December 2015 Roundtable on Bag & Pouch Making Machinery
Senior Sales Manager
More than 5 years with the company
+39 0331 305570
Product Line Mgr.: Intermittent Motion; Sales Mgr.: North America, Non-Medical Pouch
6 years with the company
6 years with the company
General Manager — Sales, Marketing, Customer Support
Mamata Enterprises, Inc.
16 years with the company
Technical Service Engineer and Secretary-Treasurer
Totani America, Inc.
8 years with the company
Q: How important is speed when it comes to bag/pouch-making machinery? Presently, what is your fastest machine?
Daco’: Speed is for sure one of the main key points with customers, even if today they are more focused on the machine flexibility with a short changeover time. Customers require high output to be able to change jobs more often than in the past (by reaching the batch quantity faster). Our fastest machine (SA-V 06) can reach 240 c/min and with the double independent lanes production option grants 480 pouches/min.
Fuller: Speed is one factor, and its importance is very job-dependent. For sustained runs of the same bag/pouch, throughput speed is huge (provided your process is stable and doesn’t require frequent tweaks which cause stoppages and negate the benefits of a high-speed system.) However, much of the flexible pouch packaging requests are for shorter runs. Efficiency, quick make-ready, less scrap on start-up, large processing windows for the new and changing film blends and closure requirements – these factors are more important than speed for most converters. CMD long ago developed the ability to make machines go faster – we have some of the quickest converting machines in the world. Our goal is to advance machine technology, to evolve equipment so that it helps the converter to improve the pouch/bag-making process and reduce costly downtime.
Russell: Mechanically, Modern has machines capable of cycling up to 300 cpm. Unfortunately, machine throughput speeds are dependent on pouch configurations and material types. These play a huge factor on equipment process speeds. In fact, we tell customers they have more control over machine speeds than we do. This is all based around sealant layers and heat transfer rates into the films.
Amin: With changing market needs, volumes and labor cost in North America, speeds have become an important aspect in pouch/bag making machinery. However, the most important factor is to provide the best cost-to-output ratio for a given product without compromising productivity and consistency. At Mamata, we aim to offer machines that give the best cost-to-output ratio in the industry. For e.g. today, market needs are changing from laminates to co-ex film pouch processing. Mamata offers machines that would run co-ex films at speeds in excess of 100 pouches/minute for a standup pouch. Our wicketers are the fastest wicketers to produce zipper wicketed bags at up to 250 cpm. Our vacuum pouch machines can run co-ex barrier film pouches at up to 150-160 cycles/minute. We offer center fin/lap seal pouch machines for production speeds up to 200 cpm, and are the fastest machines in the world.
Kumamoto: Very important. Our high-speed bag machine runs 450 to 500 cpm. Pouch machine speeds up to 300 cpm with up to 4 lanes or up to 1200 ppm. These are Totani high-speed machines, which are designed and built to hold up in high-speed production.
Q: Going forward, what types of things can be done to make bag/pouch-making machinery faster and more efficient?
Daco’: First of all, to use the latest technology of connection and reaction with servo motors and PLC. Our SA-V model is fully equipped with Siemens components and based on Siemens Profinet protocol, granting more speed compared to the previous version. Then, all mechanical frames and parts shall be designed to resist to high stress due to the high speed, that’s why most of these frames are, at Elba, produced internally thanks to (our) sister company. This will increase the machine reliability too.
Amin: Making faster machinery and a more efficient machine has never been an issue. The challenge is to handle the outputs of those machines at high speeds. Automation at the delivery end, packaging and conveying is what is required to make these fast machines more effective.
Kumamoto: Automatic monitoring of the pouch forming and sealing process is being done on Totani machines currently. Also, we have stack assist methods. We are always listening to our customers and improving these systems. This is ongoing.
Russell: Modern will be introducing some newly patented technology in 2016 which will allow us to substantially increase machine throughput speeds. We are hoping this will set a new standard for pouch making and allow volumes to be produced at a fraction of the cost.
Q: What are some of the biggest challenges you hear from customers when it comes to pouch making? What is your company doing to solve or make these challenges easier?
