"Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose.”

"The more things change, the more they stay the same."

(Les Guêpes, January 1849 Alphonse Karr, French writer, editor, critic)

(Editor’s note: A somewhat chronological accounting of Editor Bernard Pacyniak’s days at interpack, memory gaps and failures included).


Thursday, May 4, 2017

Getting dropped off at the fairgrounds brought back memories. Let’s see, my first interpack dates back to 2002. Having taken over the reins as editor of Candy Industry barely a year and a half earlier, the show proved overwhelming. I believe the exposition had 18 halls back then, and I had vowed to see every one, which I did. Guess I wanted to prove to myself I could physically cover the show back then.

Several interpacks later, I’m a little wiser, as well as less mobile. A combination of knee replacements and hip surgery makes walking a challenge, so I was fortunate enough to rent out a scooter. Even with wheels, the show still remains overwhelming.

Consider the stats from Messe Dusseldorf, the organizers of the show: a record 2,865 exhibitors with about 170,500 visitors from 168 countries, and a record 74 percent coming from abroad. Three-quarters of the attendees had decision-making authority.

Oh yes, did I mention there are still 18 halls? Add two specialty venues, innovationparc and Components. The word mega comes to mind. So there’s some truth to Alphonse Karr’s proclamation.

At the same time, things do change. Take Industry 4.0, very much the industry buzz at the show. In case you’re not aware of what Industry 4.0 is, it’s better known as the Internet of Things (IoT) in the United States.

Essentially, IoT’s the ongoing digitalization of the production process, allowing for greater efficiencies, improved flexibility and preventive troubleshooting by sharing data among processing and packaging machines. Yes, it comes down to machines talking to each other and generating appropriate data-sharing.

And here I thought these machines were merely tasked to produce and/or package candy or chocolate. But more on that later.

Recognizing that the bulk of confectionery processing and packaging equipment suppliers are located in Halls 1 through 4 (mind you, there are notable exceptions such as Bosch, Schubert, tna and others), I turned up the speed to bunny mode (as opposed to turtle) on my scooter and zipped toward that cluster of buildings.

On the way, I couldn’t help but see the huge banner draping Hall 2, welcoming visitors to visit the Aasted booth and celebrating the company’s centennial (1917-2017). Looking at my list of exhibitors, it made sense to start with the A’s, I thought.

Hard to miss the A3 booth, which took up a sizeable amount of space. And there was Mads Hedstrom, former chief sales officer and now a “working member” of the board. Hedstrom and I go back a few years, so it was good to start Day 1 at interpack with a friendly, familiar face.

Awaiting the first day’s opening crush, Hedstrom didn’t waste much time on pleasantries as he quickly explained some of the changes at the company, as well as new innovations being highlighted at the booth.

In addition to a revamped website touting the company’s historical achievement — 100 years of serving the confectionery, snack and baking industries — the affable Dane explained that Piet Taestensen had taken over as ceo. Taestensen has worked for Aasted 11 years and had been the company’s vice ceo and coo since 2007.

As Hedstrom went on to elaborate, he and Allan Aasted would spend their time and energy on servicing and inspiring customers while Thomas Aasted would act as the company’s Customer Ambassador “to create a direct line between our customers and the ownership.”

With regards to the equipment being displayed at interpack, Hedstrom cited the new Aasted Nielsen enrober, which focuses on hygienic and functional design with an all new out-of-frame technique. Available in a standard and XXL version with band widths from 850 to 2,600 millimeters, the new design allows easy removal of the complete interior of the enrober as a complete unit. This allows for swift changeovers to new enrobing material as well as a complete hose-down. The interior unit is removed on air skates, resulting in a trouble-free changeover process.

He also cited a new rotary depositor, which features a special design for making aerated and non-aerated chips. The design includes minimum moving parts in a highly sanitary design with an open frame profile without a hollow tube.

The company was also touting its Chocoanalyzer, a chocolate quality measuring instrument that helps improve chocolate operations measuring the contraction and expansion in chocolate and fillings.

The unit can also determine the melting point of crystals in the chocolate, measuring the tempering index simultaneously under the same conditions as in the production line. It is easy to use through an intuitive user interface updated via an Ethernet connection, also allowing fast and easy USB extraction of data.

As I shook hands with Hedstrom and set off to go down my list of exhibitors, I saw Harry Reinke, president of Woody Associates. His B02 booth had been a prime spot for the company for years as attendees walked between the halls.

He mentioned that a renovation project scheduled for Hall 1 after this year’s interpack would change his booth location, something he wasn’t looking forward to. Nonetheless, there’s opportunity in the here and now, and Reinke went on to talk about the latest Woody Stringer, which focuses on easy cleaning and quick changeovers.

