The technology allows for easy re-engineering of existing packaging lines, adapts to big changes in demand and works on a ‘first-in, first-out’ (FIFO) operating principle.
According to Ludovic Tanchou, VP, Strategy, Products and Innovation, Gebo Cermex, AQFlex can operate at any speed, from 1,000 to 100,000 containers per hour, delivering energy savings of up to 60%, without compromising high efficiency (99.5% even at high speeds) or sustainability.
“AQFlex is designed by Gebo Cermex as a new concept in packaging technology that accommodates any product, whatever the application, whatever the market, in all container materials, formats and shapes, full or empty, while also enabling automatic changeovers via an intuitive and user-friendly Human Machine Interface (HMI),” he said.
He added with packaging quality playing a key role in brand recognition and ever-increasing production diversity, a growing number of stock keeping units (SKUs) and secondary packaging personalization, manufacturers are looking for improved flexibility and responsiveness from their existing packaging systems.
“AQFlex is the new IQ in product handling, encompassing all the advantages given by the existing conveying machines in a much smarter way," said Tanchou.
All conveying and accumulation is carried out as a single-file process, and the usual conveying functions associated with mass accumulation, such as deceleration, de-grouping, combining and laning, are eliminated.
Speaking to Clive Smith, executive VP, sales and marketing, Sidel, he said with the world consuming more resources than it can carry on producing, there is a need for a shift in attitudes. Consumers are looking for a more ‘circular’ economy based on minimizing waste and recycling.
“With sustainability now recognized as a vital consideration in product development, products that are responsibly sourced, processed, transported, sold and consumed will benefit everybody and this will motivate consumer-purchasing behavior - particularly within the food and drink industries,” he said.
According to Smith, we are also witnessing the start of the Industry 4.0 revolution, driven by increasing consumer demand for greater choice and personalization.
“With customers looking for reliability and predictability, flexibility, low total costs, product safety and quality, sustainability and brand differentiation, Agility 4.0 program is the organization’s proven approach to manufacturing,” he added.
“By increasing the productivity of packaging plants, the initiative makes them more connected, flexible and responsive – in a word, agile. A key focus for the Sidel Group at drinktec, this programme plays a major role in making the factory of tomorrow a reality today.
“Driven by five pillars (Virtual Factory; Smart Factory; Connected Factory; Sustainable Factory and Extended Factory), the program brings Smart Factories to life to create a world of greater choice and unique consumer experience driven by packaging mass customization and product diversity.”
At drinktec, Sidel will focus on technology to reduce the environmental footprint, such as Sidel Matrix, which uses a minimum amount of energy, air, chemicals and water in the production process.
It will also debut its Sidel Super Combi, designed to minimize the use of resources.
“Consumption of electrical power is reduced by up to 45%, preform-heating time is lowered by up to 15% and - with the option of AirEco2 double air-recovery - a 35% reduction in the use of compressed air is also achieved,” said Smith.
“Sustainability is also at the core of our Group’s Agility 4.0 program, offering chances to use 3D-printed lightweight parts, material alloys and technology to carry out the monitoring and modelling of energy consumption figures.”