Research

Engineered Packaging & Distribution

Cardboard

The research undertaken by the Group is aimed at increasing the overall effectiveness of protective packaging, reducing the environmental impact of packaging and minimising packaging waste. 

Our mission is to provide a local, national and international focus for scientific research aimed at developing environmentally sound and optimised solutions to support the distribution of products and produce. In particular our focus is on:

  • food security
  • food packaging
  • sustainable packaging
  • optimised and engineered protective packaging
  • packaging waste reduction
  • post-harvest technologies
  • biodegradable and antimicrobial packaging
  • environmental and distribution hazards.

Capabilities statement

View the Engineered packaging & distribution capabilities statement for a brief overview of our research focus, expertise, facilities and resources, track record, profile and contact information.

Research expertise

The Engineered Packaging & Distribution Research Group has strong links with the Institute for Sustainability and Innovation, and the Advanced Food Systems Research Unit, and the College of Engineering & Science with expertise in:

  • environmental shock and vibration
  • distribution dynamics
  • material characterisation
  • protective packaging
  • polymer chemistry
  • analytical chemistry
  • active food packaging (modified atmosphere, antimicrobials)
  • biodegradable polymers
  • post-harvest technologies.

Postgraduate research opportunities

Opportunities exist for undertaking postgraduate research (Masters or PhD) within the Engineered Packaging & Distribution research group. A diverse range of projects is available, including the following:

  • development of statistical models for the characterisation of distribution vibrations
  • development of sophisticated techniques for the analysis and simulation of transport vibrations
  • development of inexpensive and effective packaging materials
  • development of techniques for the performance characterisation of environmentally friendly materials
  • development of novel methods for determining the progression of damage in packaging elements during distribution
  • use of strain mapping (using high-speed digital image correlation) to optimise cushioning systems for impact absorption
  • development of testing facilities to measure biodegradability of packaging materials
  • development of methods of quality assessment of fresh and processed produce
  • development of active and antimicrobial packaging systems
  • study of migration chemicals and nanoparticles from packaging
  • development of biodegradable biocomposite materials for packaging
  • development of sophisticated post-harvest technologies such as new engineering procedures to design hydrocoolers
  • design and implementation of a novel solar powered grain cooling system
  • exploiting the principles of multiphysics and omniscience to improve the storage, packaging and transportation of foodstuffs
  • development of information technology systems to enable groups of people to contribute to joint decision making in the distribution and handling industries.

Find out more about scholarships for research students.

Research facilities

The research group has a number of laboratories with specialised equipment to facilitate research collaborations and industry testing. The laboratories are located at Footscray Park Campus and Werribee Campus.

Environmental & Distribution Dynamics Laboratory

Free-fall drop test

Free-fall drop test

The environmental and distribution dynamics laboratory houses a range of experimental facilities for distribution simulation and testing including:

  • large vibration table for transportation simulation
  • programmable shock generator
  • large compression testing machine
  • free-fall drop tester
  • cushion tester
  • environmental chambers
  • environmental data recorders.

Dynamics Research Laboratory

The dynamics research laboratory is equipped with:

  • vibrations shakers
  • universal testing machines
  • signal analysers
  • data recorders
  • high-speed camera
  • thermal imaging camera
  • a wide range of sensors and transducers.

Materials Engineering Laboratory

Compression testing of containers

Compression testing of containers

The material engineering laboratory houses specialised equipment including:

  • universal testing machines with specialised high-strain non-contact extensometer for polymers
  • hardness testing machines
  • dynamic mechanical analyser
  • a variety of ovens and incubators.

Polymer Research Laboratory

Chemical composition of packaging materials

Chemical composition of packaging materials

Our polymer research laboratory is furnished with equipment for:

  • thermal analysis of materials
  • polymer molecular weight
  • compression moulding press
  • programmable ovens.

Analytical Instrument Laboratories

The analytical instrument laboratory provides a range of equipment for materials characterisation and testing including:

  • infrared and fluorescence spectrophotometers
  • gas and liquid chromatographs
  • elemental analysis
  • scanning electron microscope.

Food Research Laboratory

The food research laboratory is equipped with instrumentation including:

  • rheometer
  • zetasizer
  • texture analyser
  • universal testing machine.

19th IAPRI World Conference on Packaging

The IAPRI 2014 World Conference on Packaging, held in Melbourne, Australia from 15-18 June 2014, was a great success. The conference was attended by some 140 delegates from 25 countries and included the presentation of 105 scientific papers on the latest developments in a wide range of global packaging research activities.

