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Interpack Auf jeden Eimer Liste! AIP Report

Tuesday, 12 August 2014
By Print 21 Online Article

Anyone involved in the packaging Industry will have a visit to Interpack, the biennial packaging show held in Dusseldorf Germany, on top of their bucket list1 . A bucket needs to be of a size that when filled is still manageable. Unfortunately many Australians have overflowing buckets, and despite all good intentions never make the trip to Interpack. Michael B Halley reports on the report.

But several members of the Australian Institute of Packaging [AIP] and the Australian Packaging and Processing Machinery Association [APPMA] were able to convince their company to send them on the mission of a lifetime.

Having returned safely and with a bucket brimming with new and exciting information five of our colleagues formed a panel and passed on the information gleaned. By any measure the evening was an outstanding success with the car parks at the venue filled to overflowing.

The session was entitled Packaging and Processing Innovations Discovered at Interpack 2014 and the five presenters were: –

  • Stephen Flaherty AAIP Marketing and Retail Manager Confoil Pty Ltd
  • Ian Hayes FAIP Innovation Manager Packaging Murray Goulburn Co-operative Co Ltd
  • Mark Dingley General Manger Operations Matthews Australasia and Chairman of APPMA
  • Claude D’Amico MAIP Market Development Manager Innovia Films Asia Pacific
  • Jason Goode MAIP Packaging Development Manager Simplot Australia

2,700 exhibitors from more than 60 countries presented their latest ideas, innovative concepts and technological visions. The innovations were not only in equipment and machinery for packaging and processing, but also in production tools for packaging materials, materials themselves, and services for the entire industry.

As the five presenters opened their memory chest and related their insights the audience were held almost silent and absorbed the information delivered. But each to his own, and it was certain that specific industry appropriate attention is necessary at Interpack. It is obviously no place for “tyre kickers” but even those would glean some worthwhile information.

Steve Flaherty opened the proceedings and even skipped his meal as appointments interstate called him away. His address was entitled Expectations versus Experience and he explained that the show is not for the unfit or scatter brains as the week is simply not long enough to cover all contingencies.

So you need to plan and prepare and stick to a schedule as you move around the nineteen [19] exhibition halls that were attended by 175 thousand visitors. Everything is on a mammoth scale with exhibition stands as big as 150 by 50 metres and the whole arena ten times bigger than the Melbourne Exhibition Centre [Jeff’s Shed].

The main emphasis of Steve’s story was the Innovationparc Packaging that was dedicated to saving food through improved packaging. Globally one third of the food produced is not able to be processed or later wasted by consumers the sum total is one point three billion tonnes.

Some exciting case studies from Kenya where localised distribution centres rather than large remote units have seen improved yields and increased supply chain efficiencies.

Kortec a company out of USA took Steve’s attention with their Klear Can. Clear PP plastic cans for food manufacturing – allows consumers to see the food whilst maintaining extended shelf life, as well as shape they are used to. The claim is extended shelf life up to five years and the can is retortable as well as letting consumers see the contents thus enhancing buying decisions.

Other exhibitors given credence were:-

RPC out of the UK displaying an innovative tamper evident pack called Bebo Swing

BIO4 Pack Based in Germany, known for compostable fruit and vegetable packaging and shopping bags that are fully compostable. The tray, top film, label & absorption pad in tray are compostable

His stand out was an innovative palletising system called Langhammer “the wave” palletising system which was given to delegates as homework.  Unlike typical clamp gripper systems that apply pressure on the product layer “The Wave” positions the layer without pressure.

Our own Amcor Launched “N-Guage” film for processed meats it has high barrier and peel ability qualities.

The whole evening could have been allocated to Steve but his time had come as he went off to ponder the packaging of aircraft food.

Mark Dingley stepped up and reinforced the scope and that Interpack is a true international trade show with 75% of exhibitors being non German and 66% of delegates being from beyond the border.

He seized on resource efficiency for plant and machinery as well as for packaging material usage and anti-counterfeiting technologies as his bring-home disciplines. Diversity and flexibility to cater for wider range and shorter product cycles were also noted.

As would be expected the chair of APPMA focused on machinery and gave this message: –

Use equipment to get a jump on your competitors.

Some businesses are only now realising the power of packaging equipment in giving them a competitive advantage.

Opportunity for both equipment suppliers and manufacturers.

He then went on the discuss in some detail the Total Cost of Ownership [TCO] which in summary was  that Capital Cost is only one part of the equation. Manufacturers should be focused on the total cost of ownership, not just the initial investment. He likened it to an iceberg where the hidden costs are below the waterline

He said innovations displayed at Interpack proved ità choose the right technologies to benefit from real productivity gains.

But unless you have Overall Equipment Efficiency the battle is harder. At Interpack 2014, there was a huge emphasis on having access to OEE data in-line. This enables manufacturers to see precisely when and where the equipment is failing, or is not up to standard, and fix it before it impacts the bottom line.

Mark finished with praise for Rockwell and the company’s Convergence Ready technology which merges automation and IT to Line and Site Data to deliver improved real time information to business.

Claude D’Amico gave his thoughts about food wastage when relating that the main fare at Interpack was pork knuckles and white asparagus. But he, having manned an exhibition stand, may not have ventured far, however food safety and combatting waste is the main focus of Innovia as it pushes forward with non-fossil fuel plastics.

