Industry Expert, Joel Thomas, Vice President of Manufacturing, from Pride Conveyance Systems gives his responses to questions on developments in the handling and conveying market in an interview with CanTech International Magazine.
What are the latest developments with regard to handling and conveying?
The latest developments in the can manufacturing industry are being driven by the canmakers’ need for increased efficiency of their global production lines as it relates to ease of start-up, faster can size changes, more reliable performance, and reduced maintenance frequency/time. Consumer trends are leaning toward a more sleek can profile, which requires a taller, lighter can and places new requirements on conveyance performance to avoid damage as the product is conveyed throughout the manufacturing process and improved can quality inspection techniques.
In response to this new canmaker and consumer demand, Pride has developed solutions that include an upgraded Decorator Infeed Air Doubling Box System, High-Speed Inspection Conveyance, graphics inspection improvements, quick-change gravity track, with additional upgrades being beta-tested at several facilities. Pride’s parent company, Roeslein & Associates, is also ramping up production capacity with the ability to manufacture Pride Conveyance’s line of products in their nearly 1 million square feet of fabrication space across five global manufacturing locations.
What are the biggest challenges you currently face?
The biggest challenge to the can industry is that it is consistently evolving, faster now than ever before since its inception in the 1970’s. We are seeing faster production line rates, higher capacity lines, and the increase in global demand has created a need for additional technical personnel to perform installation and start-up of the canmaking and conveyor systems around the globe.
Pride’s engineering teams are working on conveyor solutions that require less technical expertise to install and operate, making the systems more maintainer-friendly. Realizing the level of skilled tradesman, the Pride systems have been designed to facilitate the level of skills trades currently available. These new conveyance system designs will allow the market to grow at its current rate and enable a more diverse workforce to be able to successfully install the conveyance systems globally.
Are can makers coming to you with specific problems that they would like you to address with new product developments?
As an industry leader in can handling and conveying, global can makers approach the Pride Conveyance team on a regular basis. There is a global shortage of aluminum beverage cans currently, prompting can makers to include Pride as part of their engineering development team producing solutions to help the industry work through continuing challenges. These include needing to quickly increase production capacity on existing lines, faster changeover time, reduced spoilage, and upgrades to conveyance technology in hi-speed inspection techniques.
How do you see handling and conveying progressing going forward?
The aluminum can is exploding in popularity, and we are going to see new applications for products marketed in aluminum cans. Currently we are seeing an influx of canned beverages including water, hard seltzers, wines, etc. We see other markets shifting toward canned beverages as well such as milk and other refrigerated liquids that could benefit from being sold in resealable aluminum packaging. Aside from beverage cans, we are seeing this variance in containers with the introduction of the aluminum cup as an alternative to the iconic plastic version. The industry will continue to see unique and varying can sizes because consumers are mindful and growing increasingly aware of the benefits of recyclable aluminum beverage packaging, driving a continuous demand in the beer/beverage container industry. As the market shifts away from PET we are going to be able to provide new and innovative sustainable packaging to our global markets.