News

  • Strategic plastic use drives sustainable packaging at PepsiCo
    by Kate Bertrand Connolly on September 20, 2019 at 7:05 pm

    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.&nbs […]

  • Biopharmaceutical company uses label system to enhance ops
    by Kate Bertrand Connolly on September 20, 2019 at 6:46 pm

    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.&nbs […]

  • EPA and Ohio Propose Steubenville Area Now Meets Federal Air Quality Standard for Sulfur Dioxide
    by Region 05 on September 20, 2019 at 4:00 am

    For Immediate Release No. 19-OPA067 […]

  • EPA’s Campus RainWorks Challenge Invites Students to Design Innovative Infrastructure for Stormwater Management
    by Headquarters, Water (OW) on September 20, 2019 at 4:00 am

    WASHINGTON (September 20, 2019) — The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is launching its eighth annual Campus RainWorks Challenge, a design competition that is open to colleges and universities across the country. […]

  • EPA Announces Public Comment Period on Draft Clean Air Act Permit for Limetree Bay Facility on St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands
    by Region 02 on September 20, 2019 at 4:00 am

    U.S. VIRGIN ISLANDS – After comprehensive review and evaluation, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has issued a draft Clean Air Act Plantwide Applicability Limit permit for Limetree Bay Terminal and Limetree Bay Refining both located on St. […]

  • EPA Announces Nearly $270 Million Water Infrastructure Loan to the Narragansett Bay Commission
    by Headquarters on September 20, 2019 at 4:00 am

    WASHINGTON (September 20, 2019)— Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced a Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA) loan to the Narragansett Bay Commission (NBC) to help reduce pollutant discharges into Narragansett Bay. […]

  • EPA Week In Review
    by Headquarters, Office of the Administrator (AO) on September 20, 2019 at 4:00 am

    Please note: Many of these are external links.Exit […]

  • 9 incredible floorspace-shrinking packaging machines
    on September 19, 2019 at 4:50 pm

    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 pouchesThe 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 sizeWith 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 lineThe 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 wideWith 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 footprintThe 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 spaceA 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 clearanceThe 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 packagesThe 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.&nbs […]

  • System touts total inspection of pills bottled via slat filler
    by Jenni Spinner on September 19, 2019 at 2:48 pm

    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.&nbs […]

  • EPA Awards North Carolina State University $900,000 in Funding to Research Potential Environmental Impacts of PFAS Substances in Waste Streams
    by Region 04 on September 19, 2019 at 4:00 am

    RALEIGH, N.C. (Sept. 19, 2019) — The U.S. […]

  • Administrator Wheeler Signs Final Atlanta RVP Rule
    by Region 04 on September 19, 2019 at 4:00 am

    ATLANTA (Sept. 19, 2019) — The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced the issuance of the final rule to relax the federal Reid Vapor Pressure (RVP) standard for gasoline sold in the Atlanta area. […]

  • ICYMI: Wall Street Journal: California Can't Go Its Own Way
    by Headquarters, Air and Radiation (OAR) on September 19, 2019 at 4:00 am

    Wall Street JournalThe Editorial Board September 18, 2019 […]

  • La Administración Trump anuncia Una Regla Nacional del Programa sobre la precedencia federal de las normas estatales de economía de combustible
    by Headquarters, Office of the Administrator (AO), Office of Policy (OP) on September 19, 2019 at 4:00 am

    WASHINGTON (19 de septiembre de 2019) — El presidente Trump prometió al pueblo estadounidense que su administración abordaría y corregiría las normas actuales de economía de combustible y gas invernadero, así hoy, su Administración está tomando medidas para cumplir esta promesa. […]

  • EPA, NCDEQ and Multistate Trust to Hold Public Meeting about Kerr-McGee Chemical Corp Site in Navassa, North Carolina, Sept. 24
    by Region 04 on September 19, 2019 at 4:00 am

    NAVASSA, N.C. (Sept. 19, 2019) – Federal and state officials together with Multistate Trust representatives will hold a public meeting regarding the Kerr-McGee Chemical Corp – Navassa Superfund site on Tuesday, Sept. 24, 2019. Topics will include the U.S. […]

