Pack Expo International 2013, which took place Sept. 23-25 at the Las Vegas Convention Center in Las Vegas, was the trade show’s largest event in Las Vegas yet, according to PMMI, the Reston, Va.-based host of the event. In fact, in early estimates, the association for packaging and processing technologies reported an attendance increase of 7.4 percent to 27,759 attendees, a 15.5 percent increase in exhibitors to 1,788 companies, and a 14.7 percent increase in net square footage to 722,437 net square feet, all compared with the 2011 show, which also set event records.

“PMMI’s mission is to convene the packaging and processing supply chain, and that’s exactly what Pack Expo Las Vegas accomplished,” said Charles D. Yuska, president and chief executive officer of PMMI, in a statement. He also noted that the event drew attendees from more than 40 vertical markets by presenting a customer-centric vision that helped them navigate the show floor and the event as a whole.

PMMI also announced that Pack Expo 2014 will take place Nov. 2-5 at McCormick Place in Chicago.

Below are some of the exhibitor highlights from the 2013 show.

ABB Robotics, Auburn Hills, Mich., exhibited its new 8 kilogram IRB 360 FlexPicker model, which expands high-speed picking and packing performance compared with the most popular robots on the market, the company says. It also highlighted its palletizing portfolio and robotics software.

Admix, Manchester, N.H., promoted its Fastfeed powder induction and dispersion system. The Fastfeed system uses a high-performance powder suction pump that vacuum conveys 3-400 pounds a minute of any powder or solid, including gums, starches and carbomers.

Ambaflex, Bedford, Texas, displayed four of its spiral conveyors at the show. Its SpiralVeyor Portal incorporates two spirals — one up, one down — and an overhead bridging conveyor. The SpiralVeyor SlimLine for secondary packaging items has multiple parallel tracks for multi-package conveying in a space as small as 3-5 square feet. The SpiralVeyor SVM mass flow elevator can elevate mass flow containers up or down and accumulate them on parallel, side-by-side tracks. This conveyor can operate at speeds as fast as 120,000 items an hour, the company says. Finally, the BottleLift SpiralVeyor is designed for high-speed bottle elevation and lowering.

Amco Products Co., Fort Smith, Ariz., highlighted its portfolio of cap chuck solutions.

American Holt, Norwood, Mass., presented its portfolio of aftermarket machine parts, which can help customers save 20 to 30 percent of their inventory costs, the company says.

Auto-Mate Technologies, Riverhead, N.Y., introduced its new AM-QC quality control inspection center. The system is designed to check for quality aspects like missing, crooked or loose caps; missing or crooked labels; missing foil seals or neck bands; color correctness; barcode and date-lot information; conveyor speed; and custom applications. Additional features of the system include camera inspection and verification; USB and Ethernet connections; interlocking safety guarding; non-contact, non-destructive testing; password-protection; a color touchscreen; and a reject system with reject verification.

Axon, Raleigh, N.C., featured its Aurora Wide shrink-sleeve applicator for large, lay-flat film applications such as multipacks or wide-diameter containers. Capable of handling as many as 200 containers a minute, the system also includes motorized film unwind, recipe functionality to control changeovers with the push of a button, and ergonomic features including a standard swing-arm human-machine interface (HMI) and a height-adjustable film-roll splicing table.

Bemis Performance Packaging, Oshkosh, Wis., highlighted its portfolio of shrink-film, roll-fed and Peel ‘N Tear labels for beverage packages.

Busch LLC, Virginia Beach, Va., called attention to its experience in working with companies to implement energy-efficient vacuum pump systems.

Cognex Corp., Natick, Mass., presented its machine vision inspection systems under its Cognex Vision division. Of special note was its DS1000 vision system, which uses a laser instead of a camera for inspection.

Columbia Machine Inc., Vancouver, Wash., introduced its HL7200 high-speed, inline palletizer. The first in a family of high-level, high-speed palletizers to be released this year, the HL7200 incorporates Category 3 electrical safety components including dual-channel safety interlocks and full-height light curtains positions on the full-load discharge and empty-pallet feed, among other safety features. In addition, the palletizer incorporates Columbia’s new programmable laner technology with its soft turn and configurable layer table to provide accurate and stable layer forming, the company says.

