Packaging Digest

  1. To attract Millennials, packaging redesign leverages a beer brand’s heritage

    Making 600 years of brewing experience relevant to young, drinking-age Americans was Hacker-Pschorr Brewery’s goal in a recent packaging design. The Munich-based brewery aced the challenge, redesigning its U.S multipacks to feature a high-impact wraparound message and bright new graphics. The result is beverage packaging that confidently asserts the brand’s heritage and looks thoroughly contemporary while doing so.

    One reason for the redesign was Hacker-Pschorr’s new brewery, which is outfitted with all new packaging equipment; some packaging components needed to be redesigned to run on the equipment. The new bottle has a slightly different shape than the old one, for that reason.

    Also spurring the change was the brand owner’s recognition that U.S. Millennials weren’t drinking Hacker-Pschorr to the same extent as older generations. The brand is sold in 42 states and is particularly popular in Wisconsin and Illinois—but primarily among older consumers.

    “The transition to the new facility was a technical motivation, but the brand itself was in need of refreshing. So as we went into this, we had to consider where the brand is in its life cycle,” says Charles Stanley, U.S. brand manager for Hacker-Pschorr at Paulaner USA. Paulaner imports and distributes Hacker-Pschorr’s beers, including Weisse, Munich Gold, Oktoberfest, Weisse Dark, Munich Dark and Mai Bock, in the United States.

    The remark of a Millennial restaurant worker in Chicago captures the brand’s problem; she told Stanley that Hacker-Pschorr is her father’s favorite beer. “People who have been drinking it for the last 15 to 20 years are drinking it today, and eventually that’s going to catch up with us if we don’t start bringing in some younger consumers,” Stanley observes.

    The trick in the redesign was to pull in those younger drinkers by making the multipacks pop on-shelf and to do it without alienating the brand’s established customer base. The various sizes of multipacks, all with new graphics, are rolling out currently. Hacker-Pschorr plans to update its labels later this year. The 330-milliliter bottles, of amber glass, are decorated with glue-applied labels and topped with a conventional crown closure.

    Unlike the old multipacks, on which the main graphic element was a photo of a Hacker-Pschorr bottle, the new ones display a large photo of the beer in a glass. “We want to show what the actual beer looks like, because this beer is beautiful,” Stanley says. “We want to give the customer the opportunity to see what he or she will be buying.”

    The other dominant design element is the message “600 Years Brewing Experience,” which starts on the side panel and wraps around to the end panel on the multipacks.

    “We knew going into this we needed to stay true to our brand DNA. We didn’t want to try to chase a trend in order to appeal to younger people. We wanted to stick to our core assets, our experience being the most important of them,” Stanley explains. The brand identity includes “being entirely upfront with what we are. So we wanted to state boldly, for everyone to see, 600 years of brewing experience is what we’re proud of.”

    In light of the craft beer movement, some consumers may think newer is better, but “we’re not going to try to pretend like we’re some new brewery. We’re going to tell you what we are,” he adds. At the same time, the redesigned graphics look “very clean and modern, very classy. Hopefully the combination of the modern design with the statement of our experience demonstrates that being experienced and having heritage doesn’t mean you can’t be modern and relevant.”

    The package redesign also uses a brighter palette than in the past and includes a brief on-pack description of the Hacker-Pschorr Brewery and its various styles of beer. For example, Weisse is unfiltered wheat beer, and text on the Weisse packaging explains the proper way to pour it.

    The redesign was developed in-house at Hacker-Pschorr, and the brewery worked with Colell & Kampmann Design GmbH in Hamburg, Germany, to refine it.

    Thursday, February 11, 2016
    Wraparound graphics tout the brand's market longevity in a hip way, hoping to corner new Millennial customers.
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  2. The case of the slippery suckers

    The door opened, and in walked Chris. “Wassup, Chris?” I called out. “Come in and tell me about it. I know you are not here for my coffee.”

    “Nope. I’ve got a problem in my cartoner. The cartons keep jamming. They seem to pick out of the magazine OK but then jam going into the pocket. I can’t see what is knocking them out of position.”

    “Let’s go take a look,” I told him.

    Later that day, we were at the machine and every couple of minutes a carton would slip out of position, causing a jam. They would lose a minute or two of production each time. Over the course of the day, they were probably losing 20 to 30 minutes, which adds up to two to three weeks a year.