An all-stainless steel model features a modular tank that enables quick change-out to facilitate decorator color changes. Simple hand tools allow operators to change out the tank in five minutes.

Even after only two booth visits, improved sanitation, quicker changeovers and, enhanced flexibility, I quickly realized, were themes that I would encounter time and time again at the show. Hmmm, some things do not change.

It was a short sprint from Woody’s booth to Hall 3, where I caught Thomas Sollich purveying his company’s booth. It was still relatively early in the day, but potential customers were beginning to gather. As we sat down briefly to chat, the president of this storied confectionery equipment company cast a curious eye on my bright red scooter.

“Helps me get around a lot quicker,” I explained. After urging me to be cautious, Thomas provided me a quick thumbnail about what his company had been up to in preparing for interpack.

“Every piece of equipment has been improved,” he said. “It’s a new generation of machines.”

He touched on Sollich’s flagship enrobing unit — the Enromat M6 — which features enhancements that make it easier to clean as well as speedier changeovers.

“In addition, there are no manual settings on the unit, it’s totally servo-driven,” Thomas explained. “It’s also safer since the cover is closed as all the settings are automatically set and adjusted.

“Our tempering machines have also been improved, the emphasis being on high performance and high output,” he added.

During our conversation, I glanced at my watch and realized I had a lunch meeting with Joseph Haas and Irene Kapaun from the Haas Group. As everyone knows, the press is never late for lunch, so I bid adieu to Thomas and promised to return to get the rest of the Sollich story.

Good thing that the Haas Group was also in Hall 3, eliminating the need for speed on the scooter. As one can imagine, co-owner Joseph Haas was pretty busy. A warm greeting, coupled with an envious look at the scooter — “You can take a ride on it if you want,” I offered — brought out that famous mischievous smile.

“Promise?” he joked. “But I’ll let Irene take you around the booth first and we can do the interview afterwards,” he said.

Sure enough, Kapaun, Haas’ marketing communications and public relations manager, proved to be an able tour guide of the large Haas booth. Before she zeroed in on the specific innovations, Kapaun mentioned that during the past months she’s been traveling — almost non-stop, it seems — visiting customers in China, Sao Paulo and the Philippines to detail the company’s partnership in helping drive success.

Her travelogue quickly shifted to a rundown of the highlights at the booth, which began with the Swakt-Eco industrial baking oven. Using breakthrough burner technology, the newly developed oven eliminates baking waste on burners due to their position above the baking plates. It also contributes to energy efficiency by reducing gas consumption, as well as cutting down on carbon dioxide, nitrous oxide and other gas emissions. Somebody’s been busy at the Innovation Center, I thought.

 Of course, I had to take a look at the rolled wafer production — it’s just cool to watch — before we stopped at the pre-mixing unit. It’s important to note that it’s the product type that determines the kind of premixer chosen and agitator blades used. Here, thanks to an ongoing research and development approach, Haas Group’s expertise can help narrow down quality and baking characteristics beginning at the premixing stage.

There was a quick look at the company’s FSTM Modular cream spreading and wafer block, featuring a modular design using interlocking steel frames — in other words, flexibility to the max — before I sat down with Joseph. His schedule had become more compressed, he explained, thanks to customers, but he would try to address any questions I had.

In response to my query about the company’s global growth markets, he cited Turkey as being very strong, followed by Asia.

“Russia is slowly coming back and China remains stable while Indonesia and Southeast Asia remain strong,” he added.

He proceeded to elaborate on how the company continues to evolve as a customer-centric operation, pointing to the Ideation Store at the company’s booth where visitors can see the range of products made on Haas Group equipment, as well as the intense pride employees have in maintaining a customer emphasis.

Our tete-a-tete was interrupted by a customer call, so Josef begged forgiveness as he proceeded to hopefully finalize details of a pending deal. I, Irene and Cole Lewis, technical sales manager, proceeded to have lunch at the booth, a wonderful meal of veal stew and potatoes accompanied by a dry Riesling wine. Lewis was instrumental in working with the Haas Group on developing the company’s center-filled cake line and graciously provided me with a contact on a U.S. company using the unit.

Although offered dessert, I excused myself to head to another meeting. After all, GEA was promising coated lollipops and that seemed like the perfect treat.

Sitting down with Angelique van der Rijken, product sales manager for GEA Aquarius Lollipop equipment, I discovered that the company’s latest introduction, the Aquarius coating line, came about as a customer solution. Mexican confectioner Dulces Vero, which produces chili-coated mango lollipops, was looking for a more efficient way to produce the popular lolli with a kick.

