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July 27, 2015
by Jessica Hamelburg
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Food Filling Line Automation: Then and Now

dough filling lineBefore the invention of hydraulic and pneumatic devices, people had to fill and seal containers one at a time. Sometime during the mid to late 19th century, hydraulic and pneumatic devices were invented. These devices made food filling line automation possible, because they could start and then stop filling bottles or cans as they moved down a conveyor.
The 20th Century Brings With It Machines Performing Complex Operations
Early in the 20th century, machines began performing multifaceted operations. Because these machines were able to carry out more versatile operations, they began replacing the individuals who had previously performed such tasks. For example, in 1905, a glass bottle-making machine was developed. The machine replaced the highly skilled glass blowers and the child laborers. Now, glass bottles could be mass-produced and used as containers for food filling lines.
Once factories began using electricity, even more complicated mechanical operations could be performed using electric motors and controls, resulting in the use of automatic processes for manufacturing almost all goods.
Several Kinds of Filling Machines Are Available
For the most part, filling machines are used in the food industry to fill pouches or bottles.

  • Flow Filling Machines
    These machines are designed specifically for thin food products, including oils and liquids. As the tub or bottle moves along the conveyor belt, this machine fills it and then ejects it onto another conveyor belt to be sealed.

  • Auger/Agitator Filling Machines
    These food filling machines are used to fill containers with dry mixes, such as sugar, flour and cake mixes. The hoppers on this machine are shaped like a cone. The cone holds the dry food product mix and then fills the pouch via an auger screw controlled by an agitator. The pouch can be made of poly or paper that is in the form of a collar. Once filled, the pouch is heat-sealed.

  • Positive Displacement Pump Fillers
    These machines can be used with a wide range of fill volumes, container sizes and product types. Although these machines were meant for filling containers with gels, lotions and creams, they can also be used for thicker paste-like or liquefied products. Some food products for which this type of machine is perfect are heavy sauces, honey and hummus.

  • Tablet Fillers
    While the other filler machines use weight to determine when filling is complete, a tablet filler machine fills containers by setting up the hopper to scan count the candy pieces or tablets. This type of machine is designed for small bottles.
    For nearly 20 years, EquipNet has revolutionized the way companies manage their surplus assets. We offer our clients a comprehensive range of services and programs to assist them in identifying and managing their assets. For more information on our extensive asset management services, please contact us.





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    July 23, 2015
    by Jessica Hamelburg
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    Tube Packaging: Squeezing Out New Trends in the Packaging Industry

