Despite the threat from Hurricane Sandy, Pack Expo International 2012, hosted by the Packaging Machinery Manufacturers Institute (PMMI), topped 2010 numbers. The four-day event, which took place Oct. 28-31 in Chicago, covered more than 1.1 million net square feet in McCormick Place with 1,965 exhibiting companies and 45,300 attendees — an increase of more than 6 percent for space, 8 percent for exhibiting companies and 3 percent for attendees compared with Pack Expo International 2010. For the beverage industry, the event offered specialized pavilions and lounges including The Brand Zone, The Processing Zone and The Beverage Cooler Lounge. This was the first year for The Beverage Cooler Lounge, which was sponsored by the International Society of Beverage Technologists.

“The Beverage Cooler Lounge provided a great gathering place for beverage professionals,” says Larry Hobbs, executive director of ISBT. “The visibility of the lounge allowed us to easily connect with attendees who participated in the ISBT educational sessions as well as attendees who weren’t familiar with ISBT prior to attending Pack Expo. This show continues to be an excellent resource for the ISBT, as it connects our supplier members with their customers and also offers the technical education that is the foundation of our society. We’re looking forward to 2013 in Las Vegas.”

The following are exhibit highlights from beverage-related companies at the show:


A-B-C Packaging Machine Corp. showcased its wash-down-ready, stainless steel palletizer that was designed for caustic and corrosive environments and handles up to four layers a minute. It also highlighted its Intelligent Control Electronics touch-screen operator panels, which offer full reporting, diagnostics and control. It also demonstrated its Model 330HS case erector sealing with H.B. Fuller’s Liquamelt cool adhesive, which offers a 60 percent energy savings because the adhesive does not need to be heated until the end of the process.


AmbaFlex highlighted its SpiralVeyor SV, SpiralVeyor SV300 “Slim Line,” SpiralVeyor SVX, SpiralVeyor SV-ML, SpiralVeyor SVM, SpiralConnect and AccuVeyor spiral conveyors, which capitalize on the vertical space of a facility.


American Holt showcased its portfolio of reverse-engineered, aftermarket machine parts.


Avery Dennison demonstrated its WashOff labels that peel off in hot water as well as its Bottle-to-Bottle labels that rise to the top of the recycling stream. The company also highlighted its Z3338 pressure-sensitive adhesive label, which holds tight against cold bottles.


Big Ass Fans showcased its wash-down fan, which is made from stainless steel and features food-grade oil.


Bosch Packaging Technology introduced to North America the SurePouch, a line of reclosable, flexible pouches with a wide range of applications from retail to foodservice. The packs are filled on the new SurePouch clean-fill machine series (SPC), which are roll-fed vertical form, fill and seal (VFFS) machines with a small footprint of 6 square meters. The SPC can produce four different pouch formats. The formats EZPouch, EZGable and EZSquare, with filling volumes from 100 ml to 5 liters, offer flexible applications for retail. For foodservice, the EZPillow can hold up to 20 liters, allowing for easy and quick refilling. All formats are produced, filled and sealed by the same machine.


Closure Systems International emphasized the move toward lightweight caps and closures in the beverage industry.


Unveiling its latest innovation, Columbia Machine highlighted its FL3000-R, a high-speed, floor-level hybrid palletizer featuring Columbia’s R-Factor technology. The hybrid solution marries robotic capability and a conventional palletizer design into one package that can achieve more than 80 cases a minute, based on pattern, the company says. Columbia’s safety package is included on all Columbia palletizers and contains Category 3 electrical safety components including Allen Bradley’s SensaGuard dual circuit safety interlocks and Sick type 4 light curtains, it adds.