There were plenty of issues to address, such as chili powder coverage, product damage and wrapping issues, she explained

It took about a year to work out all the bugs, she says, but Aquarius devised a system that automated the entire process, from forming, cooling, coating and wrapping, in a continuous line — all at a rate of 690/minute.

At GEA’s booth, there was actually a person dipping lollipops. The kiosk allowed visitors to get a lollipop coated in specific “toppings,” such as sour sugar, chocolate sprinkles or chili powder. Working in the industry does have its perks, I thought to myself.

Oh yes, GEA was also touting its Aquarius BunchWrapper wrapping machine at the booth. The unit is fitted with labelers for placing labels inside the wrapping film and on the stick. This enables manufacturers to differentiate products by adding information such as barcodes or promotional information like logos and actions.

The GEA Label on Stick system works at up to 800 lollipops per minute, placing labels up to 60 x 20 millimeters. Applications include scratch-and-win promotional actions, quizzes and games. The GEA Label on Film system enables labels, stickers, tattoo transfers, letters and similar items to be included with the lollipop. The maximum size of the label is 3 millimeters smaller than the lollipop diameter, and they can be placed at up to 600 lollipops per minute. The Aquarius BunchWrapper is suitable for heat-sealable wrapping materials such as cellophane, polypropylene and laminates.

It was at this time that I opted to head back to Sollich to complete my visit. The day was drawing to a close, so I couldn’t refuse a beer with Thomas, his son Nicholas (helping out while finishing school), Luciven, Thomas’ wife, and Andreas Thenhaus, marketing and sales director.

While sipping on a beer, my good friend Pedro Lopez Lopez, ceo of Chocolates Valor and the 2011 European Candy Kettle winner, surprised me by covering my eyes in a game of “Guess who?” I initially had no clue, but eventually his infectious laugh gave him away.

We shared stories about comings and goings in our lives and then proceeded to have some sacher torte together. Meeting up with colleagues and friends, it’s what interpack is about, isn’t?

After dropping off my scooter, I headed toward tna’s 35th anniversary party. The invite touted a pirates theme, so I sailed off. Although it took me a while to find the location — I missed the bus and decided to make my own way there, always an adventure for me — I did finally get to the event.

Held in the Airport Station Congress building, the scene was definitely party-like, a fog surrounding the first level of the hall where tna would show its vast array of equipment after dinner. A special “waterfall” portico to the escalator ushered guests to the “Arrrgh” festivities upstairs.

tna founders Alf and Nadia Taylor welcomed customers and guests in true buccaneer style, a sumptuous buffet feeding all while a mix of Caribbean steel drums and island music set the tone. In addition to the company’s big news — the recent acquisition of NID — the company was extolling its capabilities in Hall 15, using virtual and augmented reality to demonstrate its portfolio of equipment while simultaneously hosting a fully equipped bar and restaurant for visitors to the booth.

It was at the Congress venue, however, that tna had its full contingent of equipment for an up-close and personal inspection.

“We couldn’t get the space we needed from Messe Dusseldorf for interpack, so we decided to have this offsite location, busing people from the show and back,” says Michael Green, tna’s managing director.  

In addition, in Hall 3, tna extolled its confectionery capabilities at the NID booth, showcasing its fully automated starch mogul, the NID M3000, the innovative tna intelli-flavOMS 5 system for gummy polishing and the high-speed tna robag FX 3ci packaging system.

Later at the show, I had the opportunity to chat with Mark Lozano, tna North America’s national sales manager, who provided a great example of the synergies already at work after the NID acquisition. As he explained, the oiling and sanding of gummies has always been an area in gummy production that has posed challenges.

In looking at the process, Lozano realized that tna had developed a flavoring system for snacks that could work well for gummies, with some modifications. The intelli-flav 5 system is a self-contained unit that can handle oil as well dry components.

Lozano predicts the unit will be a “game-changer” for gummy manufacturers seeking to improve quality and save costs in the oiling/sanding process.

Whew. And that was Day One.

Friday, May 5, 2017

Friday proved to be another early start, punctuated by what now was a daily occurrence, riding the ferry across the Rhine River from my Rheinhotel in Meerbusch to the interpack fair grounds. The ferry ride cut the distance by 10 kilometers, so it was well worth the €2. It also make me think of John Candy’s Planes, Trains and Automobiles. The sequel could have had scooters and ferries.

Anyway, I rumbled along on my scooter to the Central Congress South Hall for Bosch Packaging Technology’s press conference. It was, as expected, packed with journalists.