    tubesThe tube packaging industry is experiencing robust growth. Increased demand for flexible packaging, improved barrier properties and innovative, easy-to-use packaging spurs this growth. Rising population supports growth of the tube packaging industry while high disposable income enables end users to spend more on the convenience of tube packaging.
    Today’s consumers increasingly accept tube packaging in their day-to-day lives. Tubes heighten consumer experience through unique dispensing features, unit-of-use formats and innovative, friendly packaging that eases storage and enhances product delivery.
    Tubes are less expensive than jars and bottles. They offer flexibility in color and shape. Trends will likely include renovations in flip-top caps, applicators, pumps, roller bars and brushes to improve product delivery and enhance functionality. The new lines of tubes will feature airless or dip tube style pumps in various diameters, overcaps and pump collar styles for greater dispensing efficiency and consumer appeal. The advanced ergonomic design of tube pumps does a superior job protecting and dispensing even the most fragile active ingredients.
    The Global Tube Packaging Market
    The global tube packaging market has experienced rapid growth since 2013. Market research firm MarketsandMarkets predicts the global packaging industry will grow at a compound annual growth rate, or CAGR, of 6.65 percent to reach $8,638.9 million by 2020. Taking a 37 percent share, Europe dominated the market in 2014.
    Mounting competition, increasing consumer spending, aggressive pricing, sustainable packaging and exceptional barrier protection drive the tube packaging market.
    In terms of volume, MarketsandMarkets says that the Asia-Pacific region will become the fastest-growing market, with growth at the highest CAGR occurring from 2015 to 2020. People in the increasing middle class in the Asia-Pacific region have high disposable income. Sustainable packaging and flexible packaging drive growth in this market, as does convenient packaging, which is required in the densely populated areas common in that region.
    Due to high growth in the packaging industry in general and because of the innovative solutions it provides, the tube packaging industry has a positive outlook. A surge of consumer interest in sustainable packaging and rising per-capita incomes accelerate demand for specialty tube packaging, including laminated tubes and squeeze tubes. The global tube packaging market will increase at a CAGR of 6.65 percent to reach $8,638.9 million by 2020.
    Consumers in Brazil, China, India and South Africa are gradually accepting innovative tubes over traditional packaging. Developing countries, such as China, India, Indonesia, Thailand and others in the Asia-Pacific region, are now seeing a trend of rural populations moving to urban areas, which increases tube packaging demand.
    The tube packaging market will continue to mature in North America and Europe, driven by high disposable income. In terms of volume, the European region was the largest tube packaging market, with 12 billion tubes in 2014. Taking a 27 percent share, Asia-Pacific was the second largest market. The MarketsandMarkets report predicts the highest demand for tube packaging to occur in China and Japan, fueled by sustainable, convenient packaging that provides exceptional barrier properties. The Asia-Pacific region will likely be the fastest growing tube packaging market from 2015 to 2020.
    Tube Packaging Equipment Trends
    Strong growth in the tube packaging industry translates into an uptick in tube packaging equipment sales. The rising use of recyclable plastic materials for packaging increases sales of tube packaging that, in turn, boosts the plastic tube packaging equipment market. Low labor costs associated with plastic packaging increase demand to further fuel tube packaging equipment sales.
    Innovations in tube packaging and tube packaging equipment are strong leaders in the sweeping changes occurring in the packaging industry. Rising incomes, increasing consumer awareness in sustainability and affinity for convenience will drive emerging trends in the next few years.



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    July 21, 2015
    by Jessica Hamelburg
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    Medical Device Industry Trends 2015: 3D Printing Technologies

    3d printer3D printing is a disruptive technology in the medical device industry. There are a variety of 3D printing methods to create metal and plastic parts for medical devices and clinical use. Each method involves fabricating a part one layer at a time by applying layers of liquid material onto various substrates.
    Biocompatible and drug-contact materials help 3D printing technologies produce customized medical devices. 3D printing also makes simultaneous production of multiple individualized items possible. This improves manufacturing efficiency while conserving time and energy.
    New 3D technologies combined with ever-expanding choices in printing materials and applications are creating trends in the medical device industry and even in clinical research.
    3D Printing Trends in Medical Devices
    Dental laboratories and hearing aid manufacturers already use 3D printing technology to mass-produce customized medical devices. 3D printing also enables the development of groundbreaking concepts and procedures in preclinical studies of material science, toxicology, neuroimaging and other disciplines. Other trends for 3D printing in medical devices include external wearable devices, clinical study devices and specialty implants.
    External Wearable Devices
    Because of its ability to produce customized devices that are both lightweight and strong, 3D printing will revolutionize wearable mechanical braces. Made for external use, these devices can be much larger or thicker than surgically implanted devices, overcoming any mechanical strength issues presented by three-dimensional printing.
    3D Systems unveiled its 3D printed Bespoke Braces™ for young people with idiopathic scoliosis in June 2014. It uses selective laser sintering technology to create comfortable, flexible, durable braces.
    Clinical Study Devices
    Clinical researchers will increasingly turn to 3D printing in feasibility and first-in-human studies where low build quantities and postevaluation design changes are likely. Reducing both costs and development time, 3D printing is fast replacing injection molds for manufacturing devices with multiple plastic components. 3D printing also helps scientists conduct validation and pivotal studies with large patient study sizes earlier by making large numbers of pieces available quickly, ideally while other components of the study are still under development.
    NovaScan utilized 3D printing to develop a disposable patient-contacting tip and reusable hand piece used during breast cancer detection.
    3D printing will continue pushing orthopedic and dental device manufacturing forward. There are a number of companies using 3D printing technology to create implants with intricate surface textures or requiring complex geometry. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration continues to approve these devices for implant. For example, the FDA gave 510(k) clearance to the German company joimax for 3D printed spine implants.
    Other companies are following suit. Researchers in China introduced the first 3D printed sternum in July 2015. Knee replacement specialists ConforMIS recently introduced their own 3D printed custom joint implants.
    Using direct metal printing technology, 3D Systems created a titanium alloy acetabular cup with a porous surface. Additive manufacturing with 3D printing allows manufacturers to control effective porosity and thickness of materials to improve fixation of orthopedic implants in the bone.
    The use of 3D printing will continue to grow in the medical device industry. Metal additive manufacturing will adopt three-dimensional printing for the commercial production of orthopedic implants. These printed medical devices will also propel the development of customizable external device components with low load-bearing components. 3D printing will also be essential in clinical study applications to reduce cost and shorten research time.
    3D printing will use an ever-growing number of materials to make medical devices; therefore, the development of new printable materials will shape trends in the evolution of 3D printing for medical devices and research.
    Clinical researchers and those in the medical device industry are embracing 3D printing for a number of applications ranging from true medical devices to clinical use. 3D printing continues to give researchers and those in the medical device industry new ways to think about creating groundbreaking and disruptive medical technologies.