    “Fortunately, it is an easy problem to solve,” I said. “Look at these suction cups or suckers that pull the carton into the pocket.”

    Chris looked and opined that they looked OK to him.

    “Fiddlesticks on slippery suckers,” I told him. “Look closer. See how the edge is feathered? See this small nick in the edge? It doesn’t take much of an air leak to prevent the suckers from gripping positively. Suckers need to be checked every day and replaced at the first sign of wear. Running them till they have big, obvious, wear is a recipe for problems.”

    New suckers cost a couple dollars to buy. Worn suckers cost hundreds or thousands of dollars to run. Don't be a sucker yourself, replace them now.


    Known as the Changeover Wizard, John R. Henry is the owner of, a consulting firm that helps companies find and fix the causes of inefficiencies in their packaging operations. He has written the book, literally, on packaging machinery ( and is the face and personality behind packaging detective KC Boxbottom, the main character in Adventures in Packaging, a popular blog on

    Thursday, February 11, 2016
    How do your suction cups look? And how well do they work?
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  3. Pace Ready Meals microwave pouch self-vents…

    …and that isn’t even its biggest packaging distinction: The standup pouch converts into a bowl when the notched top portion is removed after microwave heating.


    The retort pouch sure has changed over the years, hasn’t it? Those aluminum-foil-laminated pouches for military-style ready meals looked every bit what they were: An unadorned, totally utilitarian food.

    Today’s ready-meals are packed into colorfully-printed, brand-forward, all-plastic stand-up pouches ready for microwave heating and, in the case of Pace brand Ready Meals from Campbell Soup Co., conveniently convert into an eat-from bowl. That means clean-up convenience because consumers don’t have a bowl to wash afterwards.

    Pace Ready Meals are available in four varieties: Cheesy chicken quesadilla; Southwest Style Chicken with Corn and Beans; Fiesta Chicken in Rice with Green and Red Peppers; and Santa Fe Style Steak with Black Beans and Rice, which was the variety I picked up for close examination. It offers a 9oz net weight single-serve portion. The products’ branding taglines play directly off the convenience of the packaging:  "Grab the Southwest by the pouch” and “All you need is a fork, a minute and a microwave.”


    Packaging and design features include:

    Arched copy along the top pouch center above the arced Pace branding states “Microwavable in 60 seconds.”

    Tidy tear notches on both sides. Copy at that point states “Tear here for instant bowl.”

    That was interesting because before noticing that particular callout it was apparent this has a wider-than-normal gusset—about 2.5 inches at the center—for this size pouch. Before it turns into a bowl-like serving container when the upper part of the pouch is removed after heating, it makes for a highly stable stand-up pouch. The gusset film is clear so that curious consumers can see the contents (below).


    Quick Steaming Technology logo on the front.

    Cool Touch areas is a good idea, but the thing about the Cool Touch areas is that they can only be used to transport the pouch because when you get to the point to open a pouch (as with this and other microwave-heated pouched foods) users have to hold it in two places across the side—and one of those areas to hold has to be below the Cool Touch location.

    Pleasing life-like and life-sized product photography front and center.

    Key Nutrition Facts summary highlighted in front panel callouts.


    Next: Packaging safety and health concerns addressed



    Callouts address safety and health concerns

    Subtle copy along the front right corner reads “Non-BPA Packaging.” That’s also repeated among a list of bullet points on the pouch rear that also calls out “No Added Preservatives” and “No Artificial Flavors or Colors.”

    Back panel Preparation Directions are printed in 3 steps with key words in caps and reverse type:

  4. PLACE UNOPENED, SELF-VENTING pouch standing upright in microwave. Heat 1 min. or until hot. Careful, let stand in microwave 1 min.
  5. REMOVE pouch from microwave using Cool Touch areas.
  6. TEAR OPEN pouch. Stir well and enjoy right from the pouch or pour into bowl.

    Because the attribution copy below the ingredients states “Manufactured for Campbell Soup Company” we know that these products are contract packaged.


    The wrap up


    What I like best about it: Attractive, no-slumping stand-up pouch that offers several functional features including the Quick Steaming and Self-Venting features to go along with turning into a bowl. I think the pouch-to-bowl conversion is particularly appealing for those who eat at work where washing dishes is even less desirable than at home.

