Another way of reinforcing interpack’s leading role is by offering innovative special topics alongside the extensive range of offerings provided by exhibitors.
Just one example is a show-within-a-show called ‘Components for processing and packaging’ being staged for the first time this year for suppliers to the packaging industry. Taking place during the first three days of interpack in the Düsseldorf Stadthalle in Congress Centre South (CCD Süd), it caters for companies engaged in drive, control and sensor technology; products for industrial image processing; handling technology; industrial software and communications; complete automation systems for packaging machinery; and manufacturers of machine parts, components, accessories and peripherals.
About 75 companies are taking part in this event, which is complemented by a daily lecture forum. Visitors can find the programme at www.packaging-components.de.
Meeting pharma packaging challenges
Pharmaceutical companies and the packaging sector face huge and varied challenges; and at interpack visitors can discover numerous packaging developments that provide solutions.
For instance, sensitive biopharmaceuticals require more robust packaging; falsification has to be prevented with special seals and codes; and additional features are necessary so that patients can safely administer their medication.
In days gone by, when the medicinal products market was dominated by blockbuster medicines, pharmaceutical companies had it easy: they developed active substances that could be used to treat a large number of patients and produced medicines against widespread ailments such as hypertension and diabetes in standardised mass processes – in the process earning big bucks!
But times are changing. The market for biopharmaceuticals with selective action and greater potency is growing in importance, and scientists are delving ever deeper into biochemistry.
Containers with improved barrier properties and enhanced impact resistance are required to protect precious biosubstances and more flexible production processes are called for, capable of precise dosing of even the tiniest quantities of active substance. For instance, multilayer plastic bottles can provide an alternative to glass vials. Some polymers such as polyolefins are transparent like glass but protect biopharmaceuticals even better as their surface cannot be attacked by alkaline drugs, and they contain hardly any organic substances that might enrich biosubstances. On the other hand, such polymers are relatively expensive, which is why the industry has been hesitant to use them so far.
Issues such as self-medication and user safety are becoming increasingly important. The Finnish-Swedish packaging manufacturer Stora Enso and Göteborg’s Chalmers University of Technology, for example, are developing an intelligent package designed to simplify communication between patient and doctor. It records precisely when a tablet is removed from the pack. If the prescription is not correctly observed, the patient receives a reminder – relayed via mobile phone. Such consumer-friendly solutions demand a difficult balancing act as drug manufacturers have to integrate extra features while keeping costs under control.
Machine and plant manufacturers have adjusted well to pharmaceutical sector needs by devising new equipment that produces and packages medicines faster and more flexibly, helping manufacturers to offset the high costs of elaborate packaging and supplementary features with cost savings in production.
For identification and tracking of medicines (another major trend), Italian automation specialist Marchesini has developed a track-and-trace solution whose printing module is capable of printing 400 folded boxes/min from both sides and from the top with different security labels. A camera then checks and verifies the codes. Data is finally stored in a huge central server from it can be retrieved at any time, making things exceptionally difficult for counterfeiters.
Cosmetics packaging: more green, less sheen
Few sectors are confronted with so many divergent consumer wishes as the cosmetics industry. While luxury articles presented in glossy garb are growing in popularity, another trend is embracing sustainability in response to the growing market for natural cosmetics with resource-conserving packaging. Flexibility is therefore the order of the day for packaging manufacturers and packaging machine suppliers.
Cosmetics suppliers face a difficult task – not only catering for two contrasting trends, but having to deal with increasingly choosy consumers. And the complicated issue of appropriate package design is compounded by the problem of soaring energy and raw material costs.
Answering such challenges, packaging specialist Carl Edelmann has developed a folding box for natural cosmetics that, it claims, embodies an all-out ecological strategy coupled with high quality. The box is made of 80% recycled materials and is printed with oil-free inks produced exclusively with renewable resources and green electricity. This way, says Edelmann, the carbon footprint in production is 76% smaller than for conventional packages. Cosmetics suppliers can thus clearly reduce their emissions via the packaging, while consumers can feel good about ‘going green’ in their purchasing behaviour.
