An all-in-one package

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Next month's Total Processing and Packaging exhibition at the NEC has a totally new look and promises something for everyone. Julia Pierce reports

Whatever your processing and packaging needs — whether it is raw materials storage and handling or distribution — next month's three-day

Total Processing and Packaging

event at the NEC should include something to interest everyone.

Drawing together over 800 suppliers from more than 30 different countries, there will be exhibits covering every aspect of the processing and packaging cycle. The show, which runs from 15-18 May, provides a showcase for the many varied disciplines that make up the processing and packaging industries.

For the seasoned visitor, this year's show may look a little different. It has been refocused on visitor quality and potential spending power by integrating the two themes of processing and packaging. This has been achieved by merging the strengths of Pakex, the PPMA show, Eurochem and Interphex into one combined event.

The event's organisers put the combined value of the UK processing and packaging sectors at £6.4bn, and say it therefore makes sense to focus their energy and resources on what they regard as a rapidly integrating sector.

As a result, the show is set to include a host of new features, including the Packaging Innovation seminars that will include talks from leading names such as Unilever, Asda, Tesco, United Biscuits and even the Women's Institute. Topics range from the importance of pensioner power to the use of smart materials and avoiding waste.

There will also be a second, separate programme of seminars, the Interphex series, dedicated to providing an up-to-date view on the key issues driving processing and packaging in the pharmaceutical industry.

Those wishing to re-evaluate or update their production will be pleased to hear that the Processing and Packaging Machinery Association will be holding a consultancy. Visitors can outline their needs to the organisation's experts who will advise them on which suppliers to talk to and what to ask them to help solve their particular issues.

As the sheer size of the NEC can be a bit daunting, the show is offering a free visitor planner service to those registering on its website (

). This will allow visitors to create their own planned schedule based on the types of companies that they want to see. The plan will include details of the selected firms and where they are in the hall.

Among those exhibiting will be particle, microbial and electrostatic contamination control instruments and solutions supplier PMT, which will be launching a new device in Europe, the Silicon Layer Explorer. 'Our new instrument measures the thickness of silicon layers in devices such as syringes,' said general manager Peter Knott. 'This cannot be seen with the naked eye.'

Independent liquid filtration and water treatment equipment supplier Fileder Filter Systems will be displaying its extensive product portfolio from leading manufacturers such as GE Osmonics and Pentek, as well as applying its 25 years of experience in the industry to provide advice on how to develop systems tailored to companies' individual needs.

NORD Gear will be presenting a selection of its electronic components, motors and drives. The company provides technologies across industrial sectors ranging from automotive lines to textile factories and wastewater management. Its key products include helical in-line, helical parallel-shaft, helical-bevel, worm, and planetary gear units, with friction disc or V-belt speed variation, as well as a range of motors and frequency inverters.

There will also be plenty of equipment demonstrations. Syspal is the UK's leading manufacturer and supplier of stainless steel and aluminium materials handling equipment, providing products and solutions across the food, pharmaceutical, health and leisure industries.

'We will be launching the latest in end- of-line packaging conveyors,' said marketing co-ordinator Martin Savage. 'It can transfer through 90º and there will be a working version on the stand.'

EcoCooling will be demonstrating its evaporative cooling system, designed to regulate air temperature in hot offices or factories. 'The technology is an alternative to air conditioning,' explained marketing manager Jo Marshall. 'It has a quarter of the installation cost and only 15 per cent of the running costs of aircon, meaning its electricity use and therefore carbon emissions are very low. As it is added to the ventilation system and is constantly pulling in fresh air when on, you don't get sick-building syndrome.'

The system offers an ideal solution for cooling energy-intensive factories and warehouses. Furthermore, as it is so energy efficient and clean to run, small and medium-sized businesses installing the system qualify for interest-free loans from the Carbon Trust.

Avery Dennison will be displaying another eco-friendly system with its automated Elastic Staple device. This attaches products to header cards using a durable elastic fastener. Compared to manually applied fasteners the system can increase packaging operation productivity by as much as 50 per cent. As plastic packaging materials such as clamshells and skin packs are no longer needed, packages are lighter, lowering shipping costs and also their environmental impact.

The show aims to offer visitors the opportunity to review, evaluate and make investments in every part of the processing and packaging production line, and is split into eight sectors — packaging materials and containers; supply chain; FMCG processing, pack design and marketing; industrial plant; packaging and processing machinery; print and decorative finishes; and ancillary support and contract services.

The pack design and marketing sector, for example, will feature computerised design, CAD, branding, research, digital print, design consultancy and product design or development specialists, advising on issues such as how packaging interacts with consumers and how it must change as retail space becomes dearer.

There will also be a dedicated pavilion hosted by the British Contract Manufacturers and Contract Association. For those outsourcing their packing, processing or filling operations, a visit to the pavilion will allow them to find out more about the sub-contracting industry and discuss how the BCMPA can help them find a professional outsourcing partner.

And should the exhibitions and seminars leave you seeking relaxation there is the Pakex bar, sponsored by D S Smith Packaging. This will feature a Packaging Museum showcase, exhibiting famous packs of yesteryear.