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.


Articles from 2019 In September

Social media-friendly food packaging ‘reignites’ Lay’s brand

Social media-friendly food packaging ‘reignites’ Lay’s brand
Lay's modernized its package design with a streamlined and intuitive look, including a top-down photography style popular on Instagram.

PepsiCo’s Frito-Lay North America is modernizing the look of Lay’s potato chips with a new packaging design—the brands’ first pack redesign in 12 years. The new look debuted in September 2019, rolling out first in the United States and China. Other countries will follow in the coming months and years.

Photography on the front of the bags plays an important role in the redesign. Unlike photos on the previous packaging, the new photos were shot from the top down (looking straight down at the food, that is), the same way savvy Instagram photographers shoot food.

Additionally, the Lay’s logo is smaller and placed nearer the center of the package, with monochromatic rings seeming to radiate from the logo. In the redesign, Lay’s has retained the bold colors previously associated with the brand and its flavors.

Lay's new packaging design is on the left, next to the most-previous design.

The back of each bag is decorated with fun imagery punctuated with a four-word flavor description. For example, the back of the Classic Lay’s bag pronounces, “Crispy Yummy Deliciously Tasty.”

To complement the packaging effort, the brand relaunched its website in late September 2019. To see how the packaging design for Lay’s potato chips has evolved since the 1950s, click here.

Katie Ceclan, senior director of marketing, Frito-Lay North America, answers some questions about the packaging redesign.

What was the motivation for the Lay’s brand to execute a packaging redesign now, after more than a decade with the previous design?

Ceclan: Although Lay’s is the undisputed leader in flavor, as well as the overall potato chip category, status quo is the enemy. Of course, any iconic American brand must evolve to stay relevant. In the case of Lay’s, we saw an opportunity to reignite our relationship with consumers.

The objective was to modernize our packaging with a streamlined and intuitive look, while also embracing our natural role to offer even a brief moment of joy in people’s lives through our vibrant packaging, robust flavor and witty personality. To make any significant change to a global brand like ours is a considerable undertaking and not something we take lightly, so it’s been a lengthy process to get us to this place—and we’re elated to reveal the new design to the world.

Did PepsiCo work with a package design firm to develop the new packaging?

Ceclan: In close partnership with Vault49 (a New York-based design partner), the Lay’s brand update was fueled by our internal PepsiCo and Frito-Lay teams’ strategic Design Thinking—a function, mindset and culture that can increase the success and surprise of design and innovation.

The Design Thinking process is threefold: empathy, strategy and prototyping. We begin with empathy, wanting to understand what is relevant to people. Within the strategy phase, we seek to understand what is most relevant to the business and company.

The interaction of the first two—empathy and strategy—offers insights that lead us to design, create and prototype ideas quickly, allowing us to gain alignment from stakeholders, partners and co-creators while also allowing for cross-functional partners to fully participate in the design process. We then use the prototype to get feedback from consumers to generate informed solutions—a process that we repeat as many times as relevant or necessary, until we are content with the outcome.

How does the redesign’s top-down photography relate to Lay’s social media presence?

Ceclan: Our previous food photography was shot at a three-quarter angle, which was standard in 2007. In the last 12 years, we’ve seen multiple iterations of the iPhone and the rise of social networks, plus the sharing economy. Our fans create content as much as they consume it—so the photography on our packaging mirrors the way they envision it on their plates and in their social feeds, ultimately showcasing a deconstruction of ingredients to imply that flavor is not a commodity. 

The photography style also gives a less contrived and more natural feel to the food, grounding all design elements in a realist manner to drive authenticity. Every bag was individually art-directed and designed to bring the best food story to life.

Is the package structure the same as before?

Ceclan: There have been no changes to the bag/packaging itself, only the design elements.

When did the new packaging roll out commercially?

Ceclan: Fans were given a sneak peek of the new packaging on Sept. 9, 2019, when Flamin’ Hot Dill Pickle hit shelves as a now-permanent addition to the Lay’s flavor portfolio. Given the significant undertaking of transforming our displays across 250,000 retailers in the United States alone—which encompasses 115 different package designs across 25-plus flavor varieties—the full conversion will be in place by mid-October 2019.

With all its flavors, Lay's redesign project encompasses 115 different packages.


Packaging line conveyor rails change over in seconds not hours

No expensive servos. No time-consuming and labor-intensive manual detents. Guess what enables the mere-seconds changeover on the new Auto Adjust Rails?

Seen yesterday at Pack Expo Las Vegas 2019, the Auto Adjust Rails from Morrison Container Handling Solutions use pneumatic air to position container guide rails on an entire packaging line in about 30 seconds, says Morrison inside sales representative Seth Licke. This compares to the typical two- to three-hour job to reset guide rails on a full line. The return on investment of this short changeover can immediately be recognized in both personnel savings and increased product output.

Air pressure provides the motion to reposition the rails to within +/- 1 millimeter for bottles or +/- 5mm for cases (on each side). The stroke of the cyclinders on either side is between 3 and 6 inches to accommodate a range of size adjustments, in and out, for up to 43 different stock-keeping units (SKUs)—up to 8 inches for containers or up to 12 inches for cases.

Especially helpful for packaging lines running shaped containers is the ability to add a second positioner so you can also adjust the vertical positions of the rails. This means the top rails can be at a different width than the bottom rails, to better hold bottles with necks narrower than their bases, for example.

While pneumatic air is used to position/reposition the rails, the corresponding human/machine interface (HMI) and control panel are electric.

And it’s the quantity of air—specifically 90 psi max—that is more important for rail positioning performance than the quality of the air, according to Licke. The company explains in a press release: “The hassle of supplying constant air pressure disappears because, with this system, users only supply air pressure to create the needed positioning. The HMI will hold the set position, no need for operators to walk the line for repositioning.”