Bosch Packaging Technology (BPT)’s Stefan König, chairman of the managing board, and Uwe Harbauer, member of the managing board, opened up the press conference by reminding everyone that as of May 2, the company was an independent legal entity.

“We will then formally integrate Ampack in Königsbrunn, Hüttlin in Schopfheim, Pharmatec in Dresden, and Packaging Systems in Remshalden by 2020,” Konig explained. “The goal of this reorganization is to improve clarity and transparency, as well as simplify essential business processes. Bosch Packaging Technology’s general direction remains unchanged: we are, and will remain, a global provider of process and packaging solutions for the pharmaceutical and food industries; each of these areas accounts for about half of our sales [$1.6 billion in 2016].

“We will continue to build increasingly better machines,” he continued. “To be specific, we will build machines that are even more reliable, easier to use and more flexible with high output – and in the future, of course, also equipped with Industry 4.0 solutions,” he continued. “We have talented, committed people who develop and sell these machines; who set them up on the customer’s premises; and who provide support in the form of comprehensive service concepts.”

One of the areas BPT is focusing on involves bar lines.

 “The rising number of bar variations requires highly flexible production machinery with short changeover times. In order to prevent bar products from cross-contamination by allergens, meeting food safety standards is a must,” says Josua Schwab, BPT product manager.

At the show, Bosch unveiled an advanced version of its bar production system. The seamlessly integrated system reaches a constant output of up to 1,500 bars per minute in primary packaging with secondary packaging matching this high speed of the flow wrapper.

The latest innovation is the intelligent Sigpack FIT product infeed with linear motor technology. It allows for push-button format change, as well as a very fast, non-contact product feeding.

The cross-sealing station of the Sigpack HRM flow wrapper is based on high-precision, direct-drive technology and reaches film speeds of up to 150 meters per minute. With the same setup, bars of varying sizes can be packed, substantially reducing the time required for format change.

Following the press conference, I managed to squeeze in a visit to Hebenstreit and visit with Christian Warner before heading to a PMMI press luncheon. The sales director was excited to discuss the company’s latest development, “the next standard in wafer production technology,” he exclaimed.

“You will see a baking plate with a dimension of up to 1,000 by 350 millimeters,” Werner said. “This technology provides the highest capacity and efficiency within a minimum floor space.

‘We have also developed a system of automatically fully opening and closing the baking plates at the rear of the oven and then using a laser system to quickly and efficiently clean the plates,” he went on. “This method allows for a complete oven to be cleaned in a single shift. The cleaning process is fully automatic after set up and ensures superior plate cleaning with minimal environmental impact.”

During our conversation, Warner excused himself — something about customers interested in making a deal, go figure — and asked his sales representative, Nicholas Harley, to give me a closer look at the monster wafer line.

Although Werner admitted it may take a little time for the line to establish itself, the same thing was said about the 700 millimeter baking plate back in in the 1980s when Hebenstreit rolled that out.

Harley, who’s also director of Cornwell Products Machinery Sales, pointed out that Hebenstreit had resolved the mega-sized baking plate issue by joining two smaller plates together to facilitate space and motion challenges. Thanking Harley for the in-depth explanation of the new unit, including the self-cleaning laser feature, I headed back to Congress Sud for a PMMI press luncheon global trends presentation.

It was there, amidst soup, salad and various entrees that PMMI President and CEO Charles Yuska brought up one of the major macroeconomic trends impacting the industry, which “… is the growth of the middle class and a rise in disposable income. In developed regions, increased travel, busy lifestyles and growing health consciousness have increased demand for indulgent yet healthy foods, convenience foods, different portion sizes, different packaging designs and completely new foods.

“Consumer purchasing preferences are also changing. Online food sales are growing rapidly, a trend reinforced by the growing use of mobile phones and shopping applications,” Yuska noted.

“Consumers welcome additional choices and are willing to pay more for products that are locally sourced, produced with quality ingredients and resonate as authentic,” he added. “This trend toward more customization and increased premiumization, has fueled the need for increasingly flexible equipment that can handle shorter runs and more frequent changeovers.”

How true. After lunch, it was time to simply soak in some sun and fresh air before tackling my list again. The spring breeze reinvigorated this scribe and prompted me to visit friends at Driam: Oliver Nohynek, the company’s managing director, and Adam Stearns, U.S. sales manager. A strong cup of coffee added some additional energy to our conversation as we chatted about the growing awareness of monitoring allergens in production, the critical need for automated cleaning and the emergence of Industry 4.0, something the confectionery industry is just beginning to embrace.

