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Beer Packaging

Octoberfest of Breakthrough Beer Packaging 2020

October is a time when autumn can be seen with changes in tree coloration and felt with noticeably cooler days.

It’s also a time that traditionally celebrates beer, ala festivals local and international, that attract hundreds if not millions of celebrants as with the annual gathering in Munich, Germany.

Lacking such gatherings this year, Packaging Digest debuts our first annual Octoberfest of Beer as a virtual substitute for packaging professionals.

Over the past months we’ve collected intriguing and innovative beer packaging introductions that appear in this "12-pack" slideshow gallery. Without further fanfare, let’s hop to it — cheers to brews and you!

Packaging Design

3 Sustainability Standouts Win Innovation Awards

New technologies and simple solutions in sustainability can have significant impact, as this year's winners show.

Compelling innovations continue to emerge in sustainable packaging, with three of the most inspiring recent examples taking top honors in the 2020 SPC Innovator Awards. The winners are UPM Raflatac, for Forest Film; YFYJupiter, for redesigned bicycle packaging; and Graham Packaging, for REFPET Generation III refillable PET containers.

The Sustainable Packaging Coalition (SPC), which hosts the SPC Innovator Awards, announced the winners at the Virtual SPC Advance event on September 30, 2020. The annual awards competition comprises three categories:

Innovation in Responsible Sourcing. UPM Raflatac was recognized in this category for developing a wood-based polypropylene label material. The responsible-sourcing category focuses on materials procurement and use, including new materials; improvements to conventional materials and sourcing methods; and new uses for materials in challenging applications.

Innovation in Design Optimization. YFYJupiter won this award for re-envisioning and radically simplifying bicycle packaging. The design-optimization category recognizes reduced materials use, design-driven process enhancements, and improved transportation efficiency, all with preserved or enhanced packaging performance and fewer life-cycle impacts.

Innovation in Recovery. Graham Packaging won this category for changing the design of its reusable PET bottles to reduce scuffing, which has significantly extended reuse of the bottles. This award category highlights recovered packaging, including design changes that make packaging more compatible with recovery infrastructure, as well as improvements in recovery programs/infrastructure and partnerships focused on advancing packaging recovery.

A panel of judges from the SPC staff and Executive Committee selected the three winners from a pool of 20 finalists. Start the slideshow to see the winners, with a description of the challenges and opportunities behind each project.


Shopping for Packaging Machinery Soars

Photo credit: Kadmy – Pharma Packaging Line AdobeStock_94397352-featured.jpeg

Packaging machinery is one of the product categories that has seen strong growth in 2020 resulting from recent manufacturing shifts in North America, according to industrial sourcing platform and marketing leader Thomas. A recent Thomas survey found that North American buyers listed “Packaging” as one of the products and services they were most likely to reshore due to global supply chain challenges.

Packaging Machinery Sourcing



High-Speed Robots Pack Welch’s Candies in Retail-Ready Case

The Delkor high-speed Candy Case Packing MSP-m Series robotic case packer makes quick work of Welch’s single-serve fruit snack packs into the vendor’s Cabrio retail-ready mass merchandising cases. Get a bird’s eye view of the process, from pick-and-pack to case erecting and closure.



Nestlé’s New Recyclable Retort Pouch is the Cat’s Meow

Photo supplied by Amcor Felix-cat-food-recyclable-pouch-featured.jpg
Nestlé's Felix cat food will appear in stores in the Netherlands in October 2020 in the new recyclable retort pouch.

Nestlé’s supplier partner Amcor has conquered a nagging sustainability challenge with the development of a recyclable retort pouch. Cat food will be the first commercial application for the high-barrier AmLite HeatFlex Recyclable pouch. The pet food product, from Nestlé, will launch at retail in the Netherlands this month.

Standard retort pouches are not recyclable, because they are made from mixed materials. The new pouch has overcome that with an oriented polypropylene (OPP)/AmLite barrier/polypropylene (PP) film structure. The printed OPP is the exterior surface of the pouch, and the barrier layer is an extremely thin, transparent coating.

“The AmLite HeatFlex Recyclable pouch is multilayer but meets the CEFLEX guidelines for mono-material packaging, as it’s at least 90% PP-based,” says Michael Zacka, president, Amcor Flexibles Europe, Middle East, and Africa (EMEA).

