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Pack Expo 2014: Day 3 in pictures

There was a constant flow of attendees in Day 3 as in Day 2 as seen in the central atrium area of Chicago's McCormick Place.

Automation advances, flexible packaging innovations and a celebration of packaging leaders marked some of Pack Expo International 2014 Day 3 highlights.

The crowd inside McCormick Place on Day 3 is a repeat performance of Day 2's heavy traffic.

LiquiGlide demo and update including a disclosure of the first expected U.S. application of the hyper-slippery coating.

Delkor's robotic pouch-casing system exemplifies a revolution in standalone robots as well as those integrated into OEM systems like this.

Why is this shrink tunnel so small?

Why is this shrink tunnel so small?
The ECO shrink tunnel is about half the size of a typical tunnel and cool to the touch.

Right-sizing has come to another area in packaging.

The outside of the new Arpac ECO shrink tunnel is about half the size of a typical system. And it’s cool to the touch for operator safety, as marketing and creative director Mary Pence, demonstrates in the picture.

But it’s the innovation inside that steals the show. The heaters, which take just three minutes to come up to temperature (increasing uptime), create a shrink-film bundle with a “pristine” bullseye, according to the company. The system is able to do this because of how it controls the temperature and air flow.

An inner section of the machine adjusts to the width of the pack being run. So the size of the tunnel shrinks to conform to the pack size. This minimizes the amount of heat needed because you don’t have to heat an oversized space in a tunnel and blow the air all around.

The range of adjustment you need (from smallest to largest pack width) can be built into the system. A simple hand-crank with an inch-counter moves the inner part of the system in or out. All blowers are localized for where they are needed for maximum heat efficiency. There are three pairs of blowers: at the front, the back and the bottom for the lap seal. Uniform heat also minimizes print distortion on final bundle for good-looking graphics.

See this at Pack Expo International (Nov. 2-5; McCormick Place, Chicago) in the Arpac Booth S-2948.

Pack Expo 2014: Day 2 in pictures

Fully automated order fulfillment system from Intelligrated uses Xbox Kinect sensor technology on robotic depalletizer to “see” cases and place them in appropriate queues for subsequent mixed load palletizing. See it in action in Booth S-3536.

The show ramped up on its second day, with a heavy and steady flow of attendees walking the show floor. Among the show stoppers were a demonstration of Google Glass wearable technology and a modified atmosphere pack that gives bread a 40-day shelf life. Here are a few more trends and technologies from our second day.

New MAP pack gives Franz bread a 40 day shelf life

New MAP pack gives Franz bread a 40 day shelf life
First application for active barrier packaging is on display.

Introduced at Pack Expo, Sealed Air’s Cryovac Modified Atmosphere Packaging (MAP) technology traps oxygen as a new way to dramatically extend shelf life for premium and specialty baked goods.

Oxygen absorbers have been used for years as a modified atmosphere packaging technique, but Sealed Air took a different tack using active barrier film technology that traps oxygen within the film rather than scavenge it. The result is an efficient way to extend the shelf life for baked goods using thermoformed packaging.

Designed to reduce spoilage for preservative-free, whole-grain, gluten-free and other high-end, specialty bakery products that can be susceptible to mold, Cryovac MAP for Bakery can extend product shelf life from traditional 1-2 week timeframes to more than 40 days. The package combines Sealed Air’s Cryovac Freshness Plus active barrier films with carbon dioxide and nitrogen gas-flush processing.

The company’s booth had on display (shown) the first market introduction: Gluten-free bread with 40 days’ shelf life from Franz Bakery in Seattle, WA. After semi-rigid thermoform packaging, the product is  overwrapped in a conventional bread wrap.

Another benefit is a label cleaner of preservatives, according to Kari Dawson-Ekeland, director of marketing, center of store for Sealed Air’s Food Care Division.

The products are MAP-packaged 2-up using Reiser Repak thermoform/fill/seal machinery.

For more information, see Cryovac Food Packaging.

