New blog strikes a nerve regarding packaging technology

How risk aversion robs packaging machinery buyers--and builders--of innovation

Who knew that when former Hershey controls & packaging guru Keith Campbell began blogging, he'd strike a nerve so quickly.

In a recent post, Keith writes about what he perceives as a disturbing trend among packaging end users--to buy what's safe, rather than to buy best-in-class equipment. You know, the packaging machine equivalent of the "nobody ever got fired for buying IBM" syndrome. In his post, he explores the damage that this can cause packagers in the long term. Machine builders are not immune, either, he says.

The post got a LOT of comments from end users, machine builders, and controls suppliers. A few choice nuggets:

  • "We have seen the fear of change for 6 years since we introduced a 6 axis servo wrapping machine in 2001. It lessens with familiarity."
  • "One of the hardest risk adversions to over come is the 'we tried that years ago and it didn't work.' What the people using this line fail to remember is the exact cause of the failure, and that the current application maybe total different that the failed one."
  • "If a company is risks adverse then they need to establish partnerships with vendors to work through the risk together. I'm not saying get something for nothing, but if I would help companies develop new functionality, I would like some loyalty in return."

...and many more. Check it out, as well as Keith's posts on how standards increase design creativity rather than restrict it. This counters the conventional wisdom that standards erase competitive advantage for technology suppliers. Not so, writes Keith. Adept use of standards can be a win-win-win for the end user, machine builder, and technology supplier, he says.

Finally, Keith found out something fascinating at ProMat. Exhibitors had state of the art controls, but weren't focusing on whose controls they used or upon the underlying technologies they employed, unlike in packaging. Plus, there was a much larger presence of European and Japanese automation suppliers. Find out why this is, and what the packaging community can learn from it.

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