Amcor, using its Carbon Trust-certified ASSET lifecycle assessment system, calculated that the recyclable retort pouch could achieve a maximum carbon footprint reduction of 60% (assuming 100% recycling of the pouches) vs. a standard retort pouch made from polyethylene terephthalate (PET), aluminum foil, and PP. Tests at Institut cyclos-HTP confirmed that the pouch is recyclable.

Zacka answers questions from Packaging Digest about the development and commercialization of the recyclable retort pouch.


When the recyclable pouch launches, what product and brand will it be used for?

Zacka: The first brand to use AmLite HeatFlex Recyclable is Nestlé for a line of Felix wet cat food. It will appear in stores in the Netherlands in October 2020. This technology will be launched globally into categories including foods, such as ready-meals, pre-cooked soups, sauces, and baby food.


For these products, what type of packaging will the recyclable pouch replace?

Zacka: Retort pouches are a modern alternative to metal cans, as they provide a long product shelf life in a lighter-weight and more resource-efficient format. The new AmLite HeatFlex Recyclable is an upgrade to the existing retort pouch.

Amcor’s AmLite HeatFlex Recyclable replaces previous generations of nonrecyclable retort flexible packaging, which relied on multimaterial combinations — typically PET, aluminium foil, and PP. Although high-performing, this mixed-material structure is not recyclable anywhere in the world today.

Historically, there has been no easy alternative to this multimaterial structure, as the recycling streams for “soft” plastics, such as bags and pouches, currently only accept polyolefins, a type of plastic that has much lower heat resistance than PET.

Photo supplied by AmcorAmLite-HEATFlex-R-with-CAT-eating_web.jpg

A thin coating of silicon oxide (SiOx) provides high barrier to keep the moist cat food fresh without interfering with the package's recyclability.


How did you perform tests for heat resistance, machine performance, and shelf life? Were those tests performed in-house or by an independent organization?

Zacka: The testing for heat resistance, machine performance, and shelf life were done in-house as well as in collaboration with our customer, Nestlé. Each customer’s production lines and product have specific requirements. It was important to work closely with Nestlé to ensure the new material met their requirements for performance and shelf life.

To test for recyclability, we worked with the independent Institut cyclos-HTP and tested the pouch by running it through industrial recycling systems.


Most US curbside recycling programs do not accept flexible packaging. In Europe, are pouches commonly accepted in curbside programs? If not, how will consumers recycle the new pouch?

Zacka: The infrastructure necessary to recycle the AmLite HeatFlex Recyclable pouch already exists in several European countries and is expected to expand. Collection varies by region, and collection for pouches may include curbside recycling or common collection bins where consumers drop off their household recycling.


Do consumers need to do anything to the pouch prior to recycling it?

Zacka: General recycling guidelines are that packaging should be empty of any food product, which is easy with the pouches. The great thing about the packaging is that because it fits into existing recycling infrastructure in the Netherlands, it does not require any changes in consumer behavior to recycle.


What is the barrier coating made of?

Zacka: We have various options for the AmLite transparent barrier coating. In this case, the pouch uses silicon oxide (SiOx). It’s a glass-like material that is applied in a coating as thin as a human hair, which provides a reliable high barrier that does not interfere with recycling.


How do you decorate the recyclable pouches?

Zacka: Most packaging for the retort market uses a chlorine-based matrix, which is, for example, polyvinyl chloride (PVC)-based. For the AmLite HeatFlex Recyclable pouch, we used a new generation of inks, which are chlorine-free.


Going forward, what products besides pet food will we see packaged in the recyclable pouch? When and where?

Zacka: Although we aren’t able to discuss specific customers or products yet, there is market demand for recyclable retort flexible packaging. The AmLite HeatFlex Recyclable solution will expand to other markets and become available for other types of retort foods.


New Products

You Can Stream 3D Parts for Packaging Machines Now

Photo supplied by Schubert Additive Systems 05 Collage 3D apps-featured.jpg
Hundreds of thousands of 3D-printed parts are now used in machines packaging consumer goods, including those shown here.

When you want to hear some music, there’s a good chance you’ve used an online streaming service such as Spotify. You just select a song and click to play.

What if it were just as easy to do the same thing when you need a part to keep your packaging machine running? “What-if,” it turns out, is right now.

A new click-to-print system is now in use that can bring your packaging operations an additive manufacturing (3D printing) solution that combines the simplicity of music streaming with the sci-fi conveyance of “using a replicator from Star Trek,” says Marcus Schindler, supply chain director for Gerhard Schubert GmbH, packaging machine builder for Nestlé, Unilever, Roche, Italian confectioner Ferrero, and other consumer brands.