    What I don’t like: No complaints on the packaging, but like most products in the ready-meal category, it’s high in sodium, 31% Daily Value, though props for low Total Fat and Saturated Fat (both 3%) and a healthy 12% serving of Dietary Fiber.


    For more inforamtion, visit the Pace Ready Meals website.

Thursday, February 11, 2016
The standup pouch converts into a bowl when the notched top portion is removed.
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  • Advanced controls improve high-speed milk bottling and capping
    Tuesday, February 9, 2016

    Wisconsin packaging machine builder turns to Siemens for major project involving a world leader for beverage and dairy products; machine handles up to 850 single-serve 180mL bottles per minute


    As with many things, this project started with a challenge. In this case, it was a major Original Equipment Manufacturer of filling and capping machinery for pharmaceuticals, beverages, household liquids, chemicals and petroleum products. It is of special note that the OEM has a long-time focus on dairy products.

    The company’s liquid level and net-weight filling and capping machines are used worldwide. On a recent job for a customer of 40 years, a global leader in dairy and beverage production, the end user required a high-speed bottling and capping machine. Specifically, it  had to process up to 850 bottles per minute or one bottle every 70ms, leaving a very small margin for any production errors.

    The filler handles 180mL bottles of single-serve milk at a rate of 850 per minute. The machine was the first ever built by the OEM with all Siemens motion control hardware and software onboard.


    The machine also needed to integrate with several other pieces of equipment on the production floor and feature simplified control architecture to facilitate easier operation, service and maintenance in the field. Those other pieces of equipment had Siemens controls, motors, drives, and human-machine interface (HMI) onboard.

    It made sense that the customer mandated that Siemens components be used for this new machine.   

    The OEM’s engineering team conducted a thorough review of the available technologies to operate and control this machine, which represented several unique challenges.  As one engineer explains, “We were using a drive technology that had a simplified motion control but couldn’t handle the speeds on this project. I had some experience with the requested brand of controls and so we turned to the Siemens Solution Partner in our area, DMC Chicago for consultation.”  He also noted the end customer, while again impressed with the machine solution the builder had designed, was partial to having a brand of controls onboard that would be familiar to their operators and offer local support. 

    A look inside the controls cabinet reveals leading-edge components including Siemens Driv-CLIQ technology. Siemens motion controls run the entire machine--rinsing, filling and capping stations--and integrate to upstream washer and downstream package handling operations.


    The controls chosen included a combination of SINAMICS G120 drives with power modules for each of the three axes of motion required, plus a 12-inch HMI Comfort Panel.  At the heart of the system is the S7-1500 PLC with high-speed actuator timing and Process Image Partitions, a feature that allows substantially enhanced monitoring of the objects in process. 

    Configured on the Siemens TIA Portal with PLC Open command structure integration, the system allows the virtual synchronization of the three axes controlled by the drives, using a combination of positioning axis and synchronous axis technology objects. The high-speed actuators onboard handle the speed requirement, in this case, 850 bottles per minute. 

    “This machine was designed to process, clean, fill and cap 180ml single-serve milk bottles at very high speed,” says Brian McKittrick, the OEM account manager on the project for Siemens. “We worked closely with the builder’s team and Nick Shea at DMC, our Solution Partner, as well as Professional Control Corp., the local Siemens distributor, to design and implement the right answers for this project, including the selection of the PLC, Simatic HMI (shown below), motors and drives. The additional requirements for the power conditions in the end user’s foreign country were also considerations.

    “In the end, the combination of products we supplied to support the considerable engineering talent at the builder created a machine that gets the job done, with minimal maintenance and easy serviceability onsite by the customer’s team.”  

    The machine provided is based on the builder’s gear-on-carousel design framework, which allows integration with the upstream cleaner and downstream packaging handling equipment in the end user’s highly-automated facility. Further featured on the machine are the Siemens Driv-CLIQ technology, which allows instant recognition of the absolute encoder positioning for faster and more accurate field commissioning on new motors, for example, plus the TIA Portal interface allows the configuration and on-the-fly adjustment of the HMI, PLC and all motion control functionality between the carousel, filler and rinsing stations of the machine.

    The 12-inch HMI panel. Special features allow greatly enhanced monitoring of the objects for tight bottle-to-bottle control.


