May 2016 Roundtable on Bag/Pouch Making
Senior Sales Manager
6 years with the company
+39 0331 305570
Jesse R. Rosenow
Field Service Engineer
Totani America Inc.
5 years with the company
20 years with the company
6 years with the company
Product Line Manager, Intermittent Motion; Sales Manager, North America, Non-Medical Pouch
7 years with the company
General Manager-Sales, Marketing, Customer Support
Mamata Enterprises, Inc.
3 years with the company
Q: With more converters having to carry out shorter runs, how are you adapting your machinery to meet these changing requirements?
Dacò: From the very beginning we designed all our machines to be flexible and versatile (and) to allow customers to run different jobs with a short changeover time, so for us this is not something new. Our philosophy is to offer customers suitable solutions for their short run production needs and our SA-V model matches these requirements thanks to its modularity configuration that allow us to grant them tailor made solutions.
Rosenow: The design and configuration of a pouch machine is determined by a variety of factors with some of them being at odds with each other. A versatile do-all pouch machine may not as effectively carry out short-run orders. There will be more scrap and a longer setup time period than a more dedicated pouch machine. Having a close association with the customer and discussing the pouch specifications and features is how the OEM adapts the machinery to suit the changing requirements.
Totani is adapting machinery and taking into account where new features and innovations can be integrated that do not require as much setup time or necessary adjustments. Totani’s most popular machine, the model CT60DLLSC, is already quite well designed for short runs and fast changeovers. It has a simple design with tool-less changeover and excellent web tension control which allows for quick lining out of a new job. Our HMI allows operators to focus on primary functions to get up and running quickly with less waste. Further, in recent years we are customizing machines for those customers that want additional enhancements to their machines to provide even more success with shorter runs.
Amin: Mamata offers its pouch machines to take care of multiple pouch style processing without requiring too many mechanical changes in the machine, which allows our customers to adapt to a wide variety of pouch styles on same machine. For example, when you have our pouch machine to do plowed bottom standup pouches, a quad seal capability comes as byproduct with that. Ease of job setup due to all servo controlled seal time, pressure control and tension control, it needs fewer inputs from the operator as far as machine setup is concerned. A digital double cut feature is standard on Mamata machines. This feature takes care of a customer’s need to remove print plate break or to make a pouch with round corners.
Fuller: Machines can be adapted or altered to provide short-term fixes. We have found that using a market-focused approach to identify the real unmet needs around short runs, and a scientific approach to machine design and process efficiency, has resulted in measureable improvements for our customers.
CMD designs equipment that is easier and more intuitive to operate, with setup processes that reduce the amount of time and scrap consumed during changeover. We’ve also added features which will help the operator get the process to an optimal state much quicker, which improves OEE. The results are machines that are adaptable to various package/pouch styles, and which provide solutions with real value for converters. An example is the new CMD Universal Shaped Pouch system, which allows quick changes between shaped pouch styles and is an economical addition to any pouch machine.
Matos: Karlville has establish a new partnership with the Widman Machinery Company from Germany to co-brand, supply and service ultrasonic pouch spouting, converting and filling machines into North and South America. The new partnership utilizes the new Karlville Miami Technology Center to demo ultrasonic technology with innovative films and pouches. In terms of changeovers, as our machines use ultrasonic welding, the tooling never gets hot. As our pouch-making machine seals the bottom gusset and side seals with only one station respectively, we only have to change tools once versus conventional thermal competitors changing tools on multiple stations. As a bonus, our tooling is fully adjustable for easy changeover between pouch size changes. As a summary, we can change jobs on our machines while the competition is still waiting for their tools to cool down. As a safety bonus, we’ve eliminated the risk of burns during changeovers.