Major benefits touted by proponents of additive manufacturing include reduced tooling costs; greater control and innovation over part designs; greater manufacturing precision; faster design revisions/iterations; shorter lead times and reduced deployment time; and less waste for greater environmental sustainability. As the method matures, the price/performance ratio points to more and more solutions that mate the right materials and printers to provide new packaging line solutions.

“We are very convinced that on-demand manufacturing, and distributing manufacturing down to the customer, is a superior approach,” says Schindler, who is also co-CEO of Schubert Additive Solutions, a new sister company formed last year to develop a click-to-print solution for sending data instead of parts so customers can print their own, on-premise, within specialized knowledge of 3D design or printing. Instead, they browse their online parts catalog or “digital warehouse” account for the part they need, click, and printing begins automatically.

The parts can be standard replacement and spares already in the machine builder’s virtual stores, as well as customized tools for product and packaging format changeovers, such as robotic end-of-arm tools (EoATs).

Photo supplied by Schubert Additive Systems01 smartphone gear-web.jpg

Streaming parts in the plant as easily as music at lunch break, packaging pros can now click on an image to automatically print the needed part on-demand.

The first installation came last year when a cosmetics brand installed the solution at its facility. While most details aren’t yet public, Schindler reports that a full set of format changeparts, from empty container to end-of-line, costs less than 1,000 using the on-premise 3D printing solution. See this cosmetic line and others in this video.

Since that installation, four more packaging lines have added the printers and five more early adopters have purchased the system for non-packaging applications.

For packaging customers, the system removes the technical hurdles to adoption. In fact, many are already using printed parts and may not know it. According to Schindler, the machine builder has used additive manufacturing in every machine it’s made since 2012 — from a few hundred to 45,000 last year and approximately 65,000 this year. Hundreds of thousands of printed parts are now running on packaging lines in the field.


How does it work?

The new solution, called Partbox, results from a partnership with additive manufacturing solution provider Ultimaker.

Here’s how it works: The user, such as an authorized packaging manager, logs onto their personal Partbox digital warehouse account (at, selects part(s) and quantities from the software catalog or “digital warehouse,” and clicks to print. That’s just about all there is to it beyond loading the material (see image below).

Photo supplied by Schubert Additive Systems02 Scaled-down Partbox-featured.jpg

Schubert’s facility hosts banks of million-dollar-plus 3D printers for metal and plastics. The scaled-down Partbox printer (front and center) uses technology from Ultimaker to bring customers an in-house Goldilocks price/performance solution for plastics.

Schubert hasn’t stopped after-sale service and support, so it still sells parts, 3D printed or otherwise. Instead, it devised the Partbox system so that users can’t open and modify part files. On the upside, the system protects and guarantees the quality, safety, and performance of printed parts while protecting its own intellectual property. The closed-loop system is much like Apple’s iTunes music store in that it creates a walled garden of protected files.

Data communication, from software to printer to financial billing for parts is handled by a dedicated industrial Internet of Things (IoT) gateway developed by Schubert System Elektronik and genua GmbH, the German IT security subsidiary of the Federal Printing Office in Germany. This walled-garden approach eliminates the possibility of using a potentially infected USB stick to transfer files to the printer, and eliminates the cyber-risk of opening factory networks to the internet.

Schubert partnered with Ultimaker for its million-dollar/Euro-plus in-house machines that print metal and plastic parts, and for the Partbox, a scaled down printer is used to print standard parts from gears to EoATs with optimal price and performance.


Methods, materials, and money.

Schubert’s original parts use printing processes including selective laser sintering (SLS), which fuses polymer powders with resolution that matches injection molding. The Partbox printers use fused deposition modeling (FDM), which melts and extrudes thermoplastic filament (primarily polylactic acid or PLA with some use of polyethylene terephthalate gly or PETG). The level of strength and detail is optimal for format parts and the like, but costs far less — roughly €10,000-euro vs. €1 million.

No one machine can do everything: If a part is too large or otherwise unsuited to the Partbox, Schubert will revert to other 3D or traditional manufacturing methods and ship the physical parts. But additive manufacturing is without a doubt progressing to encompass broader applications. A case in point: Packaging Digest’s September report on a new laser-based technique to simultaneously use multiple materials to print a part.

Today, Schubert offers standard parts to all customers, while new, custom parts can be added to accommodate users’ plans for new products and formats. Schindler says cycle time for a part that would have taken three weeks using traditional methods can now take two weeks using 3D iterative designs. When a customer needs a new format part, Schubert designs, tests, and certifies the new part and then adds it to the customer’s Partbox account.

