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Saturday, April 7, 2012

FachPack 2012: Solutions for a complex market


What innovations will the some 1,400 exhibitors at FachPack 2012 - from 25–27 September in the Exhibition Centre Nuremberg - come up with to surprise its good 35,000 visitors from all over Europe? What exactly are the highlights in the packaging, technology, processing and logistics segments? Clicking www.ask-FachPack.de will certainly help, because all the exhibitors post their current product information here.

Saving space, energy and material – these are the issues that currently concern the packaging industry. The driving forces for constant innovations are complex: general economic conditions, political regulations and technological progress. The packaging industry is facing these challenges for the further development of its products. Ultimately, the sparing use of resources also ensures more efficiency in the value chain.

Packaging: smart films for fast food
Meat places special demands on industrial packaging, because the juice runs out. A soft film vacuum package with two chambers ensures dry storage in the package. Here the separate active vacuum chamber absorbs the meat juice and oxygen in the air from the edges of the product. The meat keeps the red colour appreciated by consumers. The second chamber in the package avoids contact with the escaped meat juice on opening the package – the system prevents this flowing back into the meat. The new concept also saves production costs: The vacuum system of the second chamber eliminates the need for absorbent pads. A special composition is not necessary for the film. The standard film solutions are suitable for a broad spectrum of products.

Promising packaging solutions help to keep food containing fat, food coated in breadcrumbs or bread products crispy and tasty when prepared in the microwave. Moisture and fat run off through a perforated sealing film during cooking and are absorbed by an intermediate layer. Food not coated with breadcrumbs, such as bacon, can also be prepared much crispier in the microwave. The package has thermal insulation properties too. These reduce the outside temperature of the package after cooking in the microwave, so it is possible to touch the bag without problems. This combined with easily integrated, convenient opening mechanisms makes it easy to remove the cooked food quickly. An additional steam valve label permits particularly gentle steaming, which preserves the natural taste and vitamins. The flexible package can be pressed completely flat and has an attractive design with a window for seeing the product. It is processed on conventional form-fill-and-seal systems and can replace a bag-in-box susceptor package. Susceptors consist of a vapour-deposited metal layer on a film. They radiate heat to brown the food. The new microwave package saves these materials and is made partly from renewable raw materials.

Technology: flexible machines package at top speed
Sealed tray packages are popular as industrial packages for fresh products or frozen meals. Products packaged in this way offer a high degree of convenience, can be kept for longer thanks to the modified atmosphere and are quickly prepared. The machine manufacturers offer space-saving machines with a dual-track arrangement for the tray sealer for fully automatic packaging of large and medium-size batches. A tray sealer with two independent sealing tracks can simultaneously process different products with different sizes and filling weights at different speeds – with a protective atmosphere adapted to each of these products. Down times are reduced, because each track can be stopped independently for changing the product, while production continues on the other track. Film rolls with a diameter of up to 450 mm guarantee longer production cycles. All tray sizes and types of film can be processed. Modern servo technology ensures controlled tray transport and film feed at high speed. The integrated checkweigher eliminates trays with the wrong weight before the sealing stage. The sealing heads switch off automatically in the event of faults. So the tray sealer can carry on running and automatically control the tray feed. Tool changes are completed quickly and simply. The open design provides good accessibility for cleaning. Other dual-track tray sealer concepts automatically optimize speed and movements for the desired output and set new standards for process safety, efficiency and hygiene design. The packaging line is equipped with a 4-axis robot for cartoning the finished tray packages. The handling module has three degrees of freedom of movement and an optional rotation axis. 

Processing: smart and safe – low-migration printing inks
Since 2011, EU Regulation no. 10/2011 has applied to plastic packages that come into contact with food. Companies processing or using such plastics have to check whether their products also conform to the new regulation. The new standard also limits the use of various materials after functional barriers. Whereas this regulation applies European-wide, the so-called Printing Inks Regulation is currently being drawn up in Germany. This covers materials that can be contained unintentionally in the intermediates from which food packaging is manufactured or in the aids used in the production process, which includes migration of printing inks and coatings. The range of low-migration coatings that meet the legislative requirements is growing all the time. These coatings offer safety in printing and processing packages. A whole series of UV and dispersion coatings are available covering the widely varying requirements for manufacturing packages that conform to food package standards. These give the manufacturers of packaging supplies new possibilities in terms of the functionality and design of their products. The manufacture of coatings always uses the highest quality raw materials, which are carefully selected, combined and produced using the most modern manufacturing technology. The new coatings stand out in production for their good printability and foam-free processing. Excellent wetting minimizes the build-up on coating blankets and reduces the washing stops. Other important functional properties are fast drying and high abrasion and wet block resistance. 

