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SmartPace conveyor spaces and groups products and packages

SmartPace conveyor spaces and groups products and packages
Debuting at Pack Expo, the SmartPace conveyor solves space and timing issues for products and containers.

Launched at Pack Expo, Dorner Manufacturing’s SmartPace conveyor takes randomly spaced products and containers and creates spaced or alternating batches. It can be used upstream of case packers, robots and other equipment.

It can also merge multiple lines together without product stops or gates. It can accept and smoothly transfer parts items as short as 3 inches in length at speeds up to 200 feet per minute.

It is a non-contact system that does not use guides or other mechanical means. A photo-eye detects the product presence that signals to the servo motor control that automatically varies the conveyor speed and conveyor junction placement of the back-to-back variable-speed conveyor belts to generate an evenly spaced product. It uses Yaskawa America controls, servos and variable-speed drives and has its own HMI interface.

SmartPace sizes range to 6 feet in length and 4 to 12 inches wide, according to marketing manager Stacy Pabst, who also disclosed during Pack Expo that the vendor has two of the systems in field test.

Packaging machines integrate robots to increase production flexibility

Packaging machines integrate robots to increase production flexibility
Coesia/Norden's tube-handling robot exemplifies robotics as a key part of "middle of line" packaging functions.

One of the trends seen at Pack Expo reflected the growing use of robotics as both integral and integrated into original equipment manufacturers’ (OEMs) case packers and other machines and systems. Here are 5 examples in a Slideshow Gallery of robots handling pouches, blisters, tubes and Twinkies.

As seen in a report posted late last week, 5 trend-setting robots in action at Pack Expo, robots were found in booths throughout the many aisles of Pack Expo. This new Slideshow focuses on examples of robotics that are integrated into packaging machinery and systems as a more flexible alternative to traditional hard automation methods for loading, collating and other “middle of the line” packaging processes. Our next report will focus on end-of-line robotics from the show.

NOTE:  Use the red View Gallery button above to access the Slideshow Gallery.

1. Robotic case loading done in the “Twinkie” of an eye

Pearson Packaging Systems’ 6-axis FANUC Model M-10iA robot was busy loading cartons of Hostess Twinkies into cases.  It is able to pick at speeds of less than 3 seconds to output 10 cases per minute.

The demo mimics robotics installations at 2 different Hostess plants; you can find the Hostess case study posted last month here at the Pearson site.

2. Two robots are better than one: A robotic, all-in-one case packing system.

Delkor Packaging’s mid-speed, 150 pouches/30 cases per minute Model MSP-200 stand-up pouch packaging system combines a vision-based delta robot with a high-payload, long-stroke Fanuc M-710iC robot.

The vision-based M-2iA delta robot accepts skewed or misaligned pouches (+/-25°) at maximum product rate. The 710iC has the payload and stroke capability to load the latest SRP case designs as well as standard interleaved shippers. Semi-automated changeover allows the system to convert case styles in less than 10 minutes.

3. Delta robot operates at a “blister-ing” pace

An example of precise robotic handling for another type of packaging format, that of blister packs, was shown in the booth of KOCH Packaging Systems using a robot that can pick from sorted or unsorted infeeds for multiple product infeeds.  The KRH-D Delta robot is said to be suitable for suited for automated, hygienic extraction and placement of products and is capable of an “angular, rotational” pick.

4. Totally tubular robot: Coesia tube fill/seal system is anchored by robotic case loader.

The Nordenmatic 1703X tube filling and sealing machine is one of the latest developments from Norden that’s designed to handle tubes up to diameter 65mm. The machine is also equipped with an improved version of the Norden EasyWare control system, with an even more user friendly design, and uses an ABB robot for case loading.

5. So close it’s almost a robot: The Robo-Wand

According to the guidelines of the Robotic Industries Association (RIA),  a robot is defined as follows: "‘A robot is a reprogrammable, multifunctional manipulator designed to move material, parts, tools or specialized devices through variable programmed motions for the performance of a variety of tasks.’ Recently, however, the industry's current working definition of a robot has come to be understood as any piece of equipment that has three or more degrees of movement or freedom.”