The speed of 3D printing has proven itself elsewhere. For instance, Heineken, independently of Schindler but also using Ultimaker printers, has found that if a part failure causes a stoppage on the bottling line, a new part can be printed in eight to 10 hours — from design to completion — as opposed to days (or much more, depending on global logistics) for a machine vendor to ship a part that’s already in stock. Isabelle Haenen, global supply chain procurement at Heineken, said last year that the company is “still in the first stages of 3D printing, but we’ve already seen a reduction of costs [per printed part] by 70% to 90% and also a decrease of delivery time of these applications of 70% to 90%.” (See video “Heineken: Ensuring production continuity with 3D printing”)


Reducing complexity makes better parts.

“Complexity is free,” says Schindler, referring to the new, optimized part designs that 3D brings. “This is the secret of additive manufacturing. We can make better parts, and we can reduce the number of parts, and the time you need to assemble the parts. And we can design better, more efficient, lighter parts,” says Schindler.

3D modeling and iterative design can simplify and lightweight part designs to reduce wear, weight, and performance over traditional parts.

In one case, a new tooling design helped turn a machine with two robots, one for carton erecting and another for bottle filling, into a one-robot process, Schindler says. Elsewhere, new tool designs that slide and clip into place speed changeovers on cosmetic compact-packaging lines, and bottle fillers — a single part can be swapped in seconds, reducing complexity and speeding format changes. This, and the addition of color-coded tools make it simple to change between chocolate bunnies to chocolate Santas.

Photo supplied by Schubert Additive Systems03 Choco-bunny w-inset-featured.jpg

To change from chocolate bunnies to chocolate Santas, the operator only needs to slide-in new color-coded parts.

In another application success, a new 3D design for a robotic tool provided surprising benefits over a complicated EoAT assembly on a coffee creamer-cup line. Before 3D design, the tool was made of 192 smaller, CNC-milled parts with 1,000 screws, and took a full day to assemble and mount to the robotic arm. The new 3D design uses only three parts and only eight screws.

Photo supplied by Schubert Additive Systems04 Creamer cup EoAT-web.jpg

3D design reduced the complexity of robotic tooling on a coffee creamer line. The original tool (top) required 192 CNC-milled parts, 1,000 screws. The new 3D design (middle and lower) uses only three parts and eight screws.

“Additive manufacturing reduces the process cost enormously, but most companies do not see the full cost-saving effect until they calculate the full process cost,” Schindler says. These include storage, production uptime, line/labor productivity, and other factors. In the area of transportation, Schindler says the 3D solution reduces carbon footprint per printed part between 40% and 89% because there are no parts to be shipped. The savings were calculated as part of an employee’s Masters thesis investigating touchpoints from raw materials to shipped parts vs. printed parts.

Schindler says he is now in conversations with “very large companies,” and that customers in the US have shown great interest and are “far more open” to the technology than European customers. He adds that a not-uncommon reaction from packaging professionals who see the solution in action is something like: “Whoa! This is cool.”


New Products

Syntegon Introduces Carton Former to North America

Image courtesy of Syntegon Carton_Former_Syntegon.jpg

Syntegon Technology celebrates the North American launch of its new Kliklok ACE (advanced carton erector) topload carton former.


Based on customer requirements, the Kliklok ACE was developed with a particular focus on ergonomic design, sustainability, and increased efficiency. The newly integrated flex feeder ensures reliable and safe carton control through the entire process.

“The new carton former platform combines high-speed forming capabilities with a generous carton size range, giving manufacturers a lot of flexibility,” says Janet Darnley, product manager at Syntegon Technology. “The Kliklok ACE range runs at up to 80 cycles per minute with single, double, or triple heads and is suited for a number of food applications, such as bakery, snacks, cereal bars, frozen/prepared food, tea and coffee, as well as non-food products.


Flexibility in Forming Systems

The new Kliklok ACE carton former can form lock-style and glue-style cartons on the same machine, offering manufacturers full flexibility. Syntegon also provides the machine with ultrasonic technology, an industry first in this segment.

Both the lock and ultrasonic versions are glue-free, making them a real sustainable option. The Kliklok ACE range can handle different carton format sizes, ranging from a blank size of 190 mm length x 122 mm width to 800 mm length x 600 mm width.

