Can’t Beat Hands-On Learning for Packaging

A busy Day 2 at Pack Expo 2022 nets digital printing news, notable machine designs, and impressive educational opportunities.

Lisa McTigue Pierce, Executive Editor

October 25, 2022

Our four-person team of journalists assembled at the end of Day 2 of the Pack Expo show to share one standout item each from the day (except me, breaking my own rule by talking about two interesting items). Joining me in this episode of Packaging Possibilities is Rick Lingle, Senior Technical Editor for Packaging Digest; Claire Sand, Owner with consultancy firm PTR, adjunct professor at CalPoly, and regular contributor to Packaging Digest; and John Henry, owner of and another regular contributor.


If you have a topic you’d like to propose for a future PACKAGING POSSIBILITIES episode, please email Lisa Pierce at [email protected].


Lisa McTigue Pierce

This is Lisa Pierce, executive editor of Packaging Digest, with another episode of Packaging Possibilities, the podcast that reveals what's new and what's next for packaging executives and engineers, designers and developers. And we are here at the Pack Expo 2022 show, day two. Joining me, we have John Henry, the owner and of and regular contributing writer for us. And we also have Claire Sand, who is the owner at PTR (Paul, Tom, Robert), which is a consultancy and she's also an adjunct professor at CalPoly. And finally we have Rick Lingle, our senior technical editor with Packaging Digest. And Rick is actually gonna start us off with something pretty cool that he saw at Tetra Pak [Booth S-2140].

Rick Lingle

So Tetra Pak is introducing and rolling out the world's first digitally printed aseptic food and beverage cartons here at the show. And in fact they did a special Pack Expo edition with five different designs that also feature the Pack Expo logo and a QR code that brings the person to the specific website of the product that's shown on the carton. For example, the one on my package is the Tetra Therm Aseptic VTS. There wasn't one that particularly was pointed directly to packaging, but since packaging is the billboard, it's front and center to begin with. And what this does is, it's a limited edition, as I mentioned. It has the same lead time of approximately 6 weeks as the standard flexo printed cartons, but it also has lower minimal orders versus a standard.

Some of the options that were suggested, and I think are pretty cool, is you could have a college team featured and you can actually do individual player for each of the flavors that are run here. So the mind starts running wild as a marketing of what the possibilities are and they’re as broad as what can be done with digital printing. And in fact the initial reaction from the brands, which we'll see introduced in early 2023 rolling out, is the fact that there are already planning a second printing system. The first is based in Texas in the US and the second will be a non-US location.

And that was my pick for the day of the coolest thing I saw at Pack Expo.

Lisa McTigue Pierce

Probably the coolest thing, but not the only cool thing that you saw. Which I'm finding it was really hard for me to pick out my takes too. OK, next up is gonna be Claire. Claire, what was your cool thing that you saw at the show?

Claire Sand

Well, that's pretty tough act to follow. But, Lisa, I think this is a real game changer for medical packaging because it takes the fear out of medical packaging. Fear. Yes, there's a lot. I particularly have fear of medical packaging because of a lot of regulations, protocols, and it's so critical to get everything right.

So the medical industry, medical packaging industry had trouble attracting talent due to the fear. They talked to students, recent grads, and people did, were afraid to go into medical device packaging. So as an industry, the IoPP Medical Device Packaging Technical Committee took this on and they decided to educate to reduce fear. So at this Pack Expo, we are seeing the inaugural session of the Medical Device Packaging Fundamentals.

So there are 36 students that they've screened out and these are people new to medical device packaging. They could be older people like me or they could be people just entering into the field. And it sold out. They are experiencing 12 hours of training over three days starting each day at 7:30 and 1/3 of the training, which is really cool as they're using the Pack Expo floor. So they're going down there. They're looking at seals. They're looking at testing methods, testing machinery. And really getting to understand medical device packaging. So it's suited for the young and old, new to medical device packaging.

The interesting part is this took over two to three years to organize. So they developed curriculum, they have 13 instructors in these three days. They're covering regulations, materials science, designing and sterilization. And if you need a contact, it would be Dannette Casper ([email protected]) at Edwards Lifesciences. So you can probably reach her easiest on the LinkedIn, OK.