The near-miss is Standard-Knapp’s Model 298 Tritium Trayshrink Packer that features a high-speed Robo-Wand wrapping module, capable of running up to 120 trays per minute and providing a consistent tight, wrinkle-free wrap. The Robo-Wand also offers multi-axis control for limitless packing possibilities without the need for change parts.

Alas, the wands’ 2-axis movement comes up one axis short of the RIA definition. With the idea of being inclusive, we’ve added it here because it provides an interesting, even valuable point of reference as to what a robot is and what it isn’t.

5 trend-setting robots in action at Pack Expo

5 trend-setting robots in action at Pack Expo
This compact palletizing robot uses tooling created by 3D printing.

Some of the more revolutionary packaging robots and robotic systems on display at Pack Expo 2014 demonstrate how useful these systems have become. You’ll find two different kinds of “collaborative” robots, one robot that’s literally very cool, another that uses 3D-printed tooling and a palletizing robot that adapts to imperfections in the real-world. In short, robots’ skillsets are expanding on all fronts.

I went to Pack Expo 2014 in Chicago with a lot of anticipation, including the expectation of seeing more packaging robots than ever before. However, the amount of robotics that I saw over the four day run of the show and their functionality was staggering.

Robots were found everywhere throughout the halls and in greater numbers than ever before. They were there as standalone systems for palletizing and other functions and they were integrated into OEMs’ case packers and other packaging machines.

While my at-show reaction is based on unofficial observations across many years of past iterations of the exhibition, it turns out that’s more than an impression: A check of the Pack Expo website reveals some 116 exhibitors cited by the keyword search “robots” and another 46 under “robotics.” Even with overlap, that’s an impressive amount. This proliferation of robotics in packaging reflects a much broader growth curve for this kind of flexible automation: The Robotic Industries Association, the industry’s trade group, reported in late July that the North American robotics industry is off to its fastest start ever in 2014.

The robots at Pack Expo were faster, stronger, smarter, capable of working within an expanded work envelop and with higher lift capacity. Improvements in hardware and software have made them smarter and nimbler, and some—including three reported here—react to changing conditions in the real world.

Software developments have also helped make more sophisticated operations possible—and make robots easier to use and reprogram.

I was also struck by a shift in mindset; as one expert told me, “instead of it being referred to as a robot, it is now considered a loader.” I think that speaks volumes about robots’ acceptance as a more integral and integrated part of packaging operations and starts to blur the distinction between robots and hard automation.

What this all means is that robot manufacturers and packaging equipment vendors will continue to respond and remain proactive to their customer needs—and that means there’s no slowing down the influx of robotics into packaging operations.

Enough of the background...Take a look at these systems as seen at the show in the following gallery of 5 trend-setting robots.  Use the red View Gallery button above to access the slideshow.

5 packaging machines with integrated robotics

1. Pearson Packaging’s 6-axis case-loading robot was pick-and-placing cartons of Hostess cupcakes, paralleling the real world where the company’s case packaging system performing this same function at a Hostess production plant.

One of the trends seen at Pack Expo reflected the growing use of robotics as both integral and integrated into original equipment manufacturers’ (OEMs) case packers and other machines and systems. Here are 5 examples in a Slideshow Gallery of robots handling pouches, blisters, tubes and Twinkies.

As seen in a report posted late last week, 5 trend-setting robots in action at Pack Expo, robots were found in booths throughout the many aisles of Pack Expo. This new Slideshow focuses on examples of robotics that are integrated into packaging machinery and systems as a more flexible alternative to traditional hard automation methods for loading, collating and other “middle of the line” packaging processes. Our next report will focus on end-of-line robotics from the show.

NOTE: Use the Red Next button at the top to advance the slideshow.