Russell: Modern’s pouching equipment was designed from scratch with short runs in mind – this has been our premise from the beginning. As with everything, the devil is in the details, every station in the pouch making line has been evaluated for functionality and ease of setup. With the conditions of buyers, ordering shorter runs and reducing their inventory, the pouch making market needs to react to these conditions. Modern has taken every step in the design and manufacture of our pouch line to alleviate the costly setup times and reduce scrap. Based on factual numbers received from customers, Modern equipment operates approximately at a 2 percent scrap rate compared to the exact same pouch run on competitive equipment, running approximately a 6 percent scrap rate. This averages out to be almost 1,500 linear feet of added scrap per job saved on a Modern pouching line. On an average 8 x 10-inch standup pouch with a 3 inch gusset, our customers have reported up to 2,000 linear feet of material lost setting up competitor’s equipment, while setting up the same job on a Modern machine the film lost during setup is less than 500 linear feet. The bottom line for this savings, using an average of 15 cents per pouch material cost on an average 8-inch standup pouch with 10 changeovers per week, can add up to $168,000 in materials saved annually using Modern equipment.
Q: We know that one of the biggest “wants” from customers when it comes to bag/pouch making machinery is fast changeovers. What is your company doing to address this?
Amin: As mentioned above, with less changeover components due to its unique design, the customer has the advantage to move from one pouch style to the other. Quick job setup due to all servo controlled seal time, pressure control and tension control, it needs fewer inputs.
Rosenow: We have found that the most important aspect regarding quick changeovers is operator skill. This obviously develops from experience, but it begins with extensive training during the machine installation and continues with ongoing training throughout the partnership with our customers. We also utilize machine tools such as easy-to-release tool-less seal bars, make-ready tooling sets and “pouch recipes” that can be saved/loaded on the machine HMI to ease the changeover process. It is often overlooked, but having an organized and systematic approach to changeover is critical, and that means having all necessary tooling prepared in advance of the changeover.
Russell: The speed of changeovers is a true functionality of the machine design. The ability to make quick and easy mechanical changes and adjustments to the machine has been designed into all of our equipment. We have applied this concept to each attachment and feature on our machines. This includes the simplicity of operator control functions and process functions of the machine, allowing operators to truly understand the process and equipment.
Dacò: We know that a machine is profitable when it runs, so all our models are “tool-less” designed, so customers can easily change sealing and punching dies to adapt the machine to the new job in the fastest way. Furthermore, all stations are easy to access and to move to the new required position as they are totally independent. Our HMI allows the customer to save thousands of recipes, allowing him to recover all job data immediately. Last but not least, we offer an automatic station positioning system (able to be set throughout HMI and driven by servo motors) to allow customer to save time during changeovers (according to our partners’ experience up to 20 percent of the time). With this solution, once you save the recipe in the HMI you will not save only the pouch set data but the station position too. When you recover the job all the stations move to the correct position, meanwhile you change the roll and the dies – a good help in changeovers.
Q: Other than fast changeovers, how is bag/pouch making equipment becoming more efficient?
Fuller: All equipment manufacturers strive to improve the efficiency of their equipment and obvious improvements arrive on the market about the same time as solutions that are offered by components and controls vendors, bolted on to every pouch machine out there. But true efficiency is measured uniquely, depending on the customer, and is a marriage between machine performance and flexibility, the customer’s process, materials and business model.
Our goal is to advance technology to meet the true efficiency needs of our customers. Equipment is scalable to include those features that work best for a customer’s situation. This process of advancing technology is not a cookie-cutter solution available from anyone in the marketplace. It is customized for our customers, who report that the efficiency gains on their machines are significant. In a globally-competitive market, converters have told us they need to set themselves apart. They look for equipment solutions that let them offer customers more and better solutions than what is currently available from any of their competitors in the market place. Advanced efficiency allows cost reduction, saves on scrap, rework and delays, and shortens lead times.
Russell: Modern is currently working on newly patented products that will change the way standup pouches are made today. The efficiencies will be gained through speed, in which the pouch can be produced. With our newly patented design, we will be able to achieve up to 500 standup pouches per minute, depending on pouch size and material conditions. This presents itself as a game changer for the standup markets, and hence changes the efficiency and cost effectiveness of standup pouches as compared to other packaging methods.
