Q&A Roundtable | How The Pouch/Bag Making Market Is Evolving

Converting Solutions Caught Up With Three Experts In The Field To Hear About The Trends, Driving Factors, Customers Demands And Future Predictions For The Pouch/Bag Making Market Segment. 

 

Q: What’s new in the pouch/bag making market segment, such as additional features, new developments, etc.?

Scott Fuller

FULLER: Regarding the pouch itself, we’re seeing more converters seeking to make pouches with non-laminated structures. They are reporting that the operating window on these structures is significantly narrower than what they’re used to. So, for the pouch machine, production speed reductions and product consistency tend to be the biggest hurdles to overcome. For us, the challenge was to maintain consistency and quality of the pouch seals, at a higher rate of speed than our competition, when running these more demanding structures. To meet that challenge, we’ve developed a new stand-up pouch system that delivers robust precision—meaning our new platform includes technology that ensures an extremely stable operating process, delivers repeatable consistency, and allows the machine to be run at higher speeds, all while generating less waste.

Jim Pease

PEASE: We were excited about all the interest in our new front and back registration stand-up pouch machine we displayed at Pack Expo Las Vegas. This machine with the Redi-Pac thermal lamination module from CDA will allow virtually anyone with a HP digital press to enter into the stand-up pouch market. This innovation will allow for less process scrap and the fastest turnaround times from print to finished product. Digital file is sent to vendor in the morning, film is digitally printed and goes directly to the pouch machine to thermally laminate, and the pouch in the same day to a shipped product. This will change the short-run industry and enable so many others to get into the market overnight.

Jesse Rosenow

ROSENOW: Totani has been focusing to ease operators work and reduce set up time to meet customers request. One new feature relating to this is the “Digital Positioning Assist” system which utilizes indicators and a location sensor to alert operators when sealing and punching units are out of alignment. Furthermore, we are developing an advanced system to the above mentioned; the “Auto Positioning System.” This new system allows the position of the sealers to be saved and moved into position automatically. Each sealing unit and punch device location can be saved and then recalled automatically with the push of a single button. The concept is to save set up time while improving scrap ratio and productivity dramatically.

Sanjay Amin

AMIN: Mamata has introduced two new converting machines for converting industry. With changing market needs and restrictions on plastic bag usage for grocery and day today needs, Mamata has introduced a non- woven fabric bag making machine in the market. Mamata has used all its experience and latest servo technology to design and make this machine the world’s fastest non- woven bag making machine, capable of running up to 210 cycles per minute. It’s practical output is almost 3 to 4 times higher compared to any other non-woven bag maker. We also introduced a cutting and sewing machine for laminated PP and HDPE woven sack bag making industry. It is Mamata’s recent introduction in converting sector. Demand of woven sack bags is in market since long. Converting woven fabric has always been a bottleneck in the industry. Mamata has introduced world’s fastest woven sack bag making machine for cutting & stitching back seam bags with complete automation. This takes care of large format packaging needs of PET food, grains, fertilizers, etc. These laminated woven sacks are 100 percent recyclable and adds to the sustainability and recyclability.

Q: What factors/markets drive growth in the industry? What do you see as the biggest potential over the next two to three years?

FULLER: Many non-food applications are looking at non-laminated structures to drive overall cost-per-pouch down. In addition, there’s the sustainability/recyclability factor. These two factors, cost and sustainability, will drive materials innovation for the foreseeable future, and machinery original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) will need to be able to respond with repeatable, stable process efficiency.

PEASE: Digital printing and short-run products are driving many customers who need the fastest turnaround and no minimums. We are seeing more and more people enter the market (label printers and shrink sleeve printers) because they have a digital press, and with our front and back registration machine and the Redi-Pac, all you need is the digital press and the pouch machine. This innovation is disrupting the conventional methods of pouch production.