Fuller: One major challenge for converters is being ready for what the market throws at them next. The flexible packaging market is undergoing huge changes and is in a rapid state of flux, as brand owners seek ways to grab the attention of the consumer. For converters to keep up with the changing demands of their customers, they need the right tools. As I indicated, adaptable, flexible machinery with intuitive operation features allow the converter to be more nimble, responding to, or even anticipating the ever-changing market environment. This is how our customers have leveraged CMD technology to earn more business. Another challenge is attaining consistent quality. If converters sell the same pouches made on the same systems as everyone else, there is little differentiation in the marketplace. Getting business essentially becomes a price war. Technology that allows converters to differentiate their product — by verifying the parameters around seal quality and improving dimensional integrity, for instance — will resonate with specific packaging segments like medical and food. More brand owners are expecting compliance with ISO 22000, or similar, food safety standards. Responding to this need, CMD invented Intelligent Sealing Technology as an option on all pouch machinery. Creative mechanical and programming technology are married together to statistically verify the seal quality on each and every pouch produced. You can visit CMD’s website to download a whitepaper on this technology.
Russell: Changeovers are everything to our customers. The reduction of scrap and setup time becomes a huge factor to most converters since just in time ordering from their customers becomes more prevalent. Modern has taken the initiative to design many features into our pouch-making lines to reduce these times. Just some of the features offer linked zipper guiding with sealing systems, auto calculating mechanical positioning for things like seal heads, hole punches and forming systems. All of these details add up to time reduction on the setup, giving the customers more actual run time on their pouch production lines.
Daco’: As told before, customers today are looking for a really flexible machine to be capable of running different jobs. Sometimes, a machine that makes all. The modularity of our SA-V model matches these requests, as we can really build the machine around any customer’s need, granting them a tailor made solution with an easy and fast changeover time.
Kumamoto: Customers have to respond to market demands with shorter job runs. This can affect operational efficiencies and lead to higher downtime. Machinery that is designed for quick changeovers and that will handle a wide variety of material structures without big parameter changes helps reduce changeover time, scrap percentage and wasted resources.
Totani machinery is designed to precisely handle web tension and web tracking through the forming and sealing process. Customers are always trying new films and different laminations as they strive for low cost. Having a strong machine platform with high-quality consistent heat sealing is critical to the pouch-making process.
Totani tries to improve its machinery by making it more versatile for our customers. We are always updating machinery components and offering these as retrofits to our customers worldwide as new designs become available. Machines built decades ago are still operational, producing high-quality pouches and, more importantly, are making converters money.
Amin: The biggest challenge that customers have is optimizing changeover time and setup waste. Due to shorter job runs and the wide variety of bag and pouch styles needed by end users, converters are looking for flexible and versatile machines without compromising quality and productivity. This allows them to cater to a larger target audience and allows them take care of their customer needs with ease. Mamata has a wide range of machines to cater to every market segment and match various customer requirements in terms of outputs and budgets.
Q: Training and education is important when it comes to bag/pouch making. Can you talk about what your company is doing to provide the support that a customer may need?
Amin: The process of making a bag or pouch is the most important aspect of this industry. Most of the issues a customer faces in making a bag/pouch are related to its process. At Mamata, we have always focused on user-friendly and intelligent controls that require minimum inputs from the machine setter/operator when it comes to operating the machine. E.g. on our pouch machines, when you want to process co-ex films, all you do is press a button on the panel and it automatically adjusts all the sealing stations to widen the gap to run the co-ex films. On our bag machines and wicketers, the sync section is designed to identify the attachment/accessory and switch to the operating speeds of those attachments without any adjustments to be made. This reduces requirement for high-skilled labor when running a Mamata machine. Mamata has always focused on understanding films/laminates and how they behave under different processing environments and with different machines. With machines installed in over 75 countries, Mamata has always focused on this training and education to our customers and have made sure that our customers are able to get maximum productivity with the given quality of operators/labor available. Every new machine installation we make at customer site includes in-depth training on process, technical aspects of machine, troubleshooting and maintenance. This is backed up by a follow-up visit, depending on the customer, to ensure best productivity on our equipment.
