Interpack 2008 Report

Interpack 2008: some highlights
Neil Watson picks some choice selections from his week at the world's premier packaging exhibition

Celebrating its Golden Anniversary, Interpack is the major international packaging event, taking place triennially. Held at Messe Düsseldorf from 24-30 April, there were 2744 exhibitors and 179,000 visitors, amounting to an increase of 3000 on the previous show. Straw polls indicated that 97 per cent of the exhibiting companies intend to exhibit at Interpack 2011. There were visitors from 121 countries, 62 per cent of whom were from outside Germany.

Packaging Today exhibited at the event for the first time in an extremely prominent position near the North Entrance. Thousands of magazines were distributed from the stand, and nearly 700 registrations were recorded, reinforcing the magazine's reputation as the foremost international packaging title.

The two special presentations Bioplastics in Packaging and Innovationparc Packaging attracted much interest. The partner organisations for the latter were the EHI, ProCarton and PDA, who were delighted with the concepts and their execution. Altogether, 45 companies participated, many of which were first-time exhibitors, spanning design agencies through to branded goods manufacturers.

Obviously, it is impossible to even hint at the sheer range of innovations exhibited at this year's event. However, here is a brief roundup of some companies that caught my attention during the week.

ABB Robotics, Switzerland
ABB launched its IRB 340 FlexPicker Delta robot in 1998. It is equipped with an optional integrated vacuum system, capable of rapid pick 'n' placing of small objects, being guided using a machine vision system from Cognex. An ABB IRC5 controller steers the robot. FlexPicker robots are supplied in several versions, one of which is sealed and corrosion-resistant, being specially designed for clean or intensive environments.

Some original patents have recently expired, and thus ABB has launched a second generation of robots, incorporating significant mechanical, electrical, dynamic and control improvements. The design has resulted in many enhancements, including a 50 per cent higher payload, carrying up to 3kg. This facilitates the handling of heavier objects and accommodates increasingly sophisticated grippers for specific applications. The average cycle time performance of the new IRB360 has improved by over 20 per cent, resulting in a staggering 110 picks per minute with a 3kg load. It can achieve movement on a fourth axis, which has an extensive work range and does not inhibit robot performance. Furthermore, it is the only robot that is currently available in a stainless steel wash-down variant.

Acma, Italy
Acma (part of the Coesia Group) showcased its wide range of machines and related packaging concepts for liquids, confectionery, general food, personal care and home care applications. The company's Liquid Division has recently introduced the WM range of filling machines, being particularly suitable for milk packaging. These are modular, hygienic, efficient, easily changed over between product types and have zero maintenance requirements. The company focused on its range of machines for confectionery wrapping, realising such packaging styles as fin-seal, single-wrap, stick-wrap, rigid containers and over-wraps.

However, the carton box concepts were the most impressive. Realised on the FT301 carton machine, the fascinating aspect of these boxes is that the template for each is produced from one piece of cardboard, enhancing production efficiency and subsequent structural rigidity. There are five variants: the flip-top box, which incorporates a system to eliminate accidental product loss; the shaker box, also using a security system; and Zip Top boxes, featuring apertures on the narrow and wide sides, also available in tamper-evident/child-proof versions. Another Coesia division, Volpak, launched the Brickpouch, suitable for drinks of all types. Manufactured from OPP, the pouch is easily opened and consumed, standing upright on the shelf and readily communicating marketing messages.

Bosch Packaging Technology, Switzerland
The companies comprising Bosch Packaging Technology showcased numerous solutions for pharmaceutical, food and beverage applications. Sigpack Systems presented the award-winning Burgopak packaging system, which features a patented sliding mechanism, being suitable for pharmaceutical packaging formats.

The new Sigpack Systems' LDM Monopacker is a Delta robotic packaging system, being easily linked with a tray denester and tray vision control system. This offers the flexibility to process a wide variety of tray sizes and shapes, yet requires minimal change parts. The vision system recognises numerous tray types and sizes, enabling manufacturers to implement various applications from one line.