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    July 14, 2015
    by Jessica Hamelburg
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    The Benefits of Asset Management for Semiconductor Manufacturers

    A variety of asset management programs are now available for manufacturers in the semiconductor industry. Whether your company is buying, selling or searching for ways to redeploy surplus equipment, asset management services can provide resources to accomplish your goals. Semiconductor manufacturers can receive personal attention to their sales needs for analytical, processing and packaging equipment. An asset management services provider can also manage every aspect of your equipment delivery worldwide. The company will ensure fragile equipment is packaged to protect it from damage, schedule delivery and track the shipment. EquipNet has the world’s most extensive online marketplace for instrumentation and manufacturing equipment.
    Procurement Program
    The rapid changes occurring in technology, corporate restructuring and continuous improvement practices have generated an abundance of high quality, surplus manufacturing equipment. An experienced broker can help avoid the pitfalls of purchasing subpar or overpriced equipment. EquipNet has an extensive database of equipment provided by manufacturers in the semiconductor industry with which it’s established relationships. EquipNet can simplify your search for reliable equipment as well as provide cost savings of 25 to 75 percent compared to purchasing new equipment.
    Semiconductor companies that are liquidating, nearing the end of an equipment lease or tracking inventory require professional appraisal services. The professionals at EquipNet are highly experienced at providing appraisals for companies in the semiconductor and electronics industries. They provide appraisals for buy/sell transactions and tax valuations.
    Global Consignment
    New equipment acquisitions or restructuring frequently requires surplus equipment to be removed. This usually involves relocating it to a storage facility. As an asset management provider, EquipNet can provide a consultation for the disposition of semiconductor equipment. In addition, the company will remove the equipment to a secure facility and provide a surface cleaning. If possible, the equipment will be powered on and staged for viewing by potential buyers.
    Equipment Redeployment
    Redeployment of assets can help semiconductor companies reallocate resources from an area where they are underutilized or undervalued to an area where they prove to be more profitable. This may be accomplished by several means, such as by moving surplus equipment from an area where it is no longer used to an area where it is needed to avoid the cost of purchasing new equipment. Alternatively, the equipment may be sold and the proceeds of the sale reinvested in a more efficient replacement. EquipNet offers proprietary software to enable semiconductor manufacturers to track and manage their assets.
    EquipNet’s asset management services are designed to reduce the costs of equipment purchases for manufacturers in the semiconductor industry as well as assist in recovering capital from underutilized resources.
    Visit our exhibit at Booth #842 at SEMICON West, July 14-16, to learn about more available options for asset management.

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