  • Immersive research homes in on paramedics’ packaging needs
    by Kate Bertrand Connolly on September 16, 2019 at 8:34 pm

    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.&nbs […]

  • How you can help move the packaging industry forward
    by Lisa McTigue Pierce on September 16, 2019 at 8:22 pm

    Whether you have two years of experience in your packaging career or 20, your unique insights can help your peers—and the industry as a whole—advance. In this latest installment of the Packaging Digest/LePoidevin Marketing Pack Expo Video Series, senior account executive Steve Staedler makes the case, in less than a minute(!), for sharing what you know.Have an idea for an article? Contact Lisa Pierce at lisa.pierce@ubm.com or 630-481-1422. Also see other videos in this series: “How to identify emerging packaging trends”“How packaging suppliers can deepen their value to customers”&nbs […]

  • Packaging design, sustainability successes dominate in August 2019
    by Lisa McTigue Pierce on September 12, 2019 at 5:45 pm

    Between enjoying an end-of-summer vacation and preparing for a new school year, last month packaging professionals kept up to date on design and sustainability trends through avid reading of Packaging Digest articles.The list of top seven articles from August 2019, based on PackagingDigest.com page views from our global audience, starts with… 7. 6 package design tips you probably haven’t heard beforeHow do packaging designers excel once they’ve mastered the basics?With a quarter century of experience working with consumer packaged goods companies, Shane Breault, vp/partner/creative director at Ultra Creative Inc. in Minneapolis, has these six suggestions:• Start from the bottom up • Give ’em your best opening line • Blow the lid off • Stick or schtick? • Crack the code • Deliver the goods NEXT: Top sustainable companies by state6. Top sustainable companies by stateThis infographic identifies the leader in sustainability in each of the 50 states in the U.S., as judged by sustainable practices drawn from four key industry studies: Newsweek’s Top 500 Global Companies rankings, Barrons’ “100 Most Sustainable U.S. Companies” list, Corporate Knights’ “2019 Global 100” ranking, and Rubicon’s “Top Sustainable Small Businesses in Each State” list.Many are well-recognized companies within the global packaging community—such as Campbell’s, Hasbro, Nike, McCormick, Estee Lauder, Sonoco and UPS.What successful ideas of theirs can you replicate in your sustainability program? NEXT: Dasani's next 5 steps to greater packaging sustainability5. Dasani’s next 5 steps to greater packaging sustainabilitySneha Shah, group director, packaging innovation, Coca-Cola North America, discloses details and reasonings behind the company’s five sustainability initiatives for its Dasani water brand:• hybrid bottles from renewable resources; • a major entry into highly recyclable aluminum; • package weight reduction research; • recycling-enhancing labeling; and • packaging-reducing dispensing for foodservice outlets. NEXT: Most food cans no longer use BPA in their linings4. Most food cans no longer use BPA in their liningsRegular Packaging Digest readers will no doubt remember seeing this article in our top-read lists for most of 2019 (February, March, April, May, June and July). It has dropped one more position in our “Top” list, from the No.3 article in July to the No.4 item for August.Overall, “chemicals of concern” and their migration from packaging to product continues to worry consumers, and thus packaging developers at product manufacturing companies. NEXT: Packaging