Delkor, St. Paul, Minn., highlighted many of its latest innovations at the show. In collaboration with Tetra Pak, Vernon Hills, Ill., the company debuted its C1 1400 Robotic Packer, a high-speed robotic packing system that integrates forming, loading and closing with a detection device that locates and discharges out-of-place packaging to avoid jams. The new packer also can handle a wide range of case formats and substrates, the company says. In line with this, the company also promoted its Delkor Confirm vision detection system, which connects with conveyors in the packaging line to inspect labeling and matching decoration of branded products at speeds as fast as 600 units a minute. On the packaging materials side, Delkor featured its Cabrio Case design. This secondary packaging converts a corrugated, conventional flange-seal shipping case into a retail-ready display case by using its angled flaps to create a display that is open in the front with a higher wall in the back.

Emerson Industrial Automation, Florence, Ky., introduced its new System Plast Low Back Pressure Conveyor Belt series at the show. This system is designed to handle shrink-wrapped cases without cardboard pads or trays, the company says. The company’s booth also featured an interactive technology center that showcased its new System Plast Engineering Calculator engineering software and its SmartGuide interactive conveyor components catalog; a working model display demonstrating its NG extra-performance polybutylene terephthalate (PBT) thermoplastic resin material developed by System Plast for modular plastic belts and chains; an interactive touchscreen display featuring a 3-D model of a typical beverage bottling/canning line; and an in-booth social media promotion allowing booth visitors to enter a contest to win a Sony 50-inch LED 3-D Smart HDTV by locating and taking a photo of a mini-cutout hidden in the booth and posting the photo to Twitter or Facebook.

Etimag USA, Springfield, Va., presented its portfolio of shrink-sleeve, preform-sleeve, promotional-sleeve, tamper-evident sleeve and pressure-sensitive labels.

Exopack, Spartanburg, S.C., featured its AquaCrystal shrink bundling films for wrapping multipacks. The portfolio includes three models: AquaCrystal CW, AquaCrystal GP and AquaCrystal XP. CW is non-printed and specifically designed for distribution applications; GP is designed for can multipacks; and XP is suited for unsupported, nested case packs of polyethylene terephthalate (PET) bottles.

Gebo Cermex, Norcross, Ga., introduced new innovations to its VersaFilm range of seamless shrink-wrappers at the show. Cermex has re-engineered the vacuum table for its VersaFilm shrink-wrappers to make film-handling more fluid and to facilitate maintenance on high-speed lines, the company says. It also added an optimized shrink tunnel that can be adjusted based on product height, collation and number of lanes, it says. The company also updated the range’s reel holders to incorporate mandrels that eliminate the risk of pinching between the reel and the support rollers and added a servo-motor to provide better film feed control, it adds.

H.B. Fuller, St. Paul, Minn., announced that it has decided to invest in a Packaging Center of Excellence in North America to address customers’ packaging adhesives needs across a broad range of applications, substrates and environmental conditions. Upon its opening in early 2014, the Packaging Center of Excellence will be H.B. Fuller’s fourth center focused specifically on customer collaboration.

HP, Palo Alto, Calif., released a range of new ink solutions and expanded partnerships that provide original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) the flexibility to design package coding printers to meet their customers’ demands, it said. The new HP 45si print cartridge is the first HP thermal inkjet print cartridge optimized for mild solvent inks used for printing on non-porous and semi-porous substrates in the product identification market. The 45si cartridge can support extended shelf life for ethanol-based solvent inks, helping OEM partners and ink developers to improve supply chain and inventory management processes, the company says. In addition, the cartridge will deliver HP’s new solvent ink, HP 2580, which is designed for printing on coated and blister foils. Additionally, it offers excellent print quality for 1-D and 2-D barcodes, neutral black color and fast dry time, it says.
Intelligrated, Mason, Ohio, launched a new mix-load order fulfillment solution at Pack Expo 2013. Its Alvey robotic mixed-load palletizing solution utilizes configurable end-of-arm tooling, software and controls to handle multiple product types. These features enable manufacturers and distributors to replace manual handling processes with the efficiency, accuracy and cost-saving benefits of automation, the company says.