Bosch also demonstrated its SVE range of bag form, fill and seal (FFS) machines. The SVE 2510 QR with CVA valve applicator is a reliable modular system for vertical flowrapping. It is adjustable to numerous packaging formats, such as pillow and gusseted bags, and corner-sealed block-bottom bags. The SVE 1800 MR sorts biscuits, snacks and bakery products into block-bottom, gusseted or pillow bags. This two-lane continuous motion machine wraps up to 120 bags per minute (BPM) per tube. When combined with Demaurex's Paloma toploader, it achieves high-speed secondary packaging for small bag sizes. The company also launched its PME 4261 BN coffee packaging machine, which can be combined with the CCV compact case-packer for stand-up block-bottom bags. This achieves an output of up to 35 packs per minute (PPM) with less than one per cent residual oxygen.

Bradman Lake, UK/USA
The Bradman Lake Group (part of Langley Holdings) develops, manufactures and services packaging machines for various industries. It focused on its range of carton- and product-handling equipment, including mechanical and servo-carton erectors, intermittent and continous-motion end-load cartoning machines and carton-closing machines.

The company also showcased its Autowrappers' packaging machines, capable of achieving high-speeds and accommodating quick, repeatable product size changeovers in minutes. The systems incorporate the latest developments in motion controllers, where multiple control functions are integrated on a single platform and operate from a single point of programming. The company also exhibited its end-of-line equipment and explained its range of turnkey solutions.

CFS Aquarius, The Netherlands
Bagging specialist CFS Aquarius showcased the new CFS SmartPacker TwinTube, which operates two parallel forming tubes from a single drive, achieving combined speeds of up to 400 BPM, weighing between 10 and 50g. It also runs a film reel for each drive, simultaneously filling packs of different widths and configurations. A single SmartPacker TwinTube C can replace three conventional lines running at speeds of 100-120BPM.

CFS Aquarius also focused on its Overlap Seal double-twist lollipop-wrapping technique, produced on its Twistwrapper machine. This is a continuous wrapping machine that handles lollipop diameters of 18-35mm, accommodating film reels up to 510mm diameter. It achieves its high speed through smooth film handling, precise cutting and automatic feeding. The company also exhibited the SmartPacker SX 400, capable of realising standard pillow-pack bags or QuatroSeal and QuatroBox packs.

Elau, Germany
Elau (a Schneider Electric Company) supplied automation technology to over 222 packaging machines at Interpack. Its scalable, open platform is based on centralised control architecture with integrated control functionalities. The systems can use either robotics, highly-synchronised multi-axis motion or simple machine concepts with two to four servo axes. Its popularity is attributable to the automation system's performance and engineering tools. Elau offers a fast development path from concept to machine, all within an IEC 61131-3 compliant software structure. All kinematics, logic and motion function from a single program on a single processor.

Elau also introduced its latest Delta P3+ robotic solution, resulting in improved robot arm performance and new features. This has been prepared for integration with a new vision system that, like the robot itself, can be easily embedded in the machine software by OEMs. Elau launched its Intelligent Line Shaft (ILS), which increases machine cycle rates by 10-20 per cent without any modification to machine programming or mechanical components.

Emballage, France
The Emballage World Packaging Exhibition will take place at the Paris-Nord Villepinte exhibition centre from 17-21 November. The previous event was held in 2006, when there were 2200 exhibiting companies, 53 per cent of which were from outside of France. The split between machinery and packages was 60/40. Analysis showed that there were visitors from over 142 countries, of whom 82 per cent participate in the purchasing process.

This year, the Pack Vision Congress will be held alongside the event, providing all visitors with a platform for expression and discussion about the future of packs. Admission is free to all visitors, and speakers include some leading design agencies and firms. On the other hand, the Trends Area focuses on packaging innovation; productivity and flexibility; packaging rationalisation; and recycling and environment. The findings of the French Packaging Observatory will also be published at the event. Furthermore, Emballage is introducing a new business meeting planning service for exhibitors and visitors, designed to bring together purchasers and solution providers.

