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Hold on Marty McFly, We’re Going PACK to the Future

The much-anticipated PACK to the Future exhibit tracks the history of packaging from antiquity, through the industrial revolution, to the current Industry 4.0. Learn where we went and where we’re headed on today's Take Five video.

Quick hits:

  • Nearly 30 early packaging equipment pieces will be on display, beginning with the earliest patented packaging machinery right on through early robotics and PLCs.
  • Timely current topics like sustainability and the emerging cannabis industry will be addressed at the PACK to the Future Stages, with one half-hour session held every hour.
  • Glimpse the future with forward-looking sessions depicting how packaging is being sculpted by AI and machine learning, augmented and virtual realities, LiDAR sensing, edge computing, and a lot more. 

Related to this episode:    

Glenroy, Inc.: What happens to packaging at its end of life? Visit booth #7925 at PACK EXPO Las Vegas to find out. Visit their website for more information. →
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Hello. I'm Matt Reynolds, editor of Packaging World Magazine back with another edition of Take Five with Packaging World.

Well, we're in the final stretch. We are a mere two to three weeks as I'm recording away from PACK EXPO Las Vegas, and all systems are a go. It's exciting. I have a warm-up event this weekend with a Craft Brew Conference where I'll be able to shake off some of my in-person coverage rust, so I'll be on my game hopefully in a couple of weeks, when I see all of you at PACK EXPO Las Vegas.

Check out the PACK EXPO website. They've got a nifty stat tracker, which tells you in real time, how many people are going to be there. It tells me 15,000 attendees, over 15,000 attendees, over 1500 exhibitors, and right now we're just a shade under three quarters of a million feet of exhibitor space sold. A resounding success so far.

One thing I'm particularly interested in looking into at PACK EXPO, it's been near and dear to my heart, for two years now has been PACK to the Future. This was initially scheduled to occur in Chicago in 2020, except the pandemic hit. The curators, that's Jack Aguero of Aguero Associates and Brent Meyer of Meyer Communications, had two years to work on this, but it's been two years of trials and tribulations, no doubt. First of all, dealing with herding cats during the pandemic, getting people on board, getting the big brands on board, folks like Campbell's and Coca-Cola, and also there's a sizeable number of pieces of machinery from over the years from OEM, so a group effort there.

What PACK to the Future really does is first, it takes a look at the history of packaging as it evolved with commerce, going back into ancient times, of course. I mean, it started with putting mead into containers or vessels to be able to transport it over time. You could say that might've been the birth of packaging. What's really punctuated lately has been the industrial revolution. More recently, the mechatronic revolution as we move from purely mechanical machinery to now using servo motors, these types of things. Now we're talking industry 4.0. That's an important part of PACK to the Future is it's not just a retrospect. It's an important part to be able to walk through history and see where packaging has really stood out and made a difference in the history of humankind, but that's not all that's there.

That brings us to now. It was really important for Jack and Brent to make sure that this was forward looking as well. Future's right there in the title. We've got some really timely presentations. We're calling these presentations PACK to the Future stages because they're going to be on a stage, closely mirroring what you probably know well now is the Innovation Stages. Every other half an hour, during the PACK to the Future event, there's going to be a live presentation on some timely or forward-looking topics.

Consider sustainability and packaging's place in it. It's a contentious topic right now. We'll be hearing from the Recycling Leadership Council, hopefully, as they are reshaping policy and fingers crossed infrastructure to get recycling where it needs to be in the United States and eventually the world.

How about repositioning packaging's imagery as it sits in the sustainable conversation because it's being vilified in many ways unjustly. Packaging is a necessary thing. We'll be hearing about where packaging fits into this future aspirational, circular economy.

How about the cannabis industry? 10 years ago this wasn't a thing. Now states are legalizing it and it's become a boom market for all sorts of industries, and packaging machinery, and packaging in general is right there with it. Child resistance is important. All sorts of disparate laws that are spread out across the United States that'll be changing.

How about really forward-looking topics like AI? Machine learning? How is that going to help packaging machinery and really collect data and what you're going to be doing with that data? What unique things that you're going to be able to do with information that hadn't previously been done? Edge computing? What kind of new insights can edge computing bring to packaging machinery and packager's CPGs? How can they take advantage of them? Industrial LIDAR, augmented reality, audio, remote monitoring, all of that's going to be addressed at PACK to the Future.

I'm excited about it as you can tell. I hope to see you there. That's all the time we have in this edition of Take Five with Packaging World.

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