recovery tops sustainability conversations3. Packaging recovery tops sustainability conversationsPackaging material recovery and end-of-life options, especially for plastics, are dominating headlines today and are top-of-mind for consumers—partly as a result of the global outcry on pollution.Tristanne Davis, senior manager with the Sustainable Packaging Coalition (SPC), shares key takeaways and perspectives on this topic gleaned from presentations and other conversations at a flurry of recent packaging-sustainability events: SPC Engage: Minneapolis, GreenBiz’s Circularity ’19, Plastic Free World Conference and Expo, and the International Product Stewardship Forum.• Recovery is increasingly about more than just recycling and recyclability. • Reuse is among the key solutions being discussed more seriously (partly due to the new Loop initiative). • Compostable, biobased solutions are quickly gaining momentum but the conversation can be confusing. • Packaging optimization has a conflicting but evolving role in the conversation. • Recycling needs to continue to play a key role in the solution to plastic waste and needs to be disrupted. • Recovery needs to be safe and then circular (Bill McDonough from the Cradle to Cradle Products Innovation Institute introduces the idea of retox—where we cycle products over and over through recycling, but some of these materials we are recycling are toxic. So, we are also cycling toxic chemicals.) NEXT: 7 best packaging practices for cannabis marketers2. 7 best packaging practices for cannabis marketersCannabis, CBD, THC, weed or whatever else it’s called…this burgeoning product category is all over the place when it comes to skilled (or not!) packaging designers. What do newbies desperately need to know to create a marketing success?Tom Newmaster, FORCEpkg. founder with more than 25 years of experience in branding and package design for consumer packaged goods, outlines his packaging tips for cannabis brands:• Understand the “Natural Habitat” and aim for mind-blowing shelf impact • Shape, color, text—repeat after me…shape, color, text • Make the connection—embracing technology and social media • It’s easier being green—messaging and responsibility • Understand the consumer—know the generational cues • Authenticity and brand voice—be yourself • Don’t think of cannabis as an exotic category—consumer behavior is still in play NEXT: 10 pack redesigns earn honors in Nielsen competition1. 10 pack redesigns earn honors in Nielsen competitionWhen you’ve got an established brand, periodic packaging updates tell customers you care. But striking a balance between a fresh package design without scaring off your fans isn’t easy. How do other brands do it? Our top article of August 2019 shows 10 success stories from around the world in a variety of categories with Before and After photos so you can see the changes, not just the new designs:• Nice! by Walgreens (U.S.): More than a nice try • M&M’s (U.S.): Redesigned pack stands up on-shelf • Icelandic Provisions (U.S.): New Skyr package is eco-friendly • Hess Select (U.S.): The lion still roars • Alpura (Mexico): Milk pack redesign is a natural • Arawana Oil (China): New design tackles ergonomics • MAQ (South Africa): Redesign brings brand family together • Playboy Deodorants (South Africa): Aerosol redesign highlights fragrances • Prestígio (Brazil): Candy bar packaging gets a makeover • Satis! (Brazil): New seasoning packs showcase product benefits ____________________________________________________________________________________________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.&nbs […]

