IPACK-IMA attracts global packaging innovation
As a major focus for the European food sector, IPACK-IMA witnessed a number of product launches, including machines for the confectionery market. Neill Barston reports from Milan, Italy
An array of technologically advanced and energy efficient equipment ranges proved the hallmarks of this year’s IPACK-IMA trade event held in Milan, Italy.
Confectionery Production attended as a media partner of the event, which organisers confirmed had attracted a record number of visitors from around the world.
With themes of energy efficiency, sustainability and the impact of Industry 4.0 technology high on the agenda, there were plenty of notable developments across the event.
In total, there were 68,802 attendees from 146 countries, which was double the figure compared against 2015 results.
This was also reflected in the number of exhibitors at the Fiera Milano centre increasing by 9.6 per cent, to 1,503, with floor space of over 62,000 square metres, which was a figure of 11 per cent larger than the previous event.
There were a number of large Italian machinery manufacturers belonging to Ucima, together with other leading international companies in the sector, which its organisers felt helped to make the event more dynamic for visitors.
It further expanded product offerings, which included process and packaging machinery, materials, end-of-line technologies, tracking, coding and labelling, industrial components and robotics.
During the event we were invited to experience one of a number of new products from Italian flowpack wrapping specialists Cavanna in the form of its virtual reality production plant.
Among its standout equipment at the show was a solution for enrobed biscuits, a wrapper with a new PI.CO loading system which is able to receive round cookies and wrap them either in piles or in slugs, an all in one wrapping module. Changeovers are simple and can be done in about ten minutes. In addition, the company released a new flowpack model called ZeroX. This has been developed for a reduced footprint, keeping the accessibility for maintenance both from the operator and non-operator side.
Another of its major launches was a solution for baked goods wrapping solution for baked items. It features high-resolution linear cameras, and is made for delicate products with irregular shape, like croissants.
The G-44 robotic unit, equipped with two Delta arms, takes the croissants transported on a conveyor at 120/150 ppm, and places them directly on the wrapper’s chainless infeed. This unit can support up to four cameras in parallel and it represents a standard for the global market.
Fellow Italian equipment business Carle&Montanari-OPM and Cmfima also appeared at the show and shared a booth with its parent company SACMI, representing its food division.
For confectionery and bakery, the business produces a complete line of secondary packaging machines consisting of automatic lines, machines and robots to erect, load and close boxes, displays and cases. These include the TLP series (mono-bi-trifunctional cells with top loading robots) and the WA series (compact, modular wrap-around machines that ensure performance and high speed).
The company also showcased its latest SmartCell packager, designed to streamline size changeover management. This cell consists of independent, complementary modules for fully automatic case forming and bundle preparation/insertion.
The first module – which prepares and forms the case – features fully automated size changeover; the size can reportedly be set via the operator interface without any need for manual adjustment as case dimensions vary. On the second module, two pairs of conveyor belts and an equal number of fast pickers prepare the bundle.
There was also significant interest in Bühler’s range of products – with a total of over 20 digital services presented. These focused on helping make food safer, saving energy, and to prevent waste.
“Digitalisation is unlocking an enormous potential in the food processing industry,” says Johannes Wick, CEO of Bühler’s grains and food business.
“This is only the very beginning of a transformation of the entire industry. Recently, we established our first team of data analytics experts. Our goal is to help advance digital transformation in our industries,” he adds.
“We now have the capability to connect more than 85 per cent of our solutions to the cloud,” remarks Ian Roberts, the company’s chief technology officer.
He adds: “We are convinced that digital technologies are key to deliver on our promise of achieving a 30 per cent reduction of waste and energy consumption in the food value chain.”
In addition, the business also showcased its much-heralded LumoVision optical sorting technology at the Ipack-Ima, which it has launched in a venture with Microsoft.
Its unique selling point is said to be an ability to identify and sort out corn that has been contaminated with aflatoxin.
There was also a notable presence from the Cama group, which the company said had been a strong priority with a long association with the event.
The company said: “This year, we noticed even more than on the past an international characterisation to the event, which makes us even more proud of being Italian.
“Visitors could see the very latest technological innovations of our company, which are part of our Break-Through Generation (BTG) systems. These new standards mark a milestone in research and development in hygiene, ergonomics, safety and ease of use and include the following – fast format changes, energy saving engineering, optimisation of floorspace and of operating times.”
The company also presented lines that featured intelligent and interactive systems, including Industry 4.0, augmented reality solutions, which proved another notable trend throughout the event.
Also among those appearing was equipment business Livetech, with the company explaining that it has placed a special emphasis on its latest generation X-series lines for top-Loading, and its latest wrap-around machines. The firm also introduced its new subsidiary CEDA, a historic name in the moulding sector.
CEDA showcased the new Vibrociok, a centrifugal rotary machine designed specifically for moulding hollow items as a stand-alone machine, and the RSC380-20 rotary machine, which the business said is designed to be included into automatic systems.