Throughout its history, PPMA Total Show – to take place this year at the NEC Birmingham from 1–3 October – has long been recognised as fertile ground for new machine and technology launches, and this year’s event is no exception.
One technology that wouldn’t have been quite so prevalent at the first show 31 years ago is robotics. Whether working alone or collaboratively with humans on a processing or packaging line, robots can speed up operations and save on labour costs.
UK company CME (stand G150) is to use this year’s event to unveil a new precision, robotic food handling system. Claimed by CME to be one of the most hygienic systems on the market, the HFPC 120 has been designed in conjunction with Stäubli, utilising the Swiss company’s newly released HE fully hygienic robot range.
CME says it’s one of few models on the market designed specifically for orientating and placing primary meat products, such as chicken portions, steaks and burgers, into trays.
More robotic automation will be on display at the Brillopak stand (K110). Currently used by Morrisons in three of its fresh produce and fruit manufacturing sites, the P180 Spider Arm Robot Cell (pic 1) is an automatic pick-and-place packing line, able to handle any type of fruit, salad and vegetables packed in vertical form, fill and seal (VFFS), tray-sealed and flow-wrapped bags weighing up to 1kg.
Pouching, filling and sealing
No packaging show would be complete without a wide variety of pouching, filling and sealing equipment. BW Flexible Systems (D70) will be showcasing its Verus VFFS machine (pic 2), which it claims is one of the most versatile and efficient machines on the market. The model on display will be running quad bags from recyclable film.
Advanced Dynamics (A30), which recently underwent a £250,000 rebrand, will be using the show to emphasise its ‘customer first’ philosophy, backed up with a line-up of fillers, cappers and labellers.
The company says its FL-101 servo-driven volumetric filling machine is suitable for most liquid applications, while the compact FL-12 automatic filler is highly affordable and ideal for use where space is limited.
PFM Packaging Machinery (C20), meanwhile, says its latest bagging system will be the star attraction at its stand. The Azimuth EVO follows the same design concept as its R Series bagging machine, including reduced downtime for reel changes, automatic film web tracking and a space-saving footprint. Also at the show will be the latest version of PFM’s flexible Pearl flow-wrapper. Running at 120 cycles a minute, the Pearl is said to provide all the efficiency advantages of multi-axis servo drive, but at an entry-level cost.
One eagerly-anticipated machine launch will be the Vegatronic 6400 (pic 4), a continuous motion bagger for frozen meat products, available to view at Ilapak’s stand (D10). An evolution of the Vegatronic 6000, the 6400 features a vacuum-assisted splicing table, a pneumatically activated cantilever film reel shaft, and a short drop height to prevent breakages.
Making their debut in the UK are a variety of new feeders and screeners from distributor Genesis Process Solutions (A122). As well as powders, granules and flaked material, the new Universal feeder from Brabender can also handle fruit and nuts. The highlight of the three Farleygreene machines at the Genesis stand is the new Sievmaster Easilift, which combines a sack tipping station and vibratory check screener, suitable for large volumes.
Detection and inspection tech
In tandem with robotics, detection and inspection technology has advanced considerably in recent years, and will feature heavily at the show. As the official partner of Sesotec products in the UK, Eclipse Magnetics (E62) will display a series of high-powered magnetic separators for most applications (pic 7), including bulk, grain, dry powders, damp powders, liquids and syrups, as well as a comprehensive range of metal detectors and vibratory sieves.
Loma Systems (D50) will highlight its range of ‘Designed to Survive’ metal detection, checkweighing and X-ray inspection kit. These include the X5 Spacesaver X-ray inspection machine, which measures just one metre in length and incorporates the firm’s Adaptive Array Technology, helping to balance detection performance against line-speed.
Loma claims its X5C X-ray inspection unit, meanwhile reduces the cost of ownership of X-ray technology by 30% compared to other models, making it ideal for food firms keen to make the switch to X-ray for the first time.
Sick (D64) is inviting PPMA Total Show attendees to gain behind-the-scenes insight into its new smart sensor production facility in Freiburg, Germany. Using interactive links, visitors can learn how companies of any size could achieve the benefits of a factory of the future.
Also on the stand will be the company’s Prime photoelectric and contrast sensors, including the new 4Sight Automated Print Inspection System, developed in collaboration with Autocoding Systems. This can communicate directly with any brand of printer, with no requirement to ‘teach’ the camera what to look for.
Reliable coding and marking systems are essential for food manufacturers nowadays. Among the systems on display at the Macsa ID UK stand (G34) will be the compact Icon 2 small character laser coder (pic 5). Available in 10- and 30-watt versions, the Icon 2 is able to mark most substrates, inclu-ding labels, cartons, plastics, glass, wood and textiles. It can print both linear and 2D bar codes and static bar coding is available as standard, while dynamic bar coding is optional.
Thermal inkjet coding
Rotech (A37) will show off its latest inks for thermal inkjet (TIJ) coding to help food factories achieve their circular economy packaging goals. The firm says the trend towards TIJ is marked among artisan food producers with smaller factories, where the packaging and production areas are in close proximity to one another. Visitors to the stand will see new ways to code sleeves, films and cartons that Rotech claims are inherently cleaner, less damaging to the environment, energy-efficient and more reconcilable with natural and clean-label products.
An AI-based label and date code verification system will be at the OAL stand (A130). Running at more than 1,000 packs a minute, OAL says April Eye ensures full protection of the production line without compromising on volumes.
High-volume machines on the AVE UK stand (B20), are the new Monobloc (filler/capper) and Unibloc (rinser/filler/capper) bottling lines (pic 6). With the war on plastics hitting the drinks sector hard, AVE says bottlers would benefit greatly from economical rinsing, filling and capping lines to quickly switch between and handle multiple types of materials on a single machine – from plastics and glass, to aluminium and biodegradables.
PMA Total Show is also playing host to a variety of specialist equipment providers. Jenton International (A50) will be showing its Bandit table-top heat-sealing banding machines with the latest large arch systems, along with samples of products banded with printed materials. In addition, Jenton Ariana will be showcasing its convergers suitable for thermoformed and other conveyorised packs, and inline seal testers for modified/controlled atmosphere packs.
Other highlights include: a range of stainless steel, planetary servo gearboxes new to the UK from Apex Dynamics UK (E96); a new a new T400 tray washer, the CW13 EX BT; the new range of boot washers (pic 3) at the International Washing Machines stand (B104); and a range of novel and thermal shelf-life preservation systems from Holmach (C30).