Matos: Even with 70 percent increased cycle time, our new ultrasonic machines demand 75 percent less electrical energy versus thermal alternatives. As we seal utilizing vibration at 20,000-35,000 vibrations per second, we seal from the inside-out versus outside-in via heat and pressure with thermal alternatives. This is a paradigm change with many advantages as we don’t burn plastics, which may release harmful arsenic and CO2 pollution into the atmosphere. On a cost basis, we save on material by using thinner films. Likewise for added material saving, narrow seals are achieved with ultrasonic that can sum up to 5 percent material saving for retort/baby pouches. Most importantly, we’ve eliminated the need for a “heat shield” on the outside layer so we’re able to utilize mono structure materials. By optimizing for safety, energy use and materials, we’ve maximized speed and reliability across the board. That means more product you can count on, faster, and that’s efficiency.
Dacò: Our machines use the latest version of Siemens servo motors with a kinetic energy recovery system. This allows us to recover up to 30 percent of the motor energy and up to 5 percent of the total machine energy. This solution allows customers to save money and increase their sustainability policy. Furthermore, the HMI based on Siemens Profinet system allows full control of each station granting the perfect setting of all data.
Rosenow: Today’s machines are capable of speeds of 240 cycles per minute while producing multiple pouches per cycle, greatly improving machine efficiency. Downtime has also been limited by utilizing web accumulators (“no-stop” roll changes), web-steering devices (higher film stability) and dedication to operator and maintenance staff training.
Pressure, sealing time and temperature are the fundamental adjustment points in making a seal. During the design of a pouch machine if we can make it easier for the operator to understand the relationship so they can more easily and quickly make these adjustments they are more efficient in getting the machine operational. Our machine design has a preset nominal sealing pressure, and as long as you are not running extremely thin or thick material structures, there is little adjustment necessary for pressure. By reducing or eliminating one extra step, the operator can focus on the other two important factors, sealing temperature and sealing time.
Amin: The most unique feature we offer on our pouch machine is that you can setup the pouch at a minimum possible speed on the machine and reduce your setup waste. Once you find that the pouch is set, you just turn the speed knob to its peak. Once your seal time, temperature and draw speed is set, the machine automatically decides the peak speed it will run. This saves the customer lots of film during the job setup and in turn makes it more efficient.
Q: Aside from the training and support that you offer to customers, what features have you introduced with your machines recently to make them more user-friendly? Also on this note, are there developments you have planned for the future?
Rosenow: Through new product innovation and customer requests, the designers at Totani are constantly working on machine improvements. Over the past couple years, many of these have been related to the operator/machine interaction including touch panel HMI and digital film edge position control with one-button setup. We have also worked to increase our maximum cycle speeds by making improvements to our full-shape die cut unit (maximum 200 CPM) and camera-controlled cutter device (240 CPM for single cut and 120 CPM for double cut). Many improvements are in the works in the near future, including our improved top-bottom registration system among others.
Dacò: The latest version of our software is more intuitive and more powerful, with the capability to help the operator with settings and parameter changes. The design of our machines allows easy access to all parts for both setting and maintenance, reducing stress for the operator and fast problem solving. Our technical team is always focused on new solutions to make the machine more user-friendly and higher performing. All our customers are informed about new solutions throughout our monthly newsletters.
Fuller: Using a scientific process to review the time and steps associated with setup, CMD offers design characteristics, from the unwind through the take-off conveyor, that reduce the time and steps necessary to set up and operate our machinery. This equates to real per-unit cost savings for our customers that is easily measureable.
Ease-of-use has been aided with controls and programming advancements. Skilled designers and programmers offer touch screen control of many formerly-manual adjustments. Many setup steps are entirely automated. Remote connectivity allows for long-distance monitoring and even troubleshooting. The digital age revolutionized machine control and promises to offer even more simplicity for machinery operation in the near future.
Russell: The Modern machine was designed to be user friendly, through simplified operator controls, and easy to understand adjustments without losing the ability to make the machine versatile. There are a lot of good machine manufacturers out there, but there is also a lot of equipment that requires a higher end technician or an engineer to understand the functions and operation. This is why Modern’s machines are solely designed with the operator in mind.
