News Info News

This news article was originally written in Spanish. It has been automatically translated for your convenience. Reasonable efforts have been made to provide an accurate translation, however, no automated translation is perfect nor is it intended to replace a human translator. The original article in Spanish can be viewed at Tecnología de envasado: versatilidad y alto potencial de innovación
Robotics and Electronics now contribute decisively in the design of the machines

Packaging technology: versatility and high potential for innovation

Source: Dechema09/06/2009

June 9, 2009

Packaging help to extend the storage life and protect the quality, integrity and hygiene of products, from small tablets in blísteres up to dangerous goods in bulk containers. A container must be strong enough to withstand the stresses to which will be subject throughout the entire chain of production and distribution. However, the role of packaging not confined to the protection of the product during storage and transport: packaging offer much more. For many years, the containers are a channel of communication between producers and consumers, and is more than accepted that they are a very effective marketing tool.

Containers are an extremely versatile product that can change very quickly to adjust to changes in the tastes of consumers. In this sense, must be borne in mind that the areas of economic cooperation do not stop increasing and, thereby, trade barriers are being eliminated. This process facilitates access to new markets and consumer groups, and fosters the demand for new types of packaging. In addition, the role of packaging as a means of communication and vehicle for the projection of brand image is becoming increasingly more important. Years ago nobody would have imagined in the sober world of drug companies that their products would be sold in eye-catching silver colored containers. But times have changed and competition has increased much in the counter (OTC) market. Without a doubt, the sector of packaging not not have before it challenges and opportunities. Packaging manufacturers and designers of packaging machines do not leave to devise innovative and very effective solutions, and market rewards them for this.

Despite the prevailing uncertainty in the global economy, prospects for the sector of the packaging remain encouraging

Despite the prevailing uncertainty in the global economy, prospects for the sector of packaging are still encouraging. According to figures published by the VDMA (German engineering Federation), in the year 2007 were bottling machines totalling 21,800 million worldwide. Germany was the leading producer with 22.8 per cent of market share, followed by Italy (16.5%), United States (10.9%) and Japan (10.1%). According to data provided by the Association of machinery for packaging and food VDMA, sales of German packaging machines registered growth of more than 5% in 2008. In addition, in view of the backlog, sector sees no reason to revise the forecasts of 2009 business. According to the volume of orders from order received in the last few months and if the current trend continued until the middle of year, should register as high as the previous year levels. However, the Association Yes supports that, given the uncertainty of the market, could postpone investments and thereby produce some adjustments.

The American Trade Association PMMI (packaging machinery manufacturers Institute) was still showing optimistic in September 2008: as reported, U.S. shipments of packaging machines had registered a growth of 3.9%. The value of shipments of packaging machines had increased to 6.2 billion US dollars and exports had increased by 17.8%. The most important segments in United States were: food (37.9%), beverages (22.3%) and pharmaceuticals (9.9%).

Packaging manufacturers and designers of packaging machines still come up with innovative and highly effective solutions. Photo: Spela Andolsek...
Packaging manufacturers and designers of packaging machines still come up with innovative and highly effective solutions. Photo: Spela Andolsek.
The packaging sector is always up-to-date with the latest advances and not to offer solutions new, intelligent in response to social changes

Innovation, a synonym for success

Get excellent results is not a matter of luck. The packaging sector is always up-to-date with the latest advances and not to offer solutions new, intelligent in response to social changes. The demand for smaller packaging units, the need to adapt to the increasingly specific preferences of users and the continuous evolution of the packaging designs pose great challenges to manufacturers of bottling machines. To be able to meet the increase in the demand for special formats, the manufacturer has to offer very flexible bottling machines. And to produce special types of packaging in large numbers, the sector has to design machines and versatile packaging systems, with ability to handle different types and sizes of packaging in the same line.

