Flexible Packaging recently caught up with Scott Fuller, CMD’s intermittent-motion product line manager, for an update on converter points of pain, optimizing pouch production and what the company has in store for 2018.

Q: What is new and notable when it comes to bag/pouch making these days?

A: Brand extensions and SKU proliferation continue to fuel strong pouch packaging growth. New pouch package styles continually evolve to meet specific requirements for brand differentiation, functionality and end-user convenience. The reality for converters is an increase in short runs. Some converters build their businesses around the short-run/quick turnaround requests, while others focus on large volume orders and do so very well and very efficiently. There are also a few converters who juggle the demands of both.

Q: CMD teased some innovations that it plans to release for pouch converters in 2018 at the recent Global Pouch Forum. Is there anything more that you can share about that launch at this time?

A: Our difference as an equipment designer is to come alongside our clients, understand their challenges and open the door to real solutions that drive profit growth. To this end, CMD has listened and will deliver new solutions to be revealed to the marketplace in the first quarter of 2018.

Q: What are currently some of the biggest points of pain that pouch converters experience today? What can be done to remedy this?

A: One major point of pain is getting enough productivity out of converting equipment. With so many small runs today, converters are challenged to get creative in how they schedule or, in some instances, dedicate machines to specific size ranges. Finding a way to produce more quality product with available production time is a critical factor in profitability for converters. Working with equipment designers and fine-tuning process optimization can help address some of these issues, but current technology often runs one style or size efficiently and struggles with changes from that standard.

Q: What type of demand is there for high-speed pouch/bag making solutions today? Do you see high-speed pouch/bag making becoming more of a focus in the future?

A: Quite honestly, almost every converter I’ve spoken to has tried the high-speed route and abandoned it. They are finding greater value in making the most out of available production time from their assets. They are doing all they can do to try and keep their equipment running production, rather than being down for changeover. The key is in optimizing profitable production rather than just attaining high production speeds.

Q: Is there anything else you want to share about bag/pouch making?

A: The market is ready for a fresh perspective. What was once a highly value-added process has become more commoditized. Converters are feeling the squeeze from both sides. Their customers want lower prices, but there is only so much efficiency and flexibility to get out of existing technology. What good is blazing speed if more non-productive time is spent on setup? Converters want a better balance and the door to that opportunity will be opening soon.