Technology will play a more prominent role in the on-going task to supply people with food in the next five to 10 years with intelligent packaging becoming more popular for getting data about shelf-life.
In an exclusive interview with the VDMA (German Engineering Federation), Food Processing and Packaging Machinery, Richard Clemens, managing director, told FoodProductionDaily manufacturers need to focus on the sensible integration of components and machines.
“Dramatically high food losses are a common occurrence in many countries. These can be reduced through intelligent use of technology,” he said.
Reduce losses and spoiling
“Intelligent packaging will provide accurate data about the shelf-life of products, while at the same time investments in logistics, refrigeration, processing and packaging – especially in emerging markets – will reduce losses and spoiling.”
The VDMA represents over 3,100 small and medium-sized enterprises in the engineering industry, and is the largest engineering industry network in Europe.
The Federation recently highlighted the problem of the quality of PET collections , where recycling reduces mineral oil dependency and price fluctuations, at Drinktec 2013 .
Energy and resource efficiency
At the tradeshow, Volker Kronseder, chairman of the VDMA Food Processing and Packaging Association discussed the rise of increasingly lightweight PET bottles since the 1990s, and its use on blow molding, filling, packaging and recycling machines.
“We see a major trend in energy and resource efficiency. There are a variety of impressive projects, such as water savings in cleaning processes or thinner wall thicknesses for PET bottles,” added Clemens.
“The issue of hygiene must also not be ignored: Many manufacturers here show improvements in detail which will have a positive impact on hygiene management.”
He said manufacturers can optimize their operational efficiency in respect to energy savings, machine turn around and hygienic design by taking a holistic view of the entire manufacturing process and the sensible integration of components or machines.
“Price certainly plays a role where new investments are concerned, but it is equally important to consider life-cycle costs. Short set-up times and quick format changes are pretty much standard procedure today. All manufacturers have to come up with optimization results,” he added.
According to Clemens in the next five to 10 years energy and resource efficiency will remain key topics but manufacturers will see changes in society, such as single-person households and higher average age of the population in certain countries.
“The mechanical engineering industry has its task cut out in adapting to these changing conditions,” he said.
The VDMA signed a strategic partnership with the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) in September this year, to extend the skill-base for the provision, acquisition and deployment of technology and methodology in agribusiness value chains.
“Globalization certainly remains a challenge for many small businesses,” said Clemens.
“The contribution technology has to offer for global food safety, the social changes and their impact on our industry - all these issues keep us busy and will go on doing so in the future. Things will remain exciting.”
In cooperation between UNIDO and VDMA the two organizations will establish operational and capacity-building maintenance centers
of excellence in Africa.
Africa centers of excellence
“Without technology it will not be possible to supply the increasing population with food and drink. This holds in particular true for Africa,“ Clemens said at the partnership launch.
The contribution of VDMA is to provide technology and know-how of the machinery manufacturers use to support the centers of excellence for education, maintenance and repair of equipment.
The next event for the Federation is Interpack 2014 in Germany.
“Interpack 2014 in Dusseldorf is the event closest to us at the moment, and together with our member companies we are preparing for this show,” he added.