    15 bays in 100,000 square feet


    This builder operates from a 100,000 square-foot facility with approximately 100 employees and 15 bays of operation, in which all design, engineering, fabrication, assembly and testing occur.  This project required nearly a year in development and is the first of several similar machines being provided to the end user under an ongoing contract agreement.  The machine is also the first ever built by the OEM with all Siemens motion control hardware and software onboard.  As one engineer notes, “This new system simplifies cabling, set-up and changeover times substantially, for both our customer and us.”  

    As a vertically integrated manufacturing facility, all the components of the machine are assembled or fabricated at the builder, including the company’s unique flexible filling valves and the channel support “smooth edge” welding technology on the stainless steel framework.  Another highly valued department at this builder performs hand polishing of the cap runner channels.

    As the company’s production manager explains, “These are among the many strengths we have in the market today and they keep us at the leading edge of machine building for the dairy and beverage industry, in terms of process stability, line integration, end product quality and machinery use life.” 

    The company typically produces FDA-approved machines with 3-A sanitary certification, HEPA Class 100 enclosures, plus automated CIP and SIP systems, sterile air and water, antimicrobial capping and integrated bottle rinsers. The company markets its machine solutions to the global packaging industry currently. 



    Ajay S Rana is involved in industry business development (packaging), OEM production machines and digital factory automations for Siemens Industry, Inc.



    Siemens Process Industries and Drives
    Filling/capping system operating at 70ms per bottle leaves little margin for error.
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  • Football pro bowler scores with Super Bowl recycling message

    Recycled content in packaging is an aspect of sustainability that can add a lot of value. It can help companies reach greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction goals. It also helps reduce waste and demonstrates to customers that the brand owner cares about using resources wisely.

    P&G recently announced it’s increasing post-consumer recycled (PCR) high-density polyethylene (HDPE) in laundry care bottles; Method developed a bottle using 100% PCR PET for its laundry detergent.

    You know what makes even more recycled content possible? A growing, reliable, steady stream of consistent, high-quality material.

    That’s why we were excited to partner with former Pro Bowler Ovie Mughelli, who reminded Americans to recycle at their Super Bowl parties, and every day. Mughelli played for the Atlanta Falcons and Baltimore Ravens and now uses his OMF Green foundation to educate youth about sustainability and recycling. In the weeks leading up to Super Bowl 50, he appeared on more than a dozen morning television and radio shows including several nationally syndicated programs, and in top 30 markets like Atlanta, Raleigh and Cleveland.

    In the plastics industry, we’re making great gains with recycled plastics. In 2014, we saw a big spike in non-bottle rigid plastics recovery. Americans recycled nearly 1.3 billion pounds of rigid containers, 27% more than just a year before. More than a billion pounds of polyethylene plastic film wraps and bags are recycled annually, 79% more than 2005. And the plastic bottle collection rate reached 32% in 2014—with increases in the collection of polyethylene terephthalate (PET), HDPE and polypropylene (PP) bottles.

    We want that growth to continue, and the Super Bowl is a great opportunity to remind Americans of the opportunities to recycle more of the plastic packaging in their everyday lives. As members of the plastics and packaging industry, we can each play a role in getting the word out about recycling more. Check out Ovie’s video and share it wherever you can—on LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter.


    Recently named a “Rising Star” in Plastics News, Emily Tipaldo leads the Plastics Division’s Packaging Team at The American Chemistry Council, representing eight major resin suppliers. She advocates for legislation, regulatory policies and value chain initiatives that recognize plastic packaging as a valuable resource with multiple sustainability benefits. Tipaldo also leads the packaging team in the quest for better waste management and recycling approaches to increase landfill diversion and prevent marine debris. You can read more of Tipaldo’s thoughts on The American Chemistry Council’s Plastic Packaging Perspectives.

    Tuesday, February 9, 2016
    Video of 0iFqZjPAfC0
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  • Are food safety compliance requests for packaging suppliers overblown?

    FSMA implementation seems to have an overall effect of awareness on the part of packaging customers, which is impacting food packaging materials suppliers and distributors. Is that reasonable?


    I was pleased to see there is generally high awareness among packaging professionals for the need to address food safety, according to the results of a Packaging Digest poll on the Food Safety Modernization Act. Yet I am also surprised that nearly 60% of respondents are unsure if their facilities could pass a food and packaging safety audit (see chart above). Note: Chart figures do not add up to 100% due to rounding.

