CPG and food packaging equipment makers are helping end users meet needs for personalization, ever-changing consumer expectations, food safety and more.
By Mike Bacidore, Contributing Editor
Few industries are affected by consumer trends as much as the food and beverage industry. That influence travels from those consumer goods companies all the way up to the packaging machinery builders who design the equipment that fills containers and then packages them for shipment.
Some of the key trends affecting food and beverage include production personalization, overall efficiency, increasing and ever-changing consumer expectations, value-chain restructuring, green strategies and food safety.
Companies expect their packaging equipment to help them to address those trends. For example, Gebo Cermex, a French manufacturer of packaging and palletizing solutions, has developed its CareSelect system to do just that for bottling.
“The value of the system is when the customer needs flexibility and has high changeover frequency,” explains Didier Saussereau, product manager, Gebo Cermex. “High-speed, frequent changeovers and a large diversity of products make the machine valuable.”
Gebo Cermex is part of the Tetra Laval Group, which has 33,860 employees and more than 37,000 pieces of equipment installed in 190 countries. Gebo Cermex and its sister business unit, Sidel, work together to understand customers’ needs as part of the group vision.
“The production plant is our playground,” says Saussereau. “We build equipment from the processing phase through the primary packaging down to the tertiary packaging and material handling. Forty percent of our machines are robotic case packers.”
Digitize to Customize
Digitalization is key to accelerating mass customization of goods. To make food and beverage manufacturing plants more agile, Gebo Cermex developed its Agility 4.0 program, a move that pushes plants toward Industrie 4.0 objectives and helps to make the smart manufacturing plant of tomorrow a reality.
Customization and increased responsiveness reflect consumer behaviors that influence purchasing decisions. This in turn improves line operations for speed, efficiency, flexibility and versatility.
Agility 4.0 is a clear-direction strategy that will continue to grow in importance, explains Saussereau. It has five pillars:
- Virtual Factory Solution: Includes visual design through logistics.
- Smart Factory: Includes machine systems and data intelligence for robotics and communication hardware (CareSelect is part of this initiative).
- Connected Factory: Includes digital connectivity.
- Sustainable Factory: Within a philosophy of sustainable production.
- Extended Factory: Total master of the factory beyond the four walls.
Rising Customization Demands
The Gebo Cermex CareSelect module addresses one of the major issues producers are facing: mass customization demands. It’s designed to be compatible with any bottle shape and dimension and includes a collating module.
The system is based on Rockwell Automation iTRAK® technology. This configuration includes a power supply, an Allen-Bradley® Kinetix® 5500 servo drive communicating over EtherNet/IPTM, CompactLogix® 5380 controller, Stratix® 5700 industrial managed Ethernet switch, gateway and PanelViewTM Plus 7 graphic terminal.
“Why did we choose iTRAK?” asks Saussereau. “The model chosen allows it to respond to efforts from 37 to 88 N of peak force.” The dynamic forces of acceleration, system robustness and limited contact with the bottles also were important considerations.
“Contact with the bottle was for 0.3 seconds,” he continues. “We eliminated contact between bottles. Friction was reduced by 20 times. CareSelect easily guarantees perfect bottle integrity. All shapes of bottles can be accommodated.”
Most important, CareSelect can fully adjust the system to a new format automatically in less than a minute. “The speed is up to 400 bottles/minute, and no part storage is needed,” he says.
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