Supporting the sector we find Food & Beverage, Pharmaceutical, Home & Personal Care. Even the Italian manufacturers recorded a decline of 6.8% on the domestic market with a turnover of 1,574 million euros. Exports, which have always been our strong point, account for 6,065 million euros and lose 4.5% compared to 2019.
We report the comment of Matteo Gentili, president of Ucima, who confirms that the numbers are not surprising and reassuring, recalling how the sector of packaging technologies represents a strong and robust sector of our economy. “We expected this slowdown but our sector remains strong and looks to the future with confidence. The Covid emergency did not catch us unprepared: on the contrary, we have shown our strength even in difficulties. Thanks to our 4.0 technologies, which allow remote control of plants, testing and remote assistance, we have always remained close to our customers all over the world. In 2021 we plan to return to growth, but we need caution. We are aware that our competitors are very fierce and that, due to the pandemic, uncertainty in many markets still reigns supreme ”.
In this regard, the start of the National Transition Plan 4.0 will prove decisive, with an investment of approximately 24 billion euros by the Italian government to finance companies that invest in new technologies.
BENVIC GROUP ACQUIRES CHEMRES, A SPECIALTY US COMPOUNDER FOCUSED ON HIGH-PERFORMANCE POLYMER COMPOUNDS PRIMARILY FOR THE MEDICAL SECTOR
Chevigny-Saint-Sauveur, France, 5 August 2021 – Benvic announces the acquisition of the US-based Chemres, a leading provider of polymers, custom compounds and solutions for a variety of industries including medical, packaging, wire & cable.
We spoke with Mark de Boer (Technical Sales Manger) and Dino Boot (Sales Support Engineer), both working in Halfweg and responsible for the projects in the field of End-of-Line automation, and Milou Jansen (Marketing & Communication Manager). We asked them about the developments they see in the market and with which success formula Lan Handling is responding to this.
High variety of packaging
Mark de Boer: “We continue to innovate, because standing still in this sector equals going backwards. One of the developments we see is that our customers in the fruit and vegetable sector and supermarket suppliers increasingly have the desire to be able to handle a high variety of packaging (bags, nets, boxes, MAP trays) and these in or on various product carriers ( crate, box, pallet, dolly). Automation is becoming increasingly important in this. With a payback period of less than 2 years in many cases, where physical labor is replaced by a robotic solution, our End-of-Line automation leads to a more efficient process and a safer working environment. ”
Multifunctional machines, small footprint solutions
Lan Handling Technologies provides solutions that are often multi-deployable (for multiple product and crate sizes) and only require a small floor space. An example of this is the combined dolly / crate loader. Milou Jansen: “For example, a potato producer who has a contract with various retailers can provide each of them with a different product carrier without having to make a disproportionately high investment. When he wants to switch from crates to dollies, the system ensures that the robot arm automatically switches gripper. This makes the solution very interesting from a technical and operational point of view, because less movement on the shop floor is required, which increases the efficiency of the production environment.
Robot case packer for Heemskerk fresh & easy
Although Lan Handling Technologies relies on its portfolio with a proven standard, all solutions remain tailor-made. The entire engineering, assembly and development of electronics and software is in-house. Mark de Boer: “We are distinctive in the market in the field of robot integration. A good example in this area is our project at fruit and vegetable processor Heemskerk fresh & easy. They were looking for an automation solution for packaging 3 types of products, namely oval, square and hexagonal salad trays. Lan Handling Technologies developed a set of scale-specific grippers and a user-friendly exchange system for this packing process. Placing the salads is a very precise process, because these cardboard boxes ('display boxes') are smaller than a standard size box (600 x 400 mm) and also have overhanging top edges. We deliberately opt for a 6-axis robot arm instead of a delta / spider robot, because the former can perform more complex movements. And because we pre-form products in a smart way, we always achieve the desired speed. With this automation, Heemskerk can run 24/7, process more volume on a smaller footprint and better predict costs. ”
Switch between full and half crates at the touch of a button
In the fruit and vegetable market, the folding crate is very popular because of the considerable savings in transport and storage space. Dino Boot: “In addition, a fully automatic crate erector can generate enormous savings in labor costs and increase efficiency. Various European customers therefore consciously choose us. A crate erector from Lan Handling Technologies can process no less than 1,200 whole folding crates (600 x 400 mm) per hour. With half folding crates (300 x 200 mm) the speed is almost twice as fast. ” The crate erector can operate standalone or be integrated into a complete production line. In the latter case, Lan Handling Technologies automates, for example, the pallet handling towards the crate erector and then the transport of the empty, unfolded crates to case packers.