Q: Will a pouch format ever be able to overtake the standup pouch? If so, which one, how soon and why?
Dacò: The standup pouch is still the king in pouches. In the short term, I do not see any design that could replace it. Anyway, we are proud to be a partner of some projects developed by customers that are studying new designs and opportunities for the market. Maybe in the near future something could change. In the meantime, our technical team is fully available to share our know-how with those customers willing to promote something new.
Amin: Yes, the pouch style that can overtake the standup pouch is a flat-bottom pouch with zipper. The reason being, it takes nearly 8-12 percent less film to make a flat-bottom pouch for a given volume compared to a standup pouch. However, the reason today for this pouch not being able to overtake is the investment cost of the equipment to make a flat-bottom zipper pouch and the productivity for the given price. The conventional machines available in the market are able to make flat-bottom pouches with terminated gussets and zippers in a single lane. Hence the cost of making this pouch doesn’t remain competitive compared to a standup pouch. With a machine that would allow customers to make this flat-bottom zipper pouch in 2 lanes with terminated gussets, Mamata is geared to bring down the cost of conversion of this pouch and make it more affordable for the end user and make this shift from standup to a flat-bottom zipper pouch.
Matos: What is interesting to me is not so much that the pouch format is about to change, but the materials. This is a larger impact to the business and critical as we are responsible enabling sustainability efforts at the end of the product cycle. As ultrasonic technology enters our market space, materials will change. Looking to develop more mono structures with PE, PP or PET, our green and friendly machines enable the use of recyclable films. This will become the biggest new challenge for the pouch material suppliers to better understand how ultrasonic will define the new supply chain. Likewise, it will be interesting to see how the waste stream recyclers will react as we change pouches to recyclable mono structure materials.
Russell: The standup pouch will remain the king of all pouch configurations. This is because of its vast uses across so many industries and the ability to produce the standup pouch more efficiently than any other competitive pouch on the market. This is why we feel there is no replacement for the standup pouch anywhere in sight.
Rosenow: The standup pouch (SUP) has obviously been part of a world-wide movement from rigid into flexible packaging. The SUP continues to grow the fastest of any category. We see very steady growth in Box Pouch. This is a true flat-bottom format with registered print in all five panels. It has all of the advantages of the SUP while adding additional volume and face panels for product recognition. While there is overlap with the SUP, the Box Pouch is more likely to replace rigid containers than standup pouches. We see both for dry and liquid products. FP
Q: Is there anything else you’d care to share about bag/pouch making?
Russell: As the pouching industry continues to evolve, so does the manufacturing equipment. We still see so many growth opportunities available, and if collaboration can be achieved between equipment suppliers, film manufacturers and converters, we see a very strong future for flexible packaging.
Rosenow: Film alternatives other than polyester lamination to a sealant PE are starting to become more of a desirable solution by the end user. Furthermore, there is a small but growing niche desire for a recyclable standup pouch and this could be made out of a homogenous substrate, co-ex blend of HDPE and LDPE, and also a lamination using specific PE resins. The complexity of these film alternatives has OEMs looking at innovations and enhancements to machinery that allow for manufacturing to be competitive as compared to the standard polyester structure. The more complex films add a degree of difficulty that Totani has worked to address and is proud to offer as an option on new machinery and will be retrofit capable, as well.
Dacò: Customers are paying more and more attention on machine quality, reliability and ease of use. We constantly strive to offer to customers tailor made solutions to make them satisfied with their investment.
Amin: Our flexible packaging industry experts talks about recycling and environment-friendly packaging, and we have the right machine for these needs. Mamata offers its pouch machines with processing ability to run co-ex films with same ease as a laminate. Mamata has demonstrated this feature time and again on its pouch machines. Our pouch machines are capable of running co-ex films with the same speed and ease as a laminate to produce a 3-side seal pouch, standup pouch with zipper or side gusseted pouches for PET food or fertilizer packaging with quad seal or one edge seal.