Another big benefit: No spare parts list.


MinnPack 2019 (Oct. 23-24; Minneapolis) is where serious packaging professionals find technologies, education and connections needed to thrive in today’s advanced manufacturing community. See solutions in labeling, food packaging, package design and beyond. Attend free expert-led sessions at multiple theaters around the expo.

10 new machines answer food packaging demands

10 new machines answer food packaging demands
The no-fill/no-seal feature of the JDD Rotary Pouch Machine from Triangle Package Machinery enables unopened bags to be reused.

Hygienic designs, robotic automation and improved inspection are among the key attributes of packaging systems engineered for demanding food applications.

Of the more than 2,000 exhibitors at Pack Expo Las Vegas 2019 (Sept. 23-25; Las Vegas), here are 10 new packaging machines attendees who are looking for solutions to their food manufacturing needs can see in person.

1. Rotary pouch unit fills and seals pre-formed bags (see photo at top of page)

The Triangle/JDD Rotary Pouch Machine is designed to fill and seal Doyen bags, three-sided seal, flat and standup pouches, and zippered bags. From Triangle Package Machinery, the system reportedly fills at speeds of up to 50 pouches per minute.

The rotary pouch filler is suitable for granola, snacks, candy, popcorn, dried fruit, nuts, baking mixes and other edible products. The machine automatically stops to fill, and unopened bags won’t be filled, reducing product waste. Also, the no-fill/no-seal feature enables unopened bags to be reused.

Two models are available. The JRPM-8812 handles bag widths from 4 to 8 inches wide and heights of 4 to 12 inches, while the JRPM-81215 accepts pouches from 6.5 to 12 inches wide and 8 to 15 inches high.

Users can add a number of options to the rotary pouch filler to enhance performance and functionality. These include nitrogen gas flush, staging gate, statistics backup on flash-card Ethernet, and turnkey integration.

Triangle Package Machinery will show the JDD Rotary Pouch Machine at Pack Expo Las Vegas 2019 in Booth C-2614.


2. Cartoning machine combines high speed with vision features

The Peregrine cartoning system incorporates advanced vision technology in a high-speed system. The technology from JLS is suited for packing flexible bags, flow-wrapped packs and other primary packaging into cartons, including tri-seal.

The system is designed to cut down on changeover time and meet the production needs for small batches. It is suitable for a number of food applications, including baked goods, snacks, candy, frozen and prepared foods, protein items and ice cream treats.

JLS Automation will show the Peregrine at Pack Expo Las Vegas 2019 in Booth LS-6135.


3. Flow wrapper includes hygienic stainless-steel conveyor

The Revolution flow wrapper features a stainless-steel infeed conveyor. The servo-driven, welded conveyor on Campbell Wrapper’s new system eliminates harborage areas for easy, effective sanitation and allergen cleanup.

Features include the Hygienic JLS Talon vision-guided robotic pick-and-place system. With an IP69K stainless-steel Delta robot, it can pick from a random presentation on a belt, then load products directly into the infeed at more than 100 picks per minute. The system can load and overwrap various bakery and frozen food items, including soft cakes, cookies, snack bars, corn dogs, burritos and breakfast sandwiches.

Campbell Wrapper will show the Revolution flow wrapper with a JLS Automation robotic loading system at Pack Expo Las Vegas 2019 in Booth C-2629.


4. Tray sealer creates hermetic MAP paperboard packaging

Proseal is demonstrating production of the Halopack tray—the first fully hermetic paperboard modified-atmosphere packaging (MAP)—on its SKR tray sealing machine. The board comprises more than 90% recycled material, and the trays incorporate high-barrier properties designed to preserve food quality and extend shelf life.

The Halopack trays are intended to deliver appealing product presentation, a high level of environmental performance, reduced food waste, long shelf life and ease of recycling in a MAP package. A peelable inner layer can be peeled off the tray after use, so that the tray can be recycled.

Proseal will show the Halopack tray production and SKR tray sealer at Pack Expo Las Vegas 2019 in Booth LS-6563.


The Halopack tray

5. Flowpack system gently packages heat-sensitive products

The lightline Flowpacker combines a Flowpacker flowpacking unit and Pickerline pick-and-place machine in an integrated unit. The system, produced by Schubert, includes advanced sealing technology for gently packing heat-sensitive products into flowpacks.

The Pickerline technology enables manufacturers to handle standardized packaging tasks with a combination of high efficiency, quality and cost effectiveness. F4 robots pick products from the belt and place them in trays; users can choose configurations of one to six robots to fit their specific performance requirements.

The company’s Flowpacker is suitable for flow wrapping different product formats, whether they are flat or laying on their side, stacked or pre-packed. Integrated 3Dimage recognition detects position, location, height and quality, ensuring robots only pick products with no flaws. Customers can choose from a number of sealing systems, including an advanced ultrasonic sealing unit.

Schubert will show the lightline Flowpacker at Pack Expo Las Vegas 2019 in Booth US-7649.


6. Leak detection unit handles large-format packages

The Contura S600 non-destructive leak detection system is engineered to provide reliable, cost-effective testing of bulk retail and foodservice packaging, modified-atmosphere packs and flexible containers. The technology of the Inficon machine offers manufacturers extended shelf life, ability to avoid expensive recalls, and reduction of product waste.

The latest model in the company’s line of non-destructive leak detection equipment uses a proprietary differential pressure method to detect both gross and fine leaks, with faster, easier and more quantifiable performance than other methodologies. It is suitable for pet foods, meat and poultry, baked goods, candy and snacks, cheeses, grains, cereal and more.

Inficon will show the Contura S600 at Pack Expo Las Vegas 2019 in Booth US-7777.


7. Hygienic portion-pack machine improves cup handling

A new frame and guarding package on the P300 portion-pack form-fill-sealer improve accessibility of the hygienic low-acid aseptic system from IMA’s Hassia division. Additionally, a new cell board conveyor discharge controls round cups through case packing.

