Technological innovation plays an important role in the global packaging machinery industry’s development. Often, newly developed packaging machinery will allow suppliers to achieve multiple goals, such as:
- comply with new regulations
- improve equipment performance (e.g., reduced changeover times)
- develop more versatile machinery that can package a greater variety of product types and sizes
- enhance operator safety and comfort
- introduce autonomous machines that need less human input
- address specific problems (e.g., counterfeiting)
- reduce the environmental impact of industrial enterprises
Most leading producers have invested heavily in R&D, particularly over the last decade, due to intensifying competition and the adoption of new regulations. The development of advanced sensors and new materials has also spurred innovation, as improved technologies can provide suppliers with a critical advantage in the marketplace.
The Freedonia Group projects global demand for packaging equipment to increase 5.8% per year through 2026 to $71.1 billion. Rising demand for state-of-the-art packaging technologies will be a key driver of growth. Below, we highlight three recent areas of focus in packaging machinery innovation.
- Improve packaging efficiency and versatility
Many new machinery products are designed to improve packaging efficiency and versatility. For example, Syntegon’s LFS inline filling and packaging machine – which debuted in August 2021 – is intended for dairy and other foods; it has a modular design, enabling firms to have greater flexibility in filling and packaging. Individual modules – which handle functions such as filling, sealing, and capping – can be added or retrofitted to meet specific requirements. The LFS can also be configured to handle two different packaging formats simultaneously.
Another new product from Syntegon is the Kliklok ACE advanced carton former, introduced in North America in October 2020. The machine was designed with a number of features to improve ergonomics and efficiency, including a carton hopper mounted at a waist height and the ability to form glue- and lock-style cartons on the same machine.
Other recent machinery introductions that enhance packaging efficiency and versatility include:
- In January 2021, Accraply introduced the Sirius MK6, a modular labeler that offers repeatable, toolless changeovers and preventative maintenance alerts for reduced waste and downtime.
- In April 2021, Krones’ Kosme subsidiary launched the Barifill Canto, a multipurpose filler capable of filling glass and PET bottles, as well as metal cans. The machine is intended to enable small craft breweries and wineries the ability to handle multiple packaging formats without having to invest in three different filling machines.
- In May 2021, Proseal debuted the Proseal CP3, a high-speed, automatic case packer, which has a throughput of up to 120 trays and other packs per minute and is designed for rapid, easy package format changes. The machine also has a compact footprint and a control panel with a user-friendly computer menu offering step-by-step prompts.
- In June 2021, ULMA Packaging launched the ULMA FV 55 for vacuum wrapping meat and cheese items. The machine is designed to meet strict United States Food and Drug Administration hygiene standards and can be operated by a single person, thereby minimizing labor and boosting productivity.
- Address operator problems
Suppliers of packaging machinery often use technological innovation to address problems that operators face. For example, many conventional bottle inspecting machines can erroneously reject bottles that are not defective, but simply marred by water droplets or bits of foam from the cleaning process. This results in unnecessary waste. To correct the problem, in November 2020, Krones launched the Linatronic AI bottle inspector, which employs deep learning software to detect and classify anomalies using numerous example images. The machine can then compare bottles to the images, resulting in fewer rejections of non-defective bottles.
Other operator-focused innovations include:
- In November 2020, Evergreen Packaging introduced the EH-84 gable top carton filling machine, which has an ergonomic design to facilitate operator comfort and ease of loading. The machine also enables rapid, easy changeovers in carton size and type of product being filled.
- In February 2020, Brenton introduced the Brenton M2000 case packer, which has a 25% smaller footprint than comparable mid-range packers and has a touchscreen operator panel designed for easy, intuitive operation.
- Increase sustainability
New generations of packaging machinery can help industrial enterprises reduce their environmental impact and advance sustainable manufacturing. For example:
- In March 2021 KHS announced that new and existing shrink packers in its TSP, WSP, SP, and PSP series are capable of utilizing 100% recycled film. Existing models can easily be modified to accept this type of film.
- In November 2021, SIG Combibloc introduced the SIG NEO, the world’s fastest filling machine for family size cartons. The machine has speeds of up to 18,000 packs per hour and offers such environmental benefits as reduced consumption of water and energy.
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About the Author: Peter Kusnic is a Content Writer with The Freedonia Group, where he researches and writes studies focused on an array of industries.