“The pharmaceutical industry has already implemented 4.0 in many areas,” Noyhnek explained. “It does really lend itself to continuous coating, particularly as it facilitates communication with other machines.”

In saying my good-byes to Nohynek and Stearns after a quick photo op, I found myself at the A.M.P. Rose booth, chatting with Andrew Mann, sales director. After exchanging personal updates, he pointed out the latest development from the company, the compact, flexible and Smart Factory ready X-Pax solution. The multi-function unit is designed for flow packing bars into multipacks and loading directly into shelf ready display cases, a two-in-one flow pack and case packer.

Following on from the revolutionary feed system A.M.P Rose presented in 2015 on the flow wrapping machine, the family-owned company simply took the concept one step further.

“With customer demands on efficiency and flexibility increasing, they need solutions that can meet these needs,” he explained.

Touch-button features and quick-release mechanisms make for a fast and flexible way to change the collations of the multipack product. Moving from an 8 x 1 to a 4 x 2 collation, for example, would only require a touch-button operation for both the feed system to the flow wrapper and the robot loading the multipacks into the shelf-ready display cases. A quick release changeover part on the Xtrax system feeding to the robot makes for a quick and easy collation change.

The unique layout of the line has resulted in a very compact system, and due to the design, greater access to the machine has been achieved. The small footprint and easy access provides consideration toward maintenance and a more hygienic working space.

As I was about to leave A.M.P.’s booth, I noticed that my scooter had been temporarily taken over by a four-year-old, his mom hovering near him. I valiantly tried to explain to the non-English speaking woman that I really did need the lad to get off so I could go to my next appointment. She eventually got the message and reluctantly the little boy was lifted off the scooter. I waved to the mother and son on my way to yet another appointment.

Perhaps that little boy wasn’t feeling good about letting go of the scooter, I thought. If so, his mother should have taken him to the Bühler Group booth, whose theme was “feeling good.” Luckily, Daniel Troxler, marketing director of consumer foods, and Silvia Wipfli, head of marketing communications, consumer foods, made me feel better as well, offering up a cappuccino and some enlightenment about the theme.

“It’s all about caring for customers, caring for the environment,” Troxler said. “We’re committed to reducing waste as well as reducing energy. One of the ways of doing that is through innovation.”

The plaza-like atmosphere, featuring a café and bar, was obviously designed to make customers embrace an opportunity to rest and recover. It also provided Bühler with an opportunity to explain its efforts in energy reduction, digitalization and optimization, Wipfli said.

It’s also about improved food safety, enhanced flexibility, she added. Those trends, coupled with ongoing consumer tendencies such as functional chocolate and healthy snacking, is encouraging innovation at Bühler and among its customers. Every year, the company invests 5 percent of turnover into research and development.

As an example of such innovation, Bühler employees developed a new chocolate moulding plant with integrated robot technology: ChocoBotic. Chocolate processors can now manufacture smaller batches of specialties or seasonal items without having to interrupt production on large plants. ChocoBotic unlocks the opportunities for entrepreneurs to enter into chocolate production or can be employed for new product development or market entry.

Another innovation at the company signals the impact Industry 4.0 is having on the equipment suppliers. The Bühler Group’s first step in creating a “Smart Chocolate Factory” takes advantage of sensors, actuators, and IoT technologies to open up possibilities for an even more efficient production. At interpack, Bühler demonstrated how chocolate mass production will change in the future and how the company is presenting a more intelligent process monitoring and control for DoMiReCo production lines. This achieves consistent quality with higher productivity, output and with the requirement for fewer shutdowns.

I think I’m beginning to get it; there’s no escaping Industry 4.0. As the day draws close to an end, I dart back toward Sollich and see Martin McDermott, Chocotech’s sales and marketing director. He invites me for coffee and we take a brief moment to talk about new developments.

“We’re introducing Caralite, a new process for caramel making, utilizing the patented ECOGRAV system at the show. The cost savings from our new caramel system ranges between 20 and 30 percent,” he explained.

Similar to Thomas Sollich’s comment, McDermitt said nearly all of the company’s lines had been improved. He touted the company’s new Sucromaster hard candy unit designed for medicated hard candy and was beginning to emphasize other Chocotech equipment at the booth when —  surprise — customers came calling. I elected to finish my coffee and saw that McDermitt was still occupied. In the end, it was time to return that little red scooter and grab some dinner.

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Ok, so it’s Day Three for me, that is, Saturday. The days are blurring and the weather, although a bit spotty, is holding out, cool most days, a few sprinkles combined with a couple of gorgeous days. I’ll take it, no complaints. On the agenda today, visits with Winkler und Dünnebier, Schubert, Tecno 3 and Tanis Confectionery.

