LAS VEGAS – Sections Editor Dan Galbraith gathered the following news items at Pack Expo 2013, Sept. 23-25, at the Las Vegas Convention Center:


North Star Engineered Products

Perrysburg, Ohio-based North Star Engineered Products recently upgraded the manifest system, incorporated a digital monitor system and added an optional chiller to its Melonium II Wedger/Dicer.

A filtration enhancement to extend washwater life is also in the works, said John Clement Jr., division manager.

“We redid our dicer about six months ago to eliminate pneumatics (air cylinder technology). It’s now a mechanical cam action that gives a much more even cut and increases output.”



Although Octal’s Pack Expo launch of DPET/PE film for increased sustainability targeted a meat-and-cheese product, North American sales director Mark Hunt said fresh produce applications are not far off and he expects high demand for it from fresh fruit and vegetable processors.

“If you’re in fresh-cut produce, that’s the message you want to send. This is the most sustainable, smallest carbon footprint PET,” Hunt said. “It has the best machinability and has been tested at 1% gauge control variation, while 3%-5% is the industry average.”

Also billed to deliver high-quality optics, DPET/PE eliminates six of the nine steps of conventional sheet production, making it the “first and only direct-to-sheet polyester sheet in the world,” according to the company.



Tamper-evident produce packaging that stays fully attached is what differentiates Madison, Wis.-based Placon’s new Crystal Seal Tamper-Evident packaging, said account executive Jennifer Mitchell.

Launched in May, the new packaging option, along with the company’s new Fresh ‘n Clear bowls and lids, feature Placon’s new anti-fog technology.

“The anti-fog technology is incorporated into all our products now and keeps it clear, for more eye appeal on retail shelves. It’s condensation-resistant,” Mitchell said.



Atlanta-based Printpack Inc. recently invested $66 million in an expansion of its packaging conversion facilities, said Michael Verbeten, supply chain vice president.

The company is adding 46,000 square feet, all-new equipment and 20 primarily production jobs in its facilities in Villa Rica, Ga.


ABB Robotics

ABB Robotics’ new 8-kilogram model IRB 360 FlexPicker line offers is geared to add picking and packing for heavy items, including fresh produce. It offers handling of up to 100 cycles a minute.

The company’s new product features a reconfigured carbon fiber arm-set, an improved delta plate for heavier weights and upgraded motion tuning.

“It can pick up product as gently as it needs to, and this new 8 kg model would expand fresh produce applications for heavier foods like bananas,” said Alex Miller, of AE Miller Marketing Group, Thiensville, Wis., representing ABB.

Account manager Jeff Voll said one customer is already using an ABB FlexPicker for pears.

“It can pick pears off a flatbed conveyor and into a protected nest or tray. A vacuum picks up the round side of the pear,” Voll said, noting the machine could be good for peppers, cucumbers and apples, too, but testing of the machine on those is ongoing.

Other FlexPicker series advantages include easy washdown and conveyor tracking performance.


A-B-C Packaging

Tarpon Springs, Fla.-based A-B-C Packaging introduced its Model 436 case sealer combining interchangeable tape and adhesive sealing.

The machine’s modular design is geared to allow packagers of snack-sized packs to quickly switch from one sealing method to another.

“This provides the most practical and cost-effective solution for our snack manufacturer customers who need maximum flexibility in a compact machine,” said Bryan Sinicrope, vice president of sales and marketing.

The sealer boasts speeds to 50 cases per minute.


GE Intelligent Platforms

Charlottesville, Va.-based GE Intelligent Platforms featured speakers addressing data concerns fresh produce company personnel are facing with regard to food safety, traceability and innovation.

Katie Moore, global industry manager for food and beverage division, provided insight on GE’s food safety software featuring mobile real-time operational data; and using advanced software and raw material intelligence to prevent food recalls.

Jeff Bartoletti, business leader, manufacturing food safety, guided attendees on how to use software to “leverage the critical insight, consistency and transparency needed to identify and address potential food safety issues while products are still within the factory walls.”


Mettler Toledo

Mettler Toledo showcased several new products at Pack Expo 2013.

The Aurora, Ill.-based company’s Safeline PowerChek Plus X-ray inspection system is geared for product contamination inspection standards of volume producers of bulk and packaged food.

Mettler Toledo also introduced three checkweighers.



West Sacramento, Calif.-based Odenberg Inc./Tomra Sorting Solutions’ Orbit Steam Peeler uses a unique vessel design and exhaust system to eliminate peel loss, according to the company.

Its XPT valve technology allows higher steam flow with less maintenance and long wear life.

“Sensor-based technology is used to monitor and provide feedback to the control system which processes the information to ensure the lowest steam times and peel loss. The user interface enables the user to read data, adjust process parameters and control the complete peeling line,” according to a company news release.