Drinks crates in future will be more ergonomic in design, more compact and use less material. The trend is towards an extremely open design. The design awards recently presented by Coca Cola Deutschland have highlighted outstanding ideas in design, user-friendliness and sustainability. The onus is now firmly on companies in the beverages industry to significantly raise their awareness of the increasing demand for sustainable secondary packaging. The final packaging and palletizing systems that will be making the running in future will be on show at drinktec 2013, the Worldґs Leading Trade Fair for the Beverage and Liquid Food Industry, which takes place from September 16 to 20, 2013 at the Messe Mьnchen exhibition center.
The industry is facing a twin challenge: Consumers expect products which are not only packaged using minimum resources but which also protect the contents securely. Manufacturers are tackling this challenge on a range of fronts: they are reducing the amount of material used in packaging, they are opting for recycled and renewable materials, and they are bringing down their overall energy consumption. Sustainable manufacturing is about implementing appropriate measures at every stage in the production chain. The machinery and equipment for mastering these challenges will be on show at drinktec 2013.
Flexible concepts have the edge
“Cost-efficiency, flexibility and sustainability are the key benchmarks for future-oriented final-packaging and palletizing systems,” says Dipl. Ing. Heiner Schaefer, Managing Director of Schaefer Fцrderanlagen- und Maschinenbau GmbH. “Reducing the material used on beverage containers and minimizing the secondary packaging presents a big challenge to the way beverage manufacturers work. Continuous three-shift operation with 8000 and more production hours per year, combined with extended maintenance intervals are the key features of the new machinery concepts. Packaging innovations at ever shorter intervals demand a great degree of flexibility in terms of machinery and plant. Off-line solutions are particularly popular for increasing the automation of packaging, sorting and mixing operations. Energy-optimized drive systems and plant concepts also make their contribution towards sustainability. At drinktec 2013 visitors and customers from all over the world will be seeing solutions on these trends and challenges.”
Trend towards modules and monobloc systems
Many different types of final packaging can be produced with flexible machine concepts. Complex packaging lines enable multiple-stage packaging processes. PET containers, glass bottles or cans can be processed in multipacks. Or multipacks in folding cartons, returnable crates or wrap-around cartons. The trend in this is for modular application. Modular-design systems can be extended at will for other packaging types. The capacity can be increased at any time as required by adding on further modules. In parallel with this there is a clear trend towards monobloc systems in the beverage and liquid food industry. Here individual units are coordinated via controls, the packaging machine, the grouping device and the palletizer are connected in a monobloc system.
Shrink packaging and the alternatives
At drinktec 2013 the exhibitors will be showing how to reduce costs for packaging and material consumption. With the aid of modern technology energy and materials consumption on packaging machines can be reduced considerably. Decentralized servo technology operates more efficiently and dynamically than large drive systems. Acquisition costs are recouped during the lifecycle of the system through savings on energy consumption. In particular as regards the use of plastics in final packaging, there is plenty of scope for innovation. Savings can be made by reducing the thickness of plastic wrappings. This even goes as far as (almost) entirely dispensing with the final packaging. With PET containers shrink packaging has a market share of over 30 percent. The disadvantages are the use of fossil fuels and the relatively high energy consumption in the shrinking process. Now an entirely new packaging design for PET containers has emerged, in the form of strapping technology that uses no plastic wrapping whatsoever. Other alternatives to shrink wrapping are high-board trays of card or plastic form trays. It will be interesting to see what further developments emerge here in the run-up to drinktec 2013.
Palletizing: Safety and space-saving
The key functions of palletizing are on the one hand to place the pallets in as space-saving a way as possible, either manually, through robots or special loading machines, and on the other to secure the load, via anti-slip intermediate layers, wrapping in plastic or by strapping. Newly developed diagonal bottle formations are enable increased capacity utilization of the pallets. And even the cargo carriers are showing their innovation capabilities in this respect: The German packaging prize 2012, in the transport and logistics packaging section, was recently awarded to an innovative display pallet which is a highly functional further development of an established packaging solution. As well as being made from 100% recycled material, this pallet has a particularly innovative design: it has a deeper nesting depth, which saves space when stacking as compared to existing systems. In general plastic pallets – with their advantages of precision dimensions and increased hygiene – are winning over more and more fans from the still commonly used wooden pallets.
Theme Day: Packaging and marketing in the drinktec Forum
As usual, the supporting program at drinktec 2013 will be exploring a range of exciting themes. For Scott Meek from Miller Coors, packaging is a core tool in demonstrating innovations capability. “Utilizing package design and innovation to drive commercial growth” is the title of his talk on Thursday, September 19 in the drinktec Forum that on this day focuses on the overarching theme of “Packaging and Marketing”. The talk by Dominic Cakebread and Claudia Werner from Canadeans will be on “Global market trends, developments and drivers in beverage packaging”.
drinktec opens doors
Heiner Schaefer sees drinktec as a way to open new doors: “For us as a medium-sized company, drinktec is the gateway to the world. It offers us the chance to present new products to a wide international audience. Many of our customer relationships, both within Germany and around the world, started out at drinktec.”