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drinktec 2009 presents: Machines for final packaging and palletising

The final packaging of beverages is one of the most important selling points in the trade, as people are keen to buy goods that are attractive and practical.

Consumers like to be able to choose, try products out, be surprised and won over by new flavours, new convenience packaging and new brands. New and constantly changing preferences have been leading to ever increasing product diversification for years. In parallel to this the stockpiling mentality has given way to spontaneous purchasing: consumers are buying small packs much more often, for example multipacks or individual bottles. These trends are having a serious effect on the entire process chain in the beverage industry – resulting in new demands for the industry with regard to final packaging and palletising in particular.

A large number of exhibitors are displaying their latest packaging machinery and palletising equipment at drinktec 2009, World Fair for Beverage and Liquid Food Technology, from 14 to 19 September 2009 in Munich. Over an area of 132,000 square metres, drinktec 2009 provides an complete overview of packing and unpacking machines, multipack assembly machinery, palletisers and depalletisers, discharging equipment, conveyors and magazines.

Also being displayed are picking systems, warehousing systems, ground conveyors and transportation systems. In addition the drinktec forum programme on Tuesday 15 September is focusing on everything to with the topic ‘Environment and packaging’ (Forum 1, Hall A2). One of the lecture blocks on Wednesday 16 September will be on ‘Practical operations: filling and packaging systems’, also in Forum 1, Hall A2. Simultaneous translation into German and English is available for all lectures.

Almost unlimited optionsA wide range of packaging options is demanded today by the industry, and also by the trade and consumers: cans, glass or plastic containers in wrap-around cartons with or without separators, in a tray with or without film, on a cardboard base pad wrapped in film, packed in cardboard or just shrink-wrapped with no pad or tray. Shrink wrapping in particular is widely used and – a ‘weighty’ argument in these times of the carbon footprint – is relatively energy-saving.

The thinner the film, the greater the saving, so development is tending towards extremely thin films. However the trend for material saving applies in general to all packaging materials, a fact that will also be corroborated at drinktec 2009. The machine manufacturers are constantly optimizing the packaging machines needed to produce shrink packaging, with an eye on good accessibility, fast refit, good reproducibility, and to improve the shrinkage process to give good shrink quality and the aforementioned energy reduction.

On the other hand, multipack systems are on offer for wrap-around bottle clip packaging and basket packs. Continuously running multipack machines group cans and glass and plastic containers together and then fold pre-cut flat cardboard boxes around the containers. Some packaging machines are designed on a modular principle so that users have a system set-up that is as flexible as possible to accommodate future tasks.

If the technical solution can grow along with the user’s requirements, it makes it even easier to retrofit the packaging technology they might want in the future. Of course classic pick-and-place packer will also still be used, mainly for returnable systems, such as bottle crates. Flexible container grouping and palletingBefore final palleting, the non-returnable containers that have just been manufactured must be grouped together appropriately. Various systems have been developed to group containers efficiently and flexibly, either using robotic systems or turning stations. It is also essential to be able to accommodate the increasing demand for orders that involve picking different types of containers, which will then be brought together on one pallet as a product mix.

The trend for flexible packaging units favours the use of robots for palleting machines. The more diverse the packaging and palletising task, the more relevant multifunctional robots become, as they can take on additional tasks such as inserting intermediate layers or preparing pallets.

By contrast, conventional machine technology with its layer processing continues to be a good alternative to robot technology, for high-performance tasks in particular. The last stage of final packaging is securing the fully laden pallets with bands, cords, winding film or shrink film. A glance at the status quo shows that there is a huge variety of final packaging options and the appropriate machine technology to go with it. All these developments can be seen and directly compared at drinktec 2009. It will be exciting for visitors to see the many innovative processes.

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