Producing from about 350 to 900 cups per minute, the P300 can process various cup shapes—round and rectangular—with a variety of foods, such as butter, cream cheese, soft cheese, condiments, sauces, jams, honey, spreads and dressings.

IMA/Hassia will show the P500 at Pack Expo Las Vegas 2019 in Booth C-3200.


8. Automatic print inspection technology shows signs of intelligence

The 4Sight automatic print inspection system is designed to communicate with any brand of printer, with no need to program the camera what to watch out for. The intelligent inspection system is the result of a partnership between AutoCoding Systems and SICK.

While traditional vision inspection typically requires fixturing with an edge or logo, the 4Sight software copes automatically with variations in artwork, background and text locations. Its versatility enables users to handle varying levels of inspection ranging from print presence to full optical character recognition (OCR). Operators have the freedom to set acceptable print quality tolerances to define good, bad or no read on a per-product basis.

Processing occurs on board within the SICK camera, with no line-side PC required. Setup of the camera position, focus and illumination is simple, with no need for operators to configure features or regions of interest. Software automatically adjusts to accommodate real-time message changes. Several configurable features allow for simple optimization of fast processing time, making the system suitable for bottling, canning lines and other high-speed beverage solutions.

AutoCoding Systems will show 4Sight at Pack Expo Las Vegas 2019 in the SICK Booth LS-6419.


9. Vertical packaging machine offers high speeds, low cost

The SmartPacker Twin Tube packing system offers a reinforced modular design and combined production output of up to 500 bags per minute. The new packaging machine from GEA is designed to bring about productivity, flexibility and operational efficiency.

Two parallel forming tubes run from a single drive, a design that achieves up to four times the speed of conventional baggers. It forms pillow bags suited for hard or soft candy, savory snacks, nuts, small cookies, dried fruit and similar products. Monitored film transport and jaw movement facilitate consistent, accurate bag length.

The machine offers a high degree of efficiency in a relatively small footprint, and its modular design enables simple addition of options or upgrades. The fully integrated TiroLabel unit allows for labeling precision, and automatic web tracking eliminates film deviations during production with no need for manual adjustment. A Jumbo Roll option accepts film reels up to 100 kg for longer runs.

GEA will show the Smart Packer TwinTube at Pack Expo Las Vegas 2019 in Booth LS-5905.


10. X-ray machine promises big performance in small package

The Eagle Pack 240HC is a compact x-ray system designed for easy use and cleaning in meat, poultry, dairy and other food packaging applications where daily sanitation is required.

The compact machine, available from Eagle Product Inspection, can inspect a large number of package types, such as chubs, overwrapped trays, pouches, cartons, tubs, cups and plastic containers. The technology can detect and reject glass, metal, stones and rocks, some plastic and rubber compounds, calcified bones and other foreign bodies.

The x-ray unit comes with SimulTask Pro, advanced inspection software that can manage different quality control checks simultaneously. These include mass measurement with filler feedback, component count, identification of broken or misshaped items, detection of missing clips and monitoring for unwanted voids.

Eagle Product Inspection will show Eagle Pack 240HC at Pack Expo Las Vegas 2019 in Booth C-1506.

Biopharmaceutical company uses label system to enhance ops

Biopharmaceutical company uses label system to enhance ops

When biopharmaceutical company Bilthoven Biologicals (BBio) in the Netherlands recently implemented a label management system (LMS), its pharmaceutical packaging operation reaped myriad benefits, including lower labeling costs; reduced downtime; and streamlined IT support, label design and label inventory.

BBio wanted an LMS that would be compatible with its new SAP S/4HANA enterprise resource planning (ERP) software, integrating label printing with master data. The company chose NiceLabel LMS Enterprise software to centralize and standardize label production and to control and track labeling. Most of the company’s label printing occurs at one of its facilities, which uses about 25 printers supplied by two manufacturers.

Prior to the LMS implementation, BBio’s label production included paper labels for work in progress, product identification, boxes, pallets and shipping, plus synthetic labels for refrigerated samples. The company also used a variety of labeling software, which created a hefty support burden for the IT department and, in turn, contributed to unplanned downtime.

Furthermore, BBio’s manual processes—including quality inspection of printed labels—were time consuming and made compliance with pharmaceutical labeling regulations challenging.

Label design and production were performed by numerous employees, and BBio lacked an overview of its label systems and templates. Moving to a system in which labeling is integrated with master data overcame all these challenges, improving operational efficiency while assuring regulatory compliance.

The new label management system has enabled the company to centralize label design with a single designer and to use fewer templates, which improves label consistency and uniformity of design.

In addition, IT personnel now support one unified labeling system rather than several disparate systems, easing their support load considerably. Quality assurance (QA) is also easier, and QA labor costs are lower.

In addition, the new label-printing process has significantly decreased how many label variations BBio needs and has enabled the company to centralize purchasing of blank labels and label hardware. Instead of storing large quantities of many label variations, the company now uses a just-in-time inventory system for label stock. BBio reports that centralizing purchasing has enabled it to free up cash and be more “agile.”

Going forward, BBio plans to create a test-and-production environment to review label changes prior to production. The company also plans to expand its new label system to its quality control (QC) labs using web-printing capabilities from NiceLabel.

Martijn Huijbreghs, IT application manager with BBio, answers questions from Packaging Digest about the new system and describes its many benefits.

Prior to implementing the NiceLabel LMS Enterprise solution, how many label variations did BBio have?

Huijbreghs: That is hard to answer, because the label process was decentralized. It could be up to 20 label types that were initially targeted at the start of the project. Next to that, a second but much larger group of labels in use for all sorts of general applications existed but was not in scope.

So, the second group of labels was not originally included in the project?

