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Packaging in the U.K. and beyond (Part 2)

21st-century packaging machinery trends (Part 2 of a 6-part series)

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On Monday morning we heard a handful of presentations on "The Face of the UK Packaging Industry." First up was John Webb-Jenkins, chief executive of Britain's IOP. He described Pack Map 2000, the first ever comprehensive "map" of the UK packaging community. A 326-question survey sent to 16źÆ  companies in IOP's databaseā€”packagers, contract packagers, and convertersā€”Pack Map 2000 drew 2ź·” responses.

The data underscores packaging's vital role in the UK economy, said Webb-Jenkins. As he put it, "We had been dismissed as a service sector, but this data proved we are a coherent and vital industry."

Webb-Jenkins also told his audience that the number of employees engaged in packaging in the UK is 250źÆ  and that the total turnover generated by the UK packaging community is between Ā£ 20 and 25 billion. Finally, Webb-Jenkins shared the news that IOP has worked with the British government to establish a new Awarding Body for the packaging community. The Packaging Industry Awarding Body Co. (PIABC) has now developed a certification and diploma in packaging that has been incorporated into Britain's national education framework, said Webb-Jenkins. Through, students from around the globe can study for a certificate and diploma in packaging.

Next up was Andrew Manly, general secretary of PPMA, a 333-member organization that resembles the Packaging Machinery Manufacturers Institute in the U.S. Identifying the drivers behind packaging machinery development into the 21st century was the goal of Manly's presentation, and he wasted no time: servo drives, intelligent controls, fast changeover, on-line inspection, flow meters, and preventive/planned maintenance were the hot buttons Manly mentioned. Obviously a big believer in preventive maintenance, Manly described a PPMA program called E-zee Maintenance, which is aimed at minimizing the number of expensive failures in packaging machinery through preventive maintenance. He also made clear his opinion that, historically at least, maintenance has gotten short shrift where packaging machinery is involved. This must change, he opined, even if it takes "a change in culture" within the packaging community.

Manley also made the rather intriguing observation that, where packaging machinery is concerned, the packaging community is an inverse pyramid. That's because most suppliers of packaging equipment are SMEs (Small-to-Medium Enterprises). They're at the point, or bottom, of the inverse pyramid supplying crucial packaging equipment to billion-dollar global enterprises at the top of the pyramid. Within this business environment, Manly told his audience, it's crucial that machinery builders not be squeezed too hard by the giants at the top of the pyramid. As he put it, "SMEs need profits, too."


Part 1: How Total came to be: A merger of Pakex and PPMA's Machinery Only show

>>Part 2: 21st-century packaging machinery trends

Part 3: New developments from U.K. machine builders

Part 4: Off to Sainsbury's--a tour of a U.K. supermarket

Part 5: Coors' new Ā£35 million brewery

Part 6: Plug-and-Packā„¢ update

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