Klüber Lubrication North America L.P., Londonderry, N.H., highlighted its portfolio of multi-purpose, food-grade greases. It also called attention to its AccuJet electrostatic chain lubrication system, which uses electrically charged nozzles to apply a fine stream of uniform lubrication to critical areas in order to extend chain life while also reducing the potential for product contamination from process lubricant.

Lubriplate Lubricants Co., Newark, N.J., announced that its National Sanitation Foundation H-1 Registered food-grade lubricants are newly registered with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. It also highlighted its portfolio of NSF H-1-registered, food-grade lubricants.
Matthews Brand Solutions, Pittsburgh, highlighted three of its marking and coding machines. For example, its eSolarMark Light PET carbon dioxide laser coding system is suited for marking PET containers and glass substrates with alphanumerical text, date and time codes, serial numbers, barcodes, 2-D codes and graphics. Its Viacode L Series printer provides 600-by-600 dots per inch resolution at more than 200 feet a minute for marking on porous and non-porous applications. Specifically for porous materials, the company also offers the Viacode T Series high-resolution printers, which can create 4-inch-high images and codes with a single head.

NAFM LLC, Corona, Calif., introduced its new lineup of LX series machines, which offer production speeds from 100 to 600 bottles a minute.

Paxton Products, a Cincinnati-based division of ITW Air Management, featured its CapDryer, which provides complete drying of bottle necks and lids to allow for quality coding, tamper banding, labeling, and vision inspection. It also highlighted its Ionized Air System, which removes particulates, dust and contaminants via ionization coupled with centrifugal blowers and air delivery systems. The system’s design decreases energy usage by as much as 80 percent while increasing performance and reducing maintenance, the company says.

PDC Europe Americas, Austin, Texas, presented its BM-110 blow-molder stretch-sleever. The system applies easy-to-recycle sleeve labels without heat, which, in turn, reduces energy usage, the company says. It also can label 300-ml to 2.5-gallon containers at rates of up to 50 containers a minute, it adds.

Pfannenberg Inc., Lancaster, N.Y., introduced its PWS 3000 cooling system with water. The latest addition to Pfannenberg’s Advantage series, the system includes an electronic thermostat for accurate temperature control, color-coded water lines for easy identification of water supply and return lines, and an airflow path designed to prevent condensate water from entering the enclosure.

QuikWater, Sand Springs, Okla., highlighted its direct-contact water heating systems. Quikwater’s systems create hot water on demand by quickly heating water up to 200 degrees Fahrenheit. Its clean-burn technology, which is powered by natural gas or propane, produces pure, potable water, and flash pasteurization kills pathogens, it says. In addition, the systems are environmentally safe, 99 percent energy efficient, and offer up to 40 percent energy savings, it adds.

Rehrig Pacific Co., Los Angeles, displayed its direct-store-delivery (DSD) One-Touch Delivery System. The system allows distributors to assemble pallets of product for delivery in the warehouse and then move them to and from delivery trucks with the cart. In addition, the system’s design allows DSD personnel to deliver up to five times more product for each trip and easily maneuver down narrow aisles and around sharp corners, the company says.

Ryson, Yorktown, Va., unveiled its Narrow Trak Spiral conveyor at the show. The new spiral conveyor has a 5-inch-wide slat design and is designed to end-transfer small cartons and packages or side-transfer small bottles and containers in a single file or in mass flow. This compact unit has an outside diameter of 45 inches to provide space savings in a beverage facility while providing high throughput.

RockTenn Automated Packaging Systems, Orlando, Fla., featured its Meta mandrel-formed cases. The Meta 150 machine forms die-cut blanks into cases around a fixed mandrel, thus minimizing case-skew and maximizing structural integrity. The cases are available in one- and two-piece options as well as shelf display configurations that offer greater pallet stability, packaging weight savings and automated partition insertion capability.

Sato America Inc., Charlotte, N.C., presented its portfolio of print engines for automatic print-and-apply labeling. The company also offers Label Gallery software for label design for production through Sato print engines.

