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Two new twists to Pack Expo Las Vegas

During the Pack Expo Las Vegas run this September 23-25, two new initiatives will make their debut: the Center for Trends & Technology (CTC) and SMB Fast Track.
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Sole sponsor of CTC is Rockwell Automation and its Partner Network Program. Learning sessions and dynamic displays will showcase trends like network security, line integration, secure remote monitoring, cloud computing, and manufacturing convergence. Visitors will then be shown where to see the solutions across the show floor.

“CTC will be a gathering spot for attendees who want to learn about new and emerging technologies to improve production,” says Chuck Yuska, PMMI president and CEO. “We’re pleased to work with Rockwell Automation, which is such an important innovator, to bring this new exhibit to life."

CTC was introduced by PMMI’s Julie Ackerman, senior director of public relations and communications, at a March 13 Pack Expo Las Vegas Press Event held at the Intercontinental Chicago O’Hare. Ackerman also touched on the SMB Fast Track program, which is essentially an effort to help small and medium-sized business make the best of their time at Pack Expo Las Vegas. The idea is to assist them in the all-important networking that is fundamental to an event like Pack Expo. Since, as Ackerman put it, “Good things come in small packages,” this new inititiative aims to step up support for small and medium-sized businesses, who will even get their own SMB Guide to Pack Expo.

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Also on the March 13 Press Event program was Tom Egan, vice president industry services at PMMI, who provided a brief update on the Alliance for Innovation & Operational Excellence. Formed in 2011, the AIOE’s mission is improving the performance of CPG manufacturers and their suppliers by developing non-proprietary solutions to common production operations challenges. Progress has been made by AIOE in areas like workforce development and Overall Equipment Effectiveness, said Egan. A priority for 2013, he added, will be Total Cost of Ownership, or TCO. The goal will be to develop a set of guidelines, metrics, and formulas to bring consistency in application and eliminate confusion.

The Press Event also served up a global economic outlook in a presentation by senior economist Andrew Duguay of ITR Economics. He predicted that the 3% growth recorded by the U.S. in 2012 would provide positive momentum through the end of 2013. But expect to see a mild downturn in 2014, a year that Duguay described as a “speed bump” in an otherwise promising outlook for the next few years. Economic contraction in Western Europe, Duguay noted, appears to have run its course, and some signs of recovery there should be in evidence this year. As long as tension in the Middle East and Northern Africa doesn’t erupt into widespread bellicosity, the near term looks rather promising. Duguay did note, however, that in the U.S., an insufficiently educated labor force will stunt long term economic growth. He urged that leaders in business and academia find a way to better integrate their worlds, citing Germany as a good example in this regard.

The final session of the March 13 Press Event was a panel discussion on sustainability. PMMI’s Egan, in his introductory remarks as moderator, recommended that packaging professionals have a look at “Enhancing the Sustainability of Products and Packaging,” a new online brochure from Ameripen that suggests we think more broadly about the role that packaging plays in the total system it supports when it comes to reducing waste.

Joining Egan on the panel were John Schnarr, director of strategic marketing at Nordson, and Bob Williams, vp sales and marketing at Triangle Package Machinery Co. Nordson is a leading maker of equipment used to apply adhesives. Schnarr described how a switch from one continuous strip of adhesive to an intermittent pattern of adhesive is providing a better bond on corrugated cases at a major food company even though less adhesive is used. He also showed how Nordson solutions in multilayer coextrusions are bringing lightweight benefits and performance improvements in barrier packaging materials.

Triangle’s Williams highlighted the impressive progress in source reduction being made by MOM Brands (formerly Malt-o-Meal), where a move from a bag-in-box to a flat-bottom bag format has reduced packaging material usage by as much as 75% in some cases. Williams recommended a look at MOM’s Bag the Box site. Williams also described a study showing that when IQF meat transitions from a conventional doy-style package to a four-corner-seal standup pouch, 3.5 million pounds of greenhouse gas emissions can be eliminated on an annualized volume of 25 million pounds.

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