1. Robotic case loading done in the “Twinkie” of an eye

Pearson Packaging Systems’ 6-axis FANUC Model M-10iA robot was busy loading cartons of Hostess Twinkies into cases.  It is able to pick at speeds of less than 3 seconds to output 10 cases per minute.

The demo mimics robotics installations at 2 different Hostess plants; you can find the Hostess case study posted last month here at the Pearson site.

2. Two robots are better than one: A robotic, all-in-one case packing system.

Delkor Packaging’s mid-speed, 150 pouches/30 cases per minute Model MSP-200 stand-up pouch packaging system combines a vision-based delta robot with a high-payload, long-stroke Fanuc M-710iC robot.

The vision-based M-2iA delta robot accepts skewed or misaligned pouches (+/-25°) at maximum product rate. The 710iC has the payload and stroke capability to load the latest SRP case designs as well as standard interleaved shippers. Semi-automated changeover allows the system to convert case styles in less than 10 minutes.

 3. Delta robot operates at a “blister-ing” pace

An example of precise robotic handling for another type of packaging format, that of blister packs, was shown in the booth of KOCH Packaging Systems using a robot that can pick from sorted or unsorted infeeds for multiple product infeeds.  The KRH-D Delta robot is said to be suitable for suited for automated, hygienic extraction and placement of products and is capable of an “angular, rotational” pick.

4. Totally tubular robot: Coesia tube fill/seal system is anchored by robotic case loader.

The Nordenmatic 1703X tube filling and sealing machine is one of the latest developments from Norden that’s designed to handle tubes up to diameter 65mm. The machine is also equipped with an improved version of the Norden EasyWare control system, with an even more user friendly design, and uses an ABB robot for case loading.

5. So close it’s almost a robot: The Robo-Wand

According to the guidelines of the Robotic Industries Association (RIA),  a robot is defined as follows: "‘A robot is a reprogrammable, multifunctional manipulator designed to move material, parts, tools or specialized devices through variable programmed motions for the performance of a variety of tasks.’ Recently, however, the industry's current working definition of a robot has come to be understood as any piece of equipment that has three or more degrees of movement or freedom.”

The near-miss is Standard-Knapp’s Model 298 Tritium Trayshrink Packer that features a high-speed Robo-Wand wrapping module, capable of running up to 120 trays per minute and providing a consistent tight, wrinkle-free wrap. The Robo-Wand also offers multi-axis control for limitless packing possibilities without the need for change parts.

Alas, the wands’ 2-axis movement comes up one axis short of the RIA definition. With the idea of being inclusive, we’ve added it here because it provides an interesting, even valuable point of reference as to what a robot is and what it isn’t.

4 leading pet food packaging designs

Honest Kitchen all-natural dog and cat food
The Honest Kitchen, an all-natural dog and cat food brand, has received an Innovation Award from Petfood 2.0 for its new and improved sustainable packaging which is recyclable and made from post-consumer material. The new packaging design for the human grade pet food depicts hand-painted artwork of the company's whole-food ingredients and shadowed versions of actual employees' pets.

This year Packaging Digest has covered a wide array of pet care packaging innovations ranging from pouches to personalization and even sustainability. No longer is there an abundance of cuteness when perusing the pet food aisle for your pooch but instead real information and even story-telling to help convey the brand’s message.

A recent article published earlier this year in Packaging Digest examined the leading trends in pet food packaging. Below are the top 5.

1. Nutritional tables/food pyramids

2. Better photography/food styling

3. Brand story

4. "No" language

5. Animal nature

To read more about these pet food trends, click here.

Use the red View Gallery button above to launch the Slideshow and see the top pet food packaging redesigns of 2014.

Student's passion for sustainability leads her to packaging

Student's passion for sustainability leads her to packaging
Catherine Jucha is currently enrolled at Virginia Tech.

Not everyone knows what they want to do at an early age, especially when in college. However, this is not the case for Catherine Jucha who is working on obtaining a degree in Packaging Systems and Design from Virginia Tech.