Huijbreghs: The second group of labels was indeed not included in the LMS implementation at that time. We initially focused on the labels that were directly involved with processes in SAP. Today we are picking up those leftovers, and for each will be decided if it will be managed under NiceLabel, if its functionality can add value. Mostly that is a “yes” for QC labels, for which very often counters and external data are involved. But for some purposes, like the address label on a single letter, the office manager is better off with a standard office application like Dymo.

How many do you have now, after implementing the NiceLabel software and integrating it with your SAP S/4HANA system?

Huijbreghs: Currently, we are managing 11 label templates, which cover all labels for internal use that are directly related to goods receipt, manufacturing and the shipping process.

How were you able to reduce the number of label designers to just one? Isn’t the total volume of labels produced the same?

Huijbreghs: The total volume of labels actually has increased due to process changes in SAP. Reducing the number of designers was achieved by simply shifting the design responsibility to the application manager. Instead of having multiple operators designing their own labels for their own process, there is now one single person, which brings uniformity in the entire chain.

The labeling changes have enabled the company to free up cash reserves. Can you quantify that?

Huijbreghs: We haven’t done this calculation, because the implementation was part of a bigger SAP reimplementation project. In itself, the benefit of a centralized label solution goes beyond savings in material stocks. There are definitely gains in maintenance, knowledge and support.

The labeling changes have also enabled the company to operate in a more agile way. What does that mean, specifically? What are the benefits of being more agile?

Huijbreghs: Previously, producing almost every label was a process of its own, comprising dedicated software, hardware, consumables, designer and so on. When there was an issue that the operator could not solve, the IT department sometimes had to do a deep dive to figure out the process before it could even start fixing the issue.

Today, this is easy. Broken printers are instantly replaced, because we have them in stock. In case of a software issue, we now have in-house expertise and several external support backups in place. Adding new labels is also easy, because interfaces and automation are also in place. This makes us agile, with the ability to quickly solve issues, respond to changes and scale our business.

What QA tasks are easier to perform now and why?

Huijbreghs: The label process is now more automated. The entire content of the label previously was entered manually, but now it comes directly from a system that results in zero type errors. Also, the content is under control; the user cannot add or remove fields from the label. Used labels are added to a batch record and are part of the product release by quality assurance. They now can rely much more on the label to be correct.

What exactly is a test-and-production environment? How does it work?

Huijbreghs: To ensure the highest availability of applications, it is common practice to do a test drive of every change on a separate environment. You also need to have the ability to tweak settings without touching or disrupting your running production and to prevent the problem of unintentionally sending test labels to the shop floor. This can be achieved by having multiple environments.

If, for instance, a new patch or service pack for your operating system is released, you need to make sure that is does not impact your system.

How does NiceLabel’s web-printing functionality enable BBio to use the labeling system for QC?

Huijbreghs: Within QC, or any other department for that matter, there are a lot of labels in use for general applications. This includes, for example, the labeling of all sorts of materials in a QC laboratory, inventory labels on equipment, the labeling of waste containers and so forth.

By providing predefined label templates through applications like PowerForms or Webprint, the user no longer carries the burden of designing the label and making sure all appropriate hardware, software and consumables are in stock. He just enters the variables and presses “print.” Some users still have access to the design module and usually act as a “key user” to serve a small group of end users by designing these sorts of labels and making them available through Webprint.


MinnPack 2019 (Oct. 23-24; Minneapolis) is where serious packaging professionals find technologies, education and connections needed to thrive in today’s advanced manufacturing community. See solutions in labeling, food packaging, package design and beyond. Attend free expert-led sessions at multiple theaters around the expo.

Strategic plastic use drives sustainable packaging at PepsiCo

Strategic plastic use drives sustainable packaging at PepsiCo
Sustainable packaging strategies for PepsiCo include recycled-content plastic, switch to aluminum cans and packaging reduction with further promotion of SodaStream. Photo courtesy of PepsiCo

The crusade to reduce plastic in beverage and food packaging continues, with PepsiCo Inc. announcing this month (September 2019) that it aims to reduce use of virgin plastic by 35%—essentially eliminating 2.5 million metric tons of cumulative virgin plastic—by 2025.

The reduction will occur across the company’s beverage portfolio, which includes the Lifewtr, Bubly and Aquafina brands. To achieve its goal, PepsiCo plans to use more recycled plastic and alternative packaging materials.

In June 2019, PepsiCo announced that starting in 2020 it would package Lifewtr in 100% recycled polyethylene terephthalate (rPET) in the United States and no longer fill Bubly into plastic containers. Also beginning next year, the company plans to offer Aquafina in aluminum cans to U.S. foodservice operators and to test that concept at retail.

The group of changes that will start in 2020 should eliminate more than 8,000 metric tons of virgin plastic and about 11,000 metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions, according to the company.

All of the efforts are part of PepsiCo’s focus on developing a circular economy for plastics. The company intends to make 100% of its packaging recyclable, compostable or biodegradable, and to increase use of recycled content in its plastic packaging to 25%, by 2025.

With an emphasis on the “reduce” portion of the three Rs (reduce, reuse, recycle), the company’s SodaStream business will eliminate the need for an estimated 67 billion plastic bottles through 2025. PepsiCo acquired SodaStream in 2018.


MinnPack 2019 (Oct. 23-24; Minneapolis) is where serious packaging professionals find technologies, education and connections needed to thrive in today’s advanced manufacturing community. See solutions in labeling, food packaging, package design and beyond. Attend free expert-led sessions at multiple theaters around the expo.

9 incredible floorspace-shrinking packaging machines

9 incredible floorspace-shrinking packaging machines
The new ReadyPack case packer creates shelf-ready packs in a reduced footprint.

