What Is The Future For The Form Fill Seal Packaging Industry?

No business wants to invest its hard-earned money into equipment that future technological advancements will render obsolete. Ideally, any large purchase should remain useful for long enough for it to recoup its cost and boost your profits. 

If you’re contemplating bringing your product packaging in-house, you’ll want to know that whatever machine you choose will have value for your business in the future. Otherwise, you’ll be better off outsourcing your packaging to another business for the time being.

Form Fill Seal (FFS) and Premade Pouch (PMP) packaging machines are popular options for businesses managing their own product packaging. But will these options remain competitive in tomorrow’s market? Or will one gradually replace the other?

Here’s what you need to know about both.

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Exploring The FFS Market

2021’s FFS equipment market is set to reach USD 19.47 billion — a sizable leap from 2016’s figure of USD 15.31 billion. A combination of factors have contributed to this growth.

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FFS Packaging Machines Promote Food Safety

With the world still grappling with Covid-19, packaging hygiene and safety is a concern for consumers and businesses. Tracking the spread of the pandemic has illustrated just how easily it can be spread through human contact and cross contamination. Many governments have put in place stringent rules to ensure food items are safely produced, packaged and delivered. 

Some FFS packaging machines can facilitate this. For example, many can create a controlled and sterile packaging environment using filtration and sanitization. This helps create an aseptic packaged product with an extended shelf life and reduced need for refrigeration. The machines can also be automated, eliminating human contact to further reduce contamination. 

This allows you to present a safe product to customers and buyers with confidence, while reducing food spoilage and wastage.

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FFS Packaging Machines Integrate Flexible Material Options

Not too long ago, plastic was the material of choice for affordable but protective product packaging. These days, increased awareness of its impact on the environment has decreased its popularity. FFS packaging machines are well placed to integrate flexible food packaging.

These films seal better for improved weldability. They’re puncture-proof and can keep their shape without wrinkling or denting. Some films are even made from bio-based raw materials that can be composed or recycled. These advances will impress customers and help you remain compliant with local regulations.

FFS Packaging Machines Offer Quicker Troubleshooting & Recalibrating

Product packaging rarely remains static. Being able to adapt to changes in branding trends or market demand will help your business stay on top. Today’s FFS packaging machines integrate sophisticated software that captures and tracks packaging data. This information can be shared with external devices, allowing you to access it via a phone or PC, even if you’re offsite. 

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Being made aware of an issue without having to take your machine apart will save you time and money, as well as unnecessary callouts. For example, a smarter machine system integrating Artificial Intelligence (AI) technology could alert you to the fact that your seal is too hot, causing your film to stick and jam in the forming tube.

AI can also help inspect your goods more intelligently, ensuring that each shipment contains the right product in the right quantity. and is going to the right location. Quality inspection is an important part of the packaging industry and in future, FFS machine systems using AI technology will become a staple in food packaging. These machines will be able to detect and identify anomalies, perform quality inspections, classify products, track statuses in real-time, and reduce human error.

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FFS Packaging Machines Easily Offer Multiple Size Options

The number of single-headed households is increasing, and family sizes are also getting smaller. It means that family size and bulk products are no longer the standard when it comes to packaging. Consumers want to control their portion sizes, and no longer have to bulk shop as they can order items online for same day delivery.

FFS packaging machines possess the ability to adapt to small and large packaging demands and style changes. They can do this with little downtime and improved efficiency.

But What About Pre-made Pouches?

While FFS packaging machines are growing in popularity, so is the use of pre-made pouches and the machines that package them. Research shows that the global pre-made pouch packaging market will grow at a CAGR of over 4% for the next 8 years. It demonstrates that PMP packaging machines will retain a foothold in the market. 

So how can your business determine if this option is best for it, or if they should invest in a FFS packaging machine?

As it turns out, PMP packaging machines offer many of the same benefits that FFS packaging machines do. They produce packaging resilient enough to resist damage, increase product shelf life, and reduce waste. They both produce flexible bags in various sizes that are easy for consumers to use and handle. 

Modern PMP packaging machines now include automatic infeeding systems (reducing the number of people required to operate it). Others can run multiple bag formats with height adjustability increasing the number of pouches the machine can run.

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Choosing The Best Option For Your Business’s Future

While FFS and PMP packaging machines have evolved to overcome many common pain points, both still have limitations. FFS packaging machines are a better option if you’re looking for flexibility and fast packaging and changeover speeds. They’re also less likely to drop unfilled bags or incorrectly seal them. PMP packaging machines are more economical for short or limited production runs. They’re also better suited to packaging aerated and low density products.

It means that when it comes to the future of your retail packaging, both forms of packaging will remain popular for different products. Knowing what you’ll be packaging then (and now) will shape your decision. 

For example, pet food (which can come in pellet, chunk or paste form) is sold without refrigeration. It also comes in a variety of sizes (depending on pet type and breed) and is more likely to be produced in long production runs due to its longer shelf life. This would make it better suited to a FFS packaging machine.

Packaging foodstuffs like gluten-free cake flour would require a different approach. This very fine and light product needs more careful packaging. It will also be produced in shorter production runs, as it isn’t a widely consumed product and has a limited shelf life. This makes it better suited to PMP packaging.

Before You Decide...

If you’re looking for unbiased advice on what machinery will help your business meet its packaging needs now and in the future, you’re better off choosing a supplier that offers both machines.

Webster Griffin can help you make the best decision for your current and future product packaging needs. We’ll help you pick a solution that meets your budget and time requirements and most importantly, one that will grow with your business.

To get started, contact us today.

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