ExxonMobil Chemical, USA
ExxonMobil Chemical has launched Metallyte UBW-ES, a new OPP film for flexible packaging. Incorporating ultra-high barrier and enhanced seal technologies, this metallised white film exhibits economic and performance benefits, when compared with thin aluminium foil and sealant laminations. This laminate comprises two layers, rather than three. This simplified approach reduces raw material costs and overall material weight by up to 30 per cent.

ExxonMobil Chemical's enhanced sealant technology is a breakthrough for OPP films. Metallyte UBW-ES provides excellent seal strength of 1500g/2.5cm, seal integrity and the ability to seal through product contamination in the seal area. Furthermore, its ultra-high barrier technology provides an exceptional barrier to gases, aromas, flavours and moisture.

Habasit, Switzerland
Belting specialist Habasit has cared for its customers' bespoke requirements for more than 60 years. Conveyor belt systems are widely recognised as achieving optimal efficiencies for manufacturing and general materials handling. The company focused on its Micropitch M0870 Flat Top plastic modular belt, designed to achieve the tightest, smoothest transfers and ensure stability of tall and small footprint products.

Conveyor belt life can be extended by the use of new, innovative materials. Habasit's Cleanline conveyor belts are coated with a modified polyolefin, providing outstanding release properties. Habasit HyGUARD/HabaGUARD conveyor belts contain an antimicrobial additive. This is a safety bonus for any production area subjected to extremely demanding hygiene standards. Habasit also manufactures a full range of speciality products, such as Grabber FFS belts, which are available in various forms.

Hapa, Switzerland
Hapa, manufacturer of On-Demand pack printing technologies for the pharmaceutical, cosmetics and healthcare sectors, launched the Hapa 237 in response to blister pack developments, where batch sizes have reduced, although pack complexity has increased. Blister machine manufacturers have responded by developing blister packers and blister/cartoner combinations designed to efficiently cope with short batch production.

The Hapa 237 is a high-speed foil printer that is compatible with the fastest of these new generation blister machines, operating at a print speed of over 30 m/min. Capable of handling foil webs ranging from 122-370mm with a maximum print width of 360mm, it is suitable for single- and multi-lane blister production. The option of the Drop on Demand (DOD) inkjet printhead facilitates digital production of batch-specific variable data, serialisation and product traceability information.

Heidelberger Druckmaschinen, Germany
Exhibiting at Interpack for the first time, Heidelberger launched its Linoprint modular drop-on-demand system for the individual decorating and marking of folding boxes, labels and blister packs. The Linoprint system operates at a maximum resolution of 720dpi. The major benefits of this digital printing system are its flexibility and ease of use. Linoprint can be easily integrated into existing or new lines. It is initially being aimed at businesses in the pharmaceuticals, cosmetics and beverages industries, in addition to packaging firms and suppliers of packaging lines. Its specially developed inks facilitate application to a wide range of substrates. By activating multiple printing modules in sequence or in parallel, the printing width, speed and even resolution can be adapted.

Ipack-Ima, Italy
Italy's predominant packaging show, Ipack-Ima, will take place at the Fiera Milano Exhibition Centre from 24-28 March 2009. To date, nearly 800 companies have booked space, of which 23 per cent are exhibiting for the first time. Participation from countries outside of Italy has doubled.

Guido Corbella, CEO, Ipack-Ima commented: "Everything leads us to think this will be a record edition. In 2009 we will also have the advantage of co-location with Grafitalia, Converflex and Plast. Together, these will create a true 'cosmic event', unequalled in the world. The exhibition will thus exert an exceptional appeal, in the efficient and functional setting of Fiera Milano, destined to be the heart of Expo Milano 2015."