When you (literally) hit a wall when laying out your packaging line, you could get creative Tetris-style. But that might introduce gaps or other hiccups at transfer points, which could limit line speed and, hence, output. Or you could just buy smaller equipment that fits in the space you have!

“Compact” is fast becoming a necessity rather than a nice-to-have in packaging machinery. Another benefit—especially of systems designed from the ground up to be smaller—is that the internal workings are often engineered to be simpler, with fewer parts and less complicated mechanics. And that translates into easier maintenance and less money spent on replacement parts.

From previews of products to be shown at the upcoming Pack Expo Las Vegas 2019 show (Sept. 23-25; Las Vegas), Packaging Digest presents 9 packaging systems that tout their small size:

Page 1: ReadyPack case packer from Somic America, Booth US-7346.

Page 2: FLX AXIS-Servo Linear pre-made pouch filler/sealer from AlliedFlex, Booth LS-5919.

Page 3: HMT-Mini case sealer from Massman, Booth C-2414.

Page 4: The lightline series Flowpacker line from Schubert, Booth US-7649.

Page 5: Model CSB vertical form fill seal (vffs) bagger from Triangle Package Machinery, Booth C-2614.

Page 6: Compact 12 monobloc from Marchesini, Booth N-107.

Page 7: RC10 palletizer from FlexLink, a Coesia company, Booth C-4400.

Page 8: ZX600 case packer from Bradman Lake, Booth C-4640.

Page 9: New Quik Pick & Pack robotic pick-and-place cell from Quest, A Pro Mach company, Booth C-3026.

1. Entry-level system simplifies retail-ready case packing (see photo at top of page)

The new ReadyPack case packer from Somic America (Pack Expo Las Vegas 2019 Booth US-7346) creates shelf-ready packs in a reduced footprint of 79 inches in length and 118 inches in both width and height.

Depending on the product being packed, ReadyPack can collate at speeds of 160 products per minute. As a tray packer, it will run up to 18 packaging units per minute; the wraparound model delivers 12 units per minute. Granted, the ReadyPack collates products, packs them and seals cases at speeds slower than the company’s 424 T2 (D) and the SOMIC FLEXX III that debuted at last year’s Pack Expo. But the new system has a simpler application than its predecessors and a shorter lead time, which Peter Fox, svp of sales for Somic America says are “two things that potential customers had expressed interest in.”

Fox adds, “People are used to seeing our other machines running at speeds three or four times faster, but they liked the simplicity and user-friendly capabilities.”


2. Entry-level filler/sealer handles pre-made pouches

The new compact FLX AXIS-Servo Linear pre-made pouch filler/sealer from AlliedFlex (Pack Expo Las Vegas 2019 Booth LS-5919) produces up to 20 pouches per minute in a footprint of 67 inches long.

With a fast changeover design, the system can be matched with various filling technologies, including weighers, augers, pumps and other feeders to accommodate the needs of the product being packaged. The system can handle pre-made pouches and bags made of laminated, recyclable, compostable and biodegradable materials.


3. Modular case sealer adds production flexibility in a mini size

With its modular design, the HMT-Mini case sealer from Massman (Pack Expo Las Vegas 2019 Booth C-2414) lets users pick specific features they need now, with the option of switching them out as production demands change down the road without having to invest in a new sealer.

The modular design also allows the company to cut delivery time of this top sealer by 50%.

With a footprint of 110 inches in length and 36 inches in width, the HMT-Mini seals standard cases (up to 18 inches long, 16 inches wide and 16 inches deep) using either glue or tape at speeds of up to 1,500 cases per hour.

4. Flowpacker + compact cartoner = a smooth running line

The lightline series Flowpacker line from Schubert (Pack Expo Las Vegas 2019 Booth US-7649) will be installed at a North American baked goods manufacturer after the show. The line is actually three compact and modular machines in one: A lightline Flowpacker, a lightline Pickerline (with pick-and-place robotics) and a lightline Cartonpacker that erects, fills and closes cartons.

The Pickerline measures 3.5 x 2.5 meters (around 11 x 8 feet). The Flowpacker and Cartonpacker are sized to production output needs.

Benefits of the preconfigured but scalable machines include fast delivery, affordable prices and smooth integration between systems.

Hartmut Siegel, CEO Schubert North America, explains in a press release, “The machines’ modular design, along with their advanced mechanical design and intelligent control systems, ensure exceptional effectiveness.”


5. Narrow-frame bagger makes packs up to 13 inches wide

With just a 36-inch wide frame, the new Model CSB (Compact Sanitary Bagger) from Triangle Package Machinery (Pack Expo Las Vegas 2019 Booth C-2614) can run bags from 2.5 inches up to 13 inches wide in various package formats, including pillow, gusseted and stand-up styles. The system accommodates a 27.5-inch film roll.

Two baggers can share a single scale to nearly double the output. Depending on bag length, the intermittent-motion vertical form-fill-seal machine can run up to 70+ bags per minute or 120+ bpm in a twin configuration setup.

Designed to be cleaned in place, the CSB offers other sanitary benefits, including solid stainless-steel bar for the frame that is fully welded and electropolished after welding, and IP67 food-grade servo motors and sensors for washdown.

See a 360-degree view of the system here.


6. Pharma monobloc combines multiple packaging operations in small footprint

The new Compact 12 monobloc system from Marchesini (Healthcare Packaging Expo 2019 Booth N-107, co-located with Pack Expo Las Vegas) fills and caps bottles for pills, tablets or capsules at speeds up to 55 bottles per minute (3,000 per hour). By integrating multiple operations on one machine frame, users can save floorspace, as well as guarantee total product control throughout packaging. The monobloc measures 2.4 meters x 1.16 meters (7.8 x 3.8 feet).