Schneider Packaging Equipment Co., Las Vegas, debuted the next generation Bottle Packer Row (BPR) case packer from its Robox family of products. The Robox BPR is designed for packing blow-molded plastic high-density polyethylene (HDPE), PET, polyvinyl chloride (PVC), polypropylene (PP) and other bottles into service cartons with or without liner bags. Capable of throughputs as fast as 160 bottles a minute, the system packs bottles neck up, neck down, alternating or in a lay-down layer with the help of a Fanuc robot. The company also featured its Pro-Adjust system, which provides auto-adjusts for major machine industrial points on any machine.

Sealed Air, Duncan, S.C., highlighted its Cryovac LT1 low-density, high-shrink-sleeve label. The, ecological, low-density shrink sleeves can easily be separated from PET bottles in the recycling stream and provide 30 percent source production compared with other mono-layer shrink-sleeve labels, the company says. In addition, the pliable label material is suitable for covering highly contoured containers, minimizes cracking when handled, and offers superior optic properties to maximize retail shelf presence, it says.

SEW-Eurodrive Inc., Troy, Ohio, discussed successful implementations of its Movigear mechatronic drive system in beverage facilities around the world. The Movigear system has been shown to reduce operating costs due to its overall efficiency. The system also offers resistance against heat, moisture and cleaning agents, the company says.

Siemens, Munich, launched Simogear, its new gear motor series for conveyor applications in the packaging industry at the show. Simogear features helical, parallel shaft and helical bevel gear unit types with integral high-efficient National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA) premium motors. The Simogear two-stage helical bevel unit offers mechanical efficiency up to 96 percent and averages 2 percent higher efficiency than competitive three-stage units. Siemens also announced that it enhanced its Sinamics G120 drive system to include Ethernet and IP connectivity to provide maximum communications efficiency throughout a plant, and that it will reduce the lead time on its Generation II Simotics 1FK7 Servomotors to three weeks beginning Jan. 1, 2014. Additionally, the company debuted its single-axis Sinamics V20 drive for basic applications at the show. The Sinamics V20 is available in four frame sizes to accommodate a performance range from one-sixth to 20 horsepower and can be used to operate pumps, fans, compressors and conveyor systems as well as for simple drive tasks in the processing and handling industries.

Teledyne TapTone, North Falmouth, Mass., emphasized its leak inspection systems. The company offers various systems for inspecting glass and plastic containers with single- or dual-rejection capabilities. These systems also can inspect caps, codes, pressure and fill levels.

Tetra Pak presented its entire portfolio of aseptic beverage packages in various shapes and sizes. One of its newest models, the Tetra Wedge, is designed to appeal to children and teens with its unique shape that is easy to identify, easy to hold, and easy to drink from with a straw. In addition, the package is made of 60 to 75 percent renewable resources, is recyclable and is shelf-stable for up to a year, the company says. In addition, the company highlighted its Gemina aseptic package, which is designed to be easy to carry and pour.

Unibloc-Pump Inc., Marietta, Ga., highlighted its Unibloc-PD positive displacement pump. The system is designed to pump thin and thick liquids at a high rate of efficiency and at capacities up to 525 gallons a minute. The Unibloc PD pump is engineered for temperatures up to 250 degrees Fahrenheit and can be mounted with either horizontal or vertical through-put bars. It also featured its Y & L sanitary strainers at the show.

United Barcode Systems, Escondido, Calif., featured its APL 800 Series print-and-apply system for multiple panel labeling. The system prints labels at speeds between 50 and 600 mm a minute and can apply up to three self-adhesive labels to a pallet according to European Article Numbering/Uniform Code Council-128 Application Identification Standards and GS1 International pallet labeling recommendations.

Vacuum Barrier Corp., Woburn, Mass., presented its liquid nitrogen injection and dosing systems. Of specific note were the Nitrodose G2 and EasyDose G2 systems, which both can dose nitrogen into cans at speeds as fast as 450 containers a minute with a minimum dose duration of 25 milliseconds. In addition, both systems are self-monitored and feature alarm outputs and a self-generating nitrogen purge.