Back after four years, PACK EXPO International, which took place Oct. 23-26, convened more than 44,000 attendees, surpassing the 2018 event. With 2,200 exhibitors and more than 1.2 million net square feet at McCormick Place in Chicago, PACK EXPO International highlighted the latest innovations and trends impacting the packaging and processing markets.
“The success of PACK EXPO is a testament to our industry’s continued growth as well as PMMI’s commitment to bringing the industry together to share cutting-edge innovations,” said Jim Pittas, president and CEO of PMMI, in a statement. “No other event this year showcased so many end-to-end solutions, offering attendees everything they need to compete in a changing marketplace.”
Of the many exhibitors at the show, many showcased solutions for the beverage market. The following are some of those highlights:
Admix promoted its high-shear mixer the Rotosolver; the Boston Shearmill, a high intensity wet mill; as well as the Dynashear, an inline high shear mixer.
Graphic Packaging International highlighted its QuikFlex400, Marksman 70 and EnivroClip machinery. The company’s ClipCombo machinery solution also won a PACK EXPO Technology Excellence Award in the Sustainability category. ClipCombo eliminates the need for plastic rings and shrink wrap, offering beverage-makers the ability to run both premium and minimal material fiber-based multipack styles across the same machine, it says. The machine offers options for either cans or PET bottles, offering multiple combinations for each, including KeelClip and EnviroClip for cans or Cap-it and EnviroClip for PET bottles, it notes.
ITW Hartness showcased its 6930 Helical Dynamic Accumulator (DYNAC), a simple, innovative solution with reliability that brings a dramatic improvement to packaging line performance through pressureless product handling and micro-stop elimination, it says. The company also promoted the Hartness 2800 Case Packer.
JBT-Avure promoted it patent-pending FlexiBulk. The machine high-pressure processes (HPPs) both individually packaged products and food and beverage bulk product simultaneously, allowing for multiple container options (including cans and reusable bags, bottles and cartons), the company says. The company also touts its speed and efficiency, noting it can fill a 55-gallon bag in one minute.
KHS showcased its Innofill Can C as well as the Innokeg CombiKing. The can filler Innofill Can C fills between 10,000 and 60,000 cans an hour, making it suitable for craft brewers, the company says. A complete keg line in one machine, the Innokeg CombiKing can effectively rack 60-80 7-liter – half barrels (approximately 58-liter) kegs an hour with beer, soft drinks, wine or water, according to the company.
METTLER TOLEDO Product Inspection demonstrated a variety of new inspection systems. Live demonstrations took place on an X-ray inspection system and a checkweigher running small, packaged product on a loop conveyor running at high speed to mimic production environments. The X34C X-ray system offers a combination of fast throughputs and a compact footprint, the company says. Additionally, the C35 AdvancedLine checkweigher, which offers a weighing range from 25 g to 7 kg, will have the newest load cell: FlashCell, which allows the system to achieve industry-leading throughputs. FlashCell enables C-Series checkweighers to process products more quickly and reduce product give-away through greater weighing precision.
Pactiv Evergreen featured its gable top packaging machinery and custom food packaging capabilities. The company’s servo driven EH-84 gable top packaging machine was in operation at the show. Designed to meet the needs of the dairy, juice, plant-based and liquid food markets, the EH-84 handles fill volumes of 40 ounces up to 2 liters, at speeds up to 8,400 cartons per hour (cph). Allen-Bradley PLC controls and servo driven technology provide repeatable package performance and automatically control fill volumes and profiles based on product and carton size. Infinite fill capability allows for less downtime with quick and easy changes in carton size or product.
ORBIS Corp. highlighted the role reusable packaging plays in improving the flow of product, driving the circular economy concept, and reducing costs across a variety of industries including food and beverage, consumer products, electric vehicles, automotive, primary packaging and more. The company showcased the 40-inch-by-48-inch P3 pallet, a durable, lightweight, stackable hygienic packaging solution that integrates with manual and automatic material handling equipment. Designed with a low-profile 5.1-inch height, the P3 pallet optimizes truckload space and can be double-stacked in racking systems to maximize space. Also featured were the XpressBulk retail-ready merchandising trays, offering a sustainable, efficient replacement for the manual shelf replenishment process by allowing for a fast and easy transfer of product from the truck directly to the store floor.
Rehrig Pacific Co. highlighted its range of retail-ready display stackers as well as its standard duty pallets to support beverage delivery operations.