    If that is true, it would be consistent with the information that my company, EHA Consulting Group, receives from clients who either have been asked to provide proof of a successfully-passed 3rd party audit or are being asked to submit to a 3rd party audit.

    As we have come to understand, most callers have limited knowledge of and concerns about 3rd party food safety audit preparation and expectations and, as such, are looking for guidance. Most of the callers represent small businesses and are in need of evaluating their food safety preparedness against client expectations. They are also wary of costs and resources.  

    I have no doubt that non-conforming businesses are looking at the process of assessment, upgrade and compliance as a necessary nuisance.  I haven’t heard anyone indicate that their company is driven to comply based on the desire to apply best practices or to protect their clients and the public from harm or contaminants.  I get the sense that in general, manufacturers and distributors of packaging and other food-related non-comestibles consider themselves collateral victims of well publicized events occurring on the “edibles” side of the food industry, driving clients to ratchet up their food safety compliance requirements.


    Publicized reporting of events is limited


    Due to the limited number of publicized packaging-related food safety events, low or no histories of food-safety-related packaging-related complaints and other factors, food packaging suppliers don’t see their processes and products as being in the same risk categories as edibles. They are positive to the concept of adding or upgrading basic prerequisite programs to control food safety within their processes, but appear skeptical that failure to apply and validate full certified food/packaging safety programs adds measurable risk to the safety and suitability of materials within the greater customer supply chain.

    Finally, there is the issue of controlling unsuitability wherein a packaging component or material is considered by a client or customer to be “unsuitable for the application” due to any number of factors cited by the affected party.  A finding or assertion of unsuitability may or may not be directly linked in the formal sense to the safety of the food for human consumption, but nonetheless can lead to complaints, withdrawals, recalls or other costly remedies.

    Best practices dictate that food packaging converters or suppliers apply a continuous improvement approach to their food safety and suitability control process.  Therefore, I offer the following general strategies for beginning the continuous improvement process:


    • Communicate with customers in order to get a sense of their supplier food safety and suitability audit expectations, specifically what food and/or packaging safety program or criteria. 


    • Obtain a copy of client targeted food and packaging safety program expectation manual(s) and review with an expert in order to fully understand how the requirements and best practices relate to your facilities and organizations ability to intake, convert and dispense materials deemed “safe” by an independent auditor. 


    • Perform an internal HARPC or HACCP-based risk analysis comparing expectations against performance after digesting the individual sections of your clients’ food safety expectations. Prioritize those systems or processes where non-conformance with expectations or obvious gaps in the “observe and control” process leaves the organization open to liability. Examples include food packaging supplier’s failure to audit their own internal facilities or incoming products for physical, chemical or microbiological contamination or the failure of a converter or distributor to implement best practices-driven procurement processes for identifying and certifying approved suppliers of incoming goods against their ability to meet comprehensive material specifications.


    The above activities require championing and commitment.  The rewards are in the application of continuous food safety program improvement and a demonstration to internal and external supply chain members that packaging materials quality, safety and suitability is a high priority and that your organization is committed to meet or exceed global safety standards.


    Whether compliance has to be accomplished immediately or longer term, the advice is the same: Keep working at it! 


    Gary Kestenbaum has 40 years’ experience in the food and packaging industries, six as a supplier with National Starch, 18 as a product developer with General/Kraft Foods and 15 as a packaging engineer and developer with Kraft. As senior food packaging safety consultant with EHA Consulting Group, Kestenbaum provides guidance on packaging safety and suitability-related projects for raw material manufacturers, converters and associated supporting professionals. He can be reached at or 410-484-9133. The website is

    Monday, February 8, 2016
    The results of a PD poll on FSMA: More than 50% are uncertain about their company's food safety program.
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  • 8 things to like about Bigelow tea cartons

    Bigelow tea cartons serve several portions of appealing on-packaging details such as a “designer” UPC barcode and a kind of reverse take on personalization courtesy of a packaging line operator.


    For those of us involved in this business in one way or another we remain alert to packaging that catches our eye as go about our daily lives. For this latest example, it is helpful to know that my wife steeps a lot of tea and one of her wintertime favorites that I’m partial to as well is Bigelow Red Raspberry tea. I took notice of the carton packaging after a recent ecommerce order of four 20-bag cartons purchased direct from the company.