The book of proceedings for the conference (PDF version only) is available for purchase by contacting VU's College of Engineering & Science. You can download a preview of the conference proceedings.

News & events

Members of the Engineered Packaging & Distribution Research Group regularly facilitate and participate in a variety of both academic and industry forums. Our research work extends to interstate and overseas conferences and placements for members to actively contribute to collaborative research and information exchange.

Our experts

Name Phone and email Research interests
Professor Vincent Rouillard
Group Leader
+61 3 9919 4602
vincent.rouillard@vu.edu.au
Analysis and synthesis of random processes with applications in environmental shock and vibrations, pavement topography, transport dynamics and protective packaging.
Dr Marlene Cran
Deputy Leader
+61 3 9919 7642
marlene.cran@vu.edu.au
Polymer systems including the development of antimicrobial systems for food packaging. Marlene is also involved with the development of biodegradability tests for polymer packaging.
Professor Stephen Bigger +61 3 9919 2959
stephen.bigger@vu.edu.au
Polymer degradation and stabilisation with numerous commissioned research and consultancy assignments for both government and industry.
Dr Matthew Lamb +61 3 9919 5591
matthew.lamb@vu.edu.au
Mechanical Vibrations, Packaging Dynamics and Structural Integrity Assessment.

Our research students

Research projects by current and recent postgraduate students include:

Postgraduate research students

Name Thesis topic
Julien Lepine (PhD) Decomposition of mixed-mode random signals for improved simulation of vibration produced by wheeled vehicles.
Michael Long (M.Eng.) Investigation of pitch, roll and heave motion of transport vehicles.
Daniel Ainalis (PhD) Estimating vehicle dynamic characteristics from in-service response data.
Nyamjav Terbish (Masters) Improving the life of air filters operating in dusty environments.
Mohammad Aqeel Nazzal Saraireh (PhD) Heat transfer and condensation from humid air in a compact heat exchanger.
Kuorwel Kuorwel (PhD, completed 2012) Incorporation of natural antimicrobial agents into starch-based material for food packaging.
Intan Syafinaz Mohamed Amin Tawakkal (PhD, 2012) Characterization and Antimicrobial Activity of PLA and PLA/Kenaf Fiber Films with Natural Agents
Matthew Lamb (PhD, 2011) Monitoring the structural integrity of packaging materials subjected top sustained random loads
Hussein Mahanny Shehab (M.Eng. 2011) A study of creep characteristics of multi-layered corrugated fibreboard protective cushions.
J. B. Lasich (PhD 2010) The design and optimisation of a reflective concentrator photovoltaic generation system.
L. A. S. Rupika, (PhD 2009) Development and Evaluation of Antimicrobial Food Packaging Films Containing Natural Agents.
Anthony Parker (PhD, 2008) A method for the characterisation of the nonlinear vibration transmissibility of cushioning materials.
Chanun Rardniyom, (PhD, 2008) Multi-Coated Films Containing Natural Antimicrobial Agents.
Christopher Collins (PhD, 2008) Development of methods to access key sultana parameters at the processing line.
Murad Yusuf (PhD, 2007) Development of technology for the early detection of cold damage in oranges.
Archana Kolasani (PhD, 2006) Metal analyses of Chinese herbs related to kidney function.

Undergraduate honours students

Name Thesis topic
Richard Miller (2014) Evaluation of the performance of distribution shock detectors.
Ghofran Al-Nasiri (2013) Minimizing the Loss of Natural Antimicrobial Agents during the Thermal Processing of Food Packaging Films.
Courtney Bright (2013) Investigating the use of genetic algorithm for optimising cushion design.
Justin Milverton (2013) Evaluating the dynamic characteristics on biodegradable protective packaging.
Laurent Le Page (2012) Calibration of a single-wheel pavement profilometer.
Zoltan Kozak (2012) Evaluation of damage progression in protective packaging systems.
Daniel Ainalis (2011) Evaluation of signal analysis techniques for monitoring loss of structural integrity in engineering materials under random loads.

Research publications

Members of the Engineered Packaging & Distribution Research Group continue to publish their work in a broad range of scholarly journals and in proceedings of international learned conferences.

Here's a list of some publications from 2011.

Contact us

Professor Vincent Rouillard
Leader, Engineered Packaging & Distribution Research Group
Phone: +61 3 9919 4602
Email: vincent.rouillard@vu.edu.au.

Dr Marlene Cran
Deputy Leader, Engineered Packaging & Distribution Research Group
Phone: +61 3 9919 7642
Email: marlene.cran@vu.edu.au.