Lisa McTigue Pierce

We do transcripts with these podcasts, so I'll make sure that there's contact information in the transcript area for that [see above]. Excellent. I'm so glad that they got that off the ground. I know it's been in the planning, as you say, for a couple of years and that's pretty cool to see. Sold out. Totally awesome. Totally awesome.

OK, next up is John Henry. And I think John's got something that's student-related as well. Tell us what that's all about.

John Henry

Hi. John Henry on the second day of the packaging show and it's so exciting, I've forgotten to be tired. But the best thing and a lot of cool stuff here. But the best thing that I've seen so far is the Packaging Challenge. This is high school kids — freshmen to seniors — who are building fillers, full automatic filling machines to fill marbles into plastic bottles. And they're given a kit of pieces but allowed to design the machine the way that they feel that most effective, so every one is somewhat different.

Just talking to these kids and seeing the passion and the knowledge and what they're able to do is just amazing. I don't know that many adults that could do this kind of thing, and I will be there at the judging tomorrow at or I guess the awards tomorrow at 1:30 and cheering these kids on. I just think it's a terrific program on the part of the PMMI.

Lisa McTigue Pierce

OK, awesome. Again, I am so glad that the industry is investing in the future of packaging and doing all these really cool things, especially “hands on.” The Pack Expo show is amazing as a learning opportunity just because of that hands on, as well as you know the mind trust that's here for expertise at the various exhibitors.

So I told every … all our contributors here that we had to pick the one really cool thing that they saw at the show and I'm breaking my own rule because I saw two things and I'll go through them real quickly, but I just can't pick between one of these two things. So at the BW Packaging booth, one of the things that they're doing is having a more cohesive look and feel and connection between the BW brands.

We had a chance to talk with Joe Ambrose, who's with digital innovation, and he was telling us about how they're working on user experience with their machines. They're doing a lot more than that. This is just one area of the digital innovation area on user experience. He walked us through some of the screens that they're working on, and I was quite taken with the common navigation that they're going to have across the operating controls for their machines and how these really do focus on usability and intuitiveness for that. And part of that is that BW is also a beta site for the folks with the Rockwell’s new FactoryTalk automation platform. The BW booth number is S as in Sam 2106.

The second thing that I saw, and this will be our last contribution to the podcast for today, was at the Syntegon booth, which is S as in Sam 3514 and they had a so much there but the one thing that I wanted to talk about was the Osgood cup filling system. It's the new LFS (Larry, Frank, Sam) — LFS cup filling system. You know, Syntegon has been working on modular designs on their equipment for a lot of different reasons, but mostly for easy flexibility in building out a system that gives the customer whatever the performance that they need. And the gentleman that I talked with there, Jonathan V I E N S — I apologize; I don't know how to pronounce the last name — he compares it to building Legos, putting Legos together, which I thought was really pretty cool. And so the … these modular systems connect, and one of the benefits of that is to be able to get to a 20-week delivery lead time. They're not there yet right now because of the supply chain challenges with the components, but he says that they are building those machines for that delivery time. It's just, you know, some of the components, they're not getting that's holding them up. So that's pretty spectacular, especially when you see the size of these units.

And one of the things that you have to take into consideration when doing these modular sections of machines is connecting them. They're using distributed electronics and then connecting them via pigtails. So there's no cabinet.

A couple other things that they're working on here, specifically with the system, was they're able to reduce the amperage that's needed. And knowing the energy costs that we're dealing with now and probably will be for quite some time, I have been keeping an eye on energy savings and conservation from a machinery manufacturer point of view. Jonathan did mention that they have been seeing 50% power savings that they've been able to record, but it hasn't been proven yet. So he wanted me to, you know, make sure that I just mentioned that.

Lisa Pierce, and Rick Lingle, Claire Sand, John Henry, signing off from Pack Expo 2022 Day 2. We’ll be back again tomorrow. Thanks for listening.

About the Author(s)

Lisa McTigue Pierce

Executive Editor, Packaging Digest

Lisa McTigue Pierce is Executive Editor of Packaging Digest. She’s been a packaging media journalist since 1982 and tracks emerging trends, new technologies, and best practices across a spectrum of markets for the publication’s global community. Reach her at [email protected] or 630-272-1774.

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