ROUNDTABLE on Bag/Pouch Making
4 years with the company
Technical Project Manager | Regional Sales Manager
Totani America Inc.
6 years with the company
General Manager – Sales, Marketing & Customer Support
Mamata Enterprises Inc.
Intermittent Motion Product Line Manager
5 years withthe company
Q: What is your newest machine or package type available? What’s special about it?
Amin: Mamata introduced the most talked about flat-bottom pouch machine (patent pending) in the converting industry at PackExpo 2013 show. With production speeds of up to 150 pouches per minute, this machine has a compact footprint compared to what is available and a much shorter film path. This allows customers to set up the machine faster and also reduces setup waste. With options of running one or two lanes, and all panels print registration, this is going to be the talk of town in 2014 from Mamata. The first machine will be up and running in U.S. in second half of the year.
Vann: Totani is set to debut an updated version of our spout fitment insertion and sealing machine at InterPack 2014. A lot of new features and machine enhancements have been made on the new Model ST30 to improve speed, performance and efficiency.
Totani is responding to features that the market is requesting, with the addition of a robotic pick-and-place system for the spout infeed, and also a vision system integrated to a rejection/stacking conveyor. Having a robotic system that is more versatile will reduce the cost of having specialized tooling and multiple sets of vibratory bowls.
Much more significant is to eliminate any potential defected pouches. Adding devices and sensors that can catch defects more accurately at higher speeds, and will automatically reject them from good stock is essential. The packer still gets involved to conduct spot checks, but doesn’t have to visually check every pouch, and this will lead to faster production rates.
Russell: If there is one single pouch configuration that comes to mind, we would say the barrel style pouch that we have seen introduced in the wine industry being one of the newest and unique solutions for flexible packaging in a long time. As this product continues to gain market acceptance we can see many future applications for this pouch configuration.
Fuller: CMD’s recently advanced technology on our protective packaging pouch converting systems. The 760-PPS produces bank or security bags, STEBs (secure, tamper-evident bags) and security mailers. What makes this machine so special is the versatility to produce virtually every configuration needed, while maintaining exceptional process stability, which is attained through precise alignment of processing stations, proprietary CMD intelligent sealing technology and flexible, reliable machine control.
Anderson: Hudson Sharp's newest machine is a transverse closure applicator that is used to apply reclosability to web. This attachment can be put on an existing Inno-Lok machine or on a separately sold web stopper. Reclosability continues to evolve and grow in the market, and this type of machinery is a necessary part of that growth.
Q: What kind of bag/pouch is fastest to produce, and why? Which one is most complex to produce, and why?
Vann: The bags and pouches that are fastest to produce are typically ones with material that will handle high acceleration well, are easy to seal requiring a low seal time, and also are made up of material that can be cut at high speeds. Making a simple side-welded bag or a two- or three-sided pouch can be done at extremely high rates and also is done multiple lanes across.
As it pertains to pre-made pouch making, both two and three-sided pouches are the fastest and easiest to produce; however, even standup pouches can run up to 300 cycles per minute. What drives this are the primary functions of the machine; acceleration, sealing (dwell) time, heat and pressure. You need a machine with excellent draw roll accuracy and web tension control to produce at aforementioned speeds. Also pertinent is a stacking conveyor that will deliver pouches to the packer properly.
Russell: With advancements in technology, we feel the production efficiencies for standup pouches is taking great strides for operational speeds, Modern has been able to achieve up to 200 plus cycles per minute for single-lane pouching lines, which is multiplied if the volume warrants for multiple lanes up to four across for standup pouches achieving up to 800 pouches per minute
Some of the newer pouch configurations such as the flat-bottom pouch and the liquid pouch applications have added a lot of complexity to the pouching equipment and process. This has taken the automation requirements in the pouching industry to new levels of complexity.
Fuller: The standard three-sided seal pouch is generally the fastest to produce. With its stable, robust structure, it’s relatively easy to convert in multiple-lane format at very high speeds.