    While my attention was initially drawn to the tasteful packaging design and color scheme, a closer look revealed more details that were of greater interest. If you haven’t taken notice of Bigelow’s packaging before now, here are nine packaging details (eight of the carton and one of the tea packet as a bonus) I found that may spark ideas for your own redesign:


    1. Impressively, the UPC barcode found on the bottom panel is in the shape of a raspberry as shown above. I’ve seen custom-shaped barcodes occasionally and it gets my attention every time as an ingenious way to turn the ubiquitous code into a brand equity asset in a clever way. It also shows that the brand went the extra mile beyond what one would expect in a redesign. It would have been better if the barcode was printed in red, although I assume that wouldn’t work well for scanning.
    2. As seen in the closeup below, what appears to be laser-etched lettering that reverses out in white on the printed red band across the bottom panel below the raspberry barcode states “Tea packed by Dominique E.” I like that as a personal touch and a step above “packed by operator 31” or similar wording. I can’t imagine that the cartons are hand-packed, so until I hear differently I’ll presume that Dominique was the cartoning machine operator for the shift.

    3. Instead of a use-by or fresh by day, the fresh dating next to the previous element on the red band states “Best enjoyed by: Nov. 2018.”  The use of the word enjoy adds a nice touch versus the generic coding Use By or similar dating that we all come to expect.
    4. The sustainable packaging statement that the company makes, also found on the carton bottom adjacent to the raspberry barcode, strikes just the right note. In addition to the almost-required generic chasing arrow symbol, it adds a gold heart to state visually “We [heart] Recycling.” The gold ink used for the heart matches the gold that appears in the Bigelow name and several other places on the carton. The accompanying copy states “Our boxes, tea bags, strings and tags are 100% biodegradable and we encourage you to do your part. Thanks!” That’s truly encouraging messaging.
    5. On the back panel (below), the “Caff-O-Meter” of caffeine content per serving is provided visually on the back panel. For one thing, I didn’t know that herbal tea has less caffeine than decaf. And just above that are explicitly clear instructions to brewing a great cup of tea where I learned I shouldn’t squeeze the last bit of flavor from the bag.
    6. Another nice detail seen on the back panel (below) is that a printed tea bag along the bottom of the reclosable flap on the carton bottom aligns perfectly with the image that appears beneath on the carton. It also plays perfectly off the copy printed above, “Unlock the freshness,” accompanied by a key that’s printed in that same gold color noted earlier. This particular style of reclosure was an improvement over the perforated zipper tab used previously.
    7. The company history is printed on the top panel as told by David Bigelow is a good example of literal brand-centered storytelling. Interestingly, it picks up the company’s story in 1960 vs. the previous top-of-carton history lesson that dated back to the company’s origin in 1945.
    8. In addition to the cumulative aspects noted above, I found the overall color scheme as satisfying as a fresh-brewed cup o’ tea and an improvement over the black-accentuated design used before.

    Finally and as a bonus, it turns out that the inner foil-laminate tea bags (20 per carton) were also redesigned—and they reflect the carton’s design to a “T.”


    Monday, February 8, 2016
    As nice as the front panel is, the more notable packaging "bits" are found on other panels.
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  • Testing services highlighted by Life Pack Labs and MOCON at MD&M West

    Trends toward outsourcing continue, and not just in manufacturing and packaging. Karen Greene, President of Life Pack Labs, reports increasing interest in external testing of products and packaging among manufacturers and suppliers of medical devices, combination products, food, and even pharmaceuticals.

    “Today’s engineers are very busy with multiple projects, and they may not have the staff or even equipment to handle some of their testing,” she says. Additionally, beyond satisfying the essential regulatory requirements, engineers and other professionals may not be aware of the variety of testing technologies available to them for their packaging and product development activities.

    In 2014, PMP News reported that Life Pack Labs was created through a partnership between MOCON and Life Packaging Technology LLC (LPT LLC), a packaging consultancy. (LPT LLC was founded by Stuart Long and is co-owned by Long and Greene.) Life Pack Labs will be on hand in MOCON’s booth (#1922) at the upcoming MD&M West 2016 in Anaheim, CA, February 9-11, 2016.

    Reach-in chambers at Life Pack Labs


    Life Pack Labs utilizes MOCON’s permeation, headspace analysis, and package integrity equipment to support its services for design, testing, and validation of packaging systems for sterile and non-sterile medical devices, biotechnology pharmaceutical, and food products. The lab also has an Instron universal test system, environmental chambers for thermal packaging validation services, and the ability to carry out several different package integrity testing methods.