IPI, Switzerland
The International Packaging Institute (IPI) was established by leading international companies, together with relevant universities and associations. It is a centre of excellence for development programs and a service provider. Its Certificate Course helps those in the industry enhance their effectiveness relating to research and development, production, quality and product management. Services include bespoke seminars, technology consulting and strategic consulting.

Ishida Europe, UK
Ishida Europe showcased its expertise in automation, safety and QC systems, together with weighing and packing solutions. The QC system features an Ishida IX-GA-2475 X-ray inspection system, which reliably detects contamination from metal, glass, bone or plastic, in addition to incomplete packs. Packs are labelled using a high-performance WPL 5000 weigh-price-labeller, which evenly positions the labels on irregular product surfaces. The line also incorporates a new seal-tester for trays.

At the end of the line, product is placed in secondary packaging by the Ishida Packing System (IPS), which is able to pick-and-place up to 120PPM. Ishida also focused on its weighing and tray-sealing solution for fresh and frozen products. Both sticky fresh products and frozen food can be weighed and sealed with excellent total line efficiency, achieving outputs of 120 trays per minute.

Mettler-Toledo, UK
Mettler-Toledo concentrated on its broad range of inspection solutions, including innovative metal-detection equipment, X-Ray technologies from Safeline and checkweighers from Garvens. All metal-detection equipment is based on the Profile and Signature software platforms, including conveyor-mounted detectors for processing and packaging lines; pipeline systems for liquid and slurry inspection; and those for vertical packaging solutions, suitable for situations where the space between weighing and bagging machines is limited.

The company also demonstrated the Safeline X-Ray inspection machine for fast, reliable contamination detection on conveyor systems. The Inspirex R20 can undertake contamination detection, mass measurement, missing product detection and seal inspection. Mettler-Toledo Garvens' checkweighers are suitable for products weighing from just a few grams up to 120kg, achieving throughputs of over 1000 weighments per minute, depending on the application.

Moneta, Slovak Republic
Moneta produces flexible packaging materials and boxes for confectionery applications. It undertakes rotogravure printing on twist and barrier films, which can extend shelf-life by up to six times. Moneta has developed the BOPP Yango AL ST twist film; Yango AL aluminium foil; Yango AL H holographic aluminium foil; three-dimensional holographic and metallised boxes; Yango Twist BOPP double-twist film and Yango Twist 3 BOPP single- or double-twist film. All films are completely lipid-resistant and can be stored for up to a decade.

Multivac, Germany

Multivac presented its new range of thermoforming machines, featuring a completely new hygienic design and developments regarding design engineering and functions, including the lifting unit and tools. These advancements facilitate enhanced machine performance, ergonomics and economy. The new design optimises the interior and exterior cleaning processes, supported by optional Clean-in-Place (CIP) systems. The machines were demonstrated as part of several lines. For example, one thermoformer was integrated in a complete line with a quality control system from Ishida/MR, comprising machines for weight and price labelling, seal-testing, X-ray scanning and automatic removal of defective packages. Customers thus receive a completely integrated packaging line, produced as a result of the strategic distribution cooperation between Ishida and the Multivac Group.

The compact R 145 system is aninnovative solution for reclosable packages, utilising the new Amcor E-Close packaging material, featuring a contour laser-scored laminate with a special coating. As the reclosure capability is fully integrated in the top web, there is no requirement for special machine equipment. Amcor E-Close is available for exclusive use with Multivac machines, when used for thermoformed applications.

PBI-Dansensor, Denmark
PBI-Dansensor was one of the first companies in the world to offer quality control equipment for modified atmosphere packaging (MAP). It is constantly developing new equipment to facilitate the evolution of products with an extended shelf-life. The company develops and manufactures gas analysers, gas mixers, gas flow controls, leak detectors and permeability testers. Its research and development programme has resulted in systems that test complete packages for oxygen permeability.

