Interpack 2017 Interpack  — Hardly a Trade Is so Diverse as the Dusseldorf Industry Event

Author / Editor: Sabine Mühlenkamp / Dr. Jörg Kempf

At Interpack, from packaging materials, corresponding filling and sealing machines as well as the necessary labelling system, you can find a solution for each sort of packaging problem in the fully booked exhibition halls. We’ll get you in the right mood for the event.

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Interpack 2017 opens from May 4–10, from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. daily. In 2014, 174,798 persons visited the fair. The number of exhibitors was 2,670 (2017: 2,700).
Interpack 2017 opens from May 4–10, from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. daily. In 2014, 174,798 persons visited the fair. The number of exhibitors was 2,670 (2017: 2,700).
(Source: Messe Düsseldorf / ctillmann)

There are many answers to the question as to what constitutes optimal packaging: The most obvious certainly is that it must protect the product. Yet, at the same time, a marketing expert will bring the communication into play and emphasise the convenience factor to the consumer. An operations manager wants the packaging to run smoothly on the packaging machines. The purchase department only asks for the price and a logistician assesses the stackability. In fact, this is what makes the very industry itself is so exciting because there is a solution for each of these requirements.

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A Huge Bouquet of Packaging Ideas

However, one cannot fulfill all desires in one package, and one has to sacrifice. Once again, this year’s issue of Interpack, a packaging related trade fair which is organised every three years, has come up with a huge bouquet of packaging ideas. This year, it is as sought after a usual — the fair records the highest demand by exhibitors in its more than 55-year history. In fact, the demand was so high that the exhibiting companies from packaging industry and the related process industries booked about 20 percent more space than the actual available capacity on the fairground in Dusseldorf, with its 262,400 square metres in 19 halls. About 2,700 exhibitors from about 60 countries are expected to participate.

Even the parallel organised trade fair “Components — special trade fair by Interpack”, which adresses the supply industry for packaging technology is fully booked, despite an increase in size by more than 100 percent compared with the first event three years ago.

The overall mood in the industry is good, as the latest numbers from the German Mechanical Engineering Industry Association VDMA show. Thus, the incoming orders in the specialist branch of food processing machinery and packaging machinery received a strong push in December 2016. For the overall year, orders were five percent higher than those of the previous year 2015. Within the country, domestic demand rose by five percent with foreign orders increasing by six percent from outside the country.

Most of this impetus came from the eurozone countries — incoming orders rose by eleven percent as compared to the previous year. But also the non-euro countries could register a growth of four percent. The sales in 2016, with the food processing machinery and packing machinery, grew by an actual four percent more than the previous year’s level. There was some insecurity over the course of the year, as to whether the sales forecast published at the start of the year of plus three percent could actually be realised. Thanks to very high deliveries in November and December, there the industry was able to not only increase the sales but even to slightly exceed expectations.

The expectations from the sector enterprises are high in 2017 with machine manufacturers hoping for clear impetus from Interpack for the business years 2017 and 2018. The package manufacturers have to do the balancing act of effectively setting the packages and of designing them in a customer-friendly manner, and saving raw materials on the other hand and thus unburdening the environment. That increases the requirements for packaging machines.

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Intelligent control and automation technology, economic drive systems, compressors, ventilators or pumps are among the classic solutions to save power and raw material or equipment and to improve energy efficiency. Efficient engines, optimally adjusted to the movements and acceleration processes in the machines, help to further reduce power consumption.

Active Packaging Materials Ensure Freshness

41 percent of all packagings in the D-A-CH-area are food packagings. Those who deal with the latest packaging technology related to the food sector cannot circumvent nanotechnology or printed or organic electronics. Intelligent and smart covers, which detect the level of freshness of the food and influence it in a targeted manner have long been more than just a Utopian dream. Active packagings regulate the moisture level, prevent germ formation or even destroy these germs in a marked manner — e.g. through so-called absorbers. Iron ensures longer freshness for oxygen-sensitive drinks like beer or juices. Special sensors on modern packagings can display whether food is still edible. These sensors react if specific substances or gases are emitted, and show this by changing colour or fluorescence. Thus, one can quickly identify the condition of the food. An interrupted cold chain is one of the most common reasons for food spoilage. This can be indicated with the help of intelligent time-temperature-indicators, mostly in the form of colour change.

Pharmaceutical is Counting on Digitisation

Indeed, the pharmaceutical industry is growing. But it has to deal with challenges like price limits, mandatory discounts or use-based price structuring and refund models as well as the increasing sales of generic drugs. This competition demands efficient technologies and processes.

This means that the requirements in the whole process chain for manufacturers and packers of drugs are about to increase once again. Therefore, integrated systems have to move beyond the context of Industry 4.0 and keep a watchful eye on the whole value chain, as the customer wants to reduce the costs per package across his whole process. That requires suppliers to improve the overall equipment effectiveness.

Especially interesting, regardless of the industry, is the implementation of smart packaging technology principles. Conductive plastics, ink on film, paper or glass in combination with extremely thin, flexible and transparent electronic components, as well as in interactive displays, light effects and sensor technology stand ready to convert humble packaging into hi-tech products, of which there are many to be discovered at Interpack.