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Competition from abroad heats up

Non-North American manufacturers of packaging machinery have gained a 25% share of the U.S. market.

That was just one of the insights into the dynamics of the global packaging machinery marketplace shared by Phil Kuehl at the annual fall meeting of the Packaging Machinery Manufacturers Institute, held September 20-22 in Milwaukee. Industry analyst Kuehl of Westat presented the findings of a purchasing process study. The aim of the study: To learn what influences buyers of packaging machinery as they try to choose between a North American vs. a non-North American packaging machinery OEM. While both OEM camps enjoy certain competitive advantages, Kuehl told his audience, the non-North American OEMs have strengths in key project attributes, including reliability, innovative machine design, and innovative technologies.

Does the study suggest, asked a PMMI member in the audience, that non-North American packaging machinery OEMs excel at the machinery attributes that matter most to the people who are doing the purchasing? “Yes,” said Kuehl. He also advised the audience to confront “the brutal facts” by “doing a better job of understanding the needs and expectations of the customer. This industry could be at risk if we don’t react to these trends and make something happen.”

Kuehl left the audience with five suggestions:

* Validate these findings with your customers for “market driven” strategies.

* Recognize the realities of intense global competition and the need to be customer driven.

* Create determinant machinery attributes for sustainable competitive advantage.

* Introduce innovation and productivity-focused benefits in machinery designs and support services.

* Constantly assess customer satisfaction levels and future machinery attribute requirements.

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