It's a popular time of the year for forecasts and prognostications. Although editors typically report rather than predict, I'm going to temporarily step out of my comfort zone with a forecast for heightened interest and activity surrounding "greener packaging machinery." More...
Greener packaging machinery ahead
It’s a popular time of the year for forecasts and prognostication. Although editors typically report rather than predict, I’m going to temporarily step out of my comfort zone with a forecast for heightened interest and activity surrounding “greener packaging machinery.”
Granted, there may be larger pieces of low-hanging fruit in the supply chain to improve efficiencies and to reduce costs, but “greening” the entire supply chain all the way to the production floor is a logical progression-and it’s an environment packagers have control over.
This is not a new idea, and one that already has traction with some packagers, machinery suppliers, and controls vendors.
Companies like Frito-Lay have already greened some operations. The snack packer’s Modesto, Calif., Sun Chips plant uses solar energy. Along with a snack bag structure that includes a renewable material, it’s the perfect eco-based linkage of product, packaging, and production.
A packaging automation vendor example: In using Schneider Electric’s ELAU Packaging Solutions components, the latest Paal machinery from Bosch Packaging “hibernates” like a laptop when idle to save energy.
Machinery supplier Schneider Packaging Equipment offers energy monitoring capability on its case-packers using an operator panel from Rockwell Automation. Rockwell’s Machine Builder (OEM) Solutions is headed by sustainability lead Doug Burns, whom I spoke with in December.
“One of the program’s main focuses is how to drive energy use out of machines and out of facilities,” Burns says. “Especially in the food and beverage industries, end users have already done the ‘easier’ things, such as optimizing air compressors and adding energy-efficient lighting. Now they’re looking at processing and packaging equipment as the next level of their energy-reduction goals.”
Another angle to sustainability is machinery that accommodates greener packaging materials. A new case erector from Pro Mach’s [Wexxar/BEL division is engineered to effectively handle knocked-down corrugate blanks containing up to 100% recycled content.
Greening can also be a sanitary equipment design that requires less water for washdown.
As John Kowal, packaging market segment manager for Elau, reminded me recently, making products right the first time-a philosophy that’s been around for decades and is part of Overall Equipment Effectiveness-is a great way to save energy.
It’s certainly easier to predict trends than to have to sort through all the complicated factors and nuances surrounding sustainability that, of course, encompasses far more than machinery.
I wouldn’t be surprised if the Walmart scorecard and similar eco-focused metrics eventually factor in the energy efficiency of packaging machinery that produces ever-greener packages.
Now, back to the more comfortable world of reporting, but not before we at Food & Beverage Packaging wish you a productive and efficient 2010.