Another way of conserving resources is with packages whose special material properties enable them to be emptied more efficiently. Tubes and shower gel packages are very popular with consumers for practical and aesthetic reasons, but it’s always difficult to get to the last tantalising drops of product.
Meeting this challenge head-on, researchers at the Technische Universität München are developing packaging with the ‘lotus effect’ – ie contents adhere poorly to the water-repellent surface structure of the material, simplifying complete emptying of the pack. Another solution is readily deformable tubes susceptible to creasing whose contents can be squeezed out more easily.
interpack promises plenty of exciting insights, as packaging specialists are pulling out all the stops in their efforts to innovate and boost efficiency. Over 1 100 of the 2 700 exhibitors have products for the cosmetics industry in their portfolios.
Increasingly efficient packaging technology
Sometimes, a brand’s image and tradition makes it impossible to give packaging a fresh, ecological face. For the relaunch of the Nivea brand, in which packaging specialist Weener was involved, the emphasis was on a return to the brand’s roots and user-friendliness.
Manufacturer Beiersdorf continues to use classical PET bottles for its Nivea body care series but the image has undergone a change in terms of design. The new pack is described as ‘memorable and minimalistic’ with clear, tidy labelling, a slender, rounded, pleasant-to-touch bottle and gently sloping shoulders that almost seamlessly merge into the straight, upward-pointing closure.
To conserve resources and cut costs in production and filling, companies such as Beiersdorf have high expectations of filling and packaging technology, especially when it comes to speed and reliability.
Beiersdorf sells Nivea body care products in 200 markets worldwide. Because different regions demand different product quantities, bottle sizes have to vary. This means that closure and injection mould supplier, Weener, has to ensure packs that can be handled without a hitch on all production lines at filling plants worldwide.
Efficiency and production security are all-important as reject packages and frequent stoppages squander resources and push up costs.
Higher throughput, lower costs
High availability of production lines is also a priority at L’Oréal. The company sells strong brands that can’t readily be marketed in a downscaled, ecological get-up. To cushion rising raw materials prices, L’Oréal is putting its suppliers to the test. To optimise the filling processes on its make-up line, it has invested in the latest production technology from Bosch Packaging – among other things in the piston filling machine of the FLK 8000 CIP Plus Series. Piston filling machines are used for filling thin-bodied, thick-bodied and pasty products. The FLK from Bosch raises efficiency and output, the company claims, and thus reduces production costs despite rising prices.
Make-up machines are considered particularly difficult to clean because most products are water-resistant and contain oily substances designed to stay in contact with the skin for as long as possible. L’Oréal used to have the machines cleaned manually, which meant dismantling certain machine parts. Production stoppages lasting several hours were the consequence. The new line from Bosch operates with three tanks that can be cleaned independently, meaning two tanks are constantly in operation. Downtime is eliminated and throughput increased.
Sweden’s Norden Machinery, a subsidiary of the Italian Coesia Group and a specialist in tube-filling machines, also works constantly working on ways to enhance the flexibility and versatility of its systems. Norden’s most recent developments include an inspection system that detects leaky plastic and laminate tubes in-line with a 100% success rate and automatically sorts them out without interruption. The process speed stays high and output is not marred by rejects, which cuts costs.
Bobst on show
Bobst has announced its first-time participation at interpack.
‘As interpack attracts visitors and exhibitors from across the entire global packaging industry, we decided to take advantage of the opportunity to meet industry professionals from around the world and inform them about our cutting-edge printing and converting technologies,’ explains Eric Pavone, business director.
Of particular interest for food packaging are innovations in barrier coating. One such innovation is Bobst’s AlOx process that results in clear film with good water and oxygen barrier. AlOx also enables lower production costs as the process requires only a fraction of the thickness of the equivalent atmospheric coatings. The process can be used for goods where product visibility is required such as baked goods and microwaveable food.