Flexibility- The key to hitting the market faster and more efficiently

Agility and flexibility are among the most essential assets any modern production environment can possess, so OEMs must help their customers by delivering machines and technologies that can keep pace with modern consumer demands

Today’s modern consumer market is all about choice; not just between companies, but within brands too, as flavours, formats, portion sizes and packaging arrays are created to cater for every single market demographic.

As a result of these demands, those that supply these consumer markets – both globally and locally – have to exploit production and packaging technology that delivers the maximum possible agility. They need to get to market quickly to cater for what are becoming shorter and shorter windows of opportunity.

Modern automation has a huge role to play in the flexibility of contemporary packaging lines. But it is how this technology is deployed and exploited that makes the real difference. There has to be a perfect marriage of electrical, mechanical and electromechanical systems in order to create the best possible agility; and this is where packaging machine companies can differentiate themselves.

However, like many modern business challenges, machine builders and their end-user customers have to think holistically too. They cannot consider technology or vertical capabilities in isolation. They have to see them as part of a system, cell or line and – especially important during this era of Industry 4.0 – how they all talk to each other and feed back into enterprise systems.

This all-important, integration-driven flexibility is a cornerstone of the Smart Packaging Hub; an initiative created by six like-minded companies that recognize the pressures end users are under. They have created a virtual space, where uses can not only discover modern solutions to both new and existing challenges, but also witness examples of technological innovation and digitalization in action.

The founder companies all offer advanced packaging solutions that are regularly co-located in applications around the globe. The Smart Packaging Hub formalizes this common relationship and illustrates a synergistic approach to solving issues at all phases of the packaging lifecycle. This integration and flexibility ultimately delivers greater efficiencies and reduces TCO as tailor-made solutions work with each other to conquer even the most demanding applications.

Opem is a specialist in fully customized coffee packaging machines.

This flexibility start with the product’s shape, size and material and is then enhanced with appropriate technology that can fit the available real estate. Indeed, adaptation to local conditions and downstream supply lines is a regular feature of Opem designs.

With customization described as a ‘state of mind’ with the company, it can address the needs of small or large companies and can deliver best-fit solution to meet the precise needs of a huge variety of applications – from boutique grinders up to large multinationals.

Zacmi, a specialist in can filling and seaming has also recognized the need to deliver maximum flexibility from single machines, both in terms of packaging materials and formats and the foodstuff being packaged. In many cases it can supply a single machine where other competitors would need to supply two or more, all thanks to its advanced filling technology; all of which can be controlled by a single HMI.

Flexibility does not necessarily equate to added complexity. Cama Group offers secondary packaging machines that include fully automated changeover from one packaging ‘recipe’ to another. Full servo control removes the possibility of human error and can deliver error-free format changes in under 15 minutes.

Baumer has an ethos to deliver secondary packaging machinery that can simplify operation and deliver maximum flexibility. Indeed, some of its tailor made single-machine solutions can cater for over 60 different formats, while others deliver solutions implemented on shrink wrappers and wrap-around case packers on a single machine, which can easily switch between film only to tray & film or pad & film or wrap-around carton.

Clevertech sees data and digitalization as key tools towards flexibility and exploits modern automation and robotic technology to this end. Fast changeover, rapid adaptation and the ability to handle multiple product and packaging arrays is essential towards addressing the needs of end users and their very demanding customers.

Finally, Tosa’s stretch-wrapping machines can adapt to a wide range of pallets and can perform various wrapping recipes, therefore not requiring a manual format change. This is possible thanks to a series of systems that optimize and adjust the countless control parameters during the wrapping phase, like the optimization of film distribution called “strategic film positioning”.

On their own, these companies represent the pinnacle of packaging solutions and technology, but when put together, they create entire packaging infrastructures that define best practice in terms of efficiency, flexibility and adaptability.

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