Form-fill-seal machines on display in nearly every hall provided new flexible formats for beverages.

Rovema’s VPI 260 produces the spout-equipped Aqua FlexCan for beverages. Source: Rovema.
Although metal, glass and rigid plastic packaging was well represented at Interpack 2005, flexible packaging was the star of the huge, triennial exhibition held April 21-27 in Düsseldorf, Germany.

Form-fill-seal (FFS) machines, both horizontal and vertical, were seen in virtually every hall. Particularly interesting were flexible formats for liquid products.

Vertical FFS machines are faster than ever with top speeds exceeding 200 bags per minute. The intermittent-motion Proteus from Matrix Packaging Machinery Inc., a company based in Saukville, WI, packs quick changeover features into a small footprint. The flexible unit, which was shown topped by a Sigma Compact Model ADW 314SD netweigher from Yamato Corp. of Mequon, WI, can produce pillow pouches as well as block bottom and zipper packs in sizes ranging from 2 by 3 inches to 11 by 15.75 inches. Available in dry or washdown configurations, the Yamato netweigher features a compact design and has no trouble matching the 200-pouch-per minute speed of the FFS machine. Nonproprietary Allen-Bradley programmable logic controller and operator interface from Rockwell Automation, another Wisconsin-based company, simplify integration, operation and maintenance.

Another intermittent-motion FFS machine, the IM Double Clamp pouch machine from Sarasota, FL-based KHS Bartelt, Inc., features a double clamp system to ensure more positive control as three-side-sealed pouches move through the unit. Targeted for heavier pouches weighing up to 3 pounds, which tend to bow at the top after filling, the double-clamp system holds each pouch on both sides and is particularly key at the station before sealing because it enables the top of the pouch to be pulled tight and reduces the chance of wrinkles and leakers. The flexible machine also can produce other pouch configurations including three-sided fin seal, four-sided fin seal, gusset bottom, Delta-Pack standup and zipper. One fill station is standard, but the system can accommodate a second filler. Potential pouch sizes range from 4 by 5 inches to 8 by 9 inches.

Pouches capable of holding liquid can be produced on equipment from two German companies, Rovema Packaging Machines, which has a US office in Lawrenceville, GA, and Laudenberg, which is represented in the US by Profile Packaging of Sarasota, FL. The Aqua FlexCan, developed in conjunction with Amcor Flexibles, which is headquartered in Barnwood, Gloucester, UK, is filled on Rovema's VPI 260 vertical FFS machine. The cylindrical pouch with gussets at the top and bottom is accessed by tearing away a laser-perfed tab at the top of the spout. Once open, special sealing geometry prevents leaks if the pouch is tipped over. Volumes range up to 250 cubic centimeters.

Laudenberg's Round Pouch Machine can form, fill and ultrasonically seal volumes up to 0.5 liter at speeds ranging from 40 to 300 pouches per minute. Billed as an alternative to cans, the Round Pouch features a round base and easy-open spout and is compatible with hot filling. Laudenberg expects a commercial launch before the end of 2005.

To accommodate the growing popularity of variety packs, Holland-headquartered Blueprint Automation, which has a US office in Colonial Heights, VA, has developed a Pick and Place Case Packer capable of loading two different flavors of bagged product into display cases. A robot picks and places product from one lane and then from a second lane. If pouches are to be arranged vertically in the case, the robot places the pouches in an intermediate cassette, which side loads a tipped case. This arrangement makes it possible to pack more product in a case with less breakage. Blueprint also has developed a rotary feeder for the two-lane case packer. Servo-driven sections of rollers in the Rainbow Feeder orient, turn and space pouches for transfer to the infeed of the case packer at a rate of up to 200 pouches per minute.

In today's competitive marketplace, the package delivers the message at point of sale where more than 70% of purchasing decisions are made and speed to market is critical. To compress the production process to the shortest possible timeframe and allow the package to serve as a brand communication channel, Amcor Flexibles has teamed up with Macedon, NY-based ExxonMobil Chemical Films to deploy AdVantage, a service that combines Amcor's Forge short-run gravure printing technology and ExxonMobil's PacVantage color-managed workflow for graphic design, order entry, planning and scheduling, and color management in design and repro. The system guarantees delivery of finished packaging seven days from concept finalization. Initially, converting for the AdVantage service will occur at Amcor Flexibles S&R in Keating, Scotland, but eventually the capability will be replicated at other Amcor locations worldwide.

Marking with a special pen activates a chemical reaction that generates a machine-readable luminescent signal from ink containing DuPont’s Bio-Molecular Fingerprint and provides a covert means of identifying authentic product. Source: DuPont.

European unveiling

Interpack marked the European introduction of product authentication technologies and services from DuPont Packaging & Industrial Polymers. Options offered by the Security & Solutions business of the Wilmington, DE-based company include the Bio-Molecular Fingerprint, a synthetic DNA marker technology, and Color Spectra Film developed by Germany's identif GmbH. The former is supplied as customer-specific ink that generates a luminescent signal, which can be measured with a handheld reader. The latter features a machine-readable color shift created by a series of vacuum-coated layers, some as thin as 5 nanometers. Utilizing a combination of human- (overt) and machine-readable (covert) "signatures," the technologies can protect a variety of products from counterfeiting.

The turnkey FAST Tag system from Videojet expedites implementation of radio frequency identification tagging. Once installed, the operator simply keys in the line’s throughput, label placement requirements and data configuration. Source: Videojet.
A turnkey system for encoding and applying labels equipped with radio frequency identification (RFID) tags also received its European debut. The FAST Tag system from Videojet Technologies Inc. of Wood Dale, IL, consists of an encoder/applicator for RFID tag-equipped labels, a reader and a patent-pending reject identification and recovery system. The integrated system is easy to install, configure and operate.

Another interesting innovation is the Airtight Cup from Stora Enso, an integrated paper, packaging and forest products company headquartered in Imatra, Finland. Raw edge taping, hot-air activated seams and a rolled rim result in a tight, leak-proof container for either liquid or dry products. Flat blanks of Cupforma AT paperboard, a substrate consisting of polyethylene/ paperboard/Silver Barr high barrier coating, are printed with ultraviolet inks and then fed into a cup machine. The high barrier coating blocks light, oxygen, humidity and aroma transmission. Lidstock can be virtually any heat-sealable film or paper. There are no users yet, but the first commercial application will likely be for salty snacks or dry cereal. To ensure cup integrity, the Stora Enso AT Master detects any emission of a hydrogen tracer gas, which is flushed into the container just prior to sealing.

For more information:

John E. Daley, Matrix Packaging Machinery Inc.,

Mike Taylor, Yamato Corp.,

Douglas L. Burns, Rockwell Automation,

Rick Manning, KHS Bartelt,

Luis De la Mora, Rovema Packaging Machines,

Michael McKeown, Amcor Flexibles,
+44 1506 412 845,

R. Charles Murray, PPi Technologies, Inc.,

John French, Blueprint Automation,

Massimo Ferrari, ExxonMobil Chemical Films,
+33 1 4710 6756,

Carolyn Burns, DuPont Security & Solutions,

Theresa DiCanio, Videojet Technologies Inc.,
630-860-7300, Ext. 1334,

Jalliina Jarvinen, Stora Enso,
+358 2046 26789,