As a contribution to customers’ economic success, Syntegon developed the machine with a new flex feeder. The solution offers positive carton control, transferring the cartons reliably from the forming process to the machine exit. “This reduces the risk of jams within the machine, causing stops and downtime,” Darnley explains. The Kliklok ACE is also capable of running paperboard or corrugated material.

Syntegon Technology Services LLC, Raleigh, NC 919-877-0886


Article courtesy of Packaging Digest's sister publication Powder & Bulk Solids

PepsiCo Subsidiary Plans $30M Beverage Plant Expansion

Image courtesy of Flickr user jeepersmedia (Mike Mozart) 15124506002_b5c3de0088_k.jpg

PepsiCo subsidiary SVC Manufacturing Inc. is launching a $30 million project to add a new manufacturing line to its Gatorade plant in Osceola County, FL, county officials announced in early October 2020.

“We are committed to increasing employment opportunities in Central Florida, which is home to our PepsiCo North America Beverages South Division headquarters,” PepsiCo Beverages North America – South Division President Derek Lewis said in a release. “This investment of an additional Gatorade manufacturing line will not only assist the local community with additional jobs but will be key in our path to support our customers’ business growth, as well as our growth in Florida and beyond.”

The new line will create 40 new jobs at the facility. Osceola County offered tax incentives and refunds to SVC Manufacturing to support the project. Officials approved an annual Economic Development AD Valorem Tax Refund of 50% of the incremental County Ad Valorem Taxes paid on new equipment between 2022 and 2026. The county is also providing a job creation tax incentive of $3,000 per job.

“Gatorade is a grate corporate partner and this expansion is a fantastic return on investment for the county – about a 60:1 ratio. It also aligns with our adopted Strategic Plan’s goal to ‘Grow and Diversify’ the economy by expanding an existed targeted industry,” said Osceola Commission Chairwoman Viviana Jener in a statement. “With the highest unemployment rate in the state sparked by the Coronavirus pandemic, these 40 new jobs could be a game-changer for hard-working residents desperate to save their homes and their lifestyles.”

Work on the project is slated to start this year and start operations by mid-2021. The PepsiCo company will begin filling the new roles this December.


Article courtesy of Packaging Digest's sister publication Powder & Bulk Solids

New Products

New Conveyor Belt Clamp Offers Maximum Grip

Image courtesy of ASGCO Conveyor_Belt_Clamp_ASGCO.jpg

Designed to secure the conveyor belt for safe repair, the BC3 (3-tn) Safe-Grip conveyor belt clamp was created for maximum grip.


The new BC3 model is available for conveyor belts up to 72 in. wide and up to .625 in. thick. It is primarily designed for use in light- to medium-duty applications, including aggregates, sand and gravel, recycling, pulp and paper, lumber processing, and warehousing and distribution centers.

The Safe-Grip belt clamp is constructed from high-grade steel and aluminum components that are lightweight, yet rugged enough for the application. Its shock-absorbing end caps are designed to protect the bars from hammer use and drops. Engineered for tough conditions, the Safe-Grip belt clamp allows for a lasting gripping force. 

ASGCO, Allentown, PA 800-344-4000


Article courtesy of Packaging Digest's sister publication Powder & Bulk Solids

Flexible Packaging

High-Speed Machines Assemble, Fill, Seal Pouches

Image courtesy of IMA Dairy & Food Pouch_Machine_IMA.jpg

IMA Dairy & Food USA introduces a portfolio of high-speed, continuous motion rotary machines for assembling, filling, and sealing spouted pouches in a variety of shapes and sizes.


Offering cost savings when compared to buying premade pouches, the Ermetika Series has four models whose output capacities range from 120 to 480 pouches per minute — faster than intermittent motion modules.

Part of the Fillshape family of machines, the Ermetika Series is suitable for an array of food and dairy products. Strict segregation of pouch making and filling areas lends itself to high levels of hygiene, and its fill-through-the-spout system allows for complete-to-compacity pouch fills, avoiding costly materials wastage. The versatile machines can nimbly accommodate films, spouts, and caps from different suppliers, and can produce a range of pouch shapes and sizes.

Fitted with a patent-pending leak test system, the Ermetika line is capable of validating the resistance of the pouch seal — a quality control device that can enhance reputations by significantly mitigating the risk of defects being shipped and shelved. The exacting system has been shown to decrease greenlighted leak defects to one 1 in 30,000 — a 300% improvement over conventional leak detection technologies.

IMA Dairy & Food USA, Leominster, MA 978-549-4823


Article courtesy of Packaging Digest's sister publication Powder & Bulk Solids