My interview with Fritz Kipfer, ceo of Schubert North America, focused on the company’s strategy of “simple mechanics.” As he explained, the most important element in any kind of robotics is software. Hence, the advent of Industry 4.0 ties in well with the company’s goals.

To fully capitalize on machine networking and the benefits of Industry 4.0, Schubert developed the GRIPS.world digital platform, which the company presented for the first time at interpack. Grips, by the way, is the German word for brainy.

With GRIPS.world, a web-based platform has been created, which raises internal communication as well as communication with customers to an all-new level of performance, the company said in its press release.

“The main objective of GRIPS.world is to further optimize production and maintain overall machine efficiency at a high level over its entire service life. This is achieved by using status and performance data transmitted by the machine, for example, to quickly derive measures for preventive maintenance. In the future, all Schubert Group employees, as well as customers, suppliers and TLM machines, will be able to access the platform. Access will be available through any web browser – via PCs as well as tablets and smartphones.”

As Kipfer explains, GRIPS not only integrates preventative maintenance into production, it detects problems so that there are no unplanned stoppages.

Although he admits there’s a “lot of learning” that needs to go on with digitalization, the benefits associated with reduced downtime, improved servicing of maintenance parts, preventative troubleshooting and operator training will enable great strides in processing.

It’s all about making it simpler, not “overengineering,” he said. “We’re talking improved efficiency, flexibility and simplicity.”

And such benefits are not relegated to multinationals, he stressed. “We look to grow our market in North America by targeting midsized companies.”

Of course, in order to get to midsized, you have to start small. Small, as in entrepreneurial bean-to-bar chocolate makers. And that’s where my friends at Tecno 3 come in. The Multiprocess C unit is designed for the production of small amounts of chocolate. Starting from cocoa nibs grinding, the unit continues the process through the dosing and mixing of ingredients, then refining and conching, and finally to creating chocolate ready for depositing and moulding.

Bianca Mazzi, from Domori’s export department, together with Bruno Porro, president of Tecno 3, explained the capabilities of the unit at the company’s booth. Mazzi, a trained chocolatier at the famed super-premium northern Italian chocolate company, has worked with Tecno 3 to ensure the unit meets the demands of the smaller chocolate maker. One taste of a dark chocolate piece made on the unit confirmed its capabilities.

From Tecno 3, I headed to Winkler und Dünnebier (WDS), to discover what innovations President Rainer Runkel and his crew were up to. As was the trend with several other equipment companies, WDS looks to offer solutions to midsized companies seeking additional automation.

With its ConfecECO series, WDS pursued the concept of offering smaller-capacity production facilities for emerging companies and smaller manufacturers. The main idea behind this is a “common enterprise growth together with WDS.”

Since the market launch of the new ConfecECO, the series has already been expanded by a model for pectin, toffee and fondant products.

With a production capacity of up to 600 kg per hour for chocolate (300 kg/h pectin, toffee and fondant), depending on the product size, mass and weight, it is the ideal machine to meet the demands of small businesses. The ConfecECO deposits precisely with a line speed up to 10 moulds/min into polycarbonate, silicone- and blister moulds of the size of 425 mm x 275 mm x 30-40mm (variable mould height).

The company was also touting its mogul Type 660 WDS, which debuted at the show. More than ever, the development of the new type has been based on standardization as well as consistent modular design.

The result is a highly efficient, long-lasting quality machine, which nevertheless can be offered cost-effectively due to its construction and design features.

And then there are the “Smart Glasses,” which Christian Greindel, head of service, allowed me to try. Designed for practical troubleshooting of the customer’s maintenance personnel, these wearable support glasses can feature a live linked WDS service technician who can assist local staff effectively in troubleshooting. The smart glasses work by transmitting the live image of a plant or system and WDS supports directly with expert opinion — and additional information such as drawings, operating instructions, etc.

As the song says, “Future’s so bright, you gotta wear shades, or in this case “Smart Glasses.”

As I circled my way back to Hall 3, I realized I needed to see Tanis Confectionery. Although founder and owner Leo Tanis was busy with customers — are you beginning to see a pattern here? — I was able to sequester Bryan Bainbridge of Bainbridge & Associates for a few minutes so he could explain the latest addition to the company, the new T-Gel starch moulding line, which uses 800 x 40 trays with a capacity of 4,500 kg/hr. There’s also a pilot model with a capacity of 100kg/hr.

As Bainbridge explained, Leo surveyed several of his customers who had installed kitchens from the company and asked what they wanted to see in a starch mogul line.

