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Where IT and Manufacturing meet

For those of you who don't have to find speakers for next year's Packaging Automation Forum, May 4 probably sounds like it's a long way off.

But for Automation World Editor Gary Mintchell and me, who are assigned the delightful task of identifying who will be on the PAF program, May 4 is around the corner. So it's with great pleasure, not to mention a sizeable measure of relief, that I'm able to announce that Jeff Russell has agreed to deliver a presentation that is tentatively titled "Optimizing the supply chain-where IT and Manufacturing meet." Russell is TPM Coach for Controls and Automation (TPM stands for Total Productive Manufacturing) at Pepsico Americas Beverages, where he supports such well known brands as Tropicana and Gatorade. Some of you may remember Russell's presentation on data acquisition at Packaging Automation Forum 2007. It was one of the most highly rated presentations we've had yet at PAF, and after talking with Russell about his topic for this year, I think we're in for another one of those Powerpoint experiences that send us home brimming with new insights into how packaging controls and automation can be better handled.

While Russell's presentation will be essentially packaging-centric, he'll likely reach over to the processing side of the fence, too. He explains.

"A key area of emphasis for us lately is getting processing and packaging better integrated by better integrating IT and Manufacturing. The idea is to have IT put in software, servers, and systems that integrate the customer order entry with the production scheduling system." Though this initiative is still at the concept stage, notes Russell, the ultimate goal is to have data from the plant floor shape production scheduling more effectively than is usually the case.

"By using IT tools to better integrate these activities, we can get a lot closer to a just-in-time manufacturing model," says Russell. "That's how you optimize your supply chain. Among other things, it means greatly reduced warehousing requirements. So when demand increases, rather than building a new plant you install a new line in what used to be part of your warehouse space."

For more on the Packaging Automation Forum 2010, please visit www.packworld.com/paf. And if you know of other brand owners like Jeff Russell who might be interested in joining PAF as a speaker, please let me know at [email protected].

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