Remote AR Tool
Lan Handling Technologies recently expanded its services with a remote AR Tool. This has been widely used since the introduction of Covid-19. Due to travel restrictions, Lan Handling Technologies engineers also performed the initial installations and commissioning remotely. Via a simple link with a smartphone, the customer can, by using voice and screen pointers, quickly switch with a mechanic or engineer from Lan Handling Technologies. In the event of a malfunction, this reduces machine downtime and thus additional costs for the customer to a minimum.
ULMA's new ARTIC SS C flow wrapper: packaging machine for portions of cheese, with side sealing and shrink wrap filmNews:
This new design, based on the ARTIC side seal machine, ensure airtight packaging and a more visually pleasing end result, without any seals on the cutting side, easy to open and with more space for labelling. A newly developed product by ULMA, with lots of benefits for food safety and its appearance.
Exceptional appearance, with no seals on either side
ULMA has been working for the food industry for decades, a sector that is especially demanding when it comes to safety and where sustainability-related aspects are becoming increasingly important. Therefore, we have developed solutions that are fully customised for each product, allowing us to optimise the use of materials, save time and reduce labour costs.
Our latest product, based on ARTIC SS packaging machines, is designed to package portions of cheese in modified atmosphere packaging (MAP), thus eliminating the usual lengthwise and crosswise seals of flow pack machines, replacing them with seals in the same place as the cheese rind, giving the end product a more appealing appearance and ensuring greater safety because, as the product no longer has any lengthwise and crosswise seals, the risk of any leaks in that area is avoided.
Packaging that is more airtight, visually appealing, sustainable and easier to open
In addition to an improved appearance, environmental benefits are also obtained, as the entire packaging process is designed to optimise the packaging's wrapping material, using an extremely lightweight plastic material, a shrink wrap film that is only 21 microns thick.
Eliminating lengthwise and crosswise seals also provides benefits for labelling, as the two upper and lower sides of the product have no seals, freeing up space for as many labels as necessary. In this seal-free space, you can include labels that cover perforations, easy open labels and/or promotional labels.
Regarding easy open labels, this new packaging format allows them to be placed in such a way that the packaging is torn open, as far as the lengthwise seal. To open them, simply pull on them and the packaging easily comes apart from the product with a single movement, as can be seen at this video, which shows how these machines work and their benefits. The whole packaging process is performed reliably, hygienically and with outstanding aesthetic results.
A fully automatic process that ensures outstanding presentation
As can be seen at the video ULMA's new wrapping machines collect the portions of cheese from the cutting line in a way that is fully automatic and then smoothly transfer them to inside the film's tube. To ensure that the packaging looks as good as possible, the machines come with a forming mould, which adapts to the size of each portion. It also has a side seal system that removes any excess film, creating a thin seal.
Thanks to the cross-sealing system with a long dwell sealing head, the machine achieves highly reliable airtight packaging, with a high level of performance and safety guaranteed. When the portions are wrapped in film and the packaging has been sealed, they are passed through a hot air shrink tunnel, which gives the packaged product an exceptional final appearance.
Why packaging made from crop waste allows companies to move towards ‘genuinely sustainable’ innovationNews:
It is estimated that arable farming produces around 8 billion tonnes of carbohydrate waste every year in the form of discarded stalks, leaves and roots of crops such as maize, wheat, rice, and sugarcane. This agro-waste is normally discarded or burned. Food companies hope to develop ways of converting the into protein for use in products.
Meanwhile, the processing of fruits and vegetables results in high amounts of waste materials such as peels, seeds, stones, and unused flesh generated in the different steps of the processing chains. Much of this can be also used in the food industry as a source of natural food additives. If it can’t be used, the waste product is typically thrown into the environment.
