Packaging Digest is part of the Informa Markets Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them. Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

How Automating Your Receiving Process Helps with FSMA Compliance

This white paper is intended to help food and pharmaceutical manufacturers identify and understand the key features to look for when evaluating pallet-based load transfer options.

Vision and ID for Food & Beverage

Machine Vision technology, combined with extensive application expertise, enable manufacturing engineers to meet tough packaging, safety, and quality goals.

Whether for food allergen management, assembly verification, quality control, or track and trace, machine vision technology offers the most solutions for food and beverage industry applications. 

Get the guide today

Optical Character Recognition Technology for the Food & Beverage Industry

Government regulations coupled with worldwide public demand for safer products have pushed food producers toward stringent food-tracking requirements. Many producers, in an effort to provide transparency at all levels of the supply chain, are turning to optical character recognition (OCR) technology to face these challenges consistently and reliably.

This paper explores the features and benefits of this new, effective tracking that ensures any necessary recalls will be identified in a timely and more importantly safe manner.  

Get the guide today

The case of the lost line capacity

The case of the lost line capacity

A few months back Chris called to say that he was losing line capacity and didn't know where it was going. He needed help and I went.

The product was contact lenses and saline in glass vials. Five and 10 milliliter vials were used to identify whether there was one or two lenses in the vial.

Equipment, speeds and production requirements all looked about right. I didn't understand why so much overtime to make the numbers.

Then he showed me the vials. The problem was not immediately visible but I finally noticed that the 10ml vial was not only taller, if was also seven thousandths of an inch larger in diameter.

"How long to do a changeover between vials?” I asked.

"About 90 minutes," he replied. "It's a three dimensional changeover on five machines."

“Next question. Suppose your vials were the same diameter?”

"That would require a simple height change on three machines.” Chris mused, “Probably about five minutes."

"Fiddlesticks on lost capacity! There's your loss," I told him. "You're losing 85 minutes daily on changeovers. That itty-bitty difference costs about 20 percent of your capacity. Standardize vial diameters and watch your production skyrocket."

I caught up with Chris a couple months later.

"Everyone agrees the diameters are a problem," he told me. "It would have been simple to fix in initial development. Now we can't change it because of regulations. Looks like I am stuck with the loss."

Size matters. Standardize, standardize, standardize.

KC Boxbottom, packaging detective, is on the case to solve tough packaging puzzles. He is the alter-ego of John Henry, CPP. Known as the Changeover Wizard, Henry is the owner of Changeover.com, a consulting firm that helps companies find and fix the causes of inefficiencies in their packaging operations. He produces a free monthly newsletter called Lean Changeover, which contains articles and tips on changeover and related issues. Reach him at johnhenry@changeover.com.

Food safety and packaging considerations in a post-FSMA world

Food safety and packaging considerations in a post-FSMA world

Welcome to the inaugural installment of Packaging Digest’s monthly Food Packaging Safety column. In this and future segments, we intend to discuss aspects of food packaging safety, quality and suitability that are important to those throughout the food packaging community.

There are few in the discipline of food product development and manufacturing who do not live and breathe food safety every day. Incidents involving actual and suspected contamination of food, be they physical, chemical or biological, are mentioned in one or more venues continuously. It is the risk event that makes for sleepless nights.

Based on frequency and degree of harm, many of us in the packaging business have felt immune to the risks of negatively affecting food safety. Somewhere along the line, we have come to the erroneous conclusion that food contamination is caused by something, anything, other than the packaging. We bemoan, “Why we are being held to the same standards as food producers? They are in a different arena, with much greater risks and challenges! We’ve never had a documented incident of our packaging contaminating anything. Why are we forced to throw money and resources that we don’t have to spare, all of a sudden, at this technical issue that WE didn’t cause?”

These are legitimate questions, which deserve answers for clarity and finality, and will be addressed and answered in future columns. It is important to remember that any item or environmental stimulus, edible or not, that enters the confines of a food-producing, transporting or storage facility, has the potential to cause harm, to persons, pets, products and businesses if not vetted and validated for suitability and wholesomeness from a regulatory and industry standards standpoint. This includes animals, vegetables, ingredients, processing and handling equipment, people, vehicles, utilities and, of course, packaging materials.

Before the passage of the Food Safety Modernization Act, and in the days when food safety concern was addressed off stage, we in the packaging industry applied a level of care and concern to packaging that would be considered by today’s standards as “low risk”.  Rarely could one point to a newsworthy incident where a food-borne illness was determined to have been directly caused by contaminated packaging.  Fast forward to 2014 where food packaging safety is no longer a “low risk” concern. Customers, end users, the public and public officials are not impressed by numbers that show our industry to be statistically “squeaky clean” when it comes to causing illness or harm. Whatever sea change has befallen us, it encompasses food packaging and related support items as well as the food within the package. In many companies, secondary (non-food contact) and intermediate (internal) packaging is under the microscope as well, because, as industry experts know, physical, chemical and biological risks are potentially everywhere.

This monthly forum will not dwell on or debate the question of whether the onus placed on the packaging industry is fair or deserved. We will occasionally refer to that aspect, but repeat visitors can expect to see plain-speak and honest talk about food industry, regulatory and customer expectations, best practices, guidance and process. We look forward to your participation, including comment regarding your experiences and questions related to your challenges. Until next month, when we will discuss the effects of FSMA and GFSI on food safety awareness and urgency, safety first!

Gary Kestenbaum has 40 years’ experience in the food and packaging industries, six as a supplier with National Starch, 18 as a product developer with General/Kraft Foods and 15 as a packaging engineer and developer. In his current position as senior food packaging safety consultant with EHA Consulting Group, Kestenbaum provides guidance on packaging safety and suitability--related projects for raw material manufacturers, converters and associated supporting professionals. He can be reached at gkestenbaum@ehagroup.com or 410-484-9133. The website is www.ehagroup.com.

Peel/reseal feature helps create convenience packs

Peel/reseal feature helps create convenience packs
LaserSharp FlexPak Services PrimePeel packaging

The new PrimePeel peel/reseal packaging application uses laser scoring technology to give consumers an easy-open feature that also reseals to maintain the product’s integrity and freshness. Supplied by LaserSharp FlexPak Services, the patent-pending technology can be used on various package formats, including trays and pouches, as well as for a variety of products, such as foods, health and beauty aids, and healthcare. A pull-tab enables easy opening and the reseal feature is designed to last throughout the life of the product.

CMD Products Catalogue for Bag Converters

Bag making, film converting and web handling technology for converters around the world featured in full color brochure.

CMD Products Catalogue for Pouch Converters

Process-Driven Technology for medical and non-medical pre-made pouch converters around the world featured in full color brochure.

Process Management in Pouch Making; Measure and Control for Verifiable Quality

As the flexible packaging market began to grow and stretch it’s boundaries into food, beverage and medical applications, end-users began to demand higher levels of quality and, in some instances, full validation of the sealing process. This, in turn, required converters to demand more robust sealant films from their suppliers. This, however, did not satisfactorily mitigate the risk, so extensive sampling and testing protocols were developed…adding time and cost to the production of these packages.

Longer Super Air Knives cover wide spans

Longer Super Air Knives cover wide spans

The low cost Long Super Air Knives from Exair are now manufactured in one piece. The new one piece construction allows for seamless airflow and eliminates coupling multiple short length air knives together. The line starts at a length of 60-in and goes up to 108-in. Benefits of this one piece construction are that overall height is decreased by ½-in making it suitable for tight spaces and for use on wide parts, webs and conveyors.