The company's comprehensive product range provides food manufacturers with everything they need to produce high-quality MAP packaged food products. Some of PBI-Dansensor's machinery is designed for laboratory use for QC purposes, whereas others are for on- or off-line testing in the production area.

Polinas, Turkey
Polinas exhibited a wide range of products wrapped in its various flexible films, including BOPP, CPP, MOPP, metallised films, coated films, barrier films, tear tapes and holographic films. It manufactures various application-specific films, including all-purpose packaging, coated barrier films, BOPP films for ice cream packaging, BOPP antifog and antifog-antibacterial films and cast films for flexible packaging. Polinas also manufactures various label films. The company currently produces 10,000 tonnes of film per annum.

PPMA, UK
Numerous PPMA member companies exhibited at the event, with the organisation itself focusing on the PPMA Show 2008, the UK's annual showcase for processing and packaging machinery. Taking place at the National Exhibition Centre, Birmingham from 30 September-2 October, this will be central to the PPMA's 21st birthday celebrations. This year, there will be two dedicated areas - EcoTec and FoodTec. The former will showcase companies who can offer assistance to manufacturers' environmental challenges, whilst FoodTec will focus on ancillary equipment and materials related to the processing and packaging of food products.

One of the main highlights will be a wide-ranging free seminar programme. Major brand owners, retailers, suppliers and industry experts are all being invited to participate. Set against a background of reduced profit margins, overseas competition and an increased regulatory burden, the underlying themes will emphasise how processing and packaging machinery manufacturers must examine ways to help customers automate, increase throughput and reduce costs. To date, 209 companies have booked space. This year, the show is being co-located with the Interplas exhibition for the polymer sector.

Rockwell Automation, USA
Rockwell Automation is a leading global provider of industrial automation power, controls and information solutions. It announced an agreement to acquire Incuity Software, a leading supplier of Enterprise Manufacturing Intelligence (EMI) software. Incuity's software provides real-time intelligence for business decision support, thereby improving operations and reducing production waste by providing valuable management insights into a company's operations. The latest software, IncuityEMI 2.6, coalesces many disparate information sources from production operations and other enterprise systems. It delivers unique insights into enterprise performance and key operational metrics, facilitating analysis of the root causes associated with manufacturing problems.

RPC Group, UK
RPC focused on some of the key markets served by the group - food and drink, cosmetics and healthcare, industrial and automotive, and home and garden. For the food market, RPC Bebo Plastik showcased the microwaveable Snap Pot. This is a revolutionary new concept for Heinz baked beans. Thermoformed in multi-layered plastic, the concept provides convenience through four individual 200g portions integrated into a four-pack. RPC Blackburn highlighted the benefits of its new range of PET jars for confectionery applications, whilst RPC Kutenholz and RPC Corby demonstrated the latest in multi-layered foodservice jar technology.

RPC Containers Raunds is using blow-moulded designs to bring an exciting look to a new range of garden care products, including bottles where a spray trigger is integrated in the handle. RPC Oakham is exhibiting a selection of its pail solutions for paints, whereas RPC Bramlage-Wiko's full range of bespoke airless dispensers for various personal care applications highlighted the work of its design and development office.

Schubert, Germany
Schubert, the automated packaging systems specialist, unveiled its new automated method for coupling tools to its TLM robots for the first time, eliminating the previously time-consuming, hands-on plugging and unplugging operation whenever a tool change is required. It estimates that the new feature will typically reduce machine resetting time by up to eight minutes and eliminate the risk of control failures caused by loose contacts. The tool connects itself to the robot, as both incorporate electrical couplers. The tool's coupler is programmed with a pre-set code so the robot can ensure it is being used for the correct application.

Schubert also launched its new TLM-PK system, featuring an integrated Fuji FFS machine. The company is now able to fully integrate components from partner companies into TLM packaging lines. A new extended warranty is also available on all Schubert machines, covering parts for 5000 hours up to a year on a two-shift operation, instead of the 2000 hours covered hitherto.