Delkor Systems introduced a number of new packaging machines, including the Model 650 case packer, which can reject a defective product without stopping production, and a packaging line including Delkor’s Trayfecta carton former, Robotic Loader and Capstone S2 1500 carton closer with Intelligent Positioning technology. It also showcased its new FLC-60 integrated former/loader/closer with linear servo tracking that operates at speeds as fast as 90 cartons a minute in a compact footprint. The new Capstone L1 carton lidder is ideal for retail-ready package options, and the new LIF 650 case packer with integrated case closer has the flexibility to load multiple case pack patterns in a single, compact packaging line. Its new Flex Loader Model 500, 650 and 1000 case packers have the ability to handle multiple product shapes and sizes at speeds as fast as 700 containers a minute.


Domino Amjet promoted its range of coding solutions for the beverage industry. For primary coding, the company offers its Continuous Ink Jet A-Series and its Laser D-Series. For secondary and tertiary coding, it highlighted its outer case coding and print-and-apply labeling for its A-Series, C-Series, G-Series, M-Series and M-Series Pallet Labeller.


Showcasing its varying degree of automation, Douglas Machine featured numerous machines from its portfolio. Among the products included were its Contour Series shrink wrap systems, Axiom ARC Series, Axiom IM Series case tray packers, TriVex Series top load case packer, Apex Series servo sleevers, VS Series shrink wrappers and its Vectra Series cartoner.


Evergreen Packaging promoted the branding opportunities that paper carton packaging offers. The company also showcased its Extended Long Life EQ-70 gable top packaging machine with Spout-Pak at the booth. The EQ-70 features servo technology, which provides processors with repeatable package performance, the company says. Fill volume on the machine is 6 to 32 ounces at speeds as fast as 7,200 cartons an hour on quarts/liters and 9,000 cartons an hour on fractionals.


Exopack highlighted its AquaCrystal shrink bundling films for multi-packs of canned or bottled food and beverages. The AquaCrystal CW is ideal for non-printed distribution applications and features high shrink force and excellent bullseye formation; the AquaCrystal GP features a high-performance, versatile coex film for all applications with excellent optics, high shrink force and optimum bullseye formation; and AquaCrystal XP is ideal for unsupported nested case packs and offers excellent optics, high shrink force and optimum bullseye formation, the company says.


Ferrum Ltd. promoted its can seamer capabilities for the beverage industry.


Fort Dearborn showcased its cut-and-stack, pressure-sensitive and shrink-sleeve portfolio with sustainability options for each.


Introducing a patent-pending, automated process for robotic uncasing and collating of variety packs, Hartness International featured the robotic tool and process within its Hartness Systems Integration loop.


Intelligrated showcased the Alvey 952-2 hybrid palletizer, which features an on-board stretch bander that adds stability to otherwise unstable loads and an integrated control system that allows both the conventional palletizer and its robotic arms to operate from a single PLC. Ideal for reduced secondary packaging applications that require gentle handling, the Alvey 950 series hybrid palletizer integrates robotic arms with a conventional high-speed palletizer to increase pattern flexibility and facilitate quick product changeover.


ITW Muller unveiled several new technologies. The company highlighted improvements to its Octopus line of automatic rotary ring stretch wrappers. On display, the Octopus “S” Series has been newly designed and will feature a load stabilizer, new load lift conveyer and No Touch No Tail (NT²) seaming device. The Octopus “B” Series features the companies’ LogoWrap and Tail Tucker upgrades. Both the Octopus S and B Series come equipped with the new patented Easy S Film Carriage, which enables simple film loading, maximizes pre-stretch performance and minimizes wear, the company says. In addition, ITW Muller also unveiled the latest enhancement to its Raptor Series of semi-automatic turntable machines: Raptor Plus. The machine, which can wrap up to 35 loads an hour, has adjustable carriage and turntable speeds. The Raptor Plus has a motorized power pre-stretch system with adjustable film tension control that guarantees users optimal film usage, it says. The company also showcased its GaleWrap’s GW-4100 robotic pallet wrapper.


JBT Corp. demonstrated its laser-guided automated guided vehicle (AGV), which can carry up to 2,500 pounds and reach 12 feet high.


