There was a good amount of optimism – in both the economy and show attendance – when Pack Expo and Process Expo staged their last trade show together in Las Vegas Oct. 5-7.
The Packaging Machinery Manufacturers Institute (PMMI) said the show had the second largest attendance since the Pack Expo Las Vegas show began in 1995 (Pack Expo Las Vegas alternates with the bigger and older Pack Expo International, held in Chicago in even-numbered years). The 22,721 true “visitor” attendees (not including exhibitor and association personnel) were just below the 23,864 that attended the 2007 affair.
Together with Process Expo, staged by the Food Processing Suppliers Assn. (FPSA), and the Converting & Package Printing Expo, the three co-located shows this year had 1,140 exhibitors taking up 521,147 sq. ft. (both numbers also down a bit).
Technically, the stated theme was “Maximizing Performance, Sustainability & Economics.” And Pack Expo, which plans the conference program, caters to many industries besides food & beverage. But if the daily keynote addresses were any indication, the theme was food and specifically the growth of private label. Speakers from A&P (Monday), Supervalu (Tuesday) and Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Markets (Wednesday) extolled the virtues – and higher margins – of store-branded products.
On the show floor, the theme seemed to be “things are finally getting better.” Many exhibitors we talked to said they had just strung together the first two or three consecutive months of order increases, leading them to hope that an economic recovery was under way.
“Given the economy this year, we are extremely pleased with the turnout,” said Charles Yuska, president/CEO of PMMI. “Trade shows mirror the industries they serve, and the strong attendance may indicate an economic recovery as consumer goods companies leverage the show for their capital equipment investments and packaging innovation efforts.”
The two shows have been together, though often in separate halls, since 1997. Pack Expo has outgrown many expo centers and, as a result, the 2008 Process Expo was in a hall disconnected from the rest of Chicago’s McCormick Place and far removed from Pack Expo. Process exhibitors were not happy with the foot traffic.
Starting next year, Process Expo will co-locate with the Institute of Food Technologists’ Food Expo: July 18-20 in Chicago’s McCormick Place. Pack Expo officials say they are cultivating processing suppliers to maintain that element of their next show, which will be in Chicago Oct. 31-Nov. 3, 2010.
Most of the vendors we talked to said they were planning to exhibit at both shows next year until a clear winner in the food processing world emerges.
Some of the exhibitor highlights from the show:
<< Urschel Laboratories (www.urschel.com) showed the year-old CCX-D cheese shredder, which produces a wide range of slices and shreds within its highly polished (Ra32) stainless steel body. The DiversaCut Sprint dicer offers small and mid-sized processors simple changeovers from one type of product cut to another and in minimal floor space. The bigger DiversaCut 2110 now features a rounded tube frame and accepts infeed products up to 10 inches in any dimension.
Key Technology (www.key.net), long known for its sorters and vibratory conveyors, introduced SmartArm, a wireless performance monitoring system for vibratory conveyors. The system measures and reports speed and stroke to provide realtime analysis of shaker function, line-flow conditions and trends at a glance. It sends an alert when speed or stroke are out of tolerance or when a breakdown occurs. It’s available as an option on new Iso-Flo vibratory conveyors and as an upgrade for the installed base of Iso-Flo shakers.
Lubriplate (www.lubriplate.com) SFGO Ultra Series are synthetic food-grade fluid lubricants. These high-performance, NSF H-1 registered, polyalphaolefin (PAO)-based lubes have been designed to meet the demands of wide variety of applications, thus reducing the need to inventory a myriad of application-specific lubricants. They’re recommended for air compressors, hydraulic systems, bearings, gearboxes, pumps and chains. And a suite of “green” products across several application and product lines now meet the highest levels of environmental requirements for biodegradability and aquatic safety.
For just over a year now, Dover Corp. has consolidated six different pump divisions under one name, and that PSG/Pump Solutions Group (www.pumpsg.com) was front-and-center at Process Expo. Wilden, probably the unit’s leading brand name for food & beverage, showed the new 25 mm (1 in.) PX2 Hygienic Series stainless steel pump, designed for the most demanding sanitary and hygienic applications. Also interesting was the SLC model under the Mouvex brand, which claims to be the only hygienic pump without mechanical seals. It’s 3A and EHEDG certified, has no slip, adds very little shear and can run dry. A predecessor model has been around for 10 years, but the SLC – at lower cost because it’s a casting and other economies – is brand new. >>
A novel technology for cleaning was shown off by Cold Jet (www.coldjet.com). The machine sprays tiny dry ice (carbon dioxide) crystals to clean process surfaces and other areas. Like a high-pressure deck washer, the sprayer can adjusted from mild (it safely cleaned my eyeglasses) to aggressive (it cut through wood). The crystals are abrasive enough to remove even baked-on debris (without chemicals or solvents) but they dissipate into carbon dioxide, not water -- so there’s no moisture (electronics are safe) and no chemical residue or wastewater. The cold temperature even helps to kill E. coli.