The firm said it advises over specifying for the time-being so that machinery can handle changes in the sector.
SML is an Austrian based manufacturer of machinery for the packaging industry, including cast film lines, sheet extrusion, rigid and flexible packaging and extrusion coating and laminating.
Karl Stöger, managing director of SML, told FoodProductionDaily.com that machines are not usually bought from paper descriptions but trails are performed to see if it is feasible to make products.
First hand testing
Film producers want to see how the materials behave first-hand or sample rolls to test in their food packaging division to see if expectations of the product are actually fulfilled, he said at K Show in Dusseldorf.
“So usually if somebody says he needs a 9-layer line, we ask why not 11? Because our philosophy is what you need now when you invest in a new machine you should add two more layers to be safe for the future.
“It is always getting to more and more layers and it is important that a machine has a life expectancy of 10-20 years so you have to prepare for the future and the new things that come up.
"Having said this it is often not the number of layers that is important on a machine but the number of extruders, because if you have nine layers but only four extruders and you run the same material you can only run symmetrical structures, no asymmetrical structures which is not helpful.
“The number of extruders to run different polymers to make different structures and adjusted structures for different applications is very important.”
The firm has three lab machines in Austria to do material tests and to produce different film structures for the food packaging and other industries.
Flexibility of changeover
Stöger said flexibility is key because film producers have to make different specifications and transition time to change from one product to another should be minimised.
“Food packaging is a fast growing business for us because in Europe packaging is always improving and in a lot of developing countries more goods are sold to department stores and supermarkets in a more organised way.
“Living standard is increasing which gives us huge potential in countries such as India, Brazil, Russia and the Middle East where there are a lot of new projects for this industry.”
Standardised machine can be built in six months but the firm is known for its custom-built machines for individual requirements, said Stöger.
“A lot of customers have their own ideas and R&D departments where they develop new structures of film, new laminates structures and there are always new raw materials that come into play that behave differently but have some characteristics for some new applications.
“We can react to such enquiries very fast and offer these special solutions which is usually built from components of our standard machines, it’s still a standard extruder or a standard winder but the way it is arranged, the way the screws are adapted to run different raw materials, the way the structures are organised in the machine are such that new products can be made on such machines.”