This month’s rising star shares with us how she takes an active approach to sustainability in and out of the classroom.

Tell us about yourself.

Jucha: As a student attending Virginia Tech I am very lucky to have solidified my interests and passions at an early age. My primary focus involves developing and promoting future packaging that is friendlier to the environment than its predecessors such as the polystyrene foam peanut. I want to ensure that future generations of consumers can enjoy current luxuries such as having access to numerous materials, products and services right at one’s fingertips; packaging is the medium that ensures people have immediate access to these goods and amenities. This concept is what provides me with a sense of direction and drives my desire to be involved with the field of packaging.

Furthermore, I am able to do so by obtaining a degree in Packaging Systems and Design from Virginia Tech, participating in major packaging events and groups such as the Institute of Packaging Professionals, which I am a member of, and volunteering at summits such as the Global Food and Beverage Packaging Summit along with Pack Expo. I am very appreciative to know what matters most to me, what I want for the future and the necessary steps to ensure that my aspirations of a more sustainable world become realities.  

What was it about Virginia Tech and packaging that made you want to embark down this path?

Jucha: Virginia Tech’s interests and ideals have always aligned with mine, which was something that initially attracted me towards attending the university. Specifically, my interests focus around the sustainable initiative and creating products and services for consumers that promote an ecological life cycle. Within that discipline, I discovered my passion was to create a more sustainable form of technology that is distributed to individuals directly at every level, whether it is producers creating a product to the consumers using that product in their homes.

The technology that facilitated my ability to do so was packaging. After establishing my direction, I took action to ensure that I participated in promoting sustainability in the industry as a college student. For example, being an ambassador to the department of Sustainable Biomaterials at Virginia Tech I was able to bring awareness to the Hokie community about ecological packaging, along with interning at Printpack in product development I directly participated in the forefront of developing greener food containers.

Finally, by volunteering at the Global Food and Beverage Packaging Summit I was educated on the current action being taken by major packaging corporations such as PepsiCo and Tetra Pak to ensure they lead the way in supporting a packaging world that is friendly to the biosphere and the living things in it.

What are some of your favorite classes so far?

Jucha: That is an excellent question. My three favorite classes thus far are Donna Wertalik’s Marketing Management course, History and Theory of Industrial Design and Principles of Packaging. All three of these classes teach material that is entirely relevant to the culture and trends of the packaging industry. I have been able to apply the lessons learned from these courses as an ambassador of Sustainable Biomaterials and as an intern at Printpack, and I am sure I will continue to use them further as a future professional.

What are some aspects of the packaging process that excites you? Surprises you?

Jucha: I am so thrilled to be in time period where sustainability and ecologically sound packages are the essence within the industry and are highly demanded by consumers. However, I still remain surprised by how long it has taken this field to make sustainability and environmentally friendly packages a concentration and priority to ensure that consumers can continue to consume packaged products at today’s current rate. Furthermore, I am always astounded at how many goods and amenities are packaged globally and the reliance consumers have on packages to aid daily responsibilities.

What do you envision your dream job being when you graduate?

Jucha: I would relish in the opportunity to hold a position of a packaging executive (within the marketing sector more so then the technical region) major corporation such as Dow Chemical and PepsiCo to name a few…

Is there a particular area/industry you’d like to focus on?

Jucha: Within the packaging industry I would like to focus on the marketing discipline more so than the technical side because I truly enjoy communicating with internal employees, external employers and society at large in regards to propositions, recent inventions and concepts that reach individual’s at the most basic level. 

After hearing Denise Lefebvre (PepsiCo) and Elisabeth Comere (Tetrapak) talk about the importance of sustainable action at the Global Food and Beverage Packaging Summit it inspired me to ensure that in the future I aspire to promote and enforce environmental initiatives and technologies to target consumer markets.

Any advice for other prospective students who are considering an education in packaging engineering?

