Pack Expo 2009 defied the recession in Las Vegas, with more than 22,700 packaging and processing professionals in attendance. The show took place Oct. 5-7, and its sponsor, PMMI, says it was the second-largest Pack Expo Event since it launched the show in 1995. The show featured 1,140 exhibitors in 521,147 square feet of exhibit hall space, and included packaging innovations focused on speed, agility and sustainability. Here are just a few of the highlights from the show:

Sustainable pallet solution

Rehrig Pacific Co. featured its new plastic formed sheets, which allow beverage companies to form pallets without the need for secondary packaging. The sheets offer both better sustainability features and improved merchandising, as full bottle labels and graphics can be seen through the formed sheets in retail displays. The sheets are made from recycled PET, and they eliminate the need for corrugated boxes, which saves on secondary packaging costs, as well as the need to bale and recycle used corrugated.

In addition, the company discussed its new PubKeg one-way packaging, which it says is perfect for seasonal craft beers. Rehrig Pacific says the PubKeg solves the problems associated with the returnable sixth-barrel keg, and offers a lighter weight, space-saving solution that is easily stackable. The PubKeg also is easy to fill, and fully recyclable.

- Rehrig Pacific Co., 1000 Raco Court, Lawrenceville, Ga. 30045; 700/339-2683;

Automated material handling

Intelligrated was at Pack Expo to talk about its June acquisition of FKI Logistex, which it says has created a new leader in automated material handling. The company also has made an additional investment in the Alvey palletizing and robotics brand, and officially relaunched the brand at the show.

The Alvey brand offers conventional, robotic and hybrid palletizers, conveyor systems, sortation systems, software and controls. Featured at the show was the Alvey 950 Series hybrid palletizer with robotic layer forming, gentle handling that makes it ideal for applications with minimal secondary packaging, and can operate at speeds of more than 100 containers per minute.

- Intelligrated Packaging Systems Inc., 3 Luger Road, Denville, N.J. 07834; 973/664-0020;

Continuous-motion multipacker

Standard-Knapp introduced the Tritium Multipacker, a continuous motion multi-packer capable of handling applications in the beverage, food and personal care industries. With single-, double- and three-lane configurations, the Tritium Multipacker arranges products into compact pack patterns and wraps the configurations in film, eliminating the need for trays and pads. The company says the Tritium Multipacker also has a lower carbon footprint than competing multipackers, thanks to an energy-efficient heat tunnel, and a reduction in packaging material.

- Standard-Knapp Inc., 63 Pickering St., Portland, Conn. 06480; 860/342-1100;

Robotics for palletizing

Kuka Robotics debuted its new KR 700 PA, KR 470 PA and KR 300 PA. The company says the new units are ideal for rigorous palletizing and depalletizing applications. They use large working envelopes, maximize stacking heights and accommodate sizeable end-of-arm tooling while employing useful centers of gravity with payloads of 300 kg., 470 kg. and 700 kg.

The company also showcased its new software program, Layer Tech. The software maximizes pattern creation while minimizing changeover times.

- Kuka Robotics Corp., 22500 Key Drive, Clinton Township, Mich. 48036; 586/465-8855;

Biodegradable PET

GoodPac Plastics highlighted Enso biodegradable PET water bottles with EcoPure. The company represents Enso bottles, made by Resilux America LLC, in the Southeastern United States. The bottles offer the same properties of traditional PET bottles in terms of strength, heat resistance, shelf life and barrier properties. They are recyclable and can be co-mingled with standard PET in the process. The bottles are biodegradable in aerobic (compost) and anaerobic (landfill) conditions, and the company says the process leaves no harmful materials behind. GoodPac bottles range from 8 ounces to 1.5 liters, including a new 10-ounce size, introduced in November.

- GoodPac Plastics Division, Goodwin Enterprises, P.O. Box 16589, Atlanta, Ga. 30321; 404/363-8978;

Shrink-sleeve labelers

Sidel offered the Alfa Rollsleeve rotary labelers for shrink-sleeve applications. The labelers apply roll-fed labels on glass, plastic and metal containers. Speeds range from 25,000 to 50,000 containers per hour. In addition, the shrink sleeve eliminates the need for glues and solvents. Optional elements include steam or air heat shrink tunnel, coder, missing label detector, automatic reel splicing and a device to set partial labels. The Alfa labelers offer an integrated electric panel with air conditioning, simple access to machine components, and a fast and easy changeover format.

- Sidel, 5600 Sun Court, Norcross, Ga. 30092; 678/221-3000;

Shrinkwrapping innovations

Polypack Inc. showed off several of its packaging machines, including the Tango 24 Shrink Wrapper. The machine is an inexpensive, compact, print-registered shrink bundler that offers versatility with three interchangeable infeeds. The Tango 24 is available with an inline infeed, inline flood infeed, side infeed or flight bar infeed. The modules can be changed in less than 10 minutes.

