As Packaging Industry Grows, Machinery Must Adapt

As Packaging Industry Grows, Machinery Must Adapt

With new and innovative packaging emerging every day, such as packages that remind a patient to take a pill, adjust the expiration date on food or even the temperature depending on the environment, it is no surprise that the packaging industry is expected to grow in the near future.  In the Food and Beverage Industry alone, some project that the demand for meat, poultry and seafood packaging will exceed nine billion dollars by the year 2017.  Increased demand brings with it the necessity for packaging machinery that can handle such demand.

Of course, other long term trends will have an affect on the design of packaging machinery in the future, as will new technology and manufacturing processes.  The largest trend in the packaging industry right now is arguably the move toward sustainability.  A portion of sustainable packaging concerns itself with using less material and creating less waste, though this in no way means smaller packaging equals sustainable packaging.  However, combined with the fact that more and more emphasis seems to be put on eating healthy in the recent past, it will be no surprise if companies begin switching to, or at least adding, smaller portion sizes for foods and beverages.  

This does not necessarily mean that packaging machinery manufacturers must create brand new liquid fillers, capping machines or other equipment, it simply means the design of current equipment must take into account the growth as well as the current trends.  For instance, filling machines and capping machines can usually handle a wide range of bottle and cap sizes.  Adjustments to machine designs may need to be made to allow for greater ranges of containers and lids given the new trends and growth.  Packages from snack size to family or bulk sizes may entail custom manufacturing a machine to meet the extended range of sizes.  The same holds true for the conveyor systems that move the containers through the packaging line. The width and rails may need to accommodate the same extended range of containers and stabilizing equipment such as guide rails can be redesigned for quick and easy adjustments and added support.  

Of course, these are fairly simple adjustments and intelligent packaging, such as the temperature control and patient reminders mentioned above, may require more difficult modifications and challenges.  Some of the packaging may arrive at the fillers, capper and labelers with the "intelligent" aspects already in place.  Others may require packaging machinery to insert components, or at the very least do no damage to such components during the packaging process.

The trend toward sustainability, the growth of intelligent packaging and other defining characteristics of the current packaging industry seems to indicate the beginning of a whole new era of packaging. The expected growth of the packaging industry over the next decade creates an exciting period for those manufacturing the machinery and we look forward to the changes and the challenges of the future.