Daco’: The Elba staff is always available to meet customer need, from the machine design point of view up to any questions customers could have during normal machine running. We have a standard timing for operator training during startup that can be extended according to different customers’ need. We also have a special training package that includes different visits after the machine installation to ensure the customer a complete follow up of their activity.
Russell: Training and support is everything to the growth of the pouch market. In order to get a new customer into the pouch-making business, it is not all just about selling them a pouch-making line. Modern has built its business model around support and training after the equipment has been installed. It literally takes months and sometimes years before the customer has a good understanding of what is involved with providing pouches as an alternative package to their customers. Modern has circumvented this with after the sales on site training programs, unlimited call in support and we are rapidly putting together a more formal training program that will be offered regionally to all of our customers. This support and training is unequivocally providing Modern’s customers with accelerated success when it comes to providing pouches as an alternative packing source.
Kumamoto: Totani is successful because of our customer service, support and technical training. We work with our customers on multiple levels from project management, teaching die-line and layout drawings to installation, training, parts management and troubleshooting. Having a dedicated staff in North America allows for quick response to resolve customer issues. The quality of personnel is also critical and our team is consistently being trained on new machinery and technology which allows our customers to learn from the best.
The typical installation of a machine will take a few days, but the most important time spent is focused on education with the customer. Educating them not only on machinery components but of the process to understand how films react during pouch making and what pouch machine operators will be up against in specific situations. Extensive training at the customer facility is done. We train the maintenance staff on the total machine. We have six trained engineers on the Totani America staff to support our customers. Customer training, education and support are very important to Totani America.
Fuller: Having a consultant-partner to help optimize your machinery — to ensure peak performance so you get the most for your money — is as important as the machine purchase itself. Getting the most out of a significant asset like a pouch or bag converting system is vital. Converters should expect professional installation, comprehensive training, preventive maintenance counseling, spare parts recommendations and stellar service response as part of the total package they receive from their OEM. If they are not getting this level of wrap-around support, the cheapest machine can quickly cost unexpected thousands in downtime, scrap and lost orders. If the machine is intuitive to run and easier to learn, your people will need less training. Invest in a machine with elegant design and programming, and a very easy HMI. Doing this will reduce your training investment, bring your people up to speed faster, and improve worker confidence, morale and retention. Ask your OEM if it has a formal training program that is easily transferrable to you — in a simple format that you can share with your team. CMD offers a proven Watch*See*Do program, plus a library of machine setup videos available exclusively for our customers. Easy-to-follow operation manuals, with color pictures and clear illustrations, will save hours of downtime. Many years ago, CMD interviewed our customers to get their suggestions for improving our manuals — and we have heard they are the best in the industry.
Q: The forecast for bag/pouch demand in the future is very positive and the standup pouch is still king. But on that note, what other pouch formats have the potential to be big?
Amin: Yes, standup pouch is still a king. However, standup pouches are conventionally made of laminates, which are non-recyclable and a challenge to the environment. So need is now arriving to use more environmentally-friendly recyclable materials to make these pouches. Mamata has already developed technology to handle the recyclable materials like PP/PP or PE/PE film structures to make standup pouches, or even bare co-ex films. There are also two other pouch styles emerging rapidly in the market. One is a quad seal pouch that is widely used for medium- to large-format packaging needs, especially for pet food and agri produce markets. Another pouch format that is geared up to take the market is the flat-bottom pouch. This pouch style uses 10-15 percent less film for the same volume to be filled in compared to a standup pouch. Mamata has designed its flat-bottom pouch machines to take care of both these needs.
Russell: Certainly the flat-bottom pouch is making inroads, which now can be offered by Modern as part of our standard product line. But this is not the only growth area for pouches. There are a lot of liquid and custom featured pouches coming out into the marketplace, and these will continue to grow from niche markets to more mainstream product offerings. As the market for pouches continues to evolve, new technologies and features will come to life extending the pouch market as we know it.
Kumamoto: Most pouch markets are growing very well, especially the standup pouch. The Box Pouch is our flat-bottom pouch that came to North America in 2003. The Box Pouch has 5 panels with registered print. It is used for liquids and dry products. Worldwide, Box Pouch use has grown steadily since 2007. We project it to continue to grow steadily.