For quality control, safety and upmost accuracy, the machine’s HarleNIR vision system uses a Near Infrared (NIR) hyperspectral camera to chemically distinguish the pharmaceutical products by analyzing their active ingredient. This is in addition to its Valida technology multivision inspection for checking the shape, size and color of the pills. According to the company, it is the first packaging machinery manufacturer in the world to implement the HarleNIR technology for packaged blisters.

The monobloc can be flexible in the types of filling and capping operations incorporated. For example, it can handle screw-on, press-on and crimped capping applications. Need to insert a desiccant or cotton? It can do that, too.

The Compact 12 filler/capper can be mated with the Model Sirio3 bottle feeder and the RO600 bottle labeler to create a full packaging line.

7. Cobot helps palletizer save space

A new version of the RC10 palletizer from FlexLink, a Coesia company (Pack Expo Las Vegas 2019 Booth C-4400), cut the footprint by more than 50%, compared to cells with industrial robots. With all the easy-to-install and -configure benefits of a collaborative robot (cobot), the standardized palletizing cell is also easy to move around the plant because it has an internal vacuum pump so no external air supply is needed.

This update includes sensitive paddings, improved robot program, user instructions in 18 languages and a shorter lead time to delivery.

Watch it in action here.


8. Robotic case packer offers minimal product-to-case clearance

The ZX600 case packer from Bradman Lake (Pack Expo Las Vegas 2019 Booth C-4640) uses an unusual robotic loader to minimize floorspace by shortening the product-to-case clearance. This also eliminates the need for an additional mechanical loading mask and associated size-change parts, which helps reduce inventory, changeover times and maintenance.

Designed for the pharmaceutical market, the ZX600 is enabled for aggregation, serialization and 21CFR compliance for full product and operator traceability.

See a video clip of the ZX600 case packer in action here.


9. Pick-and-place robot excels at case packing flexible packages

The new Quik Pick & Pack robotic pick-and-place cell from Quest, A Pro Mach company (Pack Expo Las Vegas 2019 Booth C-3026) can case pack up to 1,000 pieces per minute while taking up just 155 x 94 x 85 inches (L x W x H).

According to the company, “The Quik Pick & Pack works extremely well with flexible film packaging, thanks to its vision system and optional 3D scanning that quickly detects the pouches’ topography and center of gravity to identify the proper high point for picking.”

The system is “flexible” in other ways, too. It packs bags from 1 ounce up to 20 pounds and allows users to create custom pack patterns.

System touts total inspection of pills bottled via slat filler

System touts total inspection of pills bottled via slat filler

The new AV Slat View is designed to provide 100% inspection of tablets and capsules bottled with a slat filler. The scalable inspection machine from Antares Vision inspects uncoated and coated tablets, in addition to single- or two-color capsules, and comes in widths for 12 to 48 inches of coverage. It is suitable for handling pharmaceuticals, including over-the-counter (OTC) products, nutraceuticals and vitamins.

Designed to work with a variety of manufacturers’ slat-fillers, the AV Slat View is a turnkey unit offering ease of integration and simple setup. The unit enables quick, easy setup of product recipes, and unlimited recipe storage for rapid, reliable changeover down the road. It works with slat fillers reaching speeds up to 300 bottles per minute, ensuring correct counts where manual processes cannot.

Other features include a user-friendly interface, advanced color detection algorithm, robust dust management, and a validation package with high accuracy and low false reject rate. Additionally, a custom-configurable alarm flags and rejects bottles with potential objects, reducing the need to stop the line.

Antares Vision will show the AV Slat View at Healthcare Packaging Expo 2019 (Sept. 23-25; Las Vegas—co-located with Pack Expo Las Vegas) in Booth N-224.

Beverage brands bank on rPET for packaging sustainability

Beverage brands bank on rPET for packaging sustainability
Coca-Cola European Partners is rolling out 100% rPET bottles for these brands to 300 million consumers as part of an ambitious plan for greater sustainability.

Coca-Cola European Partners commits to 100% recycled plastic bottles for Honest teas, Glacéau Smartwater and Chaudfontaine brands—and to trialing refillable glass bottles.

Different continents, different tactics.

In August, Packaging Digest reported Coca-Cola Co.’s new broad-based sustainable packaging plan for Dasani packaged water that includes major moves into hybrid bottles and aluminum cans (see Dasani’s next 5 steps to greater packaging sustainability).

The company’s counterpart in Europe, Coca-Cola European Partners (CCEP), is taking a different, more concentrated path to greater sustainability.

Earlier this summer and together with The Coca-Cola Co., CCEP announced that Honest teas, Glacéau Smartwater and Chaudfontaine bottled water brands will be sold in bottles made from 100% recycled polyethylene terephthalate (rPET) plastic. The rollout planned to start in early 2020 will eliminate the need for 9,000 tonnes/9,920 tons of virgin plastic yearly across Western Europe.

The initiative directly supports the organizations’ joint sustainability action commitment, This is Forward, that pledges that by 2025 at least half of the plastic used in PET bottles across Western Europe will come from recycled sources.

CCEP’s ambitious plan is also remarkable for its scope: CCEP is the world’s largest independent Coca-Cola bottler, operating in 13 countries and distributing branded beverages to more than 300 million consumers.

Joe Franses, CCEP VP, Sustainability, discloses details about the company’s landmark program in packaging sustainability. 

What set this in motion and what’s involved?

Franses: Managing the sustainability of our packaging is one of the biggest issues facing our business. Too much packaging waste ends up as litter on our streets or polluting our rivers and oceans.

And, as a beverage industry leader, we understand that we are part of the problem and need to do more to tackle it. 

Moving our Chaudfontaine, Honest and Smartwater brands to 100% rPET is a significant step on this journey and involves every element of our business, from finance to supply chain. This will help us to remove 9,000 tonnes of virgin plastic across Western Europe each year and it directly supports our commitment to ensure that, by 2025, at least half of the plastic used in our PET bottles across Western Europe comes from recycled sources.

