The Nürnberg packaging exhibition trio FachPack+PrintPack+LogIntern opens its doors again on 29 September. Some 1,300 exhibitors meet a good 34,000 trade visitors during the three turbulent days until 1 October 2009. Hardly anyone would have forecast this development three decades ago, as the first ''Verpackung'', the Regional Exhibition for Packaging Machinery, Packaging Supplies and Packaging Ancillaries, started in the Exhibition Centre Nuremberg with just under 100 exhibitors. And probably none of these first exhibitors wrote an annual sustainability report at the end of the 1970s. Today, responsibility for environmental protection is certainly reflected positively in the results. ''Sustainable Production and Packing'' is therefore the theme of the FachPack special show in 2009.
Innovative packages, the stand of the
German Packaging Institute
On a display area of some 900 m² in hall 4, a good dozen exhibitors from the packaging machinery, packaging supplies production and recycling segments show the new products with which they face the challenges of climate change and scarcer resources. A seminar in CongressCenter Ost on 28 September, the day before the exhibition, deals with potential savings in packaging.
For anyone interested in innovative packages, the stand of the German Packaging Institute (dvi) in hall 6 is exactly the right place to visit. Here they can admire the best of the some 300 entries for the German Packaging Award 2009. The award meanwhile rates as an invitation card to the WorldStar, which is presented by the World Packaging Organisation. Last year alone, 13 out of 16 entries won the global trophy via the German Packaging Award.
Sustainable production - lateral thinkers needed
The research and development costs of the German packaging machinery manufacturers, the world market leaders, amounted to approx. 8% of the around 5 billion EUR turnover in 2007, according to the association VDMA (Verband Deutscher Maschinen- und Anlagenbau). The key starting points for innovations today are energy efficiency and sustainability. This includes the assessment of production processes, raw materials and products with a view to their environmental impacts. The well-known exhibitors at the practical FachPack special show ''Sustainable Production and Packing'' in hall 4 present solutions already implemented for packaging materials and in packaging processes and which provide sustainable, energy-saving or low emission benefits for the same or better quality. This means sustainability pays off for the packing and filling industry in all branches.
In the food industry, for example, standards and regulations require certain nationally different hygiene standards intended to minimize the health risks associated with processing and packaging. The HACCP (Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points) and CIP (Clean-in-Place) processes known from the pharmaceuticals industry are meanwhile also used for food packaging machinery. The aim is to save preservatives but still achieve long lifetimes. However, the CIP process still makes today´s machines much more expensive. Hygienic design means the complete machine can be cleaned, and sloping surfaces avoid or reduce accumulations of liquids and corrosion by chemical cleaning agents. One weakness, for example, is transport chains and conveyor belts, which until now frequently had to be replaced every year and a half. The use of more corrosion-resistant materials and curve elements that minimize belt wear enable longer lifetimes to be achieved.
Lateral thinking often helps to save material and spare the environment. The established processes for manufacturing plastic containers are deep drawing and blow moulding. A deep-drawing machine has been developed that can be used to manufacture small bottles - normally produced by blow moulding - despite the large drawing depth. This not only saves process steps compared with blow moulding, but also substantially reduces the weight of the bottles. The bottles can be produced in-line, i.e. at the filling location, and filled and sealed immediately.
The appreciable reduction of the energy consumption of the machines is a considerable contribution to sustainable production. This is primarily a matter for the manufacturers of automation components. Servo controllers return kinetic energy from the drive system back to the mains, so this is not lost as waste heat and energy-intensive cooling systems are not necessary. Today, main machine functions are mapped in various technology modules in the software. Decentralized drives break down the complete system into individual functional modules, which reduces the complexity. The advantage is that individual modules can be removed or added. The plant can be used more flexibly. The machine is adapted for a product change via the software and no mechanical changes are necessary. Storing various packaging variants enables precise and dynamic adaptation of the machine without rejects or production stoppage, which also contributes to sustainability.
Optimized use of volume
One trend is the increasing individualization of packages for delivery of the products. ''Batch size 1'' is the aim when it comes to packing products with different shapes or sizes. The FachPack special show presents a plant that makes continuous corrugated cardboard into packages adapted to products such as small furniture. Avoiding oversize boxes saves packaging material and transport space in the truck. It is also a matter of harmonizing the logistics aim of standardization and modularization for creating load units with the individual packages. Adapting the package volume to the product volume is a major step towards optimizing storage space.
The German association, the Verband der Wellpappen-Industrie (VDW), also wants to help save space in trucks and room on the pallet to spare the environment with a modular design standard. The so-called common footprint (CF) optimizes the stackability of fruit and vegetable crates by using standard base sizes to suit the pallet, stacking tabs of the same size and slots in a specified position. The height and weight of the crates can be easily adapted to the product requirements. The CF stamp guarantees European-wide compatible crates from various manufacturers in the future.
from 29. September to 1. October 2009, Exhibition Centre Nuremberg
Images (incl. Intro): FachPack+PrintPack+LogIntern 2009, NürnbergMesse GmbH