Pouching equipment on a roll

Lane Ltd. is a long-established manufacturer and/or marketer of specialty tobacco products, including roll-your-own and pipe tobaccos, Dunhill and State Express 555 premium international cigarettes, Captain Black and Winchester little cigars and premium Dunhill cigars. Lane became part of Reynolds American Inc. in 2004. Its Bugle-brand roll-your-own product, which accounts for 24.5 percent of U.S. RYO sales volume, is produced at its plant in Tucker, GA.

In 2001, the company decided to redesign the packaging of its roll-your-own products from paper to foil pouches. After investigating several suppliers, Lane decided to proceed with Southern Packaging Machinery, Inc. (www.southernpackaging.com) and, over the next two years, developed a “J-type” pouch and purchased five horizontal form/fill/seal machines that fill 0.75 oz of tobacco and a small package of rolling papers into individual pouches at a speed of about 65 pouches/min. Southern Machinery also served as a system integrator for the project. “We talked to a number of companies,” says assistant shift manager Lou Simonini, “but we've always had a good relationship with Southern Packaging Machinery. In addition, they're right down the road from us, and their machines were very competitively priced, so they were an obvious choice. We had never run this type of equipment before, so we hired them to put together the whole operation for us, and it has worked out very well. They helped us with installation and startup and, while the machines have run very well with very little downtime, Southern has been right there with parts and service any time we needed them.” Benchmark Automation (www.benchmarkautomation.net) has recently purchased the hf/f/s technology from Southern Packaging Machinery.

The hf/f/s machines are combined into three packaging lines with two of these lines incorporating two of the hf/f/s machines and the third line using only one of the h/f/f/s machines. A roll of laminated polyolefin/aluminum film from Alcan Packaging (www.alcanpackaging.com) or Printpack, Inc. (www.printpack.com) is mounted on the end of the machine and a vertical-feed roll located after the side sealer pulls the film into the machine. A power-unwind system on the roll shaft automatically feeds the film and maintains the proper tension. The film travels over a bottom plough that folds it up and forms the gusset bottom of the pouch. After folding, one side of the film is about twice as long as the other side so it can be folded over to form the final pouch. A web edge aligner adjusts the film to ensure that the sides of the film align properly.

At this point in the operation, a product code is applied to the film by a Model 9064 ink-jet printer from Markem Corp. (www.markem.com) . The vertical feed roll that pulls the film into the machine that was mentioned previously is located at this point on the machine. Vertical knives/heat sealing bars simultaneously cut and side seal the individual pouches, after which they enter the filling zone of the machine.

An air jet blows open the top of the pouch, after which a duck-bill depositor descends into the pouch, opens and deposits 0.65 or 0.75 oz of tobacco, depending on what product the plant is running. The product is weighed on an in-line combinational scale system from Triangle Package Machinery Co. (www.trianglepackage.com) that is mounted on a platform above the pouch machine. The scale system consists of eight individual weighing systems mounted horizontally. Each system contains a series of vertical buckets installed above each other. Product drops from the vibrating infeed conveyor into the collection buckets, which are intended to contain about one fourth of the finished package weight; about 0.18 oz in this case. These buckets discharge into the weigh buckets, where the actual weighing takes place. The weigh buckets then discharge into the staging buckets. The system has 16 staging buckets mounted in two rows of eight each. The control system remembers the weight of product in each staging bucket, and for each weighment, the system selects the combination of three or four of these staging buckets that comes closest to the total bag weight without being under that weight. These discharge the tobacco down a chute into the pouch. After the staging buckets discharge, they are refilled from the weigh buckets above them. Because tobacco is so stringy, graders with counter-rotating fingers are installed above the collection buckets to disperse clumps and help feed the product evenly.

The filled pouches travel through two tamping stages where plastic plungers descend and push the tobacco down into the packages. “Tobacco is very springy, and Southern developed the duck bill and the tampers to overcome this,” says Simonini. After filling and tamping, the pouches travel past horizontal heating bars that seal the pouch above the tobacco. The long vertical flap is still held in an upright position at this point. The pouches then travel to a system supplied by Minnesota Automation Products (www.minnesotaautomation.com) that fastens small packages of gummed cigarette papers to the inside of the pouch. In this operation, a glue gun deposits a drop of hot-melt glue on the inside of the extended flap of the pouch, and a vacuum cup on a pivoting arm picks a package of rolling papers out of a vertical magazine and places it in the glue.