This commitment will help us to build a strong circular economy for beverage packaging, where plastic can be collected, recycled and reused.

This major move would not have been possible without our PET resin suppliers. To roll out bottles made from 100% recycled plastic across three of our brands has required building a pipeline of high-quality, food-grade rPET to help us fulfil demand. To secure a reliable supply of 100% rPET for years to come, we’ve forged long-term supply agreements with a number of partners including Loop Industries—a technology innovator in sustainable plastic that turns low-value plastic waste into high-quality PET. Loop Industries will play a crucial role in helping us to source significant quantities of high-quality food-grade rPET to use in our 100% rPET bottles.

We will purchase 100% upcycled PET from Loop to accelerate the use of recycled materials in our bottles, which will be crucial to helping us expand the use of recycled plastic in bottles across our whole portfolio.

Why is the timing good for using rPET?

Franses: The plastic problem isn’t going to go away anytime soon, and we know we need to do more to tackle it–and faster. That’s why we’re redoubling our efforts to make our packaging more sustainable and realize our goal of ensuring that all our bottles can enjoy a second life. Our ambition is for none of our bottles to end up as litter or in the oceans.

Currently, around one-third of the plastic we use is recycled plastic; we expect to achieve and exceed our target of getting to half of our plastic will be rPET by 2025. We will start to rollout the new rPET bottles at the start of 2020. From then onwards, wherever consumers find Chaudfontaine, Honest and Smartwater across Western Europe, they can buy them in bottles made from 100% recycled plastic.

What are the bottles made of now? What will be the status by the end of 2019?

Franses: In 2017, 24.6% of all the plastic used in our bottles came from recycled materials and in 2018 that figure increased to 27.6%. By the end of 2020 every Honest, Glacéau Smartwater or Chaudfontaine bottle will be sold in 100% rPET bottles.

We have worked hard to ensure the highest quality food grade rPET is available to make this transition to 100% rPET for these three products with no impact on quality or recyclability.

What's the cost of these efforts?

Franses: Today, rPET is more expensive than virgin PET, but it’s a resource that we have invested in for many years.

How will this program be promoted?

Franses: The move will be communicated via multiple channels, including on social media, traditional media and on-bottle messaging encouraging consumers to recycle the products.

Next: Partnerships, Sprite changes, refillable bottles and more


Packaging professionals will find pre-Halloween packaging treats in Minnesota during MinnPack 2019 (Oct. 23-24; Minneapolis) in the form of solutions for food packaging, package design, shipping and more. Attend free expert-led sessions at multiple theaters around the expo.


Please comment further on the role of partnerships.

Franses: Partnerships are a crucial part of our work in this area. There are companies dedicated to solving these problems and by working with them we not only empower them to grow and advance their own technology, we are able to use the best technology possible.

Besides our investment in Loop Industries to purchase a supply of 100% rPET plastic, we have also invested in Ioniqa Technologies in supporting the scale-up of its recycling technology that transforms hard to recycle plastic waste into high quality, food-grade PET. [You can read the press release about the announcement here.]

We’re also looking carefully at new zero-waste business models that provide an alternative to single-use packaging.

Earlier this year, we joined forces with recycling firm TerraCycle to trial Loop, an innovative new shopping system designed to reduce reliance on single-use packaging. The scheme will allow consumers to use refillable packaging that is collected, cleaned, refilled and then reused (see image above). We’re working with our customer, retailer Carrefour in Paris, on a pilot scheme using our iconic glass bottles.

Elsewhere, we also support major litter clean-up campaigns through local partnerships with Mares Circulares and Ecomar Foundation in Spain and Portugal; Keep Britain Tidy, Keep Scotland Beautiful and Keep Wales Tidy in the UK; and Mooimakers and Wallonie Plus Propre in Belgium.

On a related matter: What’s the reasoning to change the Sprite brand from green bottles to clear PET?

Franses: The movement of Sprite bottles from the traditional green bottle to a clear plastic bottle is that it’s more easily recycled bottle-to-bottle.

While both our green and clear plastic bottles are 100% recyclable, green PET bottles and many other colored PET bottles cannot be recycled back to clear plastic through the traditional mechanical recycling process. This means that future use and the long-term value have some restrictions; it’s harder to use green PET bottles to make new bottles.

By transitioning to clear PET bottles, we will remove this constraint.

We’re continuing to work in partnership with government, industry and waste management partners in every market we operate to improve collection and recycling rates, as well as investing in new technologies, such as enhanced recycling, to accelerate the availability of food-grade quality rPET.

What else would you like to say to Packaging Digest readers?

Franses: Both Honest and Glacéau Smartwater have a huge following in the U.S., while being relatively young brands in Europe. We have ambitious growth plans for both of these brands, as we continue to broaden our portfolio to offer consumers different drinks to meet changing tastes and lifestyles.  As we invest to grow these brands, we are committed to doing so sustainably. This is a clear signal of ambition in terms of our wider portfolio. We have a stated target to reach 50% rPET across our total portfolio, a goal we hope to meet and exceed by 2025. 


Packaging professionals will find pre-Halloween packaging treats in Minnesota during MinnPack 2019 (Oct. 23-24; Minneapolis) in the form of solutions for food packaging, package design, shipping and more. Attend free expert-led sessions at multiple theaters around the expo.


Immersive research homes in on paramedics’ packaging needs

Immersive research homes in on paramedics’ packaging needs
Watching emergency medical services (EMS) providers interact with packaging during worst-case scenarios helps medical companies create better packaging designs.

The context in which a package is used should always be a consideration in packaging design—and never more so than when the product in question is designed for emergency medical care in an ambulance or other prehospital setting.

