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Integration issues squeeze machinery builders (sidebar)

Respondents: Packagers don’t appreciate engineering costs
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One verbatim question on the survey asked respondents what issues they faced trying to meet customers’ networking integration expectations. Several respondents described the tight spot in which many packaging machinery builders find themselves:

“Customer’s desire for custom output but lack of funds to cover true cost. This is non-recoverable as it is custom job to job even with the same customer.”—Marketing manager for a maker of pouching and cartoning equipment. “Many of our clients are not up-to-date on control systems and often ask us to interface old devices (displays etc.) [to newly purchased equipment]. This more often than not presents communication problems. [Controls] manufacturers often offer them same or better prices to our large clients than they do to us as an OEM [original equipment manufacturer]. This makes price justification at a component level very difficult.”—Engineering manager with a maker of medical and pharmaceutical processing and packaging equipment. “Trying to meet all requirements with unrealistic budgets.”—Sales manager for a maker of liquid fillers. “Most customers have their own standards and requirements which is understandable but causes a lot of problems for us as a machine builder. It is very tough to standardize on hardware/software systems for a machine when customers often have changes that they would like to be made to [existing machine designs] to achieve their own standards. This can often affect the machine operation as we would already have standard pieces of hardware and code that have been developed and refined over several years that have to be redesigned to be compatible with new equipment.”—Engineer with a maker of wrappers and thermoformers. “Overcoming the roadblocks of older/more experienced professionals who do not see the need to upgrade their systems.”—Sales manager for an integrator of shrink wrappers pallet wrappers and conveyors. “Client looking for remote access to machine controls via intranet/extranet applications. These present serious security issues as well as connectivity issues. The technology exists but the money [to pay for it] is still hard to find.”—Marketing director for a conveyor manufacturer and systems integrator. “We offer two types of networking options. One is very reasonably priced and we hope our customers do not specify another [controls] manufacturer whose system is much more expensive difficult and the same or lower in performance. In either case we pass the cost on to the customer (of course) but offer both high and low cost options.”—Service and operations executive with a maker of impulse heat sealers. “A single generally accepted standard for networking does not yet exist.”—Engineer with a manufacturer of vertical and horizontal form/fill/seal equipment. “Some customers do not understand the extensive programming costs required to implement complex systems. Educating the customer on the parameters and related costs is becoming more and more a part of our job.”—Salesperson for a maker of filling robotic case-packing and palletizing equipment.

See the story that goes with this sidebar: Integration issues squeeze machinery builders

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