PowerPak PLUS: Stepping into the shoes of the customer

PowerPak PLUS: From the customer’s perspective

To get a clear picture, you must be able to see it from a customer’s point of view. Before designing the new PowerPak PLUS, the GEA product experts and engineers asked customers with different functions within the food packaging industry about the every-day challenges they faced in running a highly-efficient thermoforming packaging line.

Different opinions count

The result is a trio of insights reflecting the unique perspectives of a Technical Manager, a Plant Manager and a Business Owner. As you might expect, they see things differently, but, in many ways, their aims are the same. The Owner must see the big picture, keeping cost down, while maintaining quality; the Plant Manager has a more day-to-day focus, looking at operational efficiency and machine availability; while the Technical Manager is concerned with ensuring best in class technology. All with a different approach, but all working together to meet the same challenge.

Read their insights- and see how yours compares...

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Thinner films for less waste and higher margins: that’s the power of performance

A business owner must focus on the big picture. It’s necessary to keep costs down, but not at the expense of efficiency and, of course, environmental sustainability. 

Thermoforming equipment needs to be kept up to date to make sure the company keeps up with legislation, to respond quickly to customer trends, to enable new markets to be developed and to provide the flexibility of packaging demanded by retail customers. Environmental sustainability will always be high on the agenda too as there is a global imperative to reduce single-use plastic and minimize carbon emissions. 

Following careful evaluation, the PowerPak PLUS Thermoformer from GEA has proved popular with business owners. GEA has a strong reputation in food processing and packaging and has impressive references particularly where they related to the total cost of ownership of the equipment which is critical to businesses long term. Being able to test the process in the GEA Technology Center before, committing to any significant financial outlay, is also very useful. 

The primary aim for business owners is to improve productivity and the flexibility, safety and product quality. Price is always important but so are the availability of finance options including the opportunity to lease rather than buy the equipment. 

Business owners can expect to see a dramatic improvement in the quality of the finished products with a significant decline in the occurrence of reject packs with the GEA PowerPak PLUS. Fewer staff are required on the operation, and there is less downtime. The machines control systems are very effective and allow the use of much thinner films making a considerable difference to overall material cost. The PowerPak PLUS can also be used with mono material films, that we were impracticable in the past, that can be recycled easily by the consumer. 

Overall, business owners may expect: packaging quality and hygiene to be improved and the multiple innovations included in the PowerPak PLUS will create savings that will provide a rapid return on investment.

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Less downtime; more production time: that’s the power of performance

As someone responsible for the day-to-day running of the thermoforming plant, the plant manager is mainly focused on operational efficiency, machine availability and overall productivity. These, and the need to retain or even improve quality, are the areas that will be of most concern with any decision to upgrade equipment. 

There will always be challenges: firstly, a new system must deliver products, reliably and according to the agreed standards. Secondly, cost is a major consideration, not so much the capital investment but the overall total cost of ownership that must be competitive. Finally, there may be limitations on space so the footprint of new equipment in the factory should be kept to a minimum. 

GEA is well known in the industry as a reliable partner and it has many excellent reference sites that clearly demonstrate the quality and efficiency of its equipment and process experience. For this reason, the GEA PowerPak PLUS thermoformer has been well received in the market as a major innovation of the technology. For example, the top and bottom webs are supported on both sides rather than just one. This means that the stability and control of the thermoforming process is so much more accurate. What’s more, both films are adjusted automatically, so the pack seals are always perfect, and there is no need for a skilled engineer watching over the machine all the time. 

One important feature, appreciated by plant managers, are the transparent sliding doors that replace the traditional inspection hatches that can get in the way when removed, creating a trip hazard, especially where space is tight. Traditional hatches also get dirty which may compromise hygiene. The sliding doors on the PowerPak PLUS however give a good view of the machine and lets the operator see when the film roll needs changing so there’s less downtime and less film wastage. They also fold neatly into the machine when open, so they stay clean and don’t get in the way. 

In redesigning the PowerPak PLUS GEA has had the plant manager in mind throughout. It has standardized the size of all the film rolls making maintenance easier and reducing spare part inventory costs. Film changing is easy too as the supports just swing out of the way to give complete access. These features, and many more that GEA has incorporated into the PowerPakPLUS all go towards reducing downtime and making the plant manager’s job easier.

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Leading technology with minimum packaging costs: that’s the power of performance

A technical manager’s job is all about performance efficiency. In a competitive market it’s vitally important to stay up to date and use best practice and the latest concepts. That’s why it’s necessary to embrace the latest technology and production methods for thermoforming operations. 

The aim is to always be looking to improve efficiency by using less labor, having fewer recalls, making the operation of the plant easier and reducing maintenance time and costs. But it’s never just the technology that’s important: it’s the whole package including the service backup, the availability of spares, the technical stability of the whole operation and, ultimately, the total cost of ownership of the new equipment.

With all new projects, it pays to be cautious. GEA has its PowerPak PLUS operating at its Technology Center in Wallau, Germany. The tests can be done via remotely too. The Technology Center is available for customers to experiment with new packs and see for themselves its ability to reduce raw material usage and prevent wastage. GEA also provides on-site training and global support to make sure operators work efficiently and safely. 

The level of technical stability on the PowerPak PLUS is very impressive. By supporting the film rolls on both sides, and building in an automatic adjustment, GEA has reduced the forces on the top web by around 75% allowing the use of thinner films (and even mono films) without losing structural integrity or pulling the labels out of shape; it has standardized the film rollers throughout the machine to make them interchangeable so they are easier to switch and parts inventory levels are reduced; and it’s included transparent sliding doors which give better visibility and are much more hygienic than the old system of hatches. 

With the PowerPak PLUS food packing companies can be confident that they have the most advanced thermoforming equipment that is currently available on the market. This puts them in a strong trading position, confident that their total cost of ownership will be excellent, and they can ensure an effective return on investment.