Advances in packaging materials continue to extend shelf life, while adding convenience and freshness to bakery and snack goods. Innovations in modified-atmosphere packaging (MAP), microbial-inhibiting film, and the use of cellulose nanocrystals are helping to push the envelope.
The nature of snack and bakery operations poses challenges to manufacturers of robotics equipment. Space is an issue. Also, the equipment must be able to handle a wide range of products of different shapes and sizes at high speeds while not damaging the goods.
A desire for sustainability is one of the key factors driving the latest packaging innovations in baggers, closing equipment, twist ties, clips, zippers, resealable materials, heat sealing, and ultrasonic sealing.
Manufacturers and researchers worldwide are striving to develop new ways to keep snack and bakery products safe and fresh over the course of their intended shelf life.
The latest product handling equipment, cartoners, case erectors and packers, loaders and palletizers, features maximum flexibility in terms of product handling and packaging styles, which is good news for bakery and snack producers.
X-ray, metal detection, checkweighing and vision systems continue to advance, offering bakery and snack producers many ways to improve their quality control programs.
Today’s form/fill/seal (FFS) systems accommodate a wide range of packaging options at high speeds, and provide packaging formats that bring convenience to shoppers. In effect, they have evolved to enable manufacturers to respond to market changes in package size and format.
New robotics technology is helping to improve primary and secondary packaging applications in snack food and wholesale bakery operations. Areas of innovation include end-of-arm tooling (EOAT), robot learning, sanitation and space optimization. Given the efficiency improvements robotics can bring to manufacturing—and the growing level of flexibility the technology now offers—its use is expanding.
Packaging equipment manufacturers are upgrading bagging and closing equipment to improve operational efficiency and hygienic design, while also adding touches of smart technology and sustainability.
Advances in labeling are happening at a rapid pace. Technological leaps in marking/coding technology, printers, and labeling software have improved printing speed, accuracy and flexibility to accommodate a wide range of labels in today’s snack and bakery market.