The next step is to wrap this flap around the pouch. To accomplish this, the pouch is gripped by vacuum cups on a pivoting arm and is laid flat in a rotating unit that folds the flap over the pouch as it rotates. The pouches, which are now laying flat on the conveyor, immediately enter a unit from Label-Aire, Inc. (www.label-aire.com) that applies a small, pressure-sensitive label over the edge of the flap to hold it onto the pouch. The label has a section that has no glue, so the user can easily pull it lose to open the pouch, and the glue is formulated so that the label can be reapplied by the user to keep the tobacco fresh. This is the end of the single lane of equipment on the lanes incorporating two hf/f/s machines.

At this point, the pouches from two adjacent lines are combined into a single lane to feed the down-stream equipment. To accomplish this, the pouches from adjacent lines enter a conveyor from Dorner Manufacturing Corp. (www.dorner.com) that delivers them to a combiner/checkweigher from Mettler-Toledo Hi-Speed (www.hispeedcheckweigher.com). The Hi-Speed Magna-Switch combiner utilizes a unique roller assembly to converge pouches from each lane into a single lane that travels over the checkweigher. The pouches then enter a Linium 301 flowrapper from Doboy (www.doboy.com). The unit pulls film from a roll mounted overhead, forms it around the pouch and creates a longitudinal fin seal to form a continuous tube around the pouches as they travel through the machine. The packages then travel through a set of rollers containing heating bars that seal and cut the film to produce individual packages.

Next, the wrapped pouches travel to a robotic tray loader from Blueprint Automation, Inc. (www.blueprintautomation.com) that incorporates the company's smart-trak™ collation system, along with the robotic loader. The system includes four servo drives—two on the collation system and two on the robot. The collation system features a vertical racetrack with two sets of holding bins, or shuttles, each powered by its own servo-driven timing belt. Each shuttle has 12 vertical partitions and the pouches are “shot” into the partitions by a variable speed conveyor as the shuttle indexes forward. The pouches are in a vertical position in the pockets, which are designed so both ends of the pouches protrude from the shuttle to facilitate robotic handling. While one shuttle is being loaded with pouches, the other belt has moved to the robotic pick-up position, where it stops. After the robotic picks up the pouches, this shuttle travels around the track back to the loading station, while the other shuttle moves to the pickup position.

The robotic loader uses a mechanical end effector to pick up the pouches. The robot descends and rods move inward from both sides beneath the protruding ends of the pouches. The robot then rises and lifts the pouches out of the shuttle. Simultaneously, an end plate moves inward to push the pouches together to compensate for the space taken up by the partitions and side plates move inward to align the pouches for loading into the trays, which are on a parallel conveyor to the shuttle racetrack.

Trays with hinged covers are formed, conveyed for product loading, closed and sealed in a T-System from Econocorp, Inc. (www.econocorp.com). The Econoform tray former pulls a die-cut blank from the magazine, feeds it to the forming area and glues the four corners of the tray, while leaving the top open. The Econoseal tray former includes a hot-melt glue system from Nordson Corp. (www.nordson.com). The formed tray is deposited onto an intermittent-motion, flighted conveyor that transports it to the robotic loading station. After the pouches are loaded, the tray is conveyed to the Econoseal Reverse Triseal cover sealer. The covers are plowed closed automatically as the loaded trays approach the automatic transfer station of the closing unit. The presence of the carton in the transfer station triggers the right-angle transfer mechanism and the three cover flaps of the tray are automatically sealed using the Econoseal hot-melt dauber system. Completed and securely glued trays are then discharged onto a conveyor that transports them to a side-loading case packer from Focke & Co., Inc. (www.focke.biz).

