New packaging solutions rewrite the rule books in dairy applications

A disruptive approach is needed to address the modern demands of the dairy industry!
With class-leading machine concepts already setting the pace in other sectors, Cama is in an ideal position to help its dairy customers cope with increasing marketing creativity
and growing sustainability targets

Like many sectors in the food and beverage industry, manufacturers of dairy and dairy free plant-based products are facing multiple business, consumer and operational challenges.

In addition to consumer-choice and marketing demands – which are dictating packaging sizes, formats, flavour mixes and serving concepts – the industry is facing global pressures, too, in terms of sustainability, especially regarding the use of primary and secondary packaging materials.

Added agility
These demands are placing an even greater emphasis on machine builders to deliver not only the agility required to address multiple consumer and market demands, but also the capabilities to handle paper and mono-material packaging formulations… for easier recycling.

“The phrase doing the rounds at the moment is ‘When grocery meets sustainability’,” explains Pierre Therville, Key Account Manager at Cama Group for the dairy industry. “The industry is being challenged to reduce packaging waste, especially single-use plastics and, as a result, is turning more and more to paper packaging and mono-material packaging, such as cup/label/lid combinations made from 100% PET. The challenge is, that the main players in this sector don’t want multiple fixed-cup-format machines, instead they are demanding endof line (EOL) solutions that deliver the capabilities to handle different shapes of cups and pack clusters, grouped in shelf-ready packaging (SRP).”

Cama has an existing pedigree in the dairy sector. Formed in 1981, much of the company’s first decade of operations was devoted to serving the needs of major dairy companies in Europe, where its customer list read like a “Who’s Who” of leading multinational brands. “In the early days, in yogurt and dessert, for secondary packaging, the business model was based on overwrapping machines rented from their carton suppliers, to pack the standard (and iconic) 63 x 63 ERCA thermoformed cups. Cama was one of the few manufacturers selling compact cardboard sleeving machines.

Taking the lead
“During this time and subsequently,” he continues, “we diversified into other industries, many of which had the same demands that the dairy industrial faces today, as a result, were able to take the lead in new ideas and concepts both in products handling and packaging design. We are now bringing these experience back into the dairy industry.

“The modern dairy industry needs the agility and flexibility to quickly address market variety,” he adds. “Manufacturers of dairy products need to have USPs and, as a result, often rely on packaging innovation to differentiate their products. This is why machine agility is so vitally important. Worldwide trends are seeing demands for premium products, in smaller, on-the-go and snack-sized portions. This variety of primary and secondary packaging formats is compounded by the very urgent need to increase recyclability and reduce packaging waste. What is more, this secondary packaging needs to be shelf-ready in many cases.”

Industry pedigree
Cama is making huge strides to reclaim its dairy industry pedigree, bringing with it all the experience it has gained from other equally competitive and quality-driven markets. “Disruptive market demands can only be placated with disruptive technology,” Therville elaborates. “Innovation and breakthrough solutions are part of the DNA within Cama – backed up by the fact that 5% of our yearly turnover is invested in R&D. In many of the markets we serve, we are seen as the face of innovation and there is no reason why this cannot also be true of dairy, which currently makes up 11% of our turnover, by industry.

“We already have many relevant solutions,” he continues, “based around similar primary and secondary packaging concepts and have developed state-of-the-art process and technologies to deal with sensitive products, including yogurts, cheeses and ice cream, wrapped in flow packs, bags, doypacks, FS and FFS cups, which we can then package using sleeves, top- or side-load cartons, wraparound, hinged-lid boxes, RSC, trays and case & display packs.”

The company’s capabilities and dairy market standing were cemented earlier this year with the delivery of eight EOL packaging solutions for different European dairy plants, all with common packaging format demands, including snacking, single serve and premium all within shelf-ready packaging.”

The new equipment caters for the new packaging paradigm, as it can handle different shaped and sized packages in multiple configurations, with or without overwrapping, in a variety of arrangements/ clusters and packaging designs. It can also cater for variety packs (flavour) without huge amounts of re-engineering between batches.

“We are especially proud to have been selected to develop a ‘CAMA breakthrough EOL Solution’ applied on preformed cups. What makes this application so special is that the customer is launching the very first yogurt cup made from 100% mono material,” Therville explains. “The cup, label and seal are all made from one material (PET), so this is a major breakthrough for the brand – from both a packaging and marketing perspective – and its future sustainability targets and market standing.

“This line has been designed to handle two different shapes of cups,” he adds, “with three types of pack configurations and designs without any significant adjustments or tool changes. Cama’s ultimate goal is to offer multi-purpose dairy EOL solutions for yogurt & dessert cups.”

For these end-of-line solutions, Cama deployed its ‘Breakthrough Generation’ (BTG) technology, which comprises modular, scalable frameworks that offer easy entry and access couple to a hygienic machine design. Multiple design pointers such as no horizontal surfaces and electrical cabinets embedded on the corner of the frames are carry overs from other industries that are just as applicable to dairy.

From a quality perspective, the machine’s product-handling process is different to that from other competitors, in that it deploys Cama’s positive-transport principle, which has been developed and optimised over the past 20+ years, specifically for fragile, flexible products that cannot be accumulated. This approach makes it ideal for sensitive products, which, as Therville explains, “will help create new dairy industry expectations”.

“Product changeovers can be achieved very rapidly,” he continues, “which is not always a simple undertaking. By deploying Cama’s portfolio of RFID identifiable, quick-fastening devices – which offer configuration changeovers without adjustment – and multi-axis servo technology – which is easily modified using HMI commands – we have stripped out many of the inefficient mechanisms inherent in competitors’ systems, cutting downtime to an absolute minimum.”

Industry commitment
Cama’s commitment to the dairy industry is part of a larger company-wide programme which will see it evolve its products and capabilities to address multiple sectors. “Each sector will be served by its own vertical industry experts,” Therville explains, “but there will also be significant in-company cross pollination of ideas – from one industry to the others. This means that any breakthrough technology we develop can be shared across other sectors. Dairy is not unique in the challenges it is facing, but with solutions from other food and beverage sectors being just as applicable, we already have the technology and skill sets in place to address these demands, using technology that is ahead of the game in these other industries.”

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