Showcasing the latest design of its K-series packaging machines, KHS USA Inc. highlighted its Innopouch K400, a simplex/duplex machine capable of forming/filling and sealing large one-up pouches or smaller two-up pouches. The machine is equipped with the iTrak system from Jacobs Automation, a Rockwell Automation Encompass Product Partner.


Klüber Lubrication offered information about the benefits of switching to food-grade lubricants. It also highlighted its line of food-grade lubricants and Klübermatic single-point lubricators.


Krones demonstrated its Sleevematic ES, FlexiFruit filler, Kosmie filler/rinser/labeler and Contiform rotary blow molder. The Sleevematic ES saves material, energy and facility space because it does not require a shrink tunnel. The company’s Kosmie line is ideal for craft brewing, operating at mid to low speeds. It also uses the company’s new EvoGuard valve technology. The Contiform blow molder is servo-driven, requiring minimal maintenance, and recycles compressed air, which saves money. Krones also highlighted its LitePac handlestrap carrier and Triple S stretch sleever, which enables labels to float to the surface for easy removal in the recycling stream.


Noting the cost that damaged product has on overall business, Lantech highlighted a 10-step process for damage reduction through more effective stretch wrapping. Among the 10 steps is measuring containment force, which is part of its new Wrap Data feature available for its L-Series stretch wrapping machines. Wrap Data eliminates the need for manual measurement, the company says. As the load exits the conveyor, the display screen will either turn red to warn of an unsafe load or green instructing that the product features the proper containment force, it adds. The company also highlighted the cost overbilling can have on customer relationships. Lantech’s EZ Weigh Integrated Scale option, available on all but one of the company’s turntable semi-automatic stretch wrappers, provides a practical, affordable solution by allowing shippers to wrap and weigh each load simultaneously, it says.


Promoting safety and clean design standards, Linker Equipment Corp. highlighted its range of goods and services for the beverage industry. The company shared information about its RFC water fillers, P-RFC isobaric fillers, P-RFC isobaric PET fillers dedicated for beer and PG-RFC pressure gravity fillers. It also highlighted its MF-BPH Carbo-Coolers 5 gallon equipment mix-processors, packing and unpacking machines, conveyor systems, palletizers, depalletizers, and warming and cooling tunnels.


Lubriplate Lubricants Co. promoted its line of services and products, which includes free solutions for consolidating lubricants and a free tag system for organizing lubricants for all Lubriplate customers. 


MRI Packaging showcased its C-Fit shrink sleeve, which features less material weight and lower energy costs because it does not require heat.


Nordson Corp. and Henkel announced that they have established a global alliance on new technology development for the packaging market worldwide. At Pack Expo, the companies previewed one of the first offerings to result from their alliance: the new Freedom System. The system combines Nordson’s Freedom Series Hot Melt Dispensing equipment with Henkel’s Technomelt Freedom-certified adhesives to help customers contain costs and simplify operations to increase productivity, reliability and sustainability, they report. This optimized combination of adhesive and equipment is in selected field tests now with a full commercial launch anticipated in the first quarter of 2013.


Orbis Corp. hosted a panel about global trends in reusable packaging. The panel discussed how packaging drives environmental and financial sustainability, operational efficiency as well as other key benefits and trends. Orbis also showcased its enhanced RackoCell 40-by-48-inch pallet. The RackoCell is molded into one piece of polypropylene copolymer to offer enhanced stiffness and edge-racking performance up to 2,200 pounds and features flow-through design that washes and drains quickly for high sanitation, according to the company.


Overnight Labels highlighted its roll-to-roll beverage labels and spot printing foil using white or clear BOPP.


PakTech showcased its single- and multi-serve plastic handles for beverage applications.


Highlighting numerous product offerings for beverage manufacturers, P.E. Labelers USA promoted its ADHESleeve. The roll-fed labeler features glue strips that are applied to the label during the film converting process. Its modular technology also is able to fit all available labeling solutions ― cold glue, self-adhesive, hot-melt and roll-fed ― on a single labeler. Also available for beverage-makers are its Rollmatic rotary hot-melt labelers for roll-fed wrap-around labels and its Roll Line model, which is suitable for only cylindrical containers and is available for production speeds between 6,000 and 24,000 bottles an hour.


