Pack Expo didn't seem to suffer any as a solo show for the first time in 14 years. The huge packaging show took up three of Chicago's McCormick Place's four halls, just over a million square feet of space and drew an estimated 44,294 visitors in its four-day Chicago run that began Oct. 31.
Both attendees and exhibiting companies were up slightly over the previous (2008) Chicago Pack Expo, which included Process Expo.
While Pack Expo remains paired with the Converting & Package Printing Expo, this was the first show in years without Process Expo, which paired itself with the Institute of Food Technologists' show this year and will be going it alone next year.
Pack Expo did maintain a "processing zone," where processing equipment vendors were centered. And the Grocery Manufacturers Association staged a concurrent Manufacturing Excellence Conference, focusing on operational reliability, product safety and sustainability.
Some other features of the show:
- The Showcase of Packaging Innovations, sponsored by Dow Chemical Co., displayed award-winning packages from 19 organizations from around the world.
- Project 2020: The Consumer Experience, sponsored by DuPont, explored packaging developments and concepts likely to occur over the next 10 years.
- National Confectioners Association sponsored Confectionery Pavilion, which was a hub for confectionery-related suppliers.
- The Reusable Packaging Association also sponsored a pavilion and hosted educational sessions and workshops.
Pack Expo returns to Las Vegas next fall, Sept. 26-28, 2011, at the Las Vegas Convention Center.
Some exhibitor highlights from the show:
A-B-C Packaging Machine Corp. debuted its Model 70 partition opener/inserter. It's a dual servo-powered partition handling device that requires no tools for changeovers. The twin servos drive the partition indexing/opening and inserting, blending these two independent steps into one harmonious action that ensures gentle handling for smooth opening, precise placement and efficient case packing. Lateral stabilizers square the partition after opening to "lock" the partition's interlocking panels and ensure smooth insertion into the waiting case or tray. Changeover time is reduced up to 70 percent, largely due to a design that requires no tools or change parts for a complete range of partitions.
The new CEIA THS 21e metal detector from Heat and Control (pictured right) was designed to conform to traceable event recording guidelines under FDA Title 21. It continuously tests and calibrates itself to maintain peak inspection performance. Single- and three-frequency models feature a new electronic platform for stability. A stainless steel casing and keyboard and conformal coated circuit boards allow for IP65K washdowns. One-button sensitivity preview provides an estimate of the size and contaminant material that the metal detector will be expected to identify. Easy-to-use Auto-Learn system accurately scans products in one pass, reducing set-up time and inspection errors.
Key Technology and Abco Industries announced an alliance that makes Key the sales representative for Abco food machinery in the U.S. and some of Canada, while Abco will take over manufacture of Key's Turbo-Flo Steam Blancher. The Key machine blanches and cooks potatoes, vegetables and fruits with lower energy requirements. Key also launched a new business, Integrated Solutions Group, to offer its engineering and project management experience and to embrace third-party equipment.
Reiser (www.reiser.com) featured live demos of its packaging equipment, including its Repak Horizontal Form/Fill/Sealers used for meats, dairy, fish, fresh-cut produce and convenience foods. Repak RE20 is a cost-effective solution for cook-in applications. Unlike vacuum packaging, which requires costly cook-in bags, it uses significantly less expensive rollstock film. Repak uses the rapid air-forming method, which maximizes the distribution of film into critical areas such as corners. This allows package engineers to choose thinner forming films with potential cost savings of up to 20 percent. There was also a demonstration of the Ross S45 Traysealer for Vacuum Skin Packaging for customers looking for a VSP packaging solution without the high cost of purchasing other equipment.
Sealed Air's Cryovac division (pictured right) introduced trap-printed film, providing processors, retailers and foodservice operators an opportunity for enhanced merchandising and branding. It's for high-speed liquid packages, 3-24 oz., running on Onpack vertical form-fill-seal systems. Multi-layer coextruded films have been laminated with print between the layers, allowing the outer film to be in direct contact with food, such as those used in meal kits or paired with raw meats. Ron Cotterman, executive director of sustainability, was on hand to explain the SmartLife sustainability program, an initiative to raise awareness about how packaging can advance a company's sustainability mission. Starting with Sealed Air's own manufacturing processes and walking customers through material selection, optimizing material use, performance and end-of-product life issues, Sealed Air can help customers improve their sustainability.