Jiyon Lee, a doctoral candidate in the Michigan State University (MSU) School of Packaging, will delve into that subject in a presentation at Healthcare Packaging Immersion Experience (HcPIE) 2019, to be held Oct. 9-10 at the James B. Henry Center in East Lansing, MI.

At HcPIE, medical packaging professionals and healthcare practitioners come together for a collaborative, active-learning experience. The event is held at a state-of-the-art healthcare-simulation facility at MSU, and its goal is to create optimal patient outcomes and improve the healthcare system overall. The School of Packaging hosts HcPIE.

Lee’s presentation, entitled “Human Factors Analysis Meets Immersive Simulation—How Context Impacts Behaviors of Healthcare Professionals,” draws upon her doctoral work, which focuses on how context affects packaging users in prehospital settings.

She has conducted a usability study to investigate how emergency medical services (EMS) providers interact with packaging in worst-case scenarios during which, for example, severe vehicular vibration may play a role and/or the patient’s condition may be critical.

Jiyon also has industry experience in Korea as a packaging engineer. Below, she answers Packaging Digest’s questions about the research behind her HcPIE 2019 presentation.

What is the difference between a prehospital setting and a perioperative setting?

Lee: The main difference between those two settings is that the prehospital setting is more to stabilize patients within a mobile vehicle (mostly), so it’s comparatively more urgent and chaotic, whereas the perioperative setting is to prepare for an operation, so it’s comparatively calm.

What types of medical products and packaging are used in these settings?

Lee: In the prehospital setting, the types of products and packaging are dependent upon the licensure level of the ambulance, such as basic life support (BSL) and advanced life support (ASL), as well as the medical authority of the county. However, they do not use the surgical devices that are usually used in operating rooms.

Intravenous (IV) start kits, IV tubing, IV solutions, IV catheters, gauze, 4-inch x 4-inch gauze pads and endotracheal tubes (so-called ET tubes) are the products of interest in my doctoral work.

How could changes to the medical packaging used in these settings improve healthcare outcomes?

Lee: According to the results of my survey, 21 % (n=359) and 17% (n=290) of the respondents (n=1,702) to our survey reported difficulties identifying medication and medical devices, respectively. Also, 20% (n=340) and 24% (n=399) of the respondents reported that they have difficulty opening medication/medical devices, respectively.

In addition to challenging care providers, this can cause a negative impact on patient care; in the survey, 6% (n=20) / 11% (n=31) and 9% (n=32) / 13% (n=51) of respondents reported that they have difficulty identifying medication/medical supplies and opening medication/medical supplies, respectively. Thus, from the results shown here, if we could improve design safely and effectively for EMS providers, we could reduce the negative impact.

Also, I believe packaging changes can help to reduce sterility issues throughout the process of patient care. Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) bacterium has been found on some areas in ambulances (Rago, Buhs, et al., 2012), and healthcare personnel’s hands tend to be the most common carrier for transmitting microorganisms that cause Hospital Acquired Infection (HAI) (Allegranzi, Nejad, et al., 2017). So, no matter how well the sterile barrier system (SBS) is built, EMS providers and patients could be at risk.

From the survey study, 39% of respondents employ “use of teeth” as a coping strategy when they have difficulty opening medical-device packaging. This may lead to additional infections in EMS providers, because they may grab/open the package with their teeth, using the area of the package that their contaminated hands touched. To reduce this issue, packaging could provide one-handed opening so they would not need to use their teeth to open packages.

Your presentation at HcPIE will include the results of an ambulance contamination test. How did you perform this test?

Lee: For this test, clue spray was used. The spray is visible under black light but invisible to the naked eye. We applied this spray to areas where MRSA has been found within an ambulance, according to Rago et al. (2012). We wanted to see where this simulant (clue spray) was transferred to. We found some transfers, such as near the simulated wound on a simulated patient and on the outside of packaging or products.

In what ways do care providers in non-hospital settings interact differently with medical packaging than their peers who work at hospitals?

Lee: They resort to using their teeth or sharp tools (trauma shears, pens or knives) to open packages. Also, to identify packages, they use flashlights; change the location of products within storage areas, jump bags or the ambulance; touch/feel the package; or use a marker on packages.

Storage of medical products on ambulances is obviously different from storage at a hospital. How can package designs be changed to better meet ambulance-storage needs?

Lee: Generally, most of the products they carry to an emergency scene are stored in a jump bag. In this bag, the products are nicely organized, but from my observation, it is hard to identify the size of products (for example, an ET tube) at a glance. Thus, it would be great to get packages color-coded by size, so EMS providers can quickly identify what they are.

What point-of-use considerations should a packaging engineer take into account when designing packaging for non-hospital environments?

Lee: Prehospital settings are comparatively urgent, so patient care needs to be safely and efficiently provided. In this setting or context, needing extra time to identify/open/remove packaging is not a good idea.

From my survey results, 80% of respondents are male. Considering this characteristic, packaging needs to be changed. Generally, males’ thumbs—the dominant finger used to separate a package’s layers—are bigger than the area that they can grip on the packaging (most of the packages in an ambulance are either form-fill-seal or flexible plastic pouches). So, providers need more time to separate the two layers and open packaging in an urgent situation. Packaging engineers need to take this gender characteristic into account.

In your survey of EMS personnel, what did they dislike about current medical packaging?

Lee: With regard to medication, more than 50% of respondents reported that they have difficulty identifying medication when “Different medications have similar packaging” and “Small text on label made it difficult to read.”

Also, about 60% of respondents reported that they have difficulty opening medication when a “Product required two hands to open,” there was “Too small of an area to grip” and the “Product required too much force to open.”

With regard to medical device packaging, “Crowded label made it difficult to read” and “Different supplies had similar packaging” were the two highest rated choices among the difficulties experienced in identifying packaging.

Also, when they open medical device packaging, “Product required two hands to open” and “Too small of an area to grip” were the difficulties 65% of the time.