Manufacturers must be able to adjust their machines with ease, so that they can react quickly to changes in the trends of the market and the demands of consumers, and therefore ultimately prevailing complete systems (including planning and start-up) and modular design solutions. One of the fundamental objectives of the process of creating products is to increase the speed of processing by Microelectronics and processor technology. While twenty years 80% of the budget for development was assigned to mechanical engineering and software took only 5%, now software and mechanical engineering present each around 40% of spending in development.

Robotics is often the best way to get the versatility needed to work with the wide range of products. Robotic equipment is fundamental in packaging and handling of packaging operations. In fact, as evidence of the importance of Robotics in the packaging sector, just point out that the sector of bottling machines is the second most important market for manufacturers of robotic systems. Only the automotive sector acquires more systems of this type. Another increasingly common feature in packaging technology is the distributed intelligence. High performance offered by the current bottling machines are possible thanks to the use of sensors, cameras and software for image processing, elements which have become standard equipment.

Despite the prevalence of complete systems and the modular design solutions, many details still must be fixed between the manufacturer and the customer, to reach the best and most economic solution from the point of view of hygiene and aesthetics in each case. «Easy» containers are a good example. Demographic changes are driving the direction of the markets in many industrialized countries. Thus, for example, due to the increase of consumers older, increasingly is more important offer easy to use packaging – from easy-to-open packaging and resellables up to packaging unidosis packaging. Another demographic change that affects the market is the increase in one-person households (for example, in the emergence small packages of a ration).

The packaging must protect products with ultraviolet light, which can have negative effects on the color, flavor and nutritive value of food

Another important element to which producers must pay attention is the need to adapt the container to the form of filling. The PET-bottles without coating, for example, do not offer a sufficient against the gas barrier: there is a danger, on the one hand, the occurrence of leaks of carbon dioxide from the drink which is inside the bottle and, on the other, that in the bottle to penetrate oxygen (with the consequent loss of the life of storage of the product). The container must also protect products ultraviolet light, which can have negative effects on the color, flavor and nutritive value of food.

The growing variety of products is that they change more frequently and that the size of the lots is getting smaller. To be able to design machines and very flexible systems that can be used in all these applications, solutions are needed for high-tech. The demand for smaller units of packaging for food means a higher consumption of material and also higher costs of filling.

The demand for smaller units of packaging for food means a higher consumption of material
The demand for smaller units of packaging for food means a higher consumption of material.

U-turn

Until the explosion of the financial crisis, the only cloud on the horizon of the sector was the increase continued of material, energy and transport costs. The effects were noted, especially in the market of packaging materials, although conditions remained successful at least until April 2008. According to the Committee of manufacturers German packaging (GADV), in the year 2008, were built around 18.5 million tonnes of packaging, with an annual increase of the volumes of production of 5%. The value of the goods produced was 30,300 million EUR, i.e. about 10% more than in 2006.

However, the results vary from one type of material to another. The value of the packaging of paper, cardboard, cardboard and metal (aluminium and steel) was that most rose (+ 11%). The value of plastic packaging also rose significantly (+ 9%) and of glass containers 6.8 per cent did so.

The volume of production of paper and cardboard packaging was also impressive: specifically, in 2007, 8.7 million tonnes of packaging of these materials (+ 6%) were built. The second type of most manufactured packaging were glass with 4.1 million tonnes (+ 4.1%), followed closely by the plastic, with 4 million tonnes (+ 5%). The production of packaging of metal, for its part, increased in 2007 4.7%, up to 1.7 million tonnes.

Growth of bulk containers

The market of the containers for transportation of chemical substances is divided almost in equal parts between containers in bulk (IBC) and the barrels of steel and PE (30% each), although it seems that the balance is leaning toward the IBC. It is estimated that the number of units only in the European market is situated between 4.5 and 5 million. The IBC provide certain obvious advantages: optimal use of space (the volume is equivalent to five barrels), innovative high flexibility, easy handling and minimal environmental thanks to return systems. These are some of the reasons why the bulk containers have been dealing with the gap between the barrels and cisterns for over 30 years.

