Considered the world’s beverage and liquid food industry conference and exhibition, this year’s Drinktec (11-15 September) had plenty of surprises to offer its visitors.

Plastic & Chemical Trading MD Benjamin Cockram, who spent the entire week in Messe, Munchen, reports on the highlights.

Were there any interesting developments at your trading partners’ stands – Heuft, Netstal etcetera?

From our partners’ perspective, Heuft has highlighted the revolutionary Spectrum II machine-human interface (MHI) technology. It is no longer about the humans interacting with the machine, but how the machine interacts with the human element.

The key thing with MHI is the attractiveness and the ease of use which encourages the operator to interact with the machine fully. The operator cannot make faults as he doesn’t have access to the parameters settings through the MHI.

From an industrial machine perspective, it’s going to be a game-changer. No more human errors or faults.

On the other hand, Heuft has taken quality inspection to a new level by upgrading its eXaminer XOS foreign object detection system in bottles with latest processing and vision analysis technology.

As for our partner Netstal, the packaging solution for the milk industry, named Prelactia, introduced a new multilayer barrier preform technology that offers a better light barrier and reduces the use of titanium dioxide in preforms.

Prelactia is a preform made of two materials, one completely black that stops light, and one white with titanium dioxide.  This package solution for long shelf life products performs more economically compared to the single-layer PET preforms currently used in the industry. It also allows milk bottles to become more visually appealing to the consumers.

Were there any specific developments worth mentioning which are of interest to Plastic and Chemical Trading?

We are looking into performant closure injection moulding machines. It is very important to have a good partner for closure injection moulds. One needs relevant expertise to supply closure injection moulding solutions – being good enough won’t simply cut it. Thankfully we had the opportunity to meet with various suppliers and tool makers.

The industry has evolved when it comes to these machines. Faults are usually common, but processes are improving.

For example, Netstal now offers a closure injection moulding machine where the vision inspection system interfaces with the injection unit. If the vision system detects tolerance variation, it can communicate with the injection unit to change the injection profile to compensate for the fault difference. The machine is managing itself.

Overall, I believe the machine learning technology and the human-machine interface advancements to be the most important industry developments showcased at Drinktec. Certainly, these major upgrades will have a revolutionary impact on the packaging and injection moulding markets.

In your opinion, what were the highlights of this year’s Drinktec exhibition?

Definitely the Krones Dynafill system for the beer filling industry. The machine fills in a split second in a vacuum and adds capping. The dispensing and jetting are done in one sole functional unit within less than five seconds. The whole process is fast.

I also think the multipack solution from KHS – the machine packaging unit for beverages – was impressive from a sustainability perspective. The 6-pack prototype showed the packs hot-glued and stuck together.

In essence, the manufacturer can have a perfect multipack where it can break one unit off, and the rest still stays stacked together.  It is an ingenious packaging for marketing purposes and does not use any plastic film, making it a viable green option.

 

Plastic and Chemical Trading services the plastics industry specifically automotive, extrusion, logistics packaging and consumer packaging, with focus on bottling and food packaging industries.

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