Logistics: mobile racking systems, robots, reliable data transfer
Almost every product finishes up in the warehouse after production. The important aspects of warehouse logistics are safe transport packaging and clear identification. Full-range suppliers of warehouse logistics manufacture racking systems as well as containers. Heavy-duty plastic containers for loads up to 500 kilograms are robust, flexible in use and appreciably lighter than wire mesh crates or sheet steel containers. This means they meet all the requirements of lean production and the lean logistics principle. Heavy-duty racking with shuttle systems, i.e. battery-powered, remote-controlled shuttle vehicles, and mobile racking systems enable efficient use of space. In this way, pressure-sensitive products and unevenly loaded pallets can be stacked safely and without damage. Even widely differing types of pallets can be placed in storage without problems. Also suitable for narrow spaces are new linear robots. A low-cost starter model can take care of palleting film containers, cartons, sacks, standard containers and packages. The robots are equipped with clamp, suction or fork grippers. They can handle all kinds of intermediate layers, empty and full pallets up to a height of 2,800 mm. The design reduces the installation time to a minimum and enables the robot’s location in the plant to be changed without complication. For homogeneous pallet loads like reusable containers or individual containers and boxes, strapping remains the most economic method of securing for transport in terms of material saved. A new product is a strapping machine that uses ultrasonic welding and dispenses with the hot wedge. Ultrasonic units are faster, more cost-effective and produce less emission, with a distinctly longer life. The ultrasonic unit welds the ends of the strap using ultrasonic energy and no longer thermal energy. It operates exclusively with brushless, wear-free DC direct drives. The necessary control electronics is already integrated into the motors.

Labelling data must normally be transferred to new printing solutions manually. A new solution that harmonizes with any user’s database transfers all data to be printed quickly, reliably and automatically to a laser printer, which processes these immediately without further settings. No manual inputs are needed, which makes data transfer more reliable. Basis des Systems sind laseraktivierbare Etiketten mit einer speziellen Veredelung. The system is based on laser-activated labels with a special finish that enables the CO2 laser to “write” in black in the intended places. The characters are clearly focused, whether plain text, graphics or codes. Because the laser does not remove any material, no blurring particles occur and the label is not damaged in any way. Extraction of foreign particles is not required. As this printing system operates without wear, neither expendable materials nor readjustment are necessary and there are no production interruptions. The efficiency improves.

PackBox attracts with inspiration – innovation – information
… and offers the unique opportunity to gain a deeper insight into the products seen on the stands. Seven partners present exceptional ideas on packaging, technology, processing and logistics in an unusual ambience. The short presentations of maximum 30 minutes invite discussion and exchange of views in the cafe and lounge area of the PackBox. Law and order for packages, future materials, tomorrow’s packaging machinery, bioplastics, social media and packaging, load security and theft prevention, RFID, tops and flops in packaging design, design trends, what do the trade and brands expect from package printing?, and the package speaks to me … are just a few of the PackBox topics on the three days of the exhibition. 

With around 1,400 exhibitors and a good 35,000 visitors, FachPack is one of the most noted packaging exhibitions in Europe. FachPack in the Exhibition Centre Nuremberg from 25–27 September 2012 presents a comprehensive range of products and services in the segments of packaging (about one-third packaging materials, supplies and ancillaries), technology (another one-third packaging machinery, labelling and marking equipment, packaging recycling and package testing), processing (package and label printing, design, packaging supplies production), and logistics (conveying, loading, storage and order-picking systems, including the associated software and transport logistics). The visitors come mainly from industries like food/beverages, pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, chemicals, printing,  paper, cardboard, packaging- and logistics-related services, plastics, automotive engineering and components, and electrical equipment/components. FachPack impresses again in 2012 with its creative working atmosphere, in which information and cultivation of contacts are just as important as answering specific technical questions.

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