Jucha: The first piece of advice is really to strive to get experience within the packaging industry, because the responses and events that are required of packaging employees cannot be learned sitting in a classroom. Also, it is essential for students to develop experience in the broad regions of packaging to determine which discipline he or she will most enjoy and then stick to that career path.

Furthermore, it is imperative to develop strong connections and networks within the packaging field because it is such as diverse industry that having friends in various regions can always help to better understand the entire umbrella that is packaging.

How do you see packaging technology evolving over the next few years?

Jucha: In the future, I see packages becoming more functional and accommodating for aging generations, particularly baby boomers. As the health of many members within this generation decline and begin to develop health problems such as arthritis it is essential that packaging products, whether it be the physical design or the chemical composition of the product’s materials be more convenient and practical for that target consumer population.

Additionally, I expect to see a rise in popularity of travel-sized packages that are due to the trending fast paced environment individuals are experiencing. These smaller allocated packages will be more convenient for consumer’s everyday routines because they will lack the time and hassle required of portioning family sized containers and products used throughout the day.  

Ben & Jerry’s integrates flavor tower motif into packaging

Ben & Jerry’s integrates flavor tower motif into packaging

The iconic ice cream brand Ben & Jerry’s recently underwent a brand transformation to its packaging to increase clarification amongst its premium ingredients without losing the personality commonly associated with the “cool” brand which is associated by its whimsical flavor combos. The end result? A more unified messaging which helps create a more consistent and up-scale look across all packaging, otherwise known as the “flavor tower” motif.  

The company enlisted the help of Pearlfisher New York to reinvent its portfolio.

Hamish Campbell, creative director, Pearlfisher, comments, “Consumers already love Ben &
Jerry’s indulgent flavors and the brand’s effusive personality. Our job was to take that personality and use it to express how premium the product is. The flavor towers play with gravity and scale, creating indulgent larger than life taste expressions. The iconic Ben & Jerry’s cow frees the brand to convey the spirit, joy and whimsical nature of Ben & Jerry’s. We used both tools to clarify the brand’s messaging, unifying the brand and creating a more consistent and premium feel across all segments.”

Mike Branson, Pearlfisher founder/CEO comments on the new design, “Premium quality and quirky personality are often considered conflicting equities—we are pleased that our redesign has proved that it’s possible to create utterly ownable and distinctive personality without compromising euphoric taste communication. Add to this global brand desirability and we are incredibly optimistic about this new design for Ben & Jerry’s.”

xpedx Packaging Capabilities Overview

In the packaging business, it’s good to have solution providers. But it’s better to have a partner who finds potential you didn’t even know existed.

Versatility of Velteko Packaging Machines

Versatility of Velteko Packaging Machines

Industry-leading packaging versatility

            Velteko is an exclusive manufacturer of high tech packaging machines and is committed to consistently improving and perfecting the vertical packaging process.  Their continued success around the world for producing machines with unmatched versatility, top levels of uptime and extended service intervals lead to a greatly reduced cost of ownership.  As a testament to their quality and reliability, almost 20 year old Velteko machines located at well-known factories around the world are still on the job, continuously packaging products day after day. 

            Velteko engineers pride themselves in “thinking vertically” and designing custom packaging solutions for each and every project.  Their proactive engineering approach assures that each individual customer around the world will be provided with a versatile, high performance, and reliable packaging solution customized for their needs.

12 different stand up pouch variations with 45 minute changeover times

            Velteko presented its first stand up pouch machine at Interpack in 2005. Since that time, their design and operation have been constantly improved. Velteko VFFS machines are now able to quickly and efficiently create 12 variations of stand up pouches with extremely short changeover times from one bag type to another. A maximum of only 45 minutes is needed when changing from a quad bag ("F" type bag) to a stand up pouch with zipper! Velteko machines maximize your package output and minimize machine downtime.

