For me, New York City lived up to its reputation for excitement on Day 1 of the 2015 EastPack show. These three new packaging developments deserve recognition for taking something—specifically, a multipack concept, a blister and a print/apply labeler—and making it remarkably better.
We start with…
1. 3M Multipack Solution
“Brilliant!” came to my mind when I saw this (see photo above) in Booth #3315. 3M Industrial Adhesives and Tape Div. leverages the adhesive technology from its popular Post-it Note sister division for a new banding/tape material used to bundle individual items into multipacks.
The Multipack Solution has several benefits, from a material and automation point of view.
For one, the tape’s repositioning feature scored high with consumers because they can still keep the remaining items neatly bundled together after they remove a product.
The banding tape can be clear or printed in up to eight colors in a continuous pattern or in register (so that a certain image appears in a specific place on the bundled pack). This is especially helpful when trying to cover up single-pack UPC bar codes with a multipack bar code printed on the tape, which is supplied on a roll in widths from 1.5 to 6 inches. Additional branding and messaging for added shelf impact is another benefit of the printed version.
On the automation side, 3M is partnering with CEFMA, a brand of the Karlville Development Group in France. CEFMA has engineered more than 20 different configurations of its BAO 15 semi-automatic tape multipacker machine to handle a variety of different packages and applications. Cartons and pouches were among the examples shown in the booth. William Gwynn, commercial director for Karlville, explains that they need to work with relatively flat products. Why not bottles, I asked. Because the contact point between cylindrical containers is pretty small, and once you start bundling more than two, the products just shift around too much.
Bundles are manually loaded into the semi-automatic system, which then applies the band on the top and two sides of collated bundles, as well as a full wrap (think “C,” “O” and “U” wraps). The name BAO 15 designates the speed: up to 15 bundles per minute. The company can also provide a fully automated system with automated product loading/collating and bring speeds up to 70 per minute.
Bundling throughput is increased using this band/tape because the material is simply cut and applied. There is no “sealing” time needed as compared to some other bundling alternatives. Gwynn says, “We’ve been making machines a long time and we have never seen a tape as good.”
This application method also has eco advantages compared to shrink wrapping and tray packing: up to 50% less packaging material by weight and 96% less energy use.
To recap, the Multipack Solution offers:
• Consumer convenience for resealing bundles;
• An effective way to cover single-package UPCs and provide a multipack UPC at the same time;
• An additional branding or marketing opportunity;
• Increased productivity and throughput versus a manual banding operation.
Jackson Shulman, U.S. packaging marketing supervisor at 3M, also tells me that they are working on creating a flag (folding over a small piece) at the tail end to make it super easy to remove the tape.
Next up, a blister with a sliding top…
2. Easy open/reclosable blister
A sliding top on this two-piece blister pack from Sonoco Alloyd (Booth #2921) makes opening and closing so easy you can do it with one hand. The Divvy Pack blister concept can be customized into slightly different designs, too, including one with a hang tab or one with a perforated spot weld that adds an element of security to the pack before initial opening. A Divvy Pack blister can even slip into a carton sleeve, if you’d like.
Detents on both sides of the blister create an integral locking feature to keep the lid in place and the products safely contained. This storage feature is useful for any product sold in multiple pieces to be consumed or used one at a time, such as hardware, batteries, pens, candy and ammo. The definition of Divvy, after all, is to divide up and share.
Concept designer/project engineer Diana Rud says the patent-pending two-piece design can facilitate faster automated filling/loading compared to a hinged blister because the bottom cavity can be filled and the top just snaps in. Arrows formed into the lid make the opening instructions rather intuitive.
Marketing specialist Kim Goyke demonstrates how the package works in this at-show video. In printed marketing materials, they tout it as Dispensable Packaging. I think Indispensable Packaging is more like it.
Click next to see a packaging machinery marvel…
3. Print/apply labeler
The newly engineered 9550 print/apply labeler from Videojet Technologies (Booth #3011) puts the printhead inline with the web path. The label web path itself is simplified, too, making for a streamlined system that still has loads of flexibility.
See a quick video clip here, which was taken at the show. An illustrated video on the company’s website shows how this design is such a radical departure from the typical print/apply labelers we’ve seen for decades.
The 9550 is set up for direct apply—but can also do tamp application—for front, back and corners. It accommodates 16-inch label rolls with max label size of 4 x 12 inches. The thermal transfer printhead is electronically controlled with the Intelligent Motion ribbon drive. Unlike some competitive systems that use the same amount of linear space on the ribbon as on the label, the 9550 has only 1/2mm of spacing between print messages to save significantly on ribbon.
A help menu on the touchscreen includes tutorial videos to help speed learning of the system’s operation and troubleshooting.