The packaging machinery manufacturing industry will generate $7 Billion in 2019. Currently, it’s on an upward trajectory of 2.4 percent year-over-year growth, with no signs of slowing down in the foreseeable future.
In response to the modern consumer’s demand for uniqueness, feeling, and experience when purchasing a product, the packaging industry is experiencing a renaissance. Specifically when it comes to the design and capabilities of packaging machinery. Consumers not only want revolutionary, stand-out design, but they also want safety, efficiency, and more products delivered to them faster than ever before.
This has forced packaging machinery to evolve and adapt to fit the outside-of-the-box expectations of today’s changing consumer landscape. There are so many advancements in the industry that it can feel impossible to keep up with all of them.
It’s important to not only keep up on the key advancements that are changing the industry but to also gain insights into deeper trends that will shape the future. Here are some of the most exciting packaging trends and upgrades to product packaging machinery that we’ve seen recently:
An Overview of Packaging Machinery Trends
Thanks to smart technology, the emergence of new packaging machinery design and features are taking packaging to new heights. While each of the specific advancements listed below is working to uniquely advance the industry as a whole, there are some common themes that underlie every advancement.
Many of the advancements we’re seeing are geared towards making the space needed for packaging more condense. E-commerce and the competitiveness of same-day delivery demand logistics centers that are closer to consumers and are often in limited spaces. Much of the new technology we’re seeing aims to reduce the need for excessive space and massive warehouses.
We’re also seeing the machinery that outputs product packaging in record numbers. This need for speed parallels the shift in consumer behavior for products to be available to them as quickly as possible and at record numbers. This increase in output speed, however also has influenced an evolution in packaging accuracy through the use of smart technology. Packaging machinery needs to operate quickly, but it also needs to produce fewer errors and serve products that are at an optimal level of safety, quality, and promote sustainable packaging.
Vertical Bagging to Fit a Diverse Range of Packaging Design
Historically bagging machinery fit one shape of the bag, but that’s changing. As marketers seek to differentiate themselves through unique packaging, packaging machinery is evolving to adapt to the changing the landscape. These changes in technology push away the limitations set by the ideas of packaging in the past and open the future up to fresh, never-been-done-before ideas. New modular style designs can package 500 bags every minute.
Sustainable Packaging Machinery Improves Efficiency and Environmental Impact
Proseal released the Halopack tray, which according to the company is “the first fully hermetic cardboard MAP packaging. Halopack trays are produced on the Proseal SKR machine and the board base material is made from over 90% recycled cardboard. Halopack incorporates high barrier properties that maintain product quality and, with the right conditions, can extend shelf-life. Proseal will also highlight its ability to handle and seal extremely lightweight plastic trays, enabling businesses to achieve the benefits of food protection and reduced food waste, while also reducing the amount of plastic by up to 42 percent.”
AI Pill Checking and Packaging Solutions
New machinery can now completely inspect medications and vitamins. This new technology improves the efficiency of medical packaging by improving accuracy and providing a higher level of speed than ever before. This new technology can reportedly fill 300 bottles per minute and is made to integrate seamlessly with multiple slat-fillers.
Leak Detecting Machinery
Advanced leak detection technology is making headway across multiple industries. Improvements in technology and machine packaging design create a more reliable leak detecting system that’s also cost-effective for manufacturing. Companies are hopeful about the promise that they will ultimately waste less product using this upgraded machinery. Systems now use a method that can detect small leaks quicker and more efficiently.
We are noticing a consistent improvement in the quality and capabilities of robotic packagers. Multiple companies have released new robotic packer solutions that are designed to improve the packaging process at all levels. These new robots reduce the floor space needed in warehouses and industrial spaces, which creates new opportunities for companies seeking out logistics facilities in dense urban cores. This new technology eliminates the need for extra steps in the packaging and loading process and ultimately helps make it run faster.
Advancements in Sealing Heat Sensitive Products
The Flowpacker by Schubert has elevated its sealing technology to work better with products that are sensitive to the heat created by flow pack machinery. According to the company “Depending on product characteristics and the desired film, the seamlessly integrated Flowpacker is equipped with one of four sealing technologies. For especially heat-sensitive products, we have developed a new patented sealing technology: first, an ultrasonic sealing system closes the flow packs longitudinal seam, then a heat-sealing system with a flying cross sealing unit is used. This flying cross sealing unit adapts to the variable speeds of the upstream F4 robots and therefore ensures high sealing quality with constant sealing times.”
Advancements to Improve Food Safety Using Machinery
A major trend we’re seeing in packaging is aimed to ensure the safety of food at the packaging level. A major area of concern is in the packaging and processing of animal byproducts. New advancements in food packaging are focused on removing the human aspect of the food inspection process. These new technologies utilize x-ray machinery that can detect items like stone, plastic, calcified bone, and foreign bodies in packaged meat and dairy, in a way the naked eye just can’t detect.
Improved Medical Product Packaging Sealing Safety
Sealing machinery has seen a major improvement in safety. Now, large medical device packages can be sealed with technology. According to Packaging Digest, this new technology “has a heat plate that automatically lowers after the tray is engaged fully into the machine for sealing.”
It also includes “an upgraded safety hitch pin locking mechanism, which provides safer, easier operator loading and unloading of tooling. It also helps avoid operator error when installing nesting trays—it is permanently attached to the nesting tray to avoid loss.”
Decreasing Product Waste with Smart Fill Features
New rotary pouch fillers are able to fill packages more efficiently than ever. Many companies, especially in the food industry, come across the issue of packages that have not been opened accurately enough to be filled with product down the line. Historically, machines would attempt to fill closed packages anyways, pouring the product out and to the ground. However, recent designs are able to detect faulty packages and will withhold from filling if the package cannot hold the product.
Smart Printing Improves Package Labeling
New packaging technology is now able to inspect the quality of label printing better than ever before. AutoCoding and SICK AppSpace teamed-up to produce a tool called 4Sight. According to the manufacturer “4Sight communicates directly with the printing equipment and understands the intended message for printing. The software can automatically cope with variations in text location and track print accordingly. Full flexibility allows users to define what is a ‘good read’, ‘bad read’, and “no read” on a per-product basis. Users can specify the relevant action to be taken for a predetermined number of “bad reads” or ‘no reads’.”
Packaging Trends Now and in the Future
We expect to see advancements in packaging machinery to continue to cut out the possibility of human error through the use of artificial intelligence and other smart designs. Humans will always play a role in the packaging process (at least in our lifetime). We might not be able to use laser vision to detect package and product problems or be able to seal 300 bottles in a minute, but ensuring quality and superior customer service will always be the job of human experts.
We’ve been engineering innovative packaging solutions for clients in the industrial, retail, moving, and storage industries for over 35 years. We partner with our clients to create cutting-edge packaging that reflects the quality of their business.
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