UK-based Tensei has a database of nearly 400 fibres which would otherwise be wasted, including non-wood pulps such as wheat, hemp, bagasse and abaca. The start-up is using these materials to make plastic- and wood-free paper packaging products for industries including food. The company told FoodNavigator that this method brings a raft of potential benefits to food manufacturers and retailers.
For example, removing plastic means they can avoid plastic tax levies and help cut their carbon emissions. It provides a new source of revenue for farmers and, in some cases, longer shelf life for products. It further allows previously single use items to be recycled: a big tick among today’s end consumer.
Tensei, which launched in 2017, recently trailed its F_Pads product with Morrisons and Berry Gardens Ltd. to replace the pads in 150,000 blackberry punnets. It estimated that use of the pads – which are bio-engineered using agri-residues and grasses rather than virgin wood - saved 12 tennis courts worth of plastic and wood pulp. “This is just the beginning,” said Tensei CEO Annabelle Cox. “Think how much more deforestation and plastic waste could be prevented through packaging innovation and using what is otherwise wasted.”
With much news around companies developing paper-based products (e.g. Unilever’s paper laundry detergent bottle), the use of paper is an increasingly popular decision for multiple industries. However, according to Cox, while this is a positive step, it doesn’t sufficiently address the problem of deforestation and climate change caused by the packaging industry.
Avoiding using virgin wood (i.e. cutting down trees) and plastic by using what is otherwise wasted, such as crop waste, grasses and other agri-residues, allows for the creation of truly sustainable packaging. The company’s mission, she told us, is to help crop wastes and grasses to become a mainstream raw material, “keeping trees in the ground and creating all the additional benefits, not least a new revenue source for farmers.”
The Morrisons trial came after a similar one in strawberry punnets sold in Co-op stores. According to Cox, the trials were an important milestone in that they allowed the retailers to offer customers for the first time fruit punnets in which the paper tray could be recycled.
“It was great for Morrisons to be able communicate a recycling initiative to their customers in this way,” she explained. “You’ve always been able put the punnet into the plastic recycling. And now the paper pad can go into the paper stream - this couldn't be done before. The little paper pap wasn't recyclable - it was single use.”
She added that "in a number of independent tests with certain verities of fruit our shelf life has been longer". In terms of price, the F Pad has “a slight on cost compared to the current plastic”, Cox said, but one that could be offset against plastic taxes and helping towards zero net carbon goals and deforestation initiatives.
Other products in the pipeline
Tensei has other products in development for the food and drink industry using crop waste bioengineering tech.
“We are developing new materials from crop waste, grasses and unrealised bi-waste streams in multiple markets and industries,” we were told.
The F Pads are now being tested for bakery/under pizza/meat applications. Tensei is also considering using other biowaste streams, such as avocado skins, and is developing a lightweight uncoated paper made from crop wastes to replace greaseproof.
It is also testing laminated papers in the hope of introducing crisp and nut packets that can be recyclable in home recycling collections.
"The other area which is really important to us is the vegan market because there are a number of new firms out there making plant-based foods who want to use plant-based packaging,” added Cox.
Acquisition expands the company’s footprint in Iberia and the Canary Islands and brings new design and e-commerce capabilities
Berlin Packaging, the world’s largest hybrid packaging supplier, announced today the acquisition of the Juvasa Group, a group of companies focused on the supply of glass, plastic, and metal packaging for the food and beverage industry.
A symbol of growing interconnectivity and easy yet safe access to data, IoT is changing every industry for the better as discussed in the previous blog ( IoT part 1). In the packaging industry specifically, IOT helps increase consumer awareness and can also help in data logging and automation of processes.
The first is the focus on food loss and waste (FLW). Given that 1/3 of food is lost or wasted between the farm and fork each year, equivalent to wasting 1/4 of the world’s freshwater used by agriculture and emitting around 8% of global greenhouse gases, this should be of no surprise to anyone. The UN has made it clear that “countries will not be able to achieve Net Zero and are unlikely to deliver the Paris Agreement on climate change without tackling FLW.”