The safe packaging machine choice…..now and in the future

            The HSV and US series of Velteko vertical packaging machines are the most versatile in the industry.  This versatility is amply demonstrated by the US100, which is able handle up to 91 different bag types (including the stand up bag) and closing systems.  No matter what your needs are today or tomorrow, Velteko packaging machines will adapt to the market and your packaging requirements. Security and peace of mind come standard with every Velteko machine purchase.

VFFS machine series

-       Up to 55 different types of bags

-       Bag widths of up to 440 mm

-       Speeds up to 360 bags/min

-       12 variations of doy-style stand-up pouch

-       12 different types of applicators

-       4 types of resealable systems

-       Quick and trouble-free changeover between different bag types

-        Utilizes a wide spectrum of film brands

-       Ease of operation with 12” touch display for intuitive control of operating parameters

-       VELTEKO software translated into your local language

-       IP camera and headset for live audio/visual communication with VELTEKO service specialists

-       Interactive spare parts catalogue for your specific machine

-       12 month / unlimited hours warranty

US 100 "Create and Close" packaging machine series

  • Specializing in fragile product packaging with a tender touch
    • Low drop height of 14 in. / 360 mm for special care of your fragile items
    • Conveyer and weighing system are optimized for your easily breakable products
    • "Soft touch" chute surface and product stopper of the doser
  • Up to 91 types of bags including the doy-style stand-up pouch
  • Every type of top seal folding
  • 5 types of re-closing systems including TinTie
  • A wide range of applicators (date, graphics, valve, hole)
  • Create your own product mixes
  • Ease of operation with 12” touch display for intuitive control of operating parameters
  • VELTEKO software translated into your local language
  • IP camera and headset for live audio/visual communication with VELTEKO service specialists
  • Interactive spare parts catalogue for your specific machine
  • 12 month / unlimited hours warranty

Further information about Velteko and its products can be found at www.velteko.com

New Patented Velteko Reclosing Systems

New Patented Velteko Reclosing Systems

Opening new doors on bag reclosing systems

Velteko is known throughout the industry as vertical packaging machine experts and constantly strives to improve and perfect the vertical packaging machine process.  Their innovative and problem-solving “vertical thinking” abilities not only refer to the manufacture of vertical packaging machines, but also to the improvement of the bags and reclosing systems their machines create.  Velteko innovation in this area includes the three newly patented reclosing systems that were recently presented by Velteko at this year’s Interpack Exhibition in Dusseldorf, Germany.  All three reclosing systems have been designed for the HSV series of Velteko vertical packaging machines. 

“Full access” reclosing system

The “Grand Opening" zipper is a new Velteko patented zipper reclosing system for quad seal standing bags (type “F”) and flat bottomed bags (type “C” and “D”).  This new invention leads the packaging industry by providing unrestricted access to the FULL contents of the bag.  With the Grand Opening, consumers now have the means to easily and effectively scoop out whatever quantity of product they require. Application of this new zipper system does not decrease packaging speed and can be implemented on Velteko HSV series machines.

The “Grand Opening" zipper is a perfect reclosing system for big piece products, cereals, snack food, pasta and pet food.

Viable alternatives to Tin Tie

The Tin Tie reclosing system is an overwhelming success in the packaging industry and is available on HSV series Velteko machines.  As viable and practical alternatives to this winning system, Velteko engineers have invented and patented the “Roll Tie” and “Cross Tie” reclosing systems.  These new systems are available on Velteko quad seal standing bags (type “F”) and flat bottomed bags (type “C” and “D”), and require just 3 steps to open and reclose!  Access to bag contents, and their consequent reclosing, is now more convenient and trouble-free than ever.  Installation of either reclosing system on the HSV series of Velteko packaging machines is inexpensive and trouble-free.

Both the "Cross Tie" and "Roll Tie" reclosing systems are perfect for the packaging of coffee, tea, cereals, snack food and pasta.

The addition of these three new reclosing systems demonstrates the constant attention to innovation and product development that Velteko is known for throughout the global packaging industry. 

Velteko – Think Vertically