The food that we consume has been changing increasingly to suit a changing lifestyle. The changing dietary habits of consumers have compelled the food packaging industry to come up with new solutions. One of the important areas of development in the industry today is food packaging equipment and machinery. Such machinery has evolved into a wide range of equipment and integrated systems to achieve a complete range of operations such as bagging, filling, wrapping, cartoning, lidding, labeling, decorating, palletizing, conveying, sealing and more.

Some of the food packaging equipment types include cartoning machines; bottle capping equipment; box, case, and tray forming, packing, unpacking, closing and sealing machines; cleaning, sterilizing, cooling and drying machines; package filling and closing machines; form, fill, and seal machines; palletizing, de-palletizing, unit load assembly; wrapping machines; conveyors, accumulating and related machines; and more.

The equipment used in food packaging is built to run with a certain type of packaging material. Any alteration in the packaging material can result in problems with machine performance. Therefore, the material for packaging and the designs of packaging equipment must be managed with care. Materials need to be chosen after machine trials have shown that the required machine and productivity are achievable.

The market for the food packaging industry has been swiftly growing in recent years. The rise in awareness and preference of healthy and hygienic food and the growing demand for attractive, innovative, and convenient-to-carry packaging are likely to drive the market growth. Stringent food safety regulations have led companies to focus on novel mechanisms of packaging that keep food fresh and retain their flavors for a longer time. Furthermore, the increase in purchasing power of consumers, the rise in preference for online grocery shopping among consumers, and growing base of the “on-the-go” consumer further drive the growth of the industry. However, the high cost associated with the development and installation of equipment is expected to limit the growth of the market. In a recent report published by Allied Market Research, the food packaging market is expected to garner $19,268 million by 2023, registering a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 4 percent from 2017 to 2023.

Companies have been coming up with innovative ideas for food packaging equipment to cater to the needs of consumers, expand their market reach and survive the intense market competition. For instance, Alliedflex, a leading supplier of pouch-making machinery launched a new machine called the FLX SpoutFill filling and capping machine for filling liquids in spouted pouches. Wraptech, a manufacturer and exporter of bagging machines launched a new tube-filling machine called WMTF 80 and a new version of MB250EV bagging machine at the Intelpack 2017. Empack, the U.K.’s leading packaging technology event, plans to return to  NEC Birmingham to showcase the latest technological advances in logistics and transit packaging, packaging machinery, robotics and automation. Several acquisitions also took place in the field recently. Duravant, a U.S.-based company acquired Ohlson Packaging, a weighing and counting machine manufacturer. RND Automation & Engineering, LLC, a Florida-based manufacturer of packaging machinery, acquired MDC Packaging Machinery, a manufacturer of horizontal form fill seal packaging machinery.

Filling and capping machine

In November 2017, Alliedflex released a new machine for filling liquids. Called the FLX SpoutFill, the machine offers a semiautomatic solution for filling spouted pouches with liquid/semi-liquid products. It is also capable of filling viscous products containing soft particulates. Highly precise, reliable, efficient, compact, economical, simple-to-operate, and of great quality, the filler solution is ideal for pilot plant, lab and research and development to establish filling characteristics, test market samples and limited production runs. It has been designed to meet the growing demand for a reliable system for filling and capping spouted pouches. Built with corrosion-resistant washdown to an IP65 standard, the FLX SpoutFill is an air-driven machine suitable for filling and capping flexible pouches.

New launches by Wraptech at the Intelpack 2017

Wraptech recently launched its new tube filling machine as well as a new version of MB2500EV bagging machine at Intelpack 2017 held in September 2017 in Mumbai. The tube-filling machine called WMTF 80 is capable of filling aluminum, laminated and plastic tubes at a maximum speed of 80 tubes per minute. It is capable of filling tubes with volumes of 1 gram and 250 grams. The MB2500EV bagging machine, which was on display at the exhibition, is a full servo machine and operates at speeds of 80 to 85 packs per minute. It is useful for packaging powders, granules, pulses, beans, tea, coffee, sugar, rice and more.

Innovations at Empack 2018

Empack is planning to return to Birmingham, U.K., at the NEC, Feb. 28–March 1, 2018. The event offers an opportunity for major brands, converters and retailers to discover the recent technological advances in logistics and transit packaging, packaging machinery, robotics, and automation. The exhibition also offers guests the chance to get hands-on with several new products, with many exhibitors opting to launch their latest innovations live on the show floor.

OAL, a leading provider of food processing and automation solutions plans to showcase APRIL EYE, an intelligent date code verification system that cuts food waste in the supply chain. Built in partnership with the University of Lincoln, APRIL EYE reads back and verifies date codes using artificial intelligence, thereby preventing product recalls regarding the incorrect application of date codes. APRIL EYE basically reduces food wastage related to the incorrect date coding of products by removing human error from the supply chain.

Abbey Labels, a professional label printing company plans to showcase its range of scratch-off, five-page peel labels and its newly enhanced food and drink labels at Empack 018.

Acquisitions:

Duravant acquires Ohlson Packaging

In January 2018, Duravant acquired Ohlson Packaging, a weighing and counting and filling machine manufacturer based in Massachusetts. The latter develops automatic food packaging lines and provides solutions for packaging products into bags, bottles, boxes, premade pouches, cups, containers, trays and MAP systems. The company also manufacturers linear weighers, vertical baggers, pouch machines, bucket elevators, rotary tables and supply hoppers. Ohlson’s machinery solution can be used in frozen foods, confections, candy, cheese and diary, chocolate, fruits and vegetables and more. Duravant’s packaging equipment unit develops and manufactures bag packaging equipment. Its subsidiary Mespack produces high-speed, form-fill-seal machines, pre-made pouch filling equipment and more. Its other business unit Arpac produces shrink wrappers, shrink bundlers, tray formers, tray packers, case packers, palletizers, and more.

RND Automation & Engineering, LLC buys MDC Packaging Machinery

Also, in January 2018, RND Automation & Engineering, LLC acquired MDC Packaging Machinery, a manufacturer of horizontal form fill seal packaging machinery as well as rollstock thermoformers and tray sealers. MDC offers standard and custom solutions for the food/ and beverage, consumer product and other industries.

The acquisition allows RND Automation to expand their capabilities and provide value-added offerings to MDC’s customers with equipment that provides the most effective solutions for their customers’ unique needs. RND adds its custom robotics and material handling skills to MDC’s offerings, letting their packaging machinery to be loaded and unloaded automatically. The offerings of the combined entity complete a vertically integrated portfolio of products. RND and MDC now offer everything from assembly, inspection, validation, loading, packaging, unloading, post packing inspection and additional value-added services, giving their customers only one source for all their manufacturing requirements.

Sharmistha Sarkar is a writer with Allied Market Research (AMR), a full-service market research and business-consulting wing of Allied Analytics LLP based in Portland, Oregon. AMR provides global enterprises as well as medium and small businesses with unmatched quality of “Market Research Reports” and “Business Intelligence Solutions”. AMR has a targeted view to provide business insights and consulting to assist its clients to make strategic business decisions and achieve sustainable growth in their respective market domain.