One of the world's biggest packaging conferences ended yesterday, with suppliers vying to draw new business with a bevy of new products.
The show's highlights include sections of the exhibition focusing on brand protection, containers and materials, contract packaging, and on radio frequency identification technologies.
The highlight announcement was the unveiling by WalMart of separate online 'green' rating systems for suppliers and for packagers, one that will eventually determine who can sell to the giant retailer.
Organised by the Packaging Machinery Manufacturers Institute (PMMI), the US industry trade association, it attracted about 45,000 people and 2,300 exhibitors eager to make a sale. It also marks the fourth consecutive year of a boom in North American packaging machinery sales and exports.
Here is a round up of some of the many products released for the food and drink sectors, in the main targeting increased automation and speed on the packaging production line.
Retortable bottles, bowls tubs
Sonoco this week released a new line of retortable plastic bottles, bowls and tubs.
The company said it is attempting to leverage its technology to meet processors demand for plastic packaging that runs on existing filling equipment with minimal modifications.
Among the plastic packaging Sonoco is showcasing at PackExpo are retortable plastic containers for baby foods.
"Converting from glass to plastic is likely to be very popular with consumers who want baby food packages that are lighter, more portable and safer," the company stated.
New blister sealing tester and guidelines
The Association of Visual Packaging Manufacturers (AVPM) released a blister seal testing machine, with guidelines to help solve resolve sealing problems.
The laboratory-sized Sealmaster 500 determines the strength of seal by measuring tensile force required to tear coated blister card from thermoformed blister. This helps production and quality departments agree on acceptance or rejection of blister packages, AVPM says.
High-speed stretch wrapper wraps 200 loads per hour
Lantech claims it has designed and built the world's fastest stretch wrapper. The RS-6000 cycles pallets every 18 to 20 seconds, the company claimed. Its speed was on display in the front of North Hall at this week's PackExpo.
The machine features a mechanically-powered film delivery system that pre-stretches 50-gauge film by 250 per cent. The design eliminates problematic electrical wiring in the ring and keeps film from pulling on load, the company said. A ring-straddle design also eliminates film breaks, and reduces film consumption. It is capable of wrapping loads up to 50 x 50 x 80 inches.
The RS-6000 Ring-Straddle stretch wrapper also features a new cut-and-clamp system that combines with the heat-free Press 'n Seal film sealing system.
Temperature logger monitors package conditions
3M has added a temperature logger to its product lineup, in a bid to enter the cold chain management market, The reusable, battery-powered Temperature Logger TL20 records at intervals ranging from 1 to 120 minutes. It is designed for food and chemical products. The device can record temperatures in Fahrenheit or Celsius, and logs up to 12,000 data points over a period up to 360 days. Data can be downloaded via a USB connection. Users can set up the clock to start at a preset time or manually. A light-emitting diode flashes if the temperature parameters are exceeded.
North American packaging machinery shipments hit $5.8 billion in 2005, an 8.1 per cent increase over the previous year and the fourth consecutive year of growth. In 2005 bottling line machinery grew by 25 per cent, followed by filling machinery for liquid products at 15 per cent. Turnover in the inspecting, detecting and checkweighing machinery market grew by 10 per cent and palletizing, depalletizing and pallet unitising machinery 11.1 per cent.
The PMMI forecasts turnover will top $6bn this year.