  • Lead Batteries’ Top Sustainability Score May Be Model For Other Sectors
    by TSC Webmaster on September 12, 2019 at 5:29 pm

    Article from InsideEPA A global non-profit organization that assesses the sustainability of consumer products is awarding widely used lead-acid batteries one of its highest scores as the most recycled consumer product, a significant finding that experts suggest could be a model for other sectors as they weigh steps to participate in the emerging circular economy. Read more  » The post Lead Batteries’ Top Sustainability Score May Be Model For Other Sectors appeared first on The Sustainability Consortium. […]

  • Beverage brands bank on rPET for packaging sustainability
    on September 11, 2019 at 3:14 pm

    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.___________________________________________________________________________________&nbs […]

  • Vertical baggers can juggle many package formats now
    by Kate Bertrand Connolly on September 10, 2019 at 10:54 pm

    Today’s shopper expects multiple choices—in products and in type of packaging. That’s one of the reasons a brand’s number of stock-keeping units is exploding. And with flexible packaging continuing to encroach on rigid containers in several categories, the demands of versatility and speedy changeover for machines that make these packages are high.In response, vertical form-fill-seal (vffs) equipment designs are evolving to meet the expanding operational and marketing challenges of packagers that use this type of equipment. The latest vffs machines can run numerous flexible-packaging formats, with fast changeover, for example.User requirements for improved uptime, line efficiency, sustainability, waste reduction, sanitary machine design and operator-friendliness are also driving equipment vffs advancements. Read what vffs experts have to say about all the trends in the exclusive Packaging Digest Q&A below. The participants are:• Dennis Calamusa, president/CEO at AlliedFlex Technologies Inc. (the exclusive Velteko distributor for North and South America);• John Panaseny, CEO of Rovema North America Inc.;• Kim Magon-Haller, marketing manager, Triangle Package Machinery Co.;• Shayne De la Force, chief marketing officer at tna solutions Pty Ltd.; What recent advancements have there been in vertical form-fill-seal systems? Calamusa: I can think of four developments.1. Versatility of design: This provides versatility in package size and package format.Over the past few years, we have seen a growing trend by prominent vffs producers to implement advanced technology in the design platform of their vffs machinery to enable users to better respond to market changes in package size and package format. This is being accomplished in a variety of ways.Velteko, a prominent global vffs manufacturer, has approached this challenge by “re-designing from the ground up” a series of its vffs machinery by utilizing a group of quick-change modules that make the major mechanical changes from one bag format to another much simpler and repeatable. This design breakthrough has enabled a user to perform three-dimensional package format changes within 5 to 45 minutes for a multitude of bag styles, including pillow, quad and stand-up/zipper, depending on the complexity of the changeover. This innovative, versatile design strategy provides the ability for a single machine to accommodate changes in package size and package style. That is critical for companies to respond to marketing shifts for a variety of market outlets, including single-portion sizes, retail sizes and larger clubstore and foodservice sizes.The Velteko HSV-360 B vffs system can package food and non-food items and accepts a variety of bag formats, including stand-up/zipper pouches. Photo courtesy of Velteko. 2. Ultrasonic sealing:The use of ultrasonic sealing in vffs machinery is growing as companies look to improve seal integrity and minimize package size. Ultrasonic technology is also being used to perform improved “zipper crush,” now that zipper reclosability is a popular and growing convenience feature on vffs machinery.3. Servo technology/operator interface:Most advanced, quality vffs machines today have replaced many mechanical components with servo motors, which provide improved flexibility and reduced maintenance compared with older mechanical-drive systems. These servo systems have enabled the machines to be run with a high level of flexibility to accommodate a multitude of operational improvements that positively impact productivity, efficiency, higher output and reduced cost of ownership.The operator interface provides recipe storage for a multitude of package setups to reduce on-site service calls.In addition, with the ability to incorporate advanced sensing devices, we can now provide more detailed real-time information regarding productivity, downtime and even predictive maintenance, which is valuable for production planning and packaging-system optimization.4. Automatic roll change/splice:Many companies are looking to increase uptime. This is particularly important on vffs machinery, as it is popular to have several machines grouped as part of a turnkey system [to produce enough volume for downstream equipment, like case packers, that run at higher speeds]. Downtime is a cost, and even short-interval downtimes can negatively impact productivity, efficiency and product/packaging-material waste. Many vffs companies and users are investing in the addition of semi-automatic and automatic roll change/splicing systems to keep the machine up and running and eliminate these consistent short-interval stoppages for performing manual roll changes, which cause lost production and increased material scrap. These systems can be provided fully integrated or added later, in the field. Panaseny: The biggest advancements have been in two key areas. The first is in bagger flexibility. In the past few years, machines have been developed to offer a dramatic array of package styles, from traditional, simple pillow bags to the more complex Doyen-style stand-up bags with reclosable zipper that can be produced at relatively high speeds on