More information is available:
Alcan Packaging, 773/399-8000. www.alcanpackaging.com.
Benchmark Automation, 706/208-0814. www.benchmarkautomation.net.
Blueprint Automation, Inc., 804/520-5400. www.blueprintautomation.com.
Doboy, 715/246-6511. www.doboy.com.
Dorner Manufacturing Corp., 8 00/397-8664. www.dorner.com.
Econocorp, Inc., 781/986-7500. www.econocorp.com.
Focke & Co., Inc., 336/449-7200. www.focke.biz.
Label-Aire, Inc., 760-734-4177. www.label-aire.com.
Markem Corp., 603/357-4255. www.markem.com.
Mettler-Toledo Hi-Speed, 800/836-0836. www.hispeedcheckweigher.com.
Minnesota Automation Products, 218/546-2222. www.minnesotaautomation.com.
Nordson Corp., 770/497-3700. www.nordson.com.
Printpack, Inc., 404/691/5830. www.printpack.com.
Southern Packaging Machinery, Inc., 770/822-0007. www.southernpackaging.com.
Triangle Package Machinery Co., 800/621-4170. www.trianglepackage.com.

Pack Expo 2014: Day 1 in pictures

The Delkor LILP-500 case packer loads 24 cups at once so the cycle time is slow but steady. The system is headed to its customer Noosa for yogurt packing after the show. See it in Booth S-3834.

It was an active first day at Pack Expo International 2014 (Nov. 2-5; McCormick Place, Chicago) even though it was a Sunday. Plenty of machines in motion, pretty packages on display and engaging conversations about real projects. Here is some of what we've seen.

First child-resistant slider for flex packs launched

First child-resistant slider for flex packs launched

A result of “lots of Intellectual Property,” the Child-Guard slider technology from Presto Products that meets PPPA and ASTM standards for child-resistance opens up new opportunities in flexible packaging.

Two years of development led Presto Products Company to launch at Pack Expo in booth S-2837 on November 2 the world’s first child-resistant flexible pouch on the initial opening and subsequent re-openings using the Press-To-Engage (PTE) resealable slider. The Child-Guard slider meets Title 16 CFR 1700 of the Poison Prevention Packaging Act (PPPA) with ASTM D3475 classification from ASTM International.

While flexible packaging has made inroads across many product categories, this breakthrough opens up new opportunities in markets including any regulated products previously available only to rigid packaging. Potential markets include medical marijuana food products and FIFRA—Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act—that governs the registration, distribution, sale, and use of pesticides in the U.S., according to Presto senior sales manager Todd Muessling.

The CR method is simple, effective and ingenious: As shown in the illustration, the slider opens with an easy “point, press and pull” motion. Users align the slider tongue with the groove, press down lightly on the slider’s top side and pull the slider across the zipper track for a smooth opening experience. Adult consumers, including seniors, will find the zipper simple to open, but it will be extremely challenging for children aged five and under addressed by the PPPA regulation.

Muessling says the Child-Guard was in development for two years and represents a joint development with another company that chooses to remain anonymous.

He expects small-scale production to be in place by mid-2015. The new CR zipper is said to integrate with existing equipment.

Exploring consumer decisions at Pack Expo

Exploring consumer decisions at Pack Expo

Ever wonder why consumers buy what they do at the store? Or how big of a role packaging plays in the purchasing decision process? Clemson University’s CUShop is a very exciting exhibit where show-goers can experience walking through a simulated store thanks to biometric technology.

The recreated shopping environment helps aid in better understanding of consumer purchasing decisions by aggregating participant data to determine the impact of packaging on attention.

According to Clemson, the CUshop’s immersive experience starts with an introductory vestibule flanked with automatic sliding glass doors. These doors easily lead participants into the grocery store where studies occur. Participants are asked to “shop as they normally would shop,” giving the certified “shop-ologists” time to gather pertinent eye-tracking data through pupil fixations and eye scan paths.

“We’ve often said Pack Expo is as much a huge learning lab as it is a marketplace, and Clemson’s research shines new light on that facet of the show,” says Charles D. Yuska, president & CEO of PMMI, owner and producer of the Pack Expo shows.

Experience this fascinating simulation for yourself at Pack Expo International (Nov. 2-5; McCormick Place, Chicago) in Booth S-2948.