As part of its Connected Enterprise journey, Rockwell Automation showcased several automation solutions, including a flexible manufacturing robot demonstration, featuring Unified Robot Control, Independent Cart Technology, and VersaView 6300 Industrial PC. The Digital Twin Station featured Emulate3D where it showed real examples of customer packaging machines, as well as simulation videos and digital twin development and emulation.
Ryson highlighted its spiral conveyors as well as its bucket elevators. The company also shared that it partook in an integrator partnership opportunity with two of its integrator partners. Pacific Packaging Systems sold a system with a Columbia Machine palletizer and three Ryson Spirals to a food plant in Indiana. They had also recently sold a similar system to their California plant. Columbia Machine requested to display that palletizer at their booth at Pack Expo in route to the final installation site. Columbia also asked if Pacific Packaging would be OK with diverting one of the spirals from the project to Pack Expo, allowing them to display it feeding the palletizer at the show. Pacific Packaging agreed to the request. After the show, both the palletizer and spiral were then shipped directly to the installation site, the company says.
At the PackPoint automated packaging system, Signode highlighted its LDX RTB 4.0 Semi-Automatic Random Case Sealer, Multi FleX1 Electric Hooder and Simplimatic Pallet Transformer Autonomous Mobile Robot (AMR). The Multi FleX1 Electric is the latest addition to Signode’s popular Lachenmeier brand of stretch hooders used around the globe for load containment. Featuring an electrically operated stretch frame and film handling system, its overall smaller footprint means that the Multi FleX1 Electric can also maximize valuable production floor space and be placed closer to a facility’s perimeter. In the North Hall, Signode featured its end-of-line automation solutions for palletizing and storing products including its Signode’s Simplimatic Essential Compact and Mixed Palletizers, the newly enhanced cart-based StorFast ASRS system, and Signode’s Simplimatic Universal Material Transfer Autonomous Mobile Robot.
SOMIC Packaging demonstrated a 424 W3 wraparound case packer. The wraparound case packer produces as many as 25 cases a minute, utilizing what is the ultimate in space-saving simplicity and ensuring a smooth operation, the company says. The machine can run standard case configurations as well as adapt to retail-ready systems. It is capable of handling cartons, open or covered trays and lid inserts, it adds.
Tetra Pak displayed a working radial jet mixer in its booth, a component of the Tetra Pak Preparation system B, a complete standardized system for final syrup and beverage preparation. The mixer allows for supreme flexibility while ensuring homogenous distribution through the liquid’s own turbulence, in a fraction of the time. Benefits include mix batches from 10% to 100% of tank volume; no moving parts inside the tank; reduced CIP time and CIP media consumption; and a fully scalable and modular design to accommodate future production. In addition to the radial jet mixer, Tetra Pak smart mixing solutions can be fitted with low-cost devices that create a high shear zone for production of low concentrations of gums and stabilizers found in soft drinks, the company says.
Universal Robots made its North American palletizing debut of its new 20 kg payload cobot, the UR20, shown in a solution developed by Robotiq. The demo featured a 30% increase in speed and torque, utilizing the extended reach of the UR20 for 1800 mm stack heights, documenting how the UR20’s kinematics covers both the pallets and an infeed at the same time, the company stated.
WestRock Co. showcased four packaging machines alongside its sustainable packaging solutions. The Meta 170 Borndigital is an intelligent labeling machine that offers a fully integrated and versatile “blank-to-smart packaging” solution. The Pak On Demand Mailer System is a sustainable eCommerce machine that eliminates plastic, optimizes labor and cuts out unnecessary void fill to deliver increased productivity and sustainability within seconds, it says. PFS-2500 Dual Head Punnet is a packaging machine suitable for small format trays, tills and punnets that is specifically engineered to provide flexibility and serve as a cost-effective and operationally efficient option for plastic replacement. The CanCollar Fortuna is a newly patented high-speed packaging machine for applying CanCollar and a suite of other minimalist, paperboard multipack solutions that eliminate plastic when bundling standard and sleek cans. Within its exhibit space WestRock also showcased CanCollarX, the newest addition to the CanCollar family that brings a glue-free solution to large multipacks alongside other innovative, sustainable packaging solutions.
The next shows within the PACK EXPO portfolio are EXPO PACK Guadalajara, taking place June 13-15, 2023, followed by PACK EXPO Las Vegas, taking place Sept. 11-13, 2023 at the Las Vegas Convention Center in Las Vegas.