The world and consequently our life is getting more complicated, and with it the production processes and the ingredients to let them run, i.e. the raw material to be used. This is no different for the packaging sector. The packaging machinery as well as the packaging materials are getting more sophisticated, implying more complicated.
And still the keyword is simplicity. Of course it is, as simplicity is the reduction of complexity. And at Interpack you could see the implementation of simplicity, as a result of reduction of complexity, throughout the whole spectrum. In packaging machinery as well as in packaging material.
Let’s start with the most important development, which will define the future of packaging. I mean the tremendous changes in packaging material, and particularly the combination, fusion or merger, or whatever you want to call it, of two different materials into one.
We have seen some (simple) examples in the past, like paper board coated with a plastic layer, we have seen metalizing of plastic film, the attempt of a bag-in-box, and recently some development to blow-mould paper and plastic into one bottle.
What I see is a further integration into one material from two or more basic components, something like a paper-metal material, a paper-plastic, a metal-plastic etc. As one material, not as two components separately glued, coated, calandered together. Just one master batch if you want.
Look at, as an example, the co-injection development of Superfos where an inner and outer layer of virgin material are sandwiching an in-between layer of recycled material. This is a very important development, as it makes it possible to use large quantities of recycled material in food containers without the problem of being food grade, as the recycled material isn’t in contact with the product. Although migration is an item to be investigated, it is a big step in the direction of material fusion.
We have seen other examples at Interpack. But be aware this is only the beginning. In my opinion packaging material will move to fusions between different sorts of material. I foresee more integration of the various basic packaging materials into one packaging format. I.e. the integration of, let’s say glass, metal, paper etc, into one integrated new packaging material.
Of course this development might bring extra problems into the recycling stream, while there is and has to be a growing trend towards ” cradle-to-cradle”. This has to be worked out.
I will write about this item in detail in the near future. I am collecting more material to underscore my hypothesis.
Furthermore we have seen quite some developments in manufacturing plastic bottles. New processes as of Serac, blowing bottles from a film reel, the changeable blowing moulds from Sidel, are huge steps into the world of economizing the blow moulding process.
And there is more to come, as we see at the other hand the nearing end of the traditional blow moulding of bottles. Have a look at the development of Aisa in Switzerland again, look at Tetra’s new Evero Aseptic carton bottle.
The development of multi-material bottles is another hot item in the future. Tetra and Aisa are not the only ones developing and experimenting with multi-material bottles. I will write a separate article about this item in the near future. The squeezable bottles from Aisa and Serac/Agima are probably perfectly suitable for HPP processes.
We have seen an interesting evolution in the stand-up pouch with s-pouch, Volpak and Robert Bosch, attacking the existence of the plastic bottle with a structural design of the stand-up pouch that imitates perfectly the plastic bottle. Another alternative that proclaims the end of the blow moulded plastic bottle as we know it. The evolution of the stand-up pouch is worth a separate article.
In paper board, and particularly in folding cartons and in multi-packs, we saw some interesting structural designs. It is interesting to show in a separate article some of the most impressive folding cartons.
Of course we will see further developments in interactive packages, talking back, showing video upon request all via the RFID or QR/2D bar codes, interactivity with counterfeiting, even interactivity with olfactory (as you can’t have a permanent scenting package on the shelves), interactivity with track and trace (land of original, freshness, recalls etc).
And then finally let’s have a look at the packaging machines. Packaging machines are getting more complicated and tend to go to integrated lines. Nevertheless also here is simplicity the key-word, as it has to walk hand-in-hand with flexibility.
As I wrote on the last day of the Interpack, the time in which packaging machines were controlled by mechanical curves and electric relays is long gone. Servomotors took the place of the curves, and electronics empowered process control. But whether you like it or not, the packaging process is simplified, due to the servomotors and the electronics. Ok, you need high-level maintenance people to run the show, but basically the mechanical machines with curves and controlled by relays, were much more complicated, in terms of maintenance, change-over times and fine-tuning.
And so a new generation of machines has arisen where the control dominates. We have seen it with the development, I wrote about, of Schubert, which showed a packaging machine which features fully-automatic tool changing and can therefore work with different products. It has made fully-automatic size changing a reality with change-over times of 4.5 minutes.
To end this recap, let’s see what the exhibitors at Innovationparc Packaging at the Interpack have to say about the future packaging. The Innovationparc Packaging showed many packaging innovations that may influence our future life. Interpack reporter Anna Dressel spoke to experts from the areas of health/well-being and identity.
All in all Interpack 2011 was an impressive exhibition, leaving me with sufficient material to write a whole series of articles about packaging innovations.
some photos and the video courtesy Interpack / Messe Düsseldorf