continuous-motion equipment. (The Rovema BVC260 Flex Bagger is an example of this.) Although vffs machines that could handle the bag styles existed previously, the newer technology produces much better looking bags and at higher rates of speed.The Rovema BVC-260 Flexible is a continuous-motion vertical bagger that can provide virtually any package style, including Doyen-style stand-up bags (RoPack). The second area of advancement is in machine reliability and repeatability. As consumer packaged goods companies (CPGs) struggle with employee retention, machinery that helps with changeovers as well as troubleshooting problems is becoming the norm. In both cases, much of the advancement is tied to technology in motion control and human machine interfaces (HMIs), which make these features easier to execute and more affordable for manufacturers to produce. Magon-Haller: The advancements we’re seeing—and the areas we’re continuing to focus on—include versatility, sanitation and operator-friendly machines. In the past, most companies were simply looking to run a specific bag style. In recent years, there is more uncertainty over which way markets are moving, which leads companies to search out more versatile vffs solutions that are capable of running multiple bag styles.Our Model XYRJ, for instance, features a unique, rotatable sealing jaw that allows users to run pillow-style bags, three-sided seal bags, gusseted bags and a stand-up pouch (SUP). It’s also the only vffs bagger that offers an optional longitudinal zipper and/or transverse zipper on the same machine. We developed Model XYRJ because we knew many of our customers and potential customers wanted a bagging machine that was versatile, easy to use and able to run a variety of bag styles on the same machine. The bagger allows food packagers to improve production and switch package formats in just minutes.Many advancements have also been made in the area of sanitation. The majority of Triangle’s customers are in the food industry, so sanitary machine design is an important consideration. A bagging machine that’s easier to clean not only saves cleaning and maintenance time but also offers peace of mind to companies that may otherwise be worrying about how to minimize consumer complaints and avoid product recalls.Sanitary machine design is one area where we have proactively researched and answered customer needs. Our decades of experience operating in the harshest environments has also proven to be of value in other markets. Over the years, sanitary design of our vffs baggers has improved to reduce hazardous critical control points, crevices and the use of aluminum. We offer the only bagger and forming tube that is 3A-certified and meets strict United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) sanitation standards.For example, our recently introduced Compact Sanitary Bagger, Model CSB, offers state-of-the-art sanitation features such as rounded, solid stainless-steel frames and is designed to be cleaned in place.In addition, many advancements make vffs baggers easier to operate and maintain. With more companies struggling to find qualified labor, operator-friendly machines can go a long way to address these challenges. We strive to build certain features into our baggers that will shorten the learning curve and minimize downtime. These include, for instance, features that offer tool-less, quick-and-easy changeover, HMIs with built-in visual instructions and radio-frequency identification (RFID) technology to restrict machine access and monitor usage. De la Force: More and more, manufacturers are focusing on sustainable practices in manufacturing, hence working on reducing waste, boosting efficiency and making user interfaces easier for operators of vertical form-fill-seal systems; this equally applies to all other aspects of food packaging and manufacturing, as well. Reducing food waste not only helps the bottom line of the manufacturer, it also helps in boosting line efficiency.Waste reduction with increased packaging speed (popularly measured as bags per minute, or just bpm) is the combined metric for evaluating the vffs system, and this is where packaging- and processing-solutions providers are pioneering and innovating.Another key direction of innovation is automation and integration, where the whole packaging system and its allied components—like multihead weighers, metal detectors, date coders and more—work as one unit controlled through a single user interface. Intuitive and easy-to-use touchscreen control makes operations quicker, easier and more efficient. How do these advanced systems compare to the existing standard equipment?De la Force: Key achievements of the advanced systems in recent times are: reduced human effort, lower waste, reduced downtimes and stoppages, higher OEE and overall better sustainable operation. As with any development, the rollout and results are not visible overnight. It is a gradual and ongoing process in which the packaging-machine manufacturers are supporting the food manufacturers in upgrading their systems through backward compatibility and system design support so they can make the most of these advancements. Customers (food manufacturers) are seeking solution providers as compared to machine suppliers. Magon-Haller: The bottom line is, various advancements—improved sanitation, more versatile machines and operator-friendly baggers—offer similar but important benefits, such as minimized downtime and improved production.Baggers that offer quick changeover and ease of use spend a lot more time churning out bags than sitting idle while an operator tries to perform complicated changeovers.Baggers that offers more sanitary designs and better accessibility to the machine are easier and faster to clean and maintain. Our stainless-steel guard doors, for instance, are more sanitary than standard doors, but their unique design with perforated holes still allows visibility of the machine operating.All Triangle bagging machines offer state-of-the-art sanitation features and can be designed to meet strict 3-A and USDA sanitation standards. Pictured is Triangle’s Model XYM15 vffs bagger, with