over the two-day course.
Nonwovens Industry (NWI): In general, what did attendees learn at the Wipes Academy?
Rob Johnson (RJ): The Wipes Academy is a broad overview of the wipes industry but focusing mainly on premoistened consumer wipes for personal care and hard surface cleaning. It covered materials, processes, commercialization, quality issues, markets and consumer understanding, regulations and current hot topics. There were also videos along the way of wipe converting processes and nonwovens manufacturing processes.
NWI: How was the training course broken down by topic during the two days?
RJ: There were 12 major topic areas – six per day. We started with an overview and then three separate modules on materials: one each on nonwoven substrates, liquid ingredients, and packaging materials. Next we explored converting processes – what I like to call the “‘ings” such as cutting, folding, wetting, etc., as well as how these processes are orchestrated to make a wipe. Next we moved forward to three topic areas related to commercial development: wipe development and manufacturing; cost effective production; and the related areas of quality, product stability and recalls. We finished up with final three topics: market application and statistics; consumer understanding; and, influential issues and regulations.
NWI: Were there any hands-on components as part of the course?
RJ: Yes, there were several times we broke into small groups to assess, compare and contrast different products and materials. For the finale, there was a fun exercise: each group had to think through the development of a product for the same end use as each other group. Each group then reported back to the larger group their selections and rationale for each product element – the substrate, liquid, package and product name.
NWI: How has the Wipes Academy evolved since it launched in 2014? Have you added any new elements this year?
RJ: It has evolved more than fundamentally changed. We have added videos of nonwovens processes and significant new information on preservation technologies – as that is a rapidly evolving area. This year I have expanded the hands on time and activities.