Over the years, food manufacturers have attended PACK EXPO to discover new ways to increase efficiency and cater to evolving consumer preferences.  At PACK EXPO 2014, attendees found technologies displayed that are driving food manufacturing while influencing packaging and processing operations across multiple industries. PACK EXPO owner and producer, PMMI, The Association for Packaging and Processing Technologies, outlined some of those innovations in its “PACK EXPO International and Pharma EXPO 2014 Trends Report.”

Interconnectivity advances

People all over the world connect 24/7 through their smartphones and social media. Brands are exploiting these tendencies through the rise of near field communication (NFC) technologies, a form of short-range wireless communication, according to the report.

One early NFC adopter, Avery Dennison, demonstrated what it means to “bring packaging alive” by embedding its DirectLink NFC tags under pressure-sensitive labels. An NFC-enabled smartphone— about 570 million are on the market today—can transform a static product descriptor into a dynamic, engaging packaging platform. The consumer gains immediate access to digital content such as special offers, surveys, videos and company website links after tapping an NFC-enabled phone against NFC-equipped packaging.

Supply chain transformers

 As more supply chain developments come to fruition, 3-D printing technology is increasingly visible. At PACK EXPO International 2014, Schneider Packaging Equipment demonstrated a 3-D printed gripper on the end of the arm of a FANUC M-20ia/35 light payload robot. The technology demonstrates the industry’s commitment to integrating 3-D printing into automated processing and robotics operations. Despite slow industry adoption of 3-D printing, Schneider Packaging Equipment views the technology as an efficient way to produce customized grabbers for its palletizers.