 The T-Gel is a result of that wish list. The new line addresses the following: accessibility; operational heights; accurate depositing (slow speed); coarse and fine starch filling; an easier-to-clean mode because of its ergonomic design (reduction starch contamination); and overall lower total costs of operation (TCO) through energy savings and  improved efficiencies.

Well, that does it for the day. It’s Saturday night in Dusseldorf, and I’m hoping to let my hair down, even though it’s been closely cropped for the show. Alstadt, meaning “Old Town,” here I come.

Sunday, May 7, 2017

So Sunday comes and it’s time for my last hurrah. I’ve got Hänsel Processing, Theegarten-Pactec on the schedule, as well as Carle Montanari, Confitech, Caotech, Hamburg Dresdner, Tanis Food Tec and Royal Duyvis Wiener.

Before heading to Theegarten-Pactec, I hurry over to Hänsel Processing. As always, a warm welcome from Stephanie and Russ Crosio — Russ is the U.S. sales rep for Hänsel Processing — who had told me to come in early to have a moment’s free time with co-owners Heiko Kühn and Frank Temme. Having spotted Kühn, Russ and I sat down with the company’s co-owner, who’s agreed to sit down for a few seconds while he searches the booth for customers.

As Kühn began talking about the improvements made in the Caramaster, he stressed that the desired caramelization degree can be controlled independently from the cooking process by the variation of temperature and residence time. The mass is continuously guided through a jacketed warm water heated tank while a special agitator supports the product flow through the system and guarantees an exactly defined residence time of the mass in the system.

Unfortunately, the post-Sunday brunch crowd was moving in, and Kuhn had to leave us for customers. Been there, seen that. So I jumped, well, that’s probably not the right word, ambled to the scooter and darted off to Confitech where Gianni Rufinnatti, co-owner, and Giuseppe Parisi, sales manager were sipping their coffees. We quickly engaged in some reminiscing, and Ruffinatti recalled all the interpacks he’s attended. As he looked up at one of the beams on the roof, he joked that his name should be etched into one of them

It’s a bit slow this morning, it’s Sunday after all, but he and Parisi expect traffic to pick up. As a customer of theirs drops by, I make my departure, but not before a quick photo. From there, I zip over to Caotech to visit with my old friend, Jan Hammink.

Hammink was the one who taught me how to negotiate with local Moscovites for a ride to the exhibit hall in the dead of winter while attending Upakova, so there are some shared experiences here.

The discussion, as it always has, turns to politics and our newest president, Donald Trump. It isn’t a particularly long conversation with Hammink since — for a change — we agree.

Business is doing well, Hammink said, a sign of ongoing interest in cocoa process and chocolate production. But then, he’s familiar with the peaks and valleys of the cocoa and chocolate processing business and always looks at the long-term picture. Another quick photo op and then I’m off to see Theegarten-Pactec.

Looking dapper as always, Markus Rustler, Theegarten-Pactec’s ceo, invites me to the upstairs meeting area and we share a glass of sparkling wine. It doesn’t take long before we zero in on the latest rage, Industry 4.0. As he pointed out, “It’s just one piece of the puzzle, but it’s an investment that will make life easier.”

 All Theegarten-Pactec machines are equipped as standard with a new machine control system and a redesigned user interface. In the future, manufacturers will benefit from simplified machine operation. The integration of the user interface into mobile devices will enable machine data to be retrieved and processed from any location worldwide. To this end, the machines are equipped with sensors, which provide the data for evaluation. This includes aspects such as the support of the maintenance and cleaning processes, as well as active notification of service and maintenance intervals via the machine.

“We already have industry standards,” he explains, “and we’ve joined the Choconnect network, which is our first step toward the future.”

In brief, Choconnect consists of Theegarten-Pactec, Winkler und Dünnebier, Sollich and Chocotech, Loesch Verpackungstechnik and Bosch Rexroth (Choconnect) working together in presenting the possibilities of cross-manufacturer, machine-to-machine communication.

But as he pointed out, it’s not just about collecting the data, it’s getting the right analysis.

With regards to trends in the industry, Rustler reiterated several themes that have been circling the halls: increased output, improved hygiene, modular design.

“Still, we have to stay focused on the business,” he added, and that translates into the machines having a higher level of intelligence, a higher level of performance.

He cited the new CFW-D high-performance packaging machine, which sets a new record in the confectionery industry. It packs moulded or coated chocolate products such as napolitains or small pralines with an output of up to 1,400 products per minute in fold wrap, with or without sleeves.

Wow, plenty fast. That, of course, reminded me that I also needed to move on in order to finish off my list.

