Looking back to PACK EXPO International last November, it was clear by walking the show floor that filling and closing is a category that knows no bounds. With greater flexibility, higher speeds and additional capabilities, packagers have various choices to fill, close and seal their products.

According to Mark Lozano, sales manager at tna (tnasolutions.com), one of the main things that the company is witnessing in the sector is an increased level of speed and automation. Some packaging systems in this category are now capable of achieving up to 250 bags per minute. However, when operating at speeds of over 200 bags per minute it’s not just about achieving faster throughputs, but also about product integrity.

From A to Z

Speaking of PACK EXPO, Bosch Packaging Technology (bosch
) debuted its integrated system solution for liquid, viscous and pumpable foods at the show. The result of the cooperation between the latest member of the Bosch family in North America – Osgood and Kliklok-Woodman – is a complete system solution to address the growing market demand for containers in wrap-around cartons.

The system’s first element is the Osgood S-series fill and seal machine, recognized for its hygienic design with fewer areas that might trap food residues and thus complicate the cleaning process. The machine is 3-A Sanitary Standards (3-A SSI) compliant, meaning that the product is hygienically handled throughout the filling and packaging process, safeguarding both product and brand. The O-ring-free pistons further decrease cleaning-in-place (CIP) time and eliminate the risk of product recalls, which can be caused by O-rings falling into the product during filling.

Osgood’s tank-style pump and smooth movement allows for equal product distribution on each of the lanes with negligible variations between cups, ensuring accurate filling, even at speeds of up to 1,000 containers per minute. The S-series employs a servo-driven indexing filler, adjusted depending on the viscosity of the product to control splashing, foam and froth.

After all is filled and sealed, the second element of the packaging solution, Kliklok-Woodman’s wrap-around cartoner, provides the secondary packaging.

A VFFS system with labeler, inserter

Next up is another integrated packaging solution – a vertical form, fill and seal (VFFS) system with fully integrated labeler and inserter, from tna. Available as part of tna’s flagship robag® packaging system, the patented labeling and inserting technology enables the high-speed application of promotional labels and/or insertion of value-added two-dimensional items such as coupons, and three-dimensional items like toys, or dry or liquid-filled sachets into primary packaging.

Directly mounted onto the tna robag, the inserter and labeler from tna’s Unique Solutions brand do not require any additional floor space and are easily configured and controlled via the tna robag control screen. This allows for a simple setup and complete ease of operation. Depending on the size of the label/insert, the integrated equipment delivers speeds of over 450 labels and 500 inserts per minute, offering a high level of performance in a single packaging system.

Portion-packed and ready

IMA Dairy & Food (imadairyfood.com) has a lengthy portfolio of form, fill and seal machines. New to the lineup is the HASSIA THL 24/48 for single-portion cups, designed to package various sauces, dressings, mustard, butter, margarine, jams etc., into cups with one or two cavities. Touting speeds up to 43,200 portion packs per hour, the THL 24/48 is primarily used for dairy and food products in portioned cups.

Cups are made in a special cup design with formed lid material. A “squeeze-on system” enables centralized product dosing via the target opening by putting pressure on the dual-cup cavities. This is produced by a lid forming station that is installed diagonally, directly downstream of the dosing unit. The unit consists of a 50-up pre-heating and forming unit.

The 50-up vertical dosing unit is a special design that fills both cavities of the cups using single-tube filling nozzles. Consequently, the nozzle plate is equipped with 100 filling nozzles. Two different depths of cups can be produced in addition to the packing variety with one cavity and flat lid material, or with two cavities per cup with the formed lid material.

One machine, extensive flexibility

The CFA 512 filling machine by SIG Combibloc (sig.biz) is on the floor at Cooperoeste, a dairy cooperative in Brazil. The CFA 512 is used to fill UHT milk products under the Terra Viva brand, into carton packs. This work horse can fill up to 12,000 carton packs in the format combiblocStandard every hour – with a high level of flexibility and efficiency, low water and energy consumption, and minimal waste.

Switching between fill volumes of 500- and 1,000ml takes only a few minutes. The rapid volume change offers a range of possibilities for positioning products so that they are tailored to specific target groups. A change of design can be implemented without interrupting the production process and with no wastage. The operator just switches the carton sleeves in the filling machine magazine. This flexibility makes it possible to fill a product in carton packs with a range of different designs, for instance, under various brands, or for an array of language versions for a multitude of regions. This means maximum accuracy of fit for the markets and for distribution channels manufacturers will be dealing with in each case.

“The trend toward automation and ‘Industry 4.0’ is likely to increase further as manufacturers start to see what benefits automation can have on their processes and ultimately their profitability. Completely integrated turnkey systems, utilizing communication protocols like MODBUS to enable supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) systems, will be critical in getting the best out of the interconnected world of Industry 4.0,” shares Mark Lozano.

With so many offerings, filling and closing machinery is only moving up and onward. In the coming year, be prepared to see yet more advancements and add-ons to the already innovative products shown here.