Manufacturers should always take into account the energy balance of their products. For example, the plastic IBC are much lighter that the IBC of steel and, therefore, to transport energy consumption is lower. It is the same that occurs with returnable PET bottles compared with glass bottles: PET bottles are more environmentally friendly because its weight is a twelfth of a glass bottle.

There is a wide variety of IBC; In addition, these containers can be used for the storage and transport of products as Pasty fluids (including hazardous goods). The scope of these containers is enormous and ranges from the sector of the paintings to the food industry. Together, the chemical industry has always been one of the main consumers of IBC, although these containers manufacturers point out that there are many potential applications in the petrochemical industry.

Market players estimate that the European sector of the IBC will expand around 8% per year over the next two years. Then, according to forecasts, the growth of this market in Europe will stagnate. These optimistic forecasts are based, in part, on creativity in the designs (trellis more resistant, containers, transparent to see the content and new features of explosion protection).

The value of the plastic containers increased by 9% in 2008. Photo: Vangelis Thomaidis
The value of the plastic containers increased by 9% in 2008. Photo: Vangelis Thomaidis.

Tags, source of information

The identification of the product requires increasingly more space to accommodate multiple languages and meet the legal requirements, which vary from market to another. On a label you can print virtually any type of information, not to mention that tags allow, in addition, the tracking of batches. The challenge of the engineers is to condense this information in the smallest space possible through code EAN (European article number), matrix codes of data or RFID (radio frequency identification).

As for RFID, its benefits are still in question. Thus, while some logistics agents believe this technology presents great potential can help optimize the management of inventories, others remain skeptical and they believe that existing identification systems still offer significant opportunities that have not been exploited. In any case, the world of labelling offers many other innovative ideas, for example, smart tags that incorporate time and temperature indicators: these tags are exactly how the units of packaging have been stored and are mainly interested in the food industry and the pharmaceutical sector.

In the printing of labels, the challenge is to introduce a large amount of data in the smallest space possible, but at the same time use a letter that, for very small, readable

Regardless of the format of the information, what is certain is that the amount of information included in the product not for increase. Thus, the challenge is to introduce a large amount of data in the smallest space possible, but at the same time use a letter that, for very small, readable. All this without forgetting that the containers, especially in pharmaceuticals and chemicals, must be extremely resistant to scratches and friction to ensure their traceability. Thus, despite the high degree of sophistication, most importantly that the labels are well fixed in cartons, containers and small containers, for example ampoules of glass, with a minimum cost.

Experts estimate that around 10% of pharmaceuticals are counterfeit

Packaging, allies in the fight against counterfeiting

The European Commission estimated losses caused by counterfeit goods at about 500 billion euros worldwide, a figure that it is equivalent to between 7% and 10% of international trade. And the loss of turnover is not the only problem. Counterfeits pose other risks such as damage to corporate image and, in the worst cases, litigation. Fakes of poor quality can cause irreparable in the prestige of a brand damage, that the consumer does not procure the quality expected of the product.

In addition to the losses of revenue for the company, these illegal practices threaten thousands of attractive jobs and high wages around the world; in particular, it is estimated that they would be about 200,000 jobs in Europe.

Counterfeiting of products also pose a risk to the health of consumers. Experts estimate that about 10% of pharmaceuticals are forgeries. In addition, this practice already is not restricted only to high-end products and luxury goods sector; the problem is spreading, and rapidly, to relatively cheap goods of mass consumption. One of the reasons for this increase is that counterfeiters have increased the degree of professionalism and increasingly make better and more easily copies.

For consumers, it is important that the packaging should incorporate visible marks, for example, holograms, allowing it to identify if the product is original without using readers or ultraviolet lamps
The challenge of the engineers is to condense this information in the smallest space. Photo: Sergio Roberto
The challenge of the engineers is to condense this information in the smallest space. Photo: Sergio Roberto.

