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A smarter way to wrap?

15 October 2017

Food Processing spoke to Martin Leeming, CEO at Trakrap, about the benefits that its new wrapping solution can offer in the food sector. 

Q: Can you explain a bit about the Trakrap solution and how it differs from traditional stretch wrap solutions?
The Trakrap machine is a new platform that uses ‘cold wrap’ technology to eliminate the need for heat tunnels and instead replaces them with a stretch wrapping solution. This can reduce energy usage by approximately 90%, while also using around 70% less film. The system uses seven-microns-thick C8 LLDPE – a 100% recyclable polymer film that is lighter than standard film. It incorporates smart production systems which can learn, develop and improve continually through increased connectivity and the use of data analysis, enabling the system to take advantage of future developments that could help to further improve sustainability. 

Using this low cost, cold wrap, platform, we have been able to develop several innovative hybrid pack designs that transform the way fresh and frozen foods are delivered and presented on shelf.  For example, the use of plain corrugate sleeves helps reduce the use of glue, tape and rPET, and offers an efficient solution that consumes fewer resources and uses less materials. It is already helping to move sustainable packaging forward. 

Q:  What benefits can this technology offer food processors?
The Trakrap system allows food processors to package their product safely and securely, to protect it during transit for the lowest possible cost per pack.  Our system does not use heat, so there is no risk of damaging the product during packing and the system delivers significant savings on both energy and film. The modular design of the system allows for different infeeds, cutting mechanisms and outfeeds all centred around the same film tensioning and wrapping system. This makes it flexible and intelligent and allows it to accommodate changing SKUs and pack sizes with ease. 

Q: Could you talk us through your pay-per-use financing model and explain what benefits this can offer your customers?
We recognise that one of the many issues facing packaging manufacturers  today is the pressure on them to invest in, or upgrade to, next-generation production technology.  We offer a pay-per-use solution which allows customers to pay for the equipment as they use it, financed by the savings that the equipment provides, both in lower material costs and operational efficiency gains. We have partnered with Siemens Financial Services (SFS) who pay us for the machinery before it is leased to the end customer. This allows our customers to spread the cost for the use of the system over the contractual period on a ‘pay-per-wrap’ basis.  Because of our partnership with SFS, credit checks can be processed quickly, while the cost-per-use arrangement allows for a more accurate assessment of predicted savings for the end user. Without the need to purchase and take full ownership of the equipment, customers can also enjoy the benefits of using the system without having to make any upfront capital expenditure. 

Q: How can Trakrap help food processors to better support the goals and challenges facing their customers (Supermarkets/retailers)?
Whether supermarkets want to increase sales through better ‘on shelf’ presentation, or take the time out of shelf replenishment through packs that are quicker to prepare for shelf, or even take the cost out of the supply chain through less inbound pallets or packs that are quick to fill, the Trakrap system can help.  Our packs are retail ready, easy to unpack, are quick to break down and quick to dispose of. Crucially, they use significantly less material, so meeting EEC environmental directives for recycling and energy efficiency isn’t a problem, allowing retailers to meet their environmental commitments.”

Q: Has Industry 4.0 impacted the packaging sector yet? And what do food processors need to do now to ensure their packaging solutions will be Industry 4.0 ready?
Yes, because, at its centre, Industry 4.0 is about the pursuit of operational effectiveness, Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE) and the ability to achieve mass customisation at mass manufacturing prices, so it’s already making significant new demands of the supply chain, including packaging.  

One of the benefits manufacturers wish to unlock from Industry 4.0 is a reduction in Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) and an increase in OEE. However, TCO is not just the initial cost of a machine – it accounts for costs over the asset’s entire lifecycle, from installation and deployment to energy consumption and cost to service and upgrade. This immediately raises questions about the suitability of some of today’s accepted packaging norms such as the use of shrink tunnels, which consume energy at eye-watering rates. 

To become 4.0 ready and future-proof, manufacturers need to focus on the intrinsic platform that their packaging machinery has been built on and must re-evaluate whether the materials and processes they might have been following for years still represent the smartest and most effective way forward.


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