The company also offered its Nested Packs, which use staggered rows to create dense packs that eliminate the need for corrugate. Nesting allows for increased product quantity in the same footprint as traditional bundles. The Polypack fully integrated HandleWrap provides a snag-free carrying handle. The handle remains inside the pack until the consumer pulls it out, and is made from high-tensile film. It can be made from clear, colored or random-pattern printed film.

- Polypack Inc., 3301 Gateway Centre Blvd., Pinellas Park, Fla. 33782; 727/578-5000;

Tamper-evident labeling

PDC International debuted the 60 Series Evolution Shrinksealer, which applies full-height bodysleeving and tamper-evident banding. When the dual-use, mid-speed packaging system is used for shrink-sleeve labeling, it applies full-height bodysleeve labels with primary graphics, and is compatible with jars and bottles. Used for tamper-evident banding, the series applies shrink sleeves as neck bands around the upper portion of a container and its closure, or as full-height safety seals.

The 60 Series uses two servos for product handling and sleeve registration, and the machines operate at 50 to 170 containers per minute. They are compatible with all petroleum-based and sustainable films, including PVC, PET, PETG, OPS and PLA films.

- PDC International Corp., 8 Sheehan Ave., South Norwalk, Conn. 06854; 203/853-1516;

Roll-fed labeling solution

P.E. Labelers highlighted its Roll Adhesleeve, designed to eliminate two problems associated with labeling: hot melt and label cutting. It can handle containers with and without shrinking, only replacing the type of preglued label reel. In addition, it eliminates the need for UV lamps in exchange for a hot air tunnel that shrinks the label. P.E. says the Adhesleeve can save up to 40 percent on the cost of applied and shrunk labels.

- P.E. USA Inc., 11560 Rockfield Court, Cincinnati, Ohio 45241; 513/771-7374;

Energy-efficient case packer

Schneider Packaging Equipment Co. and Rockwell Automation teamed up on the HCP-10 case packer. Designed with energy-efficient components, the case packer showcases sustainable machine design. It handles a wide range of products and pack patterns and provides easy solutions to machine jams. Users simply open the guard door, remove the product and resume production in less than one minute.

Rockwell Automation provided solutions to monitor and control the case packer, including an Allen-Bradley CompactLogix Programmable Automation Controller that manages everything from accumulating and loading product to sealing and labeling filled cases.

- Schneider Packaging Equipment Co., 5370 Guy Young Road, Brewerton, N.Y. 13029; 315/676-3035;

- Rockwell Automation, 1201 S. Second St., Milwaukee, Wis. 53204; 414/382-2000;

Meridian multipacker

R.A. Jones & Co. introduced the Meridian XR Machine for the beverage industry. The Meridian XR provides high output and application adaptability for can and bottle applications. Standard features include metric stainless steel design, tool-less changeover and can and bottle sizes from 6- to 24-ounces. The machine can be configured for single-tier four- to 24-packs. Dual pitch provides pack speeds up to 300 packs per minute at the lowest possible linear speeds for less wear on components. To further enhance operational efficiency, changeovers can be performed in 10 to 30 minutes. Standard features include coupled servos and belt drives providing automatic pitch changes on the transport during size changeovers and smooth pick-off and opening on the three-head rotary carton feed.

- R.A. Jones & Co., 2701 Crescent Springs Road, Covington, Ky. 41017; 859/341-0400;

Flexible caser

Westfalia Deam Systems announced the latest addition to its line of case packers, the Fractional Carton Caser. The high-speed, flexible caser packs 240 cartons per minute into single cases using a four-by-four packing pattern. It has a servo-control load head to adjust to fractions of quart-side cartons, and is height-adjustable. It comes with dual-infeed carton conveyors, case conveyors and motor controls for incoming conveyors. The Fractional Carton Caser is constructed of stainless steel and is ideal for wet plant environments.

- Westfalia Technologies Inc., 3655 Sandhurst Drive, York, Pa. 17406; 717/764-1115;

Environmental packaging solutions

NextLife Packaging Group was at the show to talk about its mission to provide environmental packaging solutions using materials containing post-consumer recycled content. Some of the company’s products include bottles, lids, rollstock, trays, clamshells, blister and club packs. Materials include PET, PP, HIPS, HDPE and LDPE. In addition to the packages, the company offers eco-marketing expertise and support, as well as branding strategies for licensees, environmental guidance and brand advocacy, and supply chain collaboration.

- NextLife, 6800 Broken Sound Pkwy., Suite 300, Boca Raton, Fla. 33487;