PDC International Corp. showcased its Gen V robot controller, which is smaller and lower to the ground, offering the user an increased field of view compared with previous models. It also highlighted the following machines: its PDC R-500 TS-CB Shrinklabeler, a new high-speed, single-head shrink-sleeve labeler that can apply shrink sleeves at speeds between 500 and 600 labels a minute; its PDC R-400 cup and tub shrink labeler that handles different package types at speeds of up to 400 containers a minute; its KST 140-712 Dual Zone Steam Tunnel, a dual-wall, dual-zone system that can accommodate a variety of containers at a rate of 300 containers a minute; and its F-160 Evolution Shrinkbander, a system for applying shrink bands around the lids of tapered and straight-wall tubs.


Several of ProMach’s divisions highlighted products at the show. Fowler showcased its 14-head electronic screw capper, six-head roll-on capper, compact waterfall sorter, Claranor cap treatment system and Perrier four-station bottle rinsing system. ID Technology highlighted its small character inkjet printing, laser coding, hi-res case coding and automatic label printer applicator. Axon unveiled the new Aurora SS system with graphical operator instructions. It also demonstrated the EZ-130 sleeve applicator with the EZ-100 tamper-evident band applicator, EZ-Seal 400SL sleeve applicator, EZ-100HSX tamper-evident band applicator and a ThermoPoint steam tunnel. Brenton demonstrated a complete end-of-line system that integrates a new Brenton Pro Mach-2 case packer with a Currie by Brenton robotic palletizer. Edson demonstrated an integrated end-of-line system featuring its SR3550 case packer that collates and loads cartoned product into a case. Federal demonstrated a monoblock ESL net-weight filler/capper with 30 valve fillers and a 10-station pick-and-place capper turret. iPak Machinery introduced its multi-functional TF-350CF and retail-focused TF-200TQ tray and bliss forming systems to the S-Series family. Matrix showcased the new Triton XL and Matrix X vertical bagging systems. Orion highlighted its new Flex S model of stretch packaging equipment. Shuttleworth featured its product handling solutions using Machine Vision capabilities and EasyClean technology designed for wash-down environments. Ossid showcased its newly designed Genesis high-speed stretch overwrap machine, its Integrity horizontal form-fill-seal machine and its weigh price labeler. Rennco highlighted its Model 301 packaging system with a belt infeed that automatically loads the product into the packager to maintain optimum packaging speeds. It also featured its VerticL-PP packaging system for packaging multiple items in a pouch configuration. Roberts PolyPro introduced its new semi-automatic bottle handle applicator that packs cases or trays of product at speeds between 14 and 17 cases a minute.


Rehrig Pacific Co. demonstrated its Sixth Barell PubKeg recyclable, plastic keg by using it to distribute root beer to show attendees. It also highlighted its KegRack Delivery System, which allows drivers to store kegs in the horizontal position for easy identification and picking, and its EZ Pal One-Touch ergonomic delivery system. 


Highlighting its case-packing solutions, RockTenn highlighted its Meta Systems technology. Its Meta 8 features automation that forms cases around the mandrel on Meta System machines and offers production rates of as many as 60 cases a minute, depending on the dimensions of the die-cut blanks. Meta 8 cases have high-stacking compression due to the precision assembly of the flat die-cut blanks and formation around a metal mandrel, the company says. The company also promoted its Meta CD, a two-piece shelf-ready case display. The use of two distinct die-cut blanks optimize bottom and cover combinations according to the type of product, it notes. The bottom and cover can be preprinted with one to eight different colors separately on white or off-white backgrounds.


Ryson showcased its line of spiral conveyors. Its standard case spiral conveyor features eight or nine turns; its high-capacity spiral conveyor can be more than 30 feet tall; its Mass Flow spiral conveyor handles single units and is popular in the bottling industry; and the high-capacity version of its Mass Flow enables the conveyor to go higher and carry more weight.