Conversely, one of the most complex flexible packages would be the tamper-evident bank bag. Multiple webs must be handled through a number of different processing stations: unwinding, guiding, and in some cases perforating more than one of these webs.
At the same time, each of these webs has different levels of extensibility, meaning you have to tension match effectively and consistently. You’re applying hot-melt adhesive strips with very little room for error. Code printing is done in-line with multiple types or formats of printers. Then there’s sealing: longitudinal seals in the machine direction; slitting, cross perforating, and finally, applying a wide cross seal on a rather delicate substrate. This must be done in perfect synchronization to produce a pouch with multiple levels of functionality for the end user.
Amin: The fastest bag that you can make is a wicketed bread bag, which can be made at up to 400 cycles per minute. The fastest pouch you can produce is a three-side seal pouch. In bag making, the most complex one to produce is a quad seal bag from a single web or a security/courier bag. Mamata offers machines for both applications.
The most complex pouch style we offer now is flat-bottom pouch. Both these bag/pouch styles require extreme close tolerance in web handling and requires a high-precision sealing mechanism, plus multiple web handling with precise tension control, hence considered to be complex structures.
Q: Which type of bag/pouch has the best versatility across all markets, and why?
Dacò: The king is still the standup pouch and it can be used for a wide range of products, both liquid and solid. The different tools that you can apply (like reclosing systems or spout) give the standup pouch a huge versatility across different markets. The shape is well appreciated by customers and it stands well on the shelves to show the inside product.
Fuller: Obviously, the basic standup zippered pouch is the “Mac Daddy” of package formats, primarily due to the cost-effective “pop” it brings to the shelf, regardless of the market. Shaped pouches are also showing up in more than just the pet-food aisle, but become limited in use due to added cost
Anderson: There are two main types that are prominent in all markets ? standup pouches and side gusset bottom seal (SGBS). If you look around in stores you will see these pouch types dominant and growing more dominant. Versatility is inherent in flexible packaging because we can easily change graphics to address marketing needs as they are identified. Stand up pouches and side gusset pouches are comparatively easy to manufacture and so they are always worth considering compared to more complicated packaging. Compared to other types of packaging that would serve the same products, standup pouches and SGBS are very versatile.
Amin: In pouch making, standup pouches remain the most versatile pouch style today, due to its ease of manufacturing and different range of sizes. However, the shift to Co-Ex PE films for making standup pouches to help the environment recycle this pouch style is becoming more and more in-demand. In the poly bags market, wicketed bread bags and zipper poly bags for packaging of food, fresh produce, fruits, etc., is still the most versatile packaging. Mamata offers its bag- and pouch machines for all these applications. In fact, Mamata wicketers are the fastest wicketers to make zipper-wicketed bags at rated speeds of up to 250 cycles per minute.
Russell: We all know the standup pouch is the most versatile pouch in the industry, with so many applications of closures, and features that can be added, this simply fills the packaging needs of many market segments across many industries.
Q: Since we all know the standup pouch is king, do you see another pouch style that might end up being the next big thing?
Anderson: We see a trend towards more side-gusset-quad packages, many that feature the Pour & Lok pour spout technology. Since the standup pouch is a large portion of the pouch market, Hudson-Sharp will soon introduce a new technology that will allow traditional vertical machine (VFFS) pillow pack to stand up. It is an exciting new twist on the way standup pouches are made.
Fuller: Package cost is always a factor. More and more, we’re seeing interest in poly-bag/pouch hybrid packages as a means to drive cost out. Material formulations that balance cost with performance are now becoming available. Cost-effective inks and coatings, which handle the rigors of shipping and handling while maintaining product integrity, are still being refined. As these areas mature, you could see more and more utilization of these lower-cost alternative packaging choices. As new and different materials are introduced, it is more important than ever to have the converting process under control, and to have a way to verify the quality of the pouch seal.
Amin: Flat-bottom pouches – with an affordable machine to make those pouches – are what we foresee as the next big thing coming up. Mamata aims to provide this cost effective solution to the market and allow more and more converters make these pouches which, at present, is limited to only few players in the industry.