Containers are a key weapon in the battle against counterfeit goods. How many more security properties include a product, easier it will be that the counterfeiter overlooked any or that you can not copy it. For example, the packaging may be sealed to provide protection against interventions. When the container is opened for the first time, featured a logo or a sentence and the process not can 'rewind is' (effect of invalidation). There are also techniques to incorporate 'hidden' identification marks: microtextos and nanotextos, true color marks and hidden security marks readable by laser.

For consumers, it is important that the packaging should incorporate visible marks, for example, holograms, allowing it to identify if the product is original without using readers or ultraviolet lamps. Counterfeiters are concentrated in the visible features, and for this reason, invisible security features on sensitive products are used.

However, the properties of the container security does not offer, alone, sufficient protection, because counterfeiters can detect them and copying them or, at least, to imitate them. It is more effective to use security strategies that cover the entire logistics chain. These strategies require applying holistic approach in regards to the management and advice on the packaging, a strategy that covers the entire process, from conceptual design and development, via data transmission, production and the use of the packing unituntil the delivery to the customer. Safety codes give the container a unique identity and allow to control the product line. Retailers and users know immediately and with certainty if the product is original or a fake.

Bayer Technology Services and Ingenia Technology Ltd launched in 2007 a new method of protection against counterfeiting which has attracted considerable attention. This technique is not based on the incorporation of visible or hidden marks on the product but that uses the technology called «authentication of surfaces through laser» (LSA). This technique consists in the exploration and the registration of the natural characteristics which presents a product surface and in the creation, based on these data, in a single footprint.

Using a method of special scanning based on the phenomenon of laser speckle, discusses the microscopic structure of the surface of the product. Diffuse scattering from the surface is measured from different angles in relation to the angle of incidence of the beam. The properties of the surface thus detected by the scanner are unique product; i.e., they are like a fingerprint or a sequence of DNA. In addition, this footprint is not altered by wear and changes moderated in the product.

The probability that two objects have the same footprint is between 10-20 y10-100. The signal recorded by the scanner contains only information from the object. In addition, the structure of the surface is so complex that it is impossible to reproduce them artificially. The information collected by the scanner can be stored in a database and recover in a matter of seconds through a software search and comparison. The amount of installed it equipment can easily be adapted to the number of products and the different locations. Only 125-750 bytes are needed to save a scan and a conventional hard drive is enough to store the data of millions of products.

The innovations are always very well received, but end users are often not willing to pay for them. Thus, margins with those who operate certain key industries such as consumer goods, are very small, engineers packaging sector work, in turn, in an environment where economic pressure is very strong. Creativity, comprehensive knowledge of materials and the cooperation between the producers of packaging materials, bottling machines manufacturers and customers are the only way to create innovative packaging solutions.

Suscríbase a nuestra Newsletter - Ver ejemplo

Password

Select all

Autorizo el envío de newsletters y avisos informativos personalizados de interempresas.net

I authorize the sending of communications from third parties via interempresas.net

He leído y acepto el Legal notice y la Data protection policy

Responsable: Interempresas Media, S.L.U. Purpose: Subscription to our newsletter(s). User account management. Sending emails related to the same or related to similar or associated interests.Retention: for the duration of the relationship with you, or as long as necessary to carry out the specified purposesTransfer: Data may be transferred to other group companies for internal management purposes.Rights: Access, rectification, opposition, deletion, portability, limitation of processing and automated decisions: contact our DPD. If you consider that the processing does not comply with the regulations in force, you may lodge a complaint with the AEPD.More information: Data protection policy

REVISTAS

TOP PRODUCTS

NEWSLETTERS

  • Newsletter Química

    22/02/2024

  • Newsletter Química

    15/02/2024

Highlighted links

Salón de gas renovableEnergética XXI - Ecoconstrucción - Industria Cosmética - Omnimedia, S.L.

Latest news

Featured companies

OPINIÓN

OTRAS SECCIONES

Services