Within a few days the Interpack in Düsseldorf/Germany will open its doors to the thousands of packaging and food professionals from all over the world. The exhibition held between the 8th of May and 14th of May, always has a lot to offer to whom is interested in packaging, hunting for the latest novelties or just looking for a solution for the packaging problem they are confronted with at home.
Walking an exhibition effectively is an art, certainly one as large as the Interpack. Looking for novelties, which might put your company at the front of its category, is the goal. They might not be novelties in the pure sense of the word, but don’t forget, for you a novelty is something new and of interest for your company, whether it’s newly developed or from 50 years ago.
Probably some 90% of what you see is already known and was on show previously at various exhibitions.
Remember a lot of packaging techniques has been around for years and never changed significantly, but be aware that there always are modifications and alterations which can turn around the performance of a packaging machine or a complete system. I’m a fierce advocate of cross-fertilisation. Be open and aware that systems for say the bakery industry can be used, with some modifications and alterations, in whatever other industrial activity.
In other words, it isn’t the last 10% that is of interest to you, but all is, because there always are items of interest for your specific occasion, you never saw before and thus are a novelty to you. Find them and you have had a successful trip to Düsseldorf.
I’m always amazed meeting people coming back from the Interpack and telling me that nothing really new was on show. I wonder what they have been doing in Düsseldorf.
Let me give a short preview.
New packaging ideas for fresh products can be amazingly unusual at times. Growing a crop in the confines of a packaging isn’t new. We have seen herbs and spices, but never saw lettuce. Lettuce in a bottle, baptised the BottleCrop, an idea from two German horticulturalists, is a very interesting idea, as lettuce is a popular fresh produce, but with a very short shelf life.
The principle is very simple: consumers can grow lettuce within their own house. A seedling is planted on tightly compacted soil, and both seedling and soil are then placed in a special-constructed bottle, filled with a nutrient solution where the lettuce continues to grow. What might seem inefficient at first is in fact highly effective, according to the two inventors, Daniel Brohm and Nico Domurath. Unlike the usual field growing method, BottleCrop saves up to 90% water and fertiliser.
The product reached marketability and is regionally for sale since the end of February. I don’t think this invention is on show, but it was interesting enough to include it in the preview.
Supermarket on show
Part of the impressive display of innovations of SealPac, supplier of modern tray-sealing and thermoforming technology, will be the sustainable EasyLid system.
But of special interest on SealPac’s stand (C19, Hall 5) is the fully stocked supermarket. With numerous refrigerators, display coolers, shelves and showcases, SealPac promotes exclusive packaging innovations from around the world, all produced on SealPac traysealers and thermoformers. Exhibited in a realistic retail environment, visitors to the stand will have the opportunity to convince themselves of the quality and functionality of new packaging solutions, as well as get inspired by unique and effective presentation styles. Going one step further, in a special section of its supermarket, SealPac will be showing 3D models that will give visitors an idea of packaging solutions of the future.
Gerhard Schubert (A06, Hall 14) is showcasing its latest generation of flexible TLM packaging technology. The latest generation premiered at Interpack 2014, is boosting the capacity of its flexible TLM packaging technology.
The company will feature a prototype without a switch cabinet and 3D scanners for product image processing. Both the housing and the inner workings of the transmodules have also been updated. Schubert will exhibit a total of three TLM picker lines and a TLM packaging line.
The 3D scanner addresses spatial perception. The resulting height profile reflects the three-dimensional shape of the product to be packaged. This development is based on the stereoscopic approach, which means that the scanner captures two views of each product from different viewing angles. In doing so, it realises a height resolution of 0.5mm in a measuring range of 60mm height.
As part of the latest TLM transmodule update, the transport carriage was shortened and equipped with an LED display to indicate the operating status. The transmodules’ control electronics are now based on a Uni 5 assembly, the current controller assembly of the latest generation of the Schubert packaging machine controller.
The values for maximum acceleration and speed have been significantly increased. Furthermore, Schubert has already announced the next conceptual product for the intelligent transport robots: transmodules that can move along curves. Negotiating curves allows even more freedom when designing the layout. Unnecessary interfaces are eliminated and the line’s compactness increases.
Combox – High precision stretch blow-moulding for tiny preforms
Serac (C63, Hall 13) recently implemented a blow-fill-cap unit in Brazil, for the packaging of 50 g yoghurt portions presented in an attractive fruit-shaped PET flask. Blown from a PET preform of 2.3g only, with nearly half of the mass concentrated in the neck, the fruit-shaped flask requires an expansion rate of 16 (4 times in both length and width), which is extreme in this industry.
On such tiny preforms, the SBL blower from Serac demonstrates a high level of precision in heating, stretching and blowing operations.
The 100% positive neck transfer system patented by Serac allows to make sure that the packaging will move all along the process without ever touching each other, which is a must to avoid any damage. Based on a star-wheel system that compensates for the difference in pitch between the blowing and filling functions, it allows the direct coupling of SBL blower with any rotary weight filler.
With a neck diameter of 20 mm, the slightest deviation under the filling nozzles can have dramatic effects. This is why Serac included in its transfer system a servo-driven device that ensures positioning and filling accuracy.
The cap was a challenge as well. A 20 mm sealed cap would have been almost impossible to open, so Serac designed a specific, oversized aluminium strip together with a new die press tool to achieve the best user-friendliness.
This is the end of the preview. I will try to report about the Interpack regularly. Enjoy your stay in Düsseldorf.