Schneider Packaging Equipment Co. Inc. highlighted supply chain solutions including its E3 Robox Palletizer. E3 stands for efficient, economical and easy-to-own. With the ability to handle cases or bundles, the E3 Robox palletizer can handle as many as 24 cycles a minute and heights up to 70 inches high. Operation of the single-load palletizer allows the operator to select which product is to be palletized on the provided human machine interface. The operator manually loads the empty pallet into the cell and presses the start button. Once sufficient product is available on the supplied infeed conveyor, the robot will pick the product and place it on the pallet in the pre-programmed pattern. A product track/trace option also is available. Additional products include its High Speed Laner Conveyor, VPN-Remote Diagnostics, the Schneider Tray Packer and its self-contained system Pro-Adjust. The system automatically adjusts any make of machine for various SKUs, products and case sizes, it says.


One of the sponsors for The Beverage Cooler Lounge, Sidel highlighted some of the latest advancements from its subsidiary Cermex, a division of the Tetra Laval group. Cermex recently developed a new solution for collating products on its shrink-wrappers in order to create honeycombed packs. These staggered bottle configurations offer many advantages for both bottlers and customers in terms of packaging stability, originality, automation, and accrued economic and ecological benefits, the company says. Cermex has developed a patented solution to equip both existing and future ranges of shrink-wrappers, TS as well as VersaFilm, with the two types of honeycombed packs solutions. Fitted within the collating flight bar system, between the selecting system and the lapping module, the equipment requires no machine extension and is composed of mechanical adjustments designed to ensure quick implementation and simplified functioning, it notes. Depending on the requirements of their distribution network, customers can continue to handle two types of product collation — traditional packs and honeycombed packs — on the same machine. The system can be dismantled and guarantees total machine flexibility whilst maintaining speeds from 30 to 100 packs a minute depending on the honeycombed pack shape, and a format changeover time of about 15 minutes, it says.


Showcasing its latest in inspection equipment, Teledyne Taptone shared information about its TapTone 4000-FSB. Containing all of the features and inspection capabilities of its standard 4000-FS system, the 4000-FSB is designed to accommodate conveyor heights up to 77 inches. The system inspects 100 percent of containers at production line speeds and is manufactured with a stainless steel transport system for harsh environments. The company also highlighted its TotalVu vision sensor, which includes a fully integrated “smart” camera designed to capture multiple inspections in a single pass, it says. Also available for inspection is the 4000-Dual Sensor Compression (DSC) system, which is designed to inspect a wide variety of flexible containers for micro leaks.


Videojet Technologies Inc. introduced two next-generation printers to its 1000 Line: the 1550 and 1650 inkjet printers. Designed with new features to promote productivity and profitability, the 1550 and 1650 inkjet printers provide metrics to measure as well as the tools to measure and improve uptime and Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE), the company says. Simple to operate, the 1550 and 1650 also include Code Assurance features to help reduce coding errors and ensure the right code is printed on the right products. The 1550 and 1650 printers reduce unplanned downtime through features like the patented CleanFlow printhead and Dynamic Calibration ink flow system. Designed to resist ink build-up that can lead to a shutdown, both the 1550 and 1650 possess an auto-cleaning function, meaning there are less frequent printhead cleanings and positive flow of filtered air for more reliable, clear and consistent codes, even at the end of long production runs, it adds. The printhead design and long-lasting core minimizes planned downtime due to long intervals ― up to 14,000 hours ― between planned routine maintenance cycles.


Westfalia Technologies highlighted the products and services that it offers the beverage industry such as its automated storage and retrieval system, Savanna.Net warehouse management system, palletizers, carton caser, jug caser, high-speed gallon caser, high-speed destacking, high-speed case stacker and high-speed dual station caser.


Woodard & Curran noted its high hopes for new leads because the industry is improving. The design-build firm aids in expanding or building facilities, managing wastewater operations and helping with packaging automation controls for manufacturing lines. BI