The concept of robotic aids have gone beyond Rosie the maid in the cartoon series “The Jetsons” and been embraced by modern households in everyday solutions, such as the Roomba brand of automated vacuums. For beverage-makers and distributors, robotic solutions have come to embody reliable, flexible and safer options for their operations. Within the industry, installation of robotic equipment continues to grow with new applications for manufacturing and distribution, experts say.
From ingredients to finished products to warehouse equipment, new ideas and solutions serve as fuel to keep beverage-makers and distributors going. As industry events such as Pack Expo demonstrate, equipment manufacturers maintain a pulse on the industry to offer new innovations to address current issues and anticipate future trends.
With beverage containers available in a number of shapes and sizes, beverage companies are seeking flexibility when printing lot and date codes as well as logos with coding installations for a range of package sizes and materials.
In the competitive beverage industry, innovation is key. In the last few years, companies have developed new categories, such as coconut waters, aloe-infused drinks and relaxation beverages. Because formulations like these are so creative, oftentimes their packaging must be, too.
The United States market was introduced to 1,709 new beverages from January to July 2011, according to Chicago-based Mintel International’s Global New Products Database. With so many new products in the beverage sector, companies continue to search for ways to help their products stand out on store shelves. These store-shelf marketing initiatives are not only impacting the beverages, but also the labeling equipment for the products, equipment manufacturers say.
Processing technologies and The Processing Zone will make first appearances at the Las Vegas show floor for the Packaging Machinery Manufacturers Institute’s (PMMI) 2011 Pack Expo, the show’s 55th anniversary, taking place Sept. 26-28 at the Las Vegas Convention Center.
Package lightweighting can be a major issue for many beverage manufacturers. In fact, it’s the No. 1 issue that many inspection equipment suppliers see beverage-makers facing. Therefore, they’re offering solutions to detect problems with these products. Although many beverage manufacturers have been lightweighting their containers to be more ecologically friendly and to reduce costs, one of the problems lightweighting can cause is leaks, says Melissa Rossi, marketing manager for Teledyne TapTone, North Falmouth, Mass.
Cause and effect situations are prevalent on product lines in beverage manufacturing plants. Just as a jam upstream can cause proliferation of product downstream, palletizing equipment has been affected by industry trends toward higher line speeds and lighter packages, which has influenced new advancements.
To continually improve its capabilities as a contract packager, Nor-Cal Beverage Co. Inc., Sacramento, Calif., has made investments exceeding $100 million in its two facilities in California. The improvements have placed the third-generation family-owned company on track to produce 45 million cases of product in 2011 for companies such as The Coca-Cola Co., Hansen’s Natural and Ferolito, Vultaggio & Sons.
With the goal to get products out the door as quickly and efficiently as possible, bottlers and distributors would like to keep the line moving effectively so they can focus their attention to the numerous other tasks at hand.