Smith's Detection, UK
Smith's Detection is a leading manufacturer of X-ray inspection equipment. All machines use the latest X-ray technology to detect and reject harmful physical contaminants and other defects in packaged products whilst simultaneously check-weighing each item. Diodes beneath the conveyor receive the X-ray beam and the SimulTaskTM 4.0 Smith's Detection image analysis software use diodes to absorb a grey-scale image. These diodes transmit a signal indicating that absorption is greater in one area, if a contaminant is present.

The Eagle X-ray product line inspects packaged products for defects, missing items, foreign objects, size, shape, count and weight. This single unit can do the job of three different inspection systems: metal detection, checkweighing and, in some cases, optical inspection.

Valco Cincinnati, USA
Valco Cincinnati launched Valco Melton, being one of the most complete solutions for both hot-melt and cold glue applications. It focused on the sophisticated Kobra System, designed for continuous operation, providing total flexibility across various capacities, control, feeding and configuration options. This incorporates the innovative MS, MZ, MW and MF bead and spray applicators. Valco is seeking to simplify manufacturing processes, minimise delivery times and facilitate flexible configuration.

Videojet, USA
The Videojet 1510 small-character continuous ink jet printer is easy to operate, due to its intuitive user interface and simplified fluid replacement system, incorporating the industry's first microchip-enabled fluid bottles, known as Smart Cartridges. The unique printhead automatically sets up and adjusts to environmental changes, resulting in consistently sharp print quality in the most challenging environments.

Windmõller & Hõlscher, Germany
Windmõller & Hõlscher is a leading manufacturer of machinery and equipment for the flexible packaging industry, including blown and cast film lines, flexographic and gravure printing presses and FFS packaging systems. The company concentrated on its Opal system for bagging dusty, heavy-duty and fluidised products using FFS systems that minimise entrapped air, achieved using an auger feed. Windmõller & Hõlscher also presented the Diamant high-performance FFS system, capable of filling over 2000 bags per hour and utilising a rotary filling section. Speed is optimised by the use of an automatic roll change system, graphic touch-screens and the latest weighing scale.

Zip-Pak, USA
Zip-Pak, the leading pack resealing materials specialist, announced the findings of research study undertaken by Franklin Associates, an independent third party research firm. This demonstrated that flexible packaging is a more sustainable alternative than rigid packaging formats. The study comprised eight varied packaging systems, demonstrating the superior product-to-package ratio; lower energy footprint; lower solid waste footprint; and lower greenhouse gas emissions.

Zip-Pak also covered its new product launches. The company's Slider technology incorporates an ergonomically-designed 'clip' that enables consumers to easily open and close a package. This is suitable for pre-made pouches and FFS applications, running on virtually all packaging formats and machinery configurations. On the other hand, IP-Pak PerfCap Zipper Tape is designed for convenience, facilitating quick and safe access to package contents without the use of scissors, knives or other sharp objects. This resealable feature allows space for packaging graphics and marketing messages; incorporates a tear bead for quick access to the product and has a tamper-evident feature with hermetic seal to maintain product freshness.

Please note that many product and company names are trade marks or registered trade marks and should be treated as such.

For more information, go to www.abb.com; www.acmagd.it; http://pa.bosch.com/boschpackagingworld; www.bradmanlake.com; www.cfsaquarius.com; www.elau.com; www.emballageweb.com; www.exxonmobilchemical.com; www.habasit.com; www.hapa.ch; www.heidelberg.com; www.ipack-ima.com; www.ipi.eu; www.ishidaeurope.com; www.mt.com; www.moneta-s.com; www.multivac.com; www.oppfilms.com; www.pbi-dansensor.com; www.polinas.com; www.ppmashow.co.uk; www.rockwellautomation.com; www.rpc-containers.co.uk; www.gerhard-schubert.de; www.smithsdetection.com; www.valcomelton.com; www.videojet.com; www.wuh-lengerich.de and www.zippak.com.