As a packaging engineer, who has been designing and building packaging systems for some forty years, I am always impressed by the results of the German and French packaging machine companies. The Germans, such as Robert Bosch, Multivac and Krones, with their high quality machinery and reliable performance, maybe a bit conservative, but sure as hell refined in design and techniques. At the other hand the French companies, such as Sidel, Serac and several others, which always seem to be able to translate the most “wild” and adventurous ideas into working packaging systems. I already wrote about Sidel, Serac, Robert Bosch and Multivac. Let’s visit today the stand of the world’s foremost machine manufacturer for beverages. German company Krones, headquartered in Neutraubling, evolved far beyond its original role as a mere producer of machinery and bottling lines.
Krones concentrates on six-packs
I just pick one item from their stand to highlight. It’s a development the people of Krones are very proud of and indeed it’s something special. Krones claims it to be the only one technology of its kind in the world. The new system joins six bottles and reduces the amount of waste usually needed for the secondary packaging by 75%.
As we all know, the shrink-pack is the most commonly used form of secondary packaging for PET containers. Shrink-film, however, requires fossil raw materials for its manufacture, and, moreover, the shrink-on process in the shrink tunnel consumes a relatively high quantity of energy.
The goal was to create a resource-economical alternative to film-wrapped shrink-packs, a complete pack system including the packaging and the associated machinery. Krones tapped into already proven strapping technology and used with success in other sectors, thus creating a completely new packaging design for PET containers, baptized the LitePac.
This entirely new packaging design addresses market trends for secondary packaging of PET containers, in regard to eco-compatibility, resource-economy, reduced energy consumption and cost savings, and can be marked as a concept of the future.
The requisite technology is provided by the newly developed Evolite packer, comprising a container infeed module and a container strapping module. In the infeed module, the containers are divided into two continuous lane flows. Four strapping units then create the LitePac packs in the container strapping module. Watch also the video.
Green Efficiency by ErgoStar
We have to take a look at the smaller items also, as they most times are able to enrich the performance of a packaging line. At the other hand, fully automated systems aren’t always the best solution or even possible, so let’s see what interesting development is available in the manual field.
Robatech AG, Muri, in Switzerland shows its ErgoStar hot-melt hand applicators. The new hand applicator combines an ergonomic design with a high flexibility during the process. ErgoStar is suitable to melt all variations of hot-melt like EVA, PUR and PE, pressure sensitive hot-melt or sealings, with a highly precise application in bead, spiral or in spray in the viscosity range from 100 to 20,000 mPas. The nozzles can be exchanged upon request and can be adapted to any demands. The easy operating electro-pneumatic trigger in combination with the ergonomic design of the hand applicator ensures that the operator can work without tiring, as the handle can be individually adjusted by means of a screw, i.e. the workstation can be adapted to optimally meet the requirements of the operator. The “cool touch” handle prevents injuries from burns since the plastic has outstandingly good insulation properties.
An innovative 5 litre spray system
I know, I have already been reporting about some products from Ardagh (see the 1st day), but I forgot to mention one interesting and very practical packaging design, with which Ardagh won an iF Award.
An existing packaging, namely a 5 l beer keg, a.o. used by Heineken, combined with a pressure system is made available for a new market use, one for paints and coatings. The 5 litre Spray System is a prototype created from this award-winning 5 litre Beer Keg.
The ready-to-use all-in-one spray system consists of three parts: a 5 litre metal keg (sealed paint container), a pressure system and various accessories, such as a hose, paint pistol and nozzle. The consumer pushes an activation knob; the pressurized content is released and can be applied without spending any time, effort, pouring into another container or mixing: it is three times quicker than the conventional method. No paint will stick on the user’s hands, no bothersome cleaning is required, and the paint container is easy to dispose of and is 100% recyclable.
Avery’s Flexis Steam Valve
Avery Dennison is mainly known for its adhesive tapes and labels, but they do amazing things with these products. The company shows a valve, called Flexis Steam, which can be integrated into the packaging and enables steam to escape in microwave meal cooking.
The valve is self-venting, which eliminates the need to puncture the lid or film before cooking. The valve also guards against the entry of contaminants by remaining hermetically sealed until the food product is cooked.
During the cooking process, the valve actuates at a predetermined temperature and allows a precise amount of steam to escape from the package. Depending on the baffle configuration designed into the valve, more or less steam will be permitted to escape.
For example, a floret baffle design might be specified for a rice, vegetable and protein meal because it retains an additional percentage of moisture inside the package. An “X” baffle design releases a bit more moisture and thereby thickens the meal’s sauce, being better suited for a chicken and pasta dish.
The steam valve system can be used in both microwave and conventional oven applications.
The steam valve system, as an integral part of the food package, is applied at the package converting stage. The Flexis steam valve system uses a proprietary design that provides a hermetic seal when applied over a pre-cut hole in flexible packaging or lidding film.
Users can print and apply the valves (e.g. form fill and seal) or source finished packaging with plain or printed steam valves pre-applied. Avery Dennison offers label applicators, printers and engineering assistance to integrate the system into existing packaging lines.
E-Z ZIP Pouch from Ampac
Ampac has been quite successful and received various awards this year. Three AmeriStar Awards, a competition organised by the (American) Institute of Packaging Professionals, went to Ampac for its Sprout Baby Food zippered retort pouch, the Hormel E-Z ZIP pouch, and the Hellman’s Best Foods E-Z ZIP pouch. The same pouches were also awarded by the Flexible Packaging Association. So it was a must to visit its stand at the Interpack.
E-Z ZIP Recloseable Pouches feature a unique pull-tab opening that allows consumers to pull away a thin tear strip on the front of a pouch to get access to the recloseable zipper. The package zipper can then be pulled open to dispense the product and pressed closed to reseal the bag.
A unique feature of E-Z ZIP is that the zipper closure is accessed without having to tear off or damage the header of the stand-up pouch. For consumers, this creates a simple way to open packages without causing ragged tears, damaging the zipper, or requiring scissors to cleanly open the top of a pouch. For brand owners, it allows for packaging design and branding to remain with the header, utilizing the entire front of the package.
E-Z ZIP pouches also improve filling and production efficiencies. With the conventional zipper closures, issues might arise in pouch filling if the zippers are not completely open. With E-Z ZIP, the zipper closure is located completely on one side of the pouch, allowing product to fill through the unsealed pouch opening as if there were no zipper in place. The front placement of the zipper closure also eliminates the possibility that food or other materials will be trapped in the zipper prior to sealing.
UV Drop on Demand inkjet printer
About the size of a TetraPak Brik, the Redcube is a compact and clean UV Drop on Demand Piezo inkjet printer for high-end marking. The system can be configured to meet the conditions of any given production process and is easily integrated into any packaging system. Codes, texts and graphics of photographic quality are printed in a single pass with solvent-free UV-curing inks on a wide range of substrates, lacquered or non-lacquered. The Redcube achieves the highest quality standards in the pharmaceutical industry.
The RedCube, a product of Hapa, prints a standard 36mm width using proven and reliable Hapa DOD-Technology.
The appearance, design details and workmanship reflect the company’s high quality and technological standards.
Hapa, based in Volketswil, Switzerland, is a world leader of Late Stage Customization and On Demand printing technologies, delivering pharmaceutical industries fast, accurate and value-creating packaging solutions.
That is it for today. Just one day to go. Tomorrow is the last day of the Interpack 2011. But let’s first have a glimpse of the exhibitor’s party celebrating the results and allowing for an early farewell.