Roundtable on Bag/Pouch Making Equipment
Product Line Manager: Intermittent Motion; Sales Manager: North America, Non-Medical Pouch
Senior Sales Manager
8 years with the company
Sun Centre USA
Director of Sales & Marketing
B&B Packaging Technologies
2 years with the company
Jose De La Mora
Sales Director for Latin America
10 years with the company
GM-Sales, Marketing, Customer Support
19 years with the company
What’s new with your company? Did it release anything new at PACK EXPO?
Fuller: As most folks in the industry know by now, CMD introduced its new 760-SUP Stand Up Pouch Converting System, The Profit Advantage, at PACK EXPO 2018 in Chicago. The market’s response was positive and fantastic! Guest operators demonstrated the revolutionary ease of use and extremely quick changeovers. The enthusiasm around what the machine offered exceeded expectations.
Dacò: We introduced our SA-V model design to run full recyclable PE pouches at high performances. We ran a Doypack pouch made by a 5-layer printed PE roll during the show. The machine can also run 7-layer PE film with oxygen barrier capability. Our SA-V model can now meet the new sustainability and recyclable materials requirements the market is looking for.
Pease: Sun Centre USA held an open house for our new Technology Center in Crystal Lake, Illinois. At PACK EXPO, we conducted an interactive live remote to the Center where a new pouch machine was being operated by the actual customer. At the open house, we also displayed a fully refurbished 8-year-old pouch machine along with our reverse engineering and machining capabilities.
We’ve recently announced two new advances in pouch making. Demonstrated at the open house was our front-and-back registration of two narrow films formed to create a pouch with reverse tuck gusseting, eliminating the need to insert the gusset. No other pouch machinery OEM has this capability. We’ve also introduced our ability to produce chambered, flat-bottom pouches with multiple “compartments” of dry and/or liquid contents. Arranti has the pouch patent, and Sun Centre presently has the only pouch machinery successfully producing chambered pouches.
Vannieuwenhoven: B&B Packaging Technologies (B&B) is a manufacturer of packaging machinery. We are specialists in custom designed bag and pouch making machines for plastic film, bag and sack making machines for woven polypropylene materials, and incorporating spout insertion for various pouch types integrated fully inline.
This year marks a big milestone because B&B answered a unique customer request to develop and commercialize a machine specific for a new spouted pouch format, which from concept to production running, was delivered in a very short six-month time period. This was a huge new development for high-speed standup pouch machinery with integrated inline spout insertion, vision inspection and leak detection. A completely new machine process approach was developed for the implementation of the spout inline, sealed into the bottom gusset of a standup barrel style pouch, and with shaped die-cutting downstream post spout insertion.
At PACK EXPO, B&B also showcased a new development project for the European market. This new development is for an all-PE recyclable standup pouch for liquid applications that features a specialized printed over-wrap or banderole, which can be easily separated from the unprinted PE base package to allow for proper recycling in European designed channels.
De La Mora: Totani released a machine for narrow web converters, the model BH-60DLLSC with top and bottom registration system with high speed die cutting running shape SUP with zipper at 400 ppm. Also, we had machine model CT-60DL52SC in the Presto booth that showed the new Presto Mini Slider running 400 ppm at PACK EXPO.
Amin: Mamata successfully realigned itself to customer needs at PACK EXPO this year by introducing a complete range of HFFS machines to cover pouch sizes from 80-300 mm and pre-made pouch filling systems to cover pouch sizes from 125-300 mm in width. This range covers nearly 99 percent of the single-serve pouches to club size pouches. This was accompanied by extremely exciting product positioning in terms of specifications, outputs and prices. For converting customers, Mamata offers complete bag making systems to make e-Commerce bags, diaper/hygiene bags, retail shopping bags, and our most versatile pouch machines to do 3-side seal to flat-bottom pouches.
How was your company’s 2018? Do you have anything notable planned for next year?
De La Mora: It was a very good 2018 and we have a strong backlog going forward beyond 2018. We will launch a new user-friendly website providing an up-to-date resource for Totani customers and potential customers. Also, our new compact machine model CT-35DLSC, specifically developed for very short runs, is being released. This new concept machine takes into consideration the specific needs for the growing digital press market.
Dacò: We had a very positive year as we matched our targets and we increased our sales with new customers who appreciated our technology and support we are constantly providing to the market. Our goal for next year is to expand our business both in North America and the Asia/Pacific region.
Amin: Finally it seems that brand owners have become sensitive to using eco-friendly packaging. Mamata has been on the forefront of developing technologies to accommodate this vital need of the future. In 2019, Mamata will work very rigorously to make brand owners and converters aware of our equipment capabilities to process a wide range of eco-friendly films.
Vannieuwenhoven: B&B saw big new growth opportunities this year in many niche market areas, in particular bag making machinery for woven PP bags and also for quad-seal bags constructed of laminated polyethylene for recyclability.