The second is with regards to the complex issue of food system resilience and food security, especially in light of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, which we have seen, inadvertently discriminated heavily against the poorest in our world. I believe every one of us should have access to safe food and water – whoever we are and wherever we are. This is something that, we at Huhtamaki, are committed to as part of our purpose.
What struck me about both these topics is the intersection with the essential role that sustainable food packaging already plays today and can increasingly play going forward, in helping to strengthen our food systems to both reduce FLW and improve affordable accessibility to food for all.
Our ability to claim this is based on common sense. By delivering sustainable fit-for-purpose packaging which protects food from chemical, biological and physical impact, delays product deterioration, extends shelf life, and supports food safety, the packaging ensures that the limited resources used to produce food, and the carbon footprint created, are not wasted. This is particularly important given that the environmental benefit of avoided waste is usually 5 to 10 times higher than the environmental cost of the packaging. Today, only around 5 percent of carbon emissions in food systems are attributable to food packaging.
Building food packaging value chains that are resilient to challenges such as pandemics is as critical to supporting lives and livelihoods as it is in enabling the availability of safe, hygienic, secure, and affordable food products to all. As 56% of the global population now live in urban areas, the role of packaging in transporting and distributing food is crucial. Again, this has been brought into sharp relief during the initial phases of the COVID-19 pandemic and recent civil unrest in parts of the world. It is why the packaging industry was recognized by governments across the world as an essential industry during the pandemic.
As the UN says, good food keeps us healthy – it strengthens our communities, powers our economies, and protects our planet. Food packaging helps in all these aims and plays a significant role in enabling access to safe food each and every day.
We look forward to the outputs from the pre-summit contributing to the recognition that sustainable packaging is essential to a well-functioning holistic food system. Ensuring that the interlinkages between different parts of the food system are fully incorporated into the recommendations of the Summit will be crucial in delivering the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.
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Congratulations on being selected by the international judging panel as a Sustainability Awards 2021 finalist! Could you please introduce your successful entry and what’s innovative about it?
The successful entry is a specifically engineered Sundae Cup & Lid that we developed in partnership with Havi for McDonald’s to be used throughout Europe initially. The product is made from 100% wood fiber, without any plastic additives and has been formulated for use with ice cream and a broad range of sauces and toppings.
The product needed to be engineered to very high performance tolerances, demonstrate superior functionality and organoleptic properties and also provide the consumer with a highly evolved level of sensory perception in use. We see this product not as a ‘good replacement for plastic’, but as a fantastic sustainable design and a beautiful piece of packaging in its own right.
What are the environmental challenges in packaging that your entry addresses, and what impact do you hope it will make?
The initial need was to replace an existing, brand-iconic, plastic package made from non-renewable materials. Our Circular design addresses the consumer (and increasingly legislative) demand for a switch to renewable materials by using tree fiber from sustainably managed forests, utilising efficient manufacturing processes that reprocess all scrap and wastage and ending with a consumer and operator validated package that can be recovered in existing paper streams, have the high-value material within it captured, and then recycled.
I’d like to ask you about the broader picture beyond your successful entry. ‘Sustainability’ in packaging is multi-dimensional – both in terms of objectives and challenges. Could you comment on the most important roadblocks you identify from your position in the value chain, and the kinds of solutions you would like to see addressing them (e.g. areas of technological innovation, collaboration, regulation)?
The objectives that our industry is faced with delivering are laudable, as we aspire to take a ‘whole system’ approach to the packaging we produce. This means we must look beyond a simple raw material switch when we are designing for sustainability, towards a better understanding of whole life cycles for the product, the raw materials chosen, operational methods, energy efficiency and validation of manufacturing footprints.
Regional recycling infrastructures also need to be evolved to ensure that used materials can be effectively captured and given another use by unlocking inherent raw material value.
We need to develop independent scientific comparison tools to allow transparent validation of the choices made in the name of true sustainability that take all the positive and negative parameters into consideration so that consumer trust can be built upon these new packaging and system directions.
So for me, the key challenges go beyond the obvious complexity, infrastructure development and cost considerations associated with establishing new manufacturing categories and focus on fully educating ourselves in the industry, legislators and decision-makers at country level and ultimately consumers to make sure we take the best possible decisions on the journey to truly sustainable packaging.