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.
<< NuTEC Manufacturing’s (www.nutecmfg.com) 720 is an all-hydraulic, microprocessor controlled, multi-outlet forming machine. It easily adapts to changing production requirements with some simple tooling changes. Processors can run up to 3,900 patties per hour with the one-hole mold or -- easily changing to the two-hole setup -- up to 7,800 patties per hour.
Wirebelt (www.wirebelt.com) showed its new CompactGrid design for conveyor belts. It’s engineered to replace heavier balanced weave belts and difficult-to-clean plastic modular belts. Its 70 percent open surface area provides increased performance in processes where product coating, drainage, cooling and liquid or air circulation are factors.
Printpack (www. printpack.com) showed an ink with a mirror effect, which should capture consumers’ attention. The silver metallic ink is printed on Printpack’s shrink label, “Go Figure,” on Pure Affinia PETG, a special film that will help to enhance the characteristics of the ink. Shrink and roll-fed labels, tamper-evident bands and heat-shrinkable sleeves for multipacks can be printed in up to 10 colors using flexographic and rotogravure printing on a variety of shrink films and laminations.
Designed for the contamination control needs of food manufacturers, the GWD 220 wet/dry vacuum by Nilfisk CFM (www.foodprocessingvacuum.com) allows plant workers to collect both wet and dry materials without having to stop to change out filters. It features a stainless steel collection tank and ergonomic “tip and pour” system to easily dispose of collected liquids. Two high-powered bypass motors provide performance while maintaining low noise levels.>>
Meritech (www.meritech.com) officials said they’ve been busy helping food & beverage clients meet the requirements of the Safe Quality Foods Initiative, particularly with hand- and boot-washing systems. The more automated the better. The ProTech washes both boots and hands simultaneously, using just 0.4 gal. per user and cycled automatically via an infrared photo-optical sensor.
SPX Flow Technology (www.spx.com) is the umbrella for such well-known sanitary brands as APV, Bran+Luebbe, Johnson Pump, Lightnin and Waukesha Cherry-Burrell. APV’s R5 Quad-Drive heat exchangers debuted a Series 2 line at the show, with 36 design changes that make it simpler to operate and lower in cost.
Heat and Control (www.heatandcontrol.com) put the compact Ishida QX-series tray sealer on display. s Apply high quality hermetic seals to any shape or size tray using Ishida's compact. Models are available for medium-speed manual loading and fully automated sealing of up to 200 trays per minute. It can be configured for gas flushing, vacuum-gassing or seal-only operation. Tooling can be exchanged in minutes. Ishida's Intelligent Tool function automatically recognizes the correct tooling for each preset product to further speed changeovers.
The Breddo Likwifier (www.breddo.com) for 50 years has been reliably dissolving solids or semi-solids where time, temperature and complete hydration are keys. While it was originally designed to dissolve natural gums and synthetic thickeners, the Likwifier has evolved to dissolve and disperse virtually any food product.
The newest development from Kluber Lubrication (www.klubersolutions.com) is Allplex FMG-2 US, a multi-purpose grease for food processing, beverage and pharmaceutical applications. It’s a good, everyday lubricant for wear protection in general-purpose applications and rounds out Klüber’s portfolio of NSF H1-registered specialty products. It provides water resistance, a broad operating temperature range, anti-wear/extreme pressure properties, oxidation resistance and corrosion prevention.
The HPE bread divider system from Reiser (www.reiser.com) took dough from a Vemag dividing/portioning machine through a servo-controlled cutting mechanism to portion bread and pizza dough. A checkweigher was integrated into the system for weight accuracy.
While it’s known for its magnetic metal detection, Eriez Magnetics (www.eriez.com) put some spotlight on its X-ray inspection system. The EZ Tec XR can spot glass, stone and missing product, as well as metal, in pies, fruits, vegetables, even inside of cans. It uses advanced linear array technology.
Hartness International (www.hartness.com) unveiled the Model 845, a purpose-built, robotic case packer designed to handle containers that can withstand little pressure (such as light-weighted bottles and reverse tapered wine bottles). The company also displayed Uvaclear ink, a UV-curable ink that can color glass bottles in almost any color, but is easily removed during glass recycling without contamination and without necessitating sorting the glass by color. Hartness also announced a partnership with Vertique for mixed case, pick-to-order palletizing.
Intelligrated revealed itself as the new owner of the FKI Logistex and Alvey operations in North and South America. The Cincinnati company (www.intelligrated.com) in June bought the brands of automated material handling and palletizing systems.
<< Kliklok-Woodman (www.kliklok.com) introduced what it called “the most versatile snack food bagmaker,” the Woodman G3. It can form 10-240 bags per minute in sizes 50mm-266mm wide and 76-559mm long. It’s suited to candy, nuts, crackers, cookies, potato chips and other salted snacks.