In the pet food market there has been significant success in brand owner adoption of hot-air sealing technology for the closing of woven bags that feature a step-cut pattern. Pet food companies have consolidated various styles of how a woven bag is sealed and are now focusing on adopting this new technology (hot air sealing), which reduces the amount of material necessary to make a high integrity seal at either end of the woven PP bag.
B&B has developed machinery to support the production of high quality side gusset quad-seal bags made from polyethylene with features like terminated gussets and top closures for a number of years, but until recently there has not been such a demand to run this film structure versus the traditional PET/PE lamination. We are seeing a large change in customer desire and are developing retrofits and add-on modules for existing machinery to support this change in consumer demand. Furthermore, the goal is to be able to offer new machinery equipped with features that process a wide variety of film structures, with the goal being similar speeds and functionality regardless of material structure.
Also notable is the fact that throughout the development and launching of many types of machinery, B&B has more than doubled the available manufacturing space in Hopsten, Germany, over the past five years and boasted a year-on-year average growth of 10-15 percent.
Pease: Sun Centre USA will expand support of small to large digital printers by providing a streamlined process where film rolls can go direct to the pouch machine thanks to our unique integration of thermal laminating right on our unwind. Now the customer can readily produce finished pouches or run rollstock with a cross-web zipper applied for the front-fill/seal market, all in a simplified process.
Fuller: Investing the resources into professional research and development to advance converting technology, CMD experienced another solid year of performance. Both domestic and international sales continue to be strong. On the bag converting equipment side of our business, we’ll be exhibiting a new drawtape bag configuration at K 2019. We’re anticipating a very strong year in pouch machine sales.
In addition to fast changeovers and more versatile pouch machines, it seems like a big “want” is a machine that’s easy to learn and train on. How much of a focus is this when it comes to development of new machines?
Amin: With a scarcity of skilled labor, converters are looking for machines that require minimum skillset to operate and adjust. They want machinery manufacturers to provide equipment where minimum input from an operator is required. At Mamata, we have always focused on this area from our first machine. We never made a machine with conventional clutch-brake rack-pinion technology. Our very first machine back in 1989 was with a stepper motor and drive, and a microprocessor controller. We have come a long way since then. Today, Mamata offers fully servo-driven machines where functions like pressure and seal time are digitally controlled. We also help our customers in terms of understanding the right films for their applications, and this comes from our experience of making blown film lines. We understand films, the process and help customers optimize their production. The same philosophy was implemented when we rolled out our packaging machines. Our pre-made pouch filling systems and rollstock HFFS machines require minimum operator involvement in terms of job set-up and process.
Vannieuwenhoven: B&B continues to redefine the software programming and visualization of the bag making process for our machinery. Our software programmers are all in house and work closely with our customers. Feedback from the customer and the ability to customize the machine program for the customer is what is being requested and will continue to be necessary for future success.
B&B has been focused on adopting a strategic vision for the operation of bag and pouch machinery, and to critically understand the process steps involved. We offer various styles of training, including classroom-style training to provide an overview and theoretical setup applications, and then coupled with HMI and machine programs onsite at the customer facility.
Pease: We design our manuals and our machines to an eighth grade reading level. Sun Centre USA’s pouch machines also have simplified adjustment features, like hand-wheels to change the size of a gusset, or our integrated seal bars already designed to run multiple bag sizes. Our trainers are not engineers, but experienced, hands-on operators who know how to make a bag. Customers must complete certification training, usually within the 14-day training period, before production runs can take place. We maintain 24/7 technical support for any customer anywhere in the world. Remote support is complemented by the use of online, live-streaming video and audio, as we demonstrated during PACK EXPO.
De La Mora: One of the most important features of Totani machines is that they are easy to use and operate. We are constantly improving in this area, like our cross seal positioning system. The operator is able to effortlessly locate the proper position of each cross sealer, saving time and waste. This is a good, cost effective way to help operators. More advanced automatic systems already developed avoid human intervention for the adjustment of all sealers and other components.
Fuller: This particular “want” was a driving force behind the development of our new 760-SUP Stand Up Pouch Converting System. When we polled converters on the true cost of training in terms of lost revenue during the training process, we found that dollar value to be significant. One of our goals with this machine was to drive more profit to our customer’s bottom line. Our objective was to develop a system that narrowed the productivity gap that converters experience, between an experienced operator and a new operator. By doing so, we’ve had a positive impact on both top line growth as well as bottom line growth.
