Interpack roars back
“Welcome back!” The greeting from many exhibitors to visitors on their stands.
The crowds entering the halls on the first day was enormously encouraging and lent weight to the years of planning to boost visits to the trade fair renowned for its sheer size.
In that respect Interpack didn’t disappoint: 18 halls worth of packaging, processing and components; presentations and trade body representation offering talks around almost every conceivable topic from the international packaging industry.
Interpack is primarily an in-person experience. Many a comment was made about the thousands of steps you take inevitably to walk from hall to hall, but for my money this is an impressive exhibition – one that you can not only network at but also learn a tremendous amount. And despite the macroeconomic pressures faced by the manufacturing industries, there has been an enticing assortment of innovations to lure back industry.
What did we see? I can share a flavour of what we saw here but more will be available in the June issue of Food & Drink Technology.
There was plenty around automating processes, increasing productivity and reducing waste, all of which our future selves will be asking how we ever operated without.
GEA, for example, showed us its complete line solution via a 25-metre-long production line for portion-precise slicing and loading into a thermoformer. To reinforce the wow factor, Joerg Kuhn, vice president development, engineering & application at GEA Food Solutions said the new line concepts and the technological competence and expertise of the entire slicing & packaging business unit will be available to customers for extensive product testing in the newly opened Technology Center at the production site in Biedenkopf-Wallau.
Buhler took a different approach by not showcasing any equipment yet delivered a exciting mix of plant-based concepts to “stretch customers’ imagination”, Thomas Bischof, global head of business development consumer foods at Bühler Group told us.
Much of the fair centred on sustainability in packaging as a new standard, demonstrations showing the possibilities of robotics as well as plenty of exhibitors talking about the future of sustainable and efficient packaging machines.
Qupaq talked about an official world record attempt. The market leader for tray destacking attempted to destack 1,000 trays in just one minute.
But interpack goes wider: climate protection and the circular economy, environmentally friendly packaging solutions, reusable packaging and recycling figured highly. For instance, there were plenty of explanations how entry into the circular economy can succeed.
Fibre-based packaging solutions and material substitution being an area for tremendous debate – a reminder that one of the greatest things about the packaging industry is its relentless experimentation.
There was also forward-looking content on digitalisation. One of the major exhibitors, Syntegon, explained how digitalisation will play a huge role in the future of the food and beverage industry – regardless the size of the company.
Other user-oriented topics such as printing technologies, labelling and marking demonstrated this to a fault, with Domino Printing explaining how digital technologies can help businesses reduce waste and ultimately increase productivity. Jeremy Jones, the global marketing director, gave an impassioned presentation spelling out the hidden cost of waste and showed, via an interactive waste calculator, the scale of the problem businesses face.
Finally, three themes integral to packaging – agility, sustainability and digitalisation – were brought to light by Jean Marc Passemard, senior marketing communication manager at Sidel. I walked away from this stand having learnt the company’s end of line portfolio can make operations repeatable and fast – changeover is as easy as it could ever be.
The pandemic has not been kind to exhibitions, of course. Many adapted to survive, however, what has been clear since that time is the ability of the packaging and processing industries to be sources of inspiration, excitement and wonder in both professional’s and consumers’ everyday lives.
Interpack saw a need to offer a programme with a wide range of voices that professionals can see themselves in – and in that it was very well packaged.
- Rodney Jack, editor, Food & Drink Technology.
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