On the way to Carle & Montanari’s booth (they’ve invited me and 200-plus other guests for a cruise on the Rhine tonight), I visit with Thomas Matosek, Tom Veltuis and Ingrid Schoorl from Royal Duvyis Wiener. They, like tna, are transporting interested visitors to an offsite location — the company’s Technology Center — near their headquarters in Kog a/d Zaan near Amsterdam.

There, the visitors can see all the company’s latest innovations at work, something Royal Duyvis Wiener wouldn’t be able to do in the booth. Admittedly, the decision to do so was a bit risky, but the need for extra buses confirmed that there’s nothing like seeing machines and expertise in action.

So it’s off to Carle&Montanari-OPM and CMFIMA to visit with Antonella Cavalieri to touch base about the company’s innovations, as well as get my ticket to ride for the Rhein.

There’s nothing like a cruise, particularly when it’s to celebrate Carle&Montanari’s 110th anniversary (founded in 1897). A lot has changed since then, but Carle&Montanari-OPM and CMFIMA remain committed to carrying on the proud legacy for another centennial.

At the show, CM-OPM introduced the NANO CHOCOLINE, a small line for chocolate preparation, dedicated to small-medium chocolate manufacturers, industrial confectioners and in general, for all those who need to produce small batches with high quality. The line can be run by a single operator and fits in a compact area.

As we’ve seen, small is big. This mini-line, which can produce up to 250/300 kg/h has the same features as a large modern production line.

In the moulding area, customers saw the NEXT CAVEMIL, a new intermittent chocolate moulding line, presented here in the 650 x 350 version for solid chocolate products and solid with inclusions.

Completely servo-controlled for a synchronized chain movement and with a new aluminium frame, the NEXT CAVEMIL has a modern design based on hygienic concepts to facilitate cleaning and maintenance.  Totally covered modules guarantee product and operator safety, and, thanks to a new technology for thermo-acoustic insulation, significantly reduced noise.

In the wrapping area, CMFIMA debuted the S-Pack, a new innovative machine for hermetic wrapping of chocolate pieces (napolitains and small bars) in an envelope-like wrap with single material plus tear tape for easy opening (up to 400 ppm). This innovative, patent-pending design is able to ensure a high level of product protection for a longer shelf-life while maintaining the appearance of a traditional bar wrap.

Ticket in hand, I shove off on my scooter, promising to see Antonella dockside. The day’s beginning to take its toll, but I’ve got one more stop, and that’s with Hamburg Dresdner. But before I get there, I do a quick visit to Tanis Food Tec (TFT). Owner Peter Tanis is engaged with a customer, but Piet Vader, sales manager, offers me a beer and we chat. It’s a Heineken, of course, TFT being a Dutch company. He invites me to their 25th anniversary party, which is being held at the booth tomorrow, but that is Monday. I regretfully decline, saying I’ll be winging it back to Chicago then, but thank him for the invite.

I then point to my watch and tell him I need to see one more exhibitor and then catch a bus to the docks. Arriving at Hamburg Dresdner, I see Wolfgang Pförsich, managing director, and Linda Mather, communications manager.

We briefly chat about the changes that led to the creation of Hamburg Dresdner, which combines the famed Petzholdt-Heidenauer, Bauermeister and MacIntyre brands for cocoa and chocolate processing equipment under one roof.

In addition to servicing existing and new customers with a wide portfolio of cocoa and chocolate processing equipment under those brands, the company has also seen the growth in artisan chocolatiers. Appropriately, it’s launched an Artisanal Line, which features roasting, winnowing and refining/conching equipment for the smaller operator.

Hamburg Dresdner is working with Oliver Coppeneur, founder of Coppeneur, a German bean-to-bar chocolate maker since 1993, to promote the new line. Seems like a match made in heaven upon tasting the chocolate.

Wishing all good luck in the introduction of the new line, I rumbled off to deposit my scooter for the last time. I then caught the “circuit bus” to Hall 4 to board another bus, which whisked us off to the docks where the MS Rhein Fantasie was patiently sitting. As we boarded the ship we were guided to the top deck where waiters were offering champagne and beer, the slowly setting sun basking us in muted light, the river traffic passing us by.

At 7:30 we descend down to the lower level for dinner, Dave Madison, Carle & Montanari’s U.S. representative joined me and Pamela Mazurk, Candy Industry’s European sales manager, at a table.  At this point, it’s time just to savor the moment, listening to the music, enjoying the food and wine and thriving in the presence of colleagues in the industry.

Sounds like a bit of déjà vu, but that was interpack 2017.