optional stainless-steel guard doors. In addition to cleaner machine designs, our baggers include features that offer greater machine accessibility, such as a pivoting control box for four sides of machine access. Panaseny: A large portion of the vffs install base is older and therefore built at a time when mechanical devices (cams, gears and so on) controlled machine motions rather than programmable electronic servo motors. Additionally, just as computing technology evolves rapidly, a similar impact is felt with packaging-machinery controls. The result is more capabilities in machine monitoring, HMI capabilities and improved overall equipment efficiency (OEE) by using technology to monitor, correct and assist with operations. Calamusa: Many existing or older machines do not have advanced capabilities, as many vffs machines delivered over the past two decades did not need to meet the evolving market demands of today—or the technology did not exist. Many older machines were purchased and installed for dedicated bag styles and applications, and were not designed with the changeover, production demands or operational philosophy required today. What are the benefits of these advancements for packaging machinery buyers/users?Panaseny: The new developments assist with operational challenges tied to a tight labor market with high employee turnover. The more the equipment can be easily operated and maintained, the better the performance the buyer/user will experience. De la Force: By running more efficiently with lower waste, packaging-machinery users are achieving higher return on investment (ROI). At the same time, users are achieving higher levels of sustainability, and with the reduction in human effort through technology and innovation, the working environment is positively evolving in this industry sector. Calamusa: Marketing departments are always challenged to introduce “what’s next,” and this is very difficult when they know that changes at the manufacturing level are usually frowned upon.By investing in new, versatile vffs machinery, manufacturing can now be more responsive to the needs of the organization and better adapt to change by being part of the solution and creating new business opportunities for the company. The ability for the user’s manufacturing/packaging department to say “yes” to its marketing department is a very valuable and refreshing concept in today’s competitive business landscape. Magon-Haller: In addition to less time spent on cleaning and maintenance, the benefits of a more sanitary machine include peace of mind and greater accessibility to equipment. Customers can rest assured they are making a wise investment and that critical issues—such as accessible equipment and clean machine designs—have been addressed.A more versatile bagger that can run multiple bag styles on the same machine also provides a smaller capital investment. Why buy two machines when you can purchase one that has the flexibility to run pillow bags, gusseted bags, stand-up pouches and three-sided seal pouches? As resealable packages continue to gain popularity, finding a bagger with the ability to add a longitudinal and/or transverse zipper applicator can also be a smart investment. What areas in vertical form-fill-seal equipment still need work and why?Calamusa: We are seeing a demand for all packaging machinery, including vffs machinery, to be more sanitary in design. This is not only a requirement for packaging frozen or refrigerated products, but also when packaging dry or dusty products. The ability to properly sanitize and clean the equipment is critical to prevent the risk of dangerous bacteria and allergens contaminating or cross-contaminating packaged foods. Downtime attributed to cleaning and sanitation is substantial, and improved sanitary design by the vffs manufacturer is highly appreciated and demanded by today’s packagers. Panaseny: We’ll need to see continued evolution of equipment that can provide self-diagnostics and that can be monitored remotely to support a workforce with fewer troubleshooting skills. What’s next, and when might we see further improvements in vertical form-fill-seal systems?Calamusa: Work continues by forward-looking vffs manufacturers to validate the handling and running of new “sustainability” materials, including recyclable, composable and biodegradable structures. These thinner, more elastic materials can be challenging regarding critical temperature sensitivity, tension and web-handling challenges, package aesthetics and so forth; however, the packaging machinery industry and consumer product companies are all committed to this challenge, and we can expect to see considerable effort to resolve these challenges in the coming months and years. Panaseny: I think you will see more advancements in sealing technology to support new materials that address sustainability concerns, and continued development with respect to internet of things (IoT) or Industry 4.0. Some industries are quite advanced in this area, but I think that packaging and vffs equipment are still in the early stages of adoption. De la Force: Stand-up and resealable bag formats, biodegradable materials and personalization will continue to further drive vffs technology in the future, meaning that there will be changes to how films are handled and sealed and changes to packaging shapes and sizes—and all developments will need to keep up with the trends. Magon-Haller: Packaging-machinery customers are looking for machines that are both compact and operator-friendly, as well as accessible and easy to maintain. We will continue to develop vffs systems that are compact, versatile and innovative—for instance, vffs machines that offer a compact footprint and high output in terms of both speed and package-style variety. Package styles will always be evolving, and we’ll continue to work with customers and suppliers to provide machines that can run the next style.The tna robag FX-series system offers high speeds for vffs applications. ____________________________________________________________________________________________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.&nbs […]