Innovia is a leading global producer of speciality high performance Biaxially Oriented Polypropylene (BOPP) and Cellulose based films for the packaging, labels and security markets

The United Nations Save Food Imitative melds with the bio-plastics industry which has focused strongly upon the need to reduce waste and improve yields. But improved yields alone will not be enough as the world’s population is forecasted to be 9.6 billion by 2050.

With more and more affluence overtaking developing countries the outlook is not good. There is no doubt that affluence encourages waste!

Claude stated that Bioplastics still has some way to go to be totally compostable but new thinking is for less emphasis on end-of-life / composting and much more on renewable content done sustainably.

We then had a “commercial break” as NatureFlex innovations in the tea and coffee markets were explained. This market segment seems to have taken the initiative and is keeping sustainability packaging on the boil!

Innovia analysed the attendees at their stand and it was encouraging to find that even at Interpack the Anzacs still take on the world. Whilst only 35 Aussies and Kiwis called in to chat with Claude per capita we beat the Europeans with 500 million hands down with 1.40 being the rate of enquiry per million of population.

Claude gave these thoughts and observations before handing over to Ian Hayes to continue the information evening.

Interpack is attended by decision makers and decision influencers

Interpack is a great place to see innovations, but also a great place to be seen if you are selling into the ANZ market

Suggestion to potential exhibitors: Visitors need a face they recognise at the stand

So Ian who organised 30% of his meetings had beforehand, complimented others when he advised that allowing a couple of days after the event is advantageous as you can often organise post exhibition site visits.

Ian is now in the dairy industry and gave some insights into packaging in this global market. But he ventured into other segments as would be expected from a person with such a wide base of packaging involvements.

He explained that the European Community taxes plastics severely which has led to much innovation and combining of materials. Fortunately the tax does not apply to technology only finished products.  He mentioned the company Promens that has developed a paper and plastic container to minimise tax and satisfy consumer needs.

Also mentioned was a plastic aerosol called Aero Pack that uses air to dispense product. The Bosch BLO linear PET container blowing machine that allows both dairy and beverage producers to package their products in a wide range of container shapes, styles and sizes was given critical oversight by Ian.

The Old Rivers Pattruss Pouch was certainly innovative. It is a pyramid shaped pack that is laser perforated so that the pouch can be opened and then becomes a dispenser for serving the food.

But his heart strings had been tugged by Digital Printing and particularly his attendance at the HP Digital Seminar. Ian’s waking moments appear to be a continuation of thinking about ways to use this technology. He expressed surprise when he found that there are already more than 100 HP digital printers in Australia.

No doubt others will be also asking what application they can have for this technology. Bread manufacturer Hovis in England produces Daily Bread wrapped in paper that has the daily news printed thereon.

Ian’s time had come as Jason Goode was anxious to grab the spotlight. He told us that Interpack is a great place to glean information that otherwise may go unnoticed.

He attended the Safe Food Expo that again highlighted importance packaging plays to protect and extend the usable life of food.  At EMPAC (European Metal Packaging Association) who were able to provide information relating to  all the negativity about BPA lining in food containers and how this has been found wanting by the European Food Safety Authority, FDA and FSANZ that after exhaustive studies concluded that BPA at the current limits in food contact packaging is safe.

Similar to the aforementioned Promens paper and poly laminates are burgeoning in Europe and some exciting developments are resulting. One such is the Easylid that removes the need to over cap the seal on a food container.

Jason noted the application of larger tear tabs to assist the elderly or infirm to open containers. He also noted new foamed multilayer films. Hard to imagine, but nine layers of film gauge out at 25 microns!

Many machine operations are getting attention as the focus is on lean designs and the rapid change of operational equipment through automatic servo driven line changes.  Additionally, advancing technologies such as a remote camera worn by the mechanic in one country giving immediate access to a technician overseas who has the same view of the problem area. The technician can see exactly what is before them and offer the solution in real time.

Extending shelf life of packaged foods is high on most agendas as even a few days will reduce waste and further the cause of sustainability. Jason was supported by others at question time when he proffered that our small population reduces our ability to foster new technologies produced locally. However, the prohibitive cost to a single operative could be viable if the technology and capital requirements could be leveraged across other categories through cooperative effort by manufacturers.

So we moved to a panel discussion and audience participation. Salient points noted were:-

Since the last Interpack the internet has had the major impact on real time information.

Convenience and functionality are the club house leaders.

Resource efficiency and renewable substrates has burgeoned.

Biomass is not using food stock and has found many new uses for waste materials.

Germany and other Governments are talking about the next industrial revolution classed as IR 4.0.

On the other hand Australian governments continue to pay lip service and engage in petty squabbles. [What happened to cutting red and green tape Tony?]

There is a need for an Australian Standard for packaging as the industry is still fragmented.

Overall the annex of Interpack at Box Hill can only be classed as a success. More than two and a half times as many people than the 35 that visited Claude in Dusseldorf crammed into a room smaller than the large display stand mentioned by Steve Flaherty.

[1]. The Bucket List is a 2007 American comedy-drama film. The main plot follows two terminally ill men on their road trip with a wish list of things to do before they “kick the bucket“. Those who travelled to Interpack First or Business Class would have had the trip on their Bouquet List!

Written by Michael B Halley FAIP

Thursday, 7 August 2014

Reviewed by presenters