Speaking at Anuga FoodTec 2015 in Cologne, Germany, last week, Prof Dr Bernd Wilke, technology development, Bosch Packaging Technology, said until now bioplastics has accounted for up to 0.5% of material and is only a low number in the package material.
Bioplastics does not mean the material is biodegradable
“We expect a significant growth in this. Bioplastics does not necessarily mean the material is biodegradable, or has a low CO2 footprint and it is not decomposting,” he said.
“Bioplastics is only a small percentage and in packaging it is even lower and doesn’t mean the material is biodegradable. Bosch is currently doing systematic studies on that.”
According to Wilke, the development of the surface rate of plastic films has material savings for commercial customers and from 1991 to 2013 the average surface rate of plastic films decreased by 36%.
He added, in the future, only a slight reduction is to be expected on this.
“We have found there is also a significant ‘knowledge loss’ in customer plants,” he said.
“We have a shortage in qualified labour within the industry that is why Bosch Packaging created an adaptive packaging machine (Adaptive Machine VFFS), because the skill of the workforce was not sufficient enough and they were not able to adjust the machine when new material was used.
“It made us a little bit nervous when we collected in-house data regarding insufficient OEE that is one of the reasons why we developed the machine.
“It is not operator free but takes into account the skill of the operators who don’t have the required skills.”
Smart packaging & more transparency
Wilke said future requirements for packaging will include; where are the machines built and where are they shipped to; increasing globalization needing more fully automated lines; smart packaging and more transparency about the product quality.
“By 2020, 50bn people will have more access to connected devices; on the one have you have QR codes, (Quick Response two-dimensional barcode) but RFID (Radio-frequency identification), or printed electronic will become more suitable,” he added.
“We expect it will bring down the costs of packaging significantly and give is a significant amount of data. RFID codes are still expensive, but there is a lot of activities currently in research labs of printed electronics.
“Bosch packaging has identified what is needed and what is coming up in the next five to 10 years. We are conducting pre-studies, concept studies and accompanying this development until it is implemented on a machine ie intelligent packaging and new sealing technology.”
Far East and China
Wilke added while Bosch packaging is still only a small division of the company with $1.6bn turnover, it has seen strong growth in the Far East and China, with an export ratio of 87%.
“On one hand, we are looking into the pharma field, liquid and dry food areas, but we see a lot of cross-transfer from pharma to food and vice versa, with new technology in different fields,” he said.
“It is mandatory for us that we identify global trends in packaging and what are the relevant fields to see where we have to be active, ie to improve OEE and TCO we have to develop machines which can do ready-to-go meals, there is a limited availability of resources and labour, and we know waste must be reduced.
“Energy is a particularly hot topic and we have a significant knowledge loss in the customer plants. We know the machine must be easily operated and leads us to a single-use system which is needed in the business and an adapted machine which answers these requirements. We see a growing trend for organic and dairy equipment and more hygienic design.”