Everyone has a story, so why not try and find the stories behind packaging machines. In this series, our first feature is on Vertical Form/Fill/Seal (VFFS) machines, the ubiquitous flexible pouch making machine which has changed the food industry.
The first Vertical Form/Fill/Seal (VFFS) machine was patented in 1936 by Walter Zwoyer whilst working at “Henry Heide Candy Company”.
“Walter” & “Heide”formed the “Transparent Wrap Machine Co.” to build and sell VFFS machines. At that time, modified cellophane was the main flexible packaging material and Walter named his machines “Transwrap” to reflect that.
The demand for “Transwrap” machines grew fast. Stokes & Smith also started manufacturing machines for Walter under a license. Walter had patented many new inventions up till the 1950’s, those included important improvements to the VFFS machines and infeed machines / automating weighing machines to insert product into VFFS machines.
As they say, ‘success has many fathers’. Walter wasn’t left alone and was embroiled in many court cases during the later years of his life.
Walter Zwoyer’s patent on VFFS expired in 1954 and the Package Machinery Company purchased the Transparent Wrap Machine Company. At that time, few of the key employees of Transparent Wrap Company joined Hayssen Manufacturing Company. There was a long court case, where Package Machinery Company tried to claim money from Hayssen Manufacturing for using their trade secrets, but it couldn’t be proved in the court of law. The untimely death of Walter Zwoyer didn’t help the Package Machinery case and even after Walter’s death, his family had to go through court cases to claim money & royalty for his inventions.
During the same time (the 1950’s), the Woodman Company started venturing into the VFFS machines market.Kawashima (Japan) also built their first machine in 1961.
From the second half of the 1950s to the 1970’s was the time of rapid proliferation of VFFS machines worldwide with the advent of new materials and technologies and high market demand. Rovema (Germany), Ricciarelli (Italy), Hayssen, Hassia Redatron, Bosch and many other current leaders of packaging industry started manufacturing VFFS at that time. Ishida came into the mix in 1970’s and came to the forefront because of their advanced technology on VFFS machines and leadership position in the multi-head weighing machines category. TNA started in 1982 and soon made its presence felt in VFFS machines category.
Walter Zwoyer’s “Transwrap” brand for the VFFS machines remained in the packaging industry for about 50 years and eventually became the part of Bosch.
As it usually happens, the life cycle of innovations can possibly be described using the S-curve, which maps growth of revenue or productivity against time. The s-curve of technological innovation summarizes four major stages in the evolution of a product which are emergence, rapid improvement, declining improvement, maturity.
The current stage of the VFFS machines life cycle may be debateable, but we will like it to be in the rapid improvement stage.
The leadership position in this industry sector is changing, the products are becoming similar and the cost & service deliverables are becoming the distinguishing factors. We think one can remain attuned to the industry development by becoming more involved, so we are doing our bit…..
What do you think as to where we are heading in this industry sector? We would love to hear your take on it. Please share your opinion.
Tips for selecting VFFS machines:
- Always remember Simpler is better!
- Reliability and performance metrics Speed, wastages, uptime, quality of final packs, change over time, available options, capability to handle different materials, labour savings, skill availability and capability requirement to run and maintain the machine, ease of cleaning, flexibility to handle different sizes, types of packs etc.
- Quality & Sanitary Requirements Clean room, aseptic filling
- Total Cost of Ownership Initial cost, after sales service & support costs, repair and downtime costs, utility & consumable costs, spare parts & response time from manufacturer / supplier
- Integration with upstream & downstream equipment
- Know your product and pack sizes and make sure that the machine is able to cater for all your products.
- Type of final bag: Pillow, gusseted, stand up pouches, zipper / re-sealable bags available options and integration of additional options at a later time.
- Multiple function machines, technology trends like ultrasonic sealing, better sealing technologies, advance servo technology, PackML compatibility, better diagnostic features etc.
- Design requirements basis country OR company / industry standards requirement
- References, brand name, inter-personal rapport.
- Space constrain, lead time, costs, constrains and other limitations.
Please note that we have done thorough search for this article, but if you think that this story can be improved then please let us know.