ROSENOW: We see eco-friendly pouches as one important factor. When shifting from rigid packaging, we are already reducing the carbon footprint with a reduction in materials and logistical costs. Additionally, we also see multinational companies striving to push packages that are more eco-friendly. This growth has been supported by improvements in films with alternative barriers, allowing the pouches to be used in various industries. These eco-friendly pouches will then be identified as such on the package itself. This will be appealing to the consumers and will be critical to driving the industry growth. Without a doubt, the biggest growth will be in Box Pouch® (flat bottom, side gusset style pouches). The growth in past years has been very good, but this growth will gather even more steam in the next couple of years. Albeit, this market is geared in general toward high end, high value-added products, we also see a trend toward a mid-level value product. The main driven factor of this growth is simple; the Box Pouch® is a more appealing package than other pouch formats due to its shelf presence, increased volume per relative pouch size and better brand recognition.

AMIN: There are multiple factors behind the growth of pouch packaging formats around the world. Here are few to name. Re-closable features with zippers, lightweight and easy to transport, new structures in films also preserves the flavors and gives longer shelf life, gives better product visibility, etc., With co-ex recyclable structures now in use, it gives recyclability feature helping environment. Use of Recyclable structures also Mamata Pouch Machines offers all these capabilities including processing laminates and co-ex recyclable film structures with same ease. Processed food and convenient packaging followed by switch over from rigid packaging to flexible packaging is going to be biggest potential in next 2-3 years.

Q: What do buyers have on their wish lists and what innovations are they looking for to meet their needs?

FULLER: Interestingly, many converters are talking about the difficulty they face in hiring, training and retaining operators. It’s a battle they face every day. Machinery OEMs are challenged to find ways to help converters reduce the operator training cycle, while minimizing the quality and consistency gaps they see between their seasoned operators and their new operators. CMD has invested in design and technology that offers a clear advantage in this area. Our new SUP platform, to be launched this year, makes pouch making simpler and easier to learn, thereby reducing that training burden. In addition, by integrating tools that eliminate the need for much of that “magic-touch” your most seasoned operators seem to have, we’ve significantly improved quality and consistency from shift to shift— skill-level to skill-level.

PEASE: We have also introduced this year our multiformat flat-bottom pouch machine that runs completely unprinted films, stand-up pouch, terminated gusset, and also can be outfitted with the Redi-Pac system to make flat-bottom pouches with the shortest lead time and most cost-effective system in the market using digital printing.

ROSENOW: In essence, the question gives the answer. Buyers are always looking for new things, new ideas— whatever is innovative—in order to differentiate themselves from the competition. This is why formats like the Box Pouch®, shaped pouches, unique closures, etc., will continue to grow steadily in the next years, since they can bring sound and innovative solutions to current market needs. Additional wishes relate to lowering set-up times, scrap ratios and, of course, increasing outputs. The market, at this stage, is developing rapidly and for converters to have productive and efficient lines is becoming a key factor for continued success and growth. The market is entering a depuration state and companies that do not have competitive equipment will have increased difficulty to survive.

AMIN: One of the key issues/pain point for a buyer of pouch machines is to process a wide variety of film structures on the pouch machine besides flexibility to process wide variety of pouch styles. Mamata’s unique seal technology allows customer to use a wide variety of films and make pouches. In fact, our customers have run a straight monolayer PE film to an 8 mil PE/nylon/PE structure and have made stand-up pouches. We can run laminated structures as well as co-ex recyclable unsupported PE structures and make a wide variety of pouches, be it three side seal, zipper, stand-up or even quad seal pouches for PET food/fertilizers, etc.

Q:With varying size pouch/bag demand, how are you addressing customization over speed?

FULLER: The big issue here is changeover time. The production runs continue to get shorter and shorter, as more and more product SKUs are introduced. Some of these changes are minimal on a pouch machine, but when converters do need to go from, say, a small pouch to a larger pouch, they want to be able to do so much more quickly than they have been able to in the past. Our new SUP platform has been creatively designed from the ground up, so changeovers are easier, faster and more consistent from run to run. Time, they say, is money—and our new platform delivers a true profit advantage, through simplicity, flexibility and robust precision.

