Robots continue march into packaging

It will come as no surprise to anyone who may have walked Pack Expo 98 last November, but robot makers expect heady growth in packaging applications over the next few years.

So says a white paper by Donald Vincent, executive vice president, Robotic Industries Assn., Ann Arbor, MI.

Although packaging applications are just one market for robots (see cover and page 42), Vincent's paper charts the growth in robot sales from '92 through '97, when more than $1.1 billion worth of robots were ordered. Business was so good, in fact, that a former RIA president quipped, "If you aren't making money selling robots in this market, you ought to get your r/sum/ out!" However, could this growth be maintained, Vincent questioned?

The food and beverage industries, he says, "are in the midst of a capital equipment spending boom in order to improve operating efficiencies. Robot installations are expected to grow by 25 to 30 percent for the next few years for tasks such as packaging, palletizing and filling." In fact, Vincent concludes, "these industries are likely to represent the largest markets [for robots] for the next few years."

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