Dacò: This is our key point when we develop new solutions for the market. For years, the Elba philosophy is to consider any customer as a partner — and in this perspective, we always need to offer them tailor-made solutions for their needs and equipment that’s easy to use and to maintain. The HMI of any Elba machine, based on Siemens profinet, is helping us a lot in this regard. Moreover, we use a very intuitive touchscreen panel, with icons that are clear and easy to understand for the operator, allowing them to understand how to set up the machine and run it immediately. In addition to the standard training we provide to the customer during installation and the startup period, we offer our partners a second visit within three months from the machine commissioning and constant online support to help them out with any issues or concerns they could have. This is part of our constant support we offer to our partners.
Pet food, e-Commerce, cannabis and coffee have all been listed as growth segments for the pouch. Do you agree? Are there any other markets that are ripe for bag/pouch packaging?
Dacò: Yes, we are receiving more and more inquiries in this regard and we are developing dedicated solutions to grant to customers high performances. Our new SA-V model dedicated to pet food offers the capability to run large sized bags with front zipper application and pinch bottom at high performances. Our SA-V model designed for the coffee bags allows customers to run a wide range of pouches, as we can offer both the impulse and the heated sealing stations with a variety of sealing dies to match the different breathing valves on the market. Small zippered pouches can be produced on multiple lanes on our SA-V 06 model configured for this product.
De La Mora: We agree on the growth segments listed and will specifically mention the impressive growth in premium packages for superfoods, organic and everything related to promoting good health. Shape pouches for various applications are becoming more popular and will continue to grow rapidly as well.
Fuller: You’re right, these are the primary growth markets we’re seeing as we head into 2019. We’re also seeing an uptick in produce applications, as well as fresh deli applications.
Pease: Yes, we’ve been intimately involved in all these applications, as well as child-resistant zippers, and more recently, the true 100 percent recyclable polyethylene bags/films. We still see a huge potential for the spouted bag market, and we have a huge customer base with those applications.
Amin: Besides the above-mentioned sectors, we also see lots of conversion from rigid packaging to flexible packaging. There has been a significant demand for pouches where products were earlier packed in rigid packages such as bottles or cardboard boxes. Now, they are getting transformed to re-closable pouches. Demand for recyclable packaging is also growing. Mamata is one of the few companies in the industry to cater to all these segments with our bag/pouch machines. We offer complete solutions for making bags/pouches for these segments. We also offer solutions to fill pre-made standup or flat-bottom pouches as well as provide rollstock HFFS machines for the industry.
Vannieuwenhoven: Each of these market segments are seen as growth opportunities, but there are also other opportunities to change the norm for how specific a pouch or bag package formation is completed. Take, for instance, baby food spouted standup pouches. The manufacturing of that process for pre-made pouches (not FFS) traditionally has required multiple process steps to make the standup pouch at high speed, pack the flat product, then unpack and load into a spout inserter, and repack the spouted pouch on a rail system for delivery to the filler.
At B&B, we are engineering and developing new ways to reduce those process steps and to make high speed pouch making machinery that integrates spout insertion and is also capable of automatically packing the product reducing the necessary amount of labor and process steps while focusing on detecting defective product inline, real-time and implementation of key rejection systems.
Is there anything else you want to share about bag/pouch making?
Pease: Customer support and service will remain a critical need for many bag/pouch producers. Sun Centre USA has always made this a top priority. Most recently, we’ve added additional technical support just for Latin and South America. Multilingual technicians can effectively serve customers now 24/7 in any part of the world.
Vannieuwenhoven: There continues to be a demand for minimizing the amount of printed webs that are required for the formation of large format flat-bottom side gusseted bags. B&B developed and commercialized a unique method for producing this style of bag with the main printed panel for a traditional side gusset quad seal bag up to 37 inches (1 m) in length, and then the second printed web is strictly to add the flat-bottom panel if the customer elects to produce this package style format. The customer on the same machine can run a traditional 1-web side gusseted bag with many other features and capabilities. The machinery is very versatile and puts fewer restrictions on other aspects of manufacturing.
Fuller: Cost-to-produce continues to be a concern for converters. They are really being squeezed on both sides right now. Raw materials and upstream conversion costs continue to rise, while at the same time their customers are demanding lower prices for the finished pouch because they perceive the pouch to be more of a commodity item now. So, for converters, the only means of maintaining reasonable profit margins is to improve pouch machine throughput, via reduced changeover times, reduced scrap and reduced maintenance downtime. These all happen to be key areas our new pouch machine has addressed. These items cannot be effectively addressed by making subtle changes to a long-established design. Rather, the best way to provide these advantages is to redesign the system from the ground up, which is exactly what we did. The 760-SUP Stand Up Pouch System is truly simple to use, enabling easier training and faster changeovers. It offers a robust process, for less scrap as well as fewer and faster maintenance touchpoints, for less downtime. All this delivers better throughput, for greater pouch capacity per machine, leading to lower cost-to-produce and higher margins.
De La Mora: We have continued success in the all-PE recyclable pouch market. Protecting the environment will continue to greatly influence the future of flexible packaging.