Endoline Machinery and Quin Systems today officially launched the Versapack machine at the Total Processing & Packaging exhibition. The two companies say the outcome of combining their separate specialisations is a high-speed automated machine that can be used in plants where space is at a premium. Mike Webb, Quin's managing director, said the machine's compact footprint will appeal to plants where space is at premium. Plants generally have more lines running these days, leaving less space for each part of the production process. The Versapack is 1,750 metres by 1,800 metres with a height of 2,120 metres. It can process up to 20 cases, performing 100 picks per minute, the companies claim. "We have not seen anything this small in the market," Webb said at a press conference this morning. Traditionally case packing and case erecting have been treated as separate functions in the market, with machines often supplied by separate companies. Case erecting involves taking flat cardboard packing, setting it up, sealing the bottom, and once product has been placed inside, sealing the top. Case packing involves taking end products like biscuits off the line and placing them in the erected boxes. Endoline and Quin began teaming up about a year ago. The Versapack is their first complete case erecting and packaging machine. It combines Quin's automatic RTheta Casepacker with the Endoline 221 case erecting machines in one frame. Tony Hacker, Endoline's managing director, readily admits that other companies have competing combination products on the market to meet the demand. "Unlike traditional combined machines designed by specialists in either case erecting or case packing, we believe the new system is unique as it is designed jointly by two of the leading companies in both fields," he said. "This results in a system without compromise." The companies began producing the Versapack about a year ago to order. About five machines are currently in operation in the UK. They are being used by business manufacturers for cheesecakes and ready meals. Hacker said the companies are targeting the machines at any packaged food product, including the snack, confectionary and ready meal markets. He said it would not be ideal for packaging basic food products such as milk or produce. The machine typically has a payback period of between 12 to 18 months. It can be manufactured with a combination of steel and stainless steel, or wholly from steel. About 60 per cent of Endoline's machinery is used within the food sector. The company counts United Biscuits, Northern Foods, Cadbury Schweppes, Walkers Snack Foods, Unilever, Pepsi, Nestle, Coca Cola, Proctor & Gamble, Kerry Foods and Wrigley among its clients.