As mentioned earlier, this product could be the replacement of standup pouches since flat-bottom pouches provide greater fill volumes for lower film consumption. This will reduce packaging costs and at the same time give greater shelf visibility.
Russell: We do not see any one pouch configuration being the next big market segment, with the needs for liquid, retort and other growing market segments for flexible packaging we think the pouching configurations are almost endless.
So many people focus only on the main stream markets, but we are fortunate enough to see many growth segments for pouch applications that require uniquely configured pouch applications.
Because of this there is no single pouch configuration that we feel is going to take over the market place.
As an equipment supplier being able to offer customized unique solutions will only help continue the growth of the pouch market segments
Dacò: In our opinion actually there is nothing so close to the standup pouch design in terms of flexibility.
Q: What’s missing from this sector? What would you like to see improve?
Vann: What the pouch market sector is missing is a knowledge center that should include reference guidelines that defines both a flexible pouch versus a plastic bag. The knowledge center would also include attributes of the flexible pouch and the plastic bag. This will help to serve the industry and the CPGs (consumer packaged goods) will have access to reference information.
The knowledge center should not merely be a reference for machinery capabilities and solutions, but its purpose should also include the features and attributes of a pouch or bag. In my experience I frequently come across groups of people talking about a similar attribute or a specific spot on the pouch, yet each group has its own jargon. The lack of common words and phrases cause confusion, which results in a breakdown of communication.
Dacò: The sustainability is now really important in this market, so we believe that we need to improve sustainable and recyclable materials.
Russell: What is really missing is consumer and product awareness of the values that pouch packaging brings to the world. There are so many reasons that flexible pouches are a better solution than their rigid counterparts. The average person is not aware of such benefits, as reduced packaging costs, reduced landfill space etc. We need this to be an educated choice for future generations
Amin: The pre-form pouch industry is missing two things today. One is a high-speed spout fixing line for the liquid packaging industry, which would allow for the replacement of rigid containers. The other thing is a high-speed pick-fill-and-seal pouching machine for pre-made pouch packaging. Mamata recently addressed this area of packaging with its pick-fill-and-seal pouch machine and exhibited at PackExpo 2013. With speeds up to 160 pouch filling per minute, this machine features creative use of technology, combined with Mamata innovation, and is capable of delivering unparalleled speeds, changeover automation and customized pouch conveying and filling options.
Fuller: Actually, things in this market have improved dramatically. Utilization of flexible packaging continues to grow and stretch into all markets. The various conferences and associations in this sector are putting out a better product each year. The consumer is embracing the format, and sustainability initiatives continue to gain momentum. I’d like to see the enthusiasm continue to grow.
Q: What is your opinion of the flexible packaging industry overall?
Dacò: The flexible packaging market, and then the industry, is really growing fast and it will grow faster in the next years. Products are moving fast from their “old” standard rigid containers to flexible packaging. Market will need new investment in innovative machines to match this growth and any unpredictable market demands. As the market is now real fragmented, customers will need more and more versatile machine with a fast changeover to allow different productions on the same equipment. This is our challenge for the next year.
Amin: We see continued growth for the flexible packaging industry for rest of this decade. The emphasis will be on versatility, greater user convenience and greener packaging.
Vann: The market is growing and by all estimates is poised to continue growing and expanding in the next few years, which makes the flexible packaging market a great place to be in. As the market expands more convertors will join in and competition will increase. There continues to be a need for more robust and higher speed pouch machinery as the market grows and evolves
Fuller: The supplier base is becoming less fragmented and more quality/efficiency-oriented. The industry is stronger in terms of unit sales growth and income. And based on a recent salary survey published by the Institute of Packaging Professionals, it’s a stable, well-compensated industry to be a part of. I’m grateful for what this industry has provided for me in terms of personal fulfillment and professional growth.
Russell: The flexible packaging markets are still growing at a rate that is beyond the global economic growth, and with new films and equipment advancements coming out every day, there is no doubt that this segment of packaging will continue to expand into even more world-wide market segments.