Emballage 2008

An overview of the comprehensive international packaging event

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200 exhibitors from 50 countries and had over 400 new products on display. It was laid out in Halls 3
The 38th edition of the bi-annual exposition was staged in Paris between the 17th and 21st of November 2008. It featured over 2,200 exhibitors from 50 countries and had over 400 new products on display. It was laid out in Halls 3, 4, 5 and 6 at the Parc des Expositions at Villepinte in Paris and, as usual was organised concurrently with the ipa international exhibition on food processing, which occupied Halls 1 and 2. The event included Pack.Vision Congress, an international conference on Packaging Design as well as first-time features like The Trends Area and a Biomaterials Area.

Emballage has always been an aesthetic delight and this year was no different. The overall design and presentation quality of the exhibits were, as usual, of a very high order and the event was very well organised. Facilities for the trade press were excellent.

The overall layout of the show was as follows:
Hall 3: Liquid packaging machines
Hall 4: Identification, marking, coding and labeling machines
– Packaging machines for food
Hall 5: Packaging machines for food
– Packaging machines for all products
– Handling, storage
– Secondary packaging and shipping machines
– Packaging machines for beauty and health products
– Raw materials
– Converting, pre-press, printing, decorating equipment for packaging
Hall 6: Raw materials
– National and international pavilions
– Packaging and containers for all products
– Packaging and containers for food products
– Packaging and containers for health and beauty products
– Label zone
– Luxury area
– Biomaterials area
– Sustainable development area

The international pavilions were from Belgium, China, Czech Republic, Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, Taiwan and Turkey.

A number of trends were discernible and these highlighted the broad directions in which packaging developments are headed. Some of the major trends were as follows:

– By far, the major drift was towards various forms of automation on production lines. These ranged all the way from product handling and feeding to pick-and-place robots for products and primary packages to inspection/check-weighing/QA systems to coding/marking solutions to robotised or highly automated systems for secondary and tertiary packaging like collation, case-packing, palletisation, shrink/stretch wrapping and bulk handling.

– Sustainable and ‘green’ packaging initiatives focussing on energy saving, light-weighting, source reduction, recyclability, use of post-consumer recyclates, biomaterials, systems based on renewable resources, biodegradable and compostable materials, lower VOC and particulate emissions, lower greenhouse gas emissions and lower waste generation.

– Automated and fool-proof control systems, operator-friendly mechanisms like simple touch-screen and single-point/centralised/computerised controls, recipe-based menu systems for storing settings for a large variety of products and formats for less downtime/quick change-overs and perfect repeatability, on-line 100% inspection and rejection of defectives, servo mechanisms and drives for infinitely variable settings and quick set-up etc.

– Safety, hygiene, sterility and convenience (dispensing, use, microwavability, on-the-go packaging, easy opening, reclosability and tamper-evidence).

– Coding/marking/tagging for trackabililty and traceability across the entire supply chain, for brand security and prevention of counterfeiting and for better graphics.

– End-to-end solutions and customisation of packaging lines. Almost all major machinery suppliers are now working on complete end-to-end lines and even manufacturers that hitherto operated only in specialty niches like Ishida, Krones, Sidel and Multivac are now focussing on offering ‘total’ solutions.

– A very high level of integration of mechatronics into practically all kinds of equipment

–  Newer generation lines that enable higher efficiencies, higher output and lower wastages as well as cheaper entry-level lines adapted for lower output for use by medium and small enterprises

– Aesthetically superior packages that provide shelf impact and differentiation amidst brand clutter.
All in all, there was much to see and one was left with the feeling that there should have been 48 hours to a day to really do justice to all the exhibits on show.

In terms of visitors, though, it did seem that there was a slight reduction in numbers due to the economic downturn and cash crunch in most parts of the world. This was an impression that was also confirmed by some of the exhibitors that I talked to although the exact position will be clear only when the official statistics become available. However, this might not necessarily be a negative as the level of interaction and genuineness of purchasing intent would have been of a higher quality.