We discussed bag/pouch making equipment with flexible packaging professionals Fabio Dacó from ELBA, and Sanjay Amin from Mamata Enterprises, Inc.
What would you describe as the most promising recent advances in bag/pouch equipment?
Dacó: ELBA has focused our attention on the new “total PE pouches,” as this is the latest market trend. Our SA-V machine has been designed to produce this kind of pouch with high performance, and we are proud to have been part of a team (DOW, Hosokawa Alpine, BOBST, Brückner) that presented this pouch to the market during the last K Fair in Dusseldorf, Germany. During the K Fair, ELBA ran its SA-V model at 200 cpm, with a 100 percent PE Doypack, and also showed a total PE side gusset bag manufactured before the exhibition on one of our machines duly configured for this pouch type.
Amin: The most recent advance is recognition of the need for the industry to take sustainability as a path for the future and (to create) a positive response from equipment suppliers to this challenge.
What are converters telling you are the primary reasons they are looking to purchase new equipment?
Amin: Current market challenges of shorter job runs, changes in packaging styles and apparent trend towards using monomaterial films are some of the main reasons for equipment upgrades or purchases of new equipment. Mamata offers a wide variety of pouch-making equipment options depending on customer needs and their budgets. We offer the smallest footprint machines to make stand-up zipper pouches, as well as the most sophisticated systems to make flat bottom pouches from laminates or recyclable monomaterial films.
Dacó: All converters are looking for flexible machines that are capable of running short and varied jobs that can be easily used and setup. Our SA-V model meets these requirements as it can be fully customized, according to different needs.
Flexibility seems to be a key purchase factor for converters. How is your company making its machines more flexible to handle different bag and pouch formats?
Dacó: For several years, ELBA has been designing flexible equipment for a really fast changeover time, so we know that this is a key point. One of the key features of our SA-V machine is the tool-less concept for the change of the dies. Our customers appreciate the fast changeover time offered by this design. Moreover, the SA-V model is equipped with the automatic positioning system for the longitudinal sealing/cooling bars, which allows operators to set the machine easily when producing Doypack and zippered pouches. As an option, we offer the same system for all the accessories installed on the machine so the equipment changeover time, calculated between 15 and 45 minutes, will be reduced up to 20 percent.
Amin: Mamata is a unique company to offer flexibility in terms of handling a wide variety of films including straight PE recyclable film or PE/PE laminates. Our experience of over 14 years handling such films sets us apart and helps customers run monomaterial films to meet the new trends and challenges in the market. Our pouch machine platform is versatile enough to manufacture one particular pouch style or make multiple pouch styles on same machine. Some of the features we offer are multiple printed web registration control for narrow web converters, digital double cut,
servo-based technology for controlling tension in multiple zones, seal time and seal pressure without having to use springs or pneumatics.
What types of automation features are buyers seeking when they consider new equipment?
Amin: With shorter job runs and demand for quick changeovers, converters are looking for a machine that is able to switch formats in a matter of minutes and not hours. They also want systems to be capable of storing all the pouch formats so they can be retrieved when needed. Mamata is coming up with a pouch machine that will allow customers to switch from one pouch size to another in less than 30 minutes, with majority of its changeover to be tool-less and automatic. This will reduce downtime for converters and result in better productivity.
Dacó: In addition to the accessories for automation, customers are looking for systems for the automatic packaging of the pouches. ELBA is actually offering a state-of-the-art automatic packaging system for the three-side seal vacuum pouches. This has a tremendous impact on the labor cost and packaging time for the customers. ELBA is now working to adapt this concept to other products.
Are concerns about sustainability and the use of plastic having any effect on equipment sales?
Dacó: I don’t think so, but all the players in the plastic industry need, in any case, to inform the final user about plastics and let them know that this material is not the enemy. By the way, the production of paper and cotton bags, compared to the plastic pouches, has a greater impact in terms of cost and environmental effects. Just consider how many trees must be cut or how much water is used in the cotton fields. Moreover, the new “Total PE Pouch” will help the market to be greener in the eyes of the final users (because of its recyclability.)
Amin: Sustainability is already impacting equipment suppliers who have not anticipated change in technology require for processing sustainable mono material films. For Mamata, it has been vindication of its long-term development program and its ability to offer technology for the purpose ahead of the time.
Next year, 2020, will be a huge year for packaging trade shows worldwide. What does your company have in the works to meet market challenges?
Amin: Mamata is geared to take up market challenges with its existing range of equipment. At the same time, the company is working to address existing changes in the industry by upgrading its machines to meet customer requirements, while developing new machines to address future needs.
Dacó: In 2020, ELBA will participate in the Interpack exhibition in Dusseldorf (May) and in the Pack Expo Chicago (October). We are going to surprise the market with new solutions, but let me maintain secrecy with regard to this topic. Join us during these trade shows to see what is new with ELBA.