PEASE: The key value to our equipment is changeover with ease of operation. Changeover time is so important in this market of 5,000-piece orders and short runs, so many customers want the 1 million-piece order, but the reality is they get the orders of 5,000 to 25,000 and must do several changeovers every day. The key is short set-up time and low scrap, and our machines deliver on this every day.

ROSENOW: As the markets evolve, innovation brings customization. As already mentioned, customized pouch machines for new innovative packaging and specific markets is a growing trend, and the proper design needs to consider speed as one of the most important factors. Totani has been developing the most productive customized machines in the world for many years. Some examples are: • Pouch and bag machines for security and shipping envelopes. • Customized pouch machines for the medical industry. • “Combination machines” that make multiple pouch styles. For example, stand-up pouches and quad seal pouches, or 1-web stand-up pouches and 2-web inserted bottom gusset stand-up pouches. • The flat bottom Box Pouch®, quad seal/pinch bottom with terminated gussets and reclose features or with gussets all the way to the top of the bag. • Side weld machines that run at speeds of up to 500 cycles/minute. • Most recently, pouch machines for narrow web applications with our sophisticated TBRS technology (top and bottom web print registration system).

AMIN: What Mamata delivers is machines with flexibility and versatility without compromising the speeds. Mamata offers pouch machines for each converter type, be it small, medium or large. Our machines are suitable for applications to make conventional three side seal pouches to stand-up pouches to high end flat bottom pouches. We offer machines to make vacuum pouches, PET food pouches and produce pouches. You can either have a dedicated machine for each application or you can configure one machine for multiple applications. The most unique ability of our equipment is to handle laminated structures and co-ex films with same ease. Our universal polybag machines and wicketers are also designed to address a wide variety of market needs in terms of converting and makes it unique in the industry.

Q: Is speed important at this point or is it more important to the customer to set up a bit more specialized type of pouch?

FULLER: Speed is seldom brought up as a key requirement. Most pouch machines are running in that 100 cpm range on a day-in, day-out basis. Speed is only brought up when a new material is introduced, and an unexpected reduction in speed is experienced. The modular design of our new SUP platform makes it much easier for us to respond to unexpected events. Whether a new pre-sealer is needed—or an extra zipper crush station, perhaps—changes are much easier for converters, allowing them to be more flexible in pouch style offerings and more responsive to materials innovation.

PEASE: Specialized pouches are an ever-growing trend in the market, from child lock zippers, to Velcro or Applix closures, die-cut shaped pouches, side gusset pouches with bottom fold and glue. Using our SCSG-600 XL machine line with die cutting will enable a customer to have the most versatile machine in the market without sacrificing speed to make all types of stand-up pouches, side gusset bags, all PE side gusset pouches, twin-lane stand-up, and center-seal pouches in one platform, with options to add the CDA Redi-Pac will enable virtually anyone to be competitive in the market.

ROSENOW: Specialized pouches must have a market. In some cases, speed is important and unique or specialized features are also important. One example is the “shaped pouch.” Totani offers top-shape, side-shaped or full-shaped pouch machines. This offering, also, can be “plug and play.” That is, the feature is easily added or removed dependent on the pouch features required. You see shaped pouches from the simple baby food pouches to human food to pet treats. In these cases, speed and efficiency are important and the special shape is also important. Totani has a full line of pouch shaping options.

AMIN: A converter always looks for both. They want a machine that is able to run at higher speeds and at the same time has ability to make a specialized pouch on the same machine. Mamata offers unique combination of speed and versatility on same machine. Our pouch machine offers ability to make a specialized flat bottom pouch with or without reclosable features as well as offers ability to make conventional stand-up zipper pouch at high speeds.

You Can Reach These Round-Table Participants At Their Contact Information Below

Scott Fuller, Product Line Manager, CMD Corp.

Jim Pease, President, Sun Center USA

Jesse Rosenow, Sales Engineer and Technical Projects Manager, Totani America

Sanjay Amin, General Manager-Sales, Marketing and Customer Support, Mamata Enterprises, Inc


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