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Three more packaging trends for 2011

The last edition of this Machine Automation Insights newsletter carried three trends to anticipate in the coming year. They came from John Kowal, packaging market development manager at B&R Industrial Automation. Here are the three more trends worth monitoring, says Kowal.
FILED IN:  Controls  > Strategy

1. Productivity and sustainability are causally related
If a machine operates more efficiently, it's greener than one that's down or that creates more scrap.  Likewise, a safe machine is a more productive machine.  A machine that's easier for the operator to learn to run is likely safer as well as more productive.  A machine that's secure and doesn't get the Stuxnet worm is more productive and, therefore, more sustainable. It's also inherently well suited to FDA-regulated environments.

You get the picture.  For far too long we have siloed the operations, production, quality, IT, safety, and sustainability functions.  We need to converge and use tools that look at the vital signs of packaging lines more holistically.

PackML will enable this connectivity, along with greater use of industrial PC-based human machine interfaces (HMI) to run these applications moving forward.  So packagers, consider requesting a stop at your headquarters on the PackML World Tour.
2. Leverage more consumer technologies to help you run your machines
Compared to all the money that goes into developing mobile devices for the masses, dedicated industrial hardware suppliers can afford to invest very little in R&D.  The market is just too small.  But when control systems piggyback on consumer electronics innovations -- like the Intel Atom® processor, the latest touchscreen technology, WiFi and web communications – industrial applications emerge much faster.  At Pack Expo this year, we saw a number of demos that take advantage of innovations in the consumer electronics field. The other great thing is that these technologies aren't proprietary to a particular control supplier, making it easier to tie into all the machines on the line.  That's especially true if the machine builders support the PackML standard.
3. Whatever you know about packaging in China won't be true a year from now
A rapidly emerging middle class is creating a market dynamic of upscaling in Chinese consumer goods marketing.  That always means accelerated demand for more sophisticated packaging and packaging machinery.

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At a recent PMMI export conference, featured speaker Xiaoguang Hou asserted that these changes are creating a window of opportunities for North American suppliers who have largely not participated in the world's fastest growing market.  If you are a packaging machinery builder, seek out contacts that can help you participate in China. PMMI would be a good place to begin.

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