    Greene reports that the lab has already worked with a number of manufacturers. “We can design a custom testing program, and we focus on efficiency and maximum impact. We can review a customer’s suggested testing program for maximum utility and in some situations, we can reduce the amount of testing by 20%.”

    "We can offer our clients a very powerful combination of consulting and testing services through our partnership with MOCON," says Greene. "We can even provide services such as packaging retort processing through our partnership with a university laboratory." 

    Life Pack Labs is currently working toward ISO 17025 certification in 2016.

    Visit and for more details. 


    Focused on medical device packaging?  Find medical packaging inspiration at MD&M West February 9-11 in Anaheim, CA.



    Friday, February 5, 2016
    MOCON Lippke 4500 with a closed package test fixture at Life Pack Labs
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  • 6 versatile fillers handle small runs, large containers and more
    Friday, February 5, 2016

    A filling machine is like the main course at a dinner party. It sets the tone and tempo for the entire packaging line. Here’s a look at six new systems, each using a different technology to put product into package. You can see all of these in action at the upcoming WestPack 2016 show.


    Mid-range monobloc efficiently handles small runs

    The new Lite-C (photo above) joins the company’s Lite series of filling/closing machines designed for small-run applications—such as for start-up companies, smaller facilities, research and development (R&D) and contract manufacturing/packaging operations—where a batch or lot size can be as low as 500 to 1,000 packages and changeovers must occur several times in a single shift. A 12-inch touchscreen for the multi-lingual human-machine interface (HMI) helps operators perform quick and easy size changeovers, and stores/manages production recipes. The monobloc can handle a variety of closures, including continuous-thread or press-on caps, applicators and dispensing pumps. Minimal change-parts helps keep tooling costs affordable.

    groninger USA LLC,

    See this product in person at WestPack 2016 in Booth 5573


    Netweigher automatically fills large containers

    Model FNET4-TG Automatic Net Weigh Filler uses an integrated scale for each fill head to control the fill volume dispensed into the containers by the pneumatic-operated nozzles. Unit provides extreme filling accuracies of fractional percentages of volume depending on scale range chosen regardless of changes in bulk density. Features include bottom-up fill control, automatic drip tray, automatic supply regulation and automatic bottle indexing gates.

    Filler is constructed of 304 stainless steel tubular frame with NEMA 4X enclosures for full washdown. Control panel uses color touchscreen operator interface and separate visual display for real-time weight information during operation. Offers Shuttle or Lift System and conveyor for automatic operation.

    Inline Filling,

    See this product in person at WestPack 2016 in Booth 4801


    Entry-level thermoformer for modified atmosphere packaging

    The R 105 MF is a compact, entry-level thermoforming machine for smaller batches of vacuum skin packs, for standard vacuum packs and modified atmosphere packaging. For sanitation it offers patented, hygienic chain-guide design and complete IP65 washdown. Additionally, the exclusive Multivac Hygienic Design uses easy-to-clean smooth, angled external surfaces without recesses, corners or edges. On the controls side it has IPC control with open architecture, an intuitive, user-friendly HMI terminal with touchscreen with access to production data acquisition and storage. The R 105 MF has a machine width of 420mm/16.5 inches, a cut-off length of 270mm/10.6 inches and a maximum forming depth of 50mm/2 inches.


    See this product in person at WestPack 2016 in Booth 5201


    Vertical bagger controls dwell times for secure seals

    The new Matrix Morpheus vertical form-fill-seal machine gives you complete control of sealing dwell times, regardless of operating speed. This exact control ensures your packages are firmly sealed, even for films that require longer dwell time. Additionally, this continuous-motion system flexibly accommodates a range of package widths, from 2 to 12 inches, on the same machine. Maximum roll diameter is 14 inches.

    The touchscreen operator interface works similarly to a smartphone screen, for easy and intuitive actions. And recipes can be stored in the machine, on a USB stick or in the cloud. The PackML-compliant bagger boasts a cycle speed up to 200 bags per minute. All this in a space saving 36-inch wide frame.

    Matrix Packaging Machinery,

    See this product in person at WestPack 2016 in Booth 5326


    Ergonomic stickpack machine can be custom configured

    The Inever BY300 stickpack machine can be configured with from three to seven lanes, for an output range of 150 to 350 stickpacks per minute. An ergonomic design simplifies operation, cleaning and maintenance for a variety of products, including dosing powders, granules, solids, liquids and pastes. A number of optional features lets you customize a system to best fit your application and environment—dust aspiration for powder products, for example. Other useful options revolve around laser technology: laser scoring creates straight-tear easy-open packs; laser cutting makes a pre-cut slit to help with opening; and laser coding lets you add important information on the packs.

    Inever (distributed by Matrix),

    See this product in person at WestPack 2016 in the Matrix Booth 5326


    Automatic rotary filler runs at high speeds and with high accuracy

    For high-speed productions, the RPF Rotary Piston Fillers exceed 600 containers per minute. They can fill most product viscosities—honey, shampoo and liquid deodorant, for example—into a range of rigid containers with accuracy of +/-0.5%. Models come with from four to 36 nozzles to meet required speeds. The quick-change cylinders and pistons can be easily removed for cleaning and size changeovers.

    Cozzoli Machine Co.,

    See this product in person at WestPack 2016 in Booth 5372

    groninger USA LLC
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  • Oliver-Tolas Healthcare Packaging expands heat-seal coating capacity

    Oliver-Tolas Healthcare Packaging recently expanded its operations in Hamilton, OH, to include an additional high-speed coating line for producing its SealScience heat-seal coatings for sterile-grade packaging materials. The company recently celebrated the expansion with a ribbon cutting and will be at Booth #1939 at MD&M West 2016 in Anaheim, CA, February 9-11 to discuss the added capacity.

    “The expansion supports business growth and continued increasing demand for flexible healthcare packaging,” Jody Beeck, Marketing & Product Manager, tells PMP News. “We chose to invest in Hamilton to leverage the skills and expertise of our team responsible for producing our SealScience coated products. Keeping the manufacturing site consistent lessens the scope of change for our customers.” 

    Operational since 1992, the Hamilton site “will continue to supply adhesive coated substrates to our converting operations globally,” explains Beeck; those operations are Grand Rapids, MI; Feasterville, PA; Venray, The Netherlands; and Suzhou, China.

    The added coating line also expands Oliver-Tolas’s redundancy programs. “We have strengthened redundancy of our SealScience adhesive coating operations with this investment,” she adds. “Previous investment to our Grand Rapids, MI, operation strengthened redundancy of our Xhale adhesive coating operations.”

    Adds Russell Douglas, Global VP of Operations, in a statement: “This is one of many proactive steps we take to insulate our customers from the risk of supply interruptions. Producing high-quality heat-seal coated products for the healthcare market is extremely demanding. Our customers deliver life-saving products and we share a responsibility to ensure patient safety with safe and effective packaging materials.” The new coating line includes a sophisticated vision system for detecting defects and a number of automated process monitoring controls, Oliver-Tolas reported in the statement.

    To help medical device manufacturers evaluate products produced on the new line, Oliver-Tolas developed a validation plan. “Our process and product validations for the newly installed line have been conducted with customer impact top of mind,” says Beeck. “While we are excited to install and work with the latest technologically advanced coating equipment, we must ensure that the equipment and processes for operating it generate equivalent coated product. Our customers rely on us to deliver consistent product meeting specification each and every time we deliver. Our customers will be able to leverage the data we generate during our verification and validation work to help conduct their own risk assessments.”

    The Oliver-Tolas Hamilton team and project team members pose in front of the new coating equipment.


    The expansion could also result in new products. “Our adhesive technology has evolved with market demands over the past 40+ years,” says Beeck. “The added capacity will allow us to expand our product portfolio while ensuring our heat seal coatings perform optimally. We’re preparing to introduce next generation coatings that leverage decades of formulation experience and meet the need for cost effective packaging options.”

    States Jerry Bennish, President and CEO, of the expansion: “We are excited to enhance the value we deliver to our customers. Quality, cleanliness, continuity of supply, and controlling costs are of utmost importance to healthcare manufacturers. Our recent investments will ensure we are exceeding customer expectations in these areas.”

    For more details, please visit Oliver-Tolas at MD&M West Booth #1939 February 9-11 in Anaheim, CA, or visit

    Thursday, February 4, 2016
    Oliver-Tolas Healthcare Packaging
    Oliver-Tolas medical-grade reinforced paper rollstock coated on the additional coater
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