November/December 2022 - 24

5 trends dominate at PACK EXPO
Jorge Izquierdo
Vice President
of Market
national (Oct. 23-26,
2022, McCormick
Place, Chicago) drew
more than 44,000
attendees, surpassing
the attendance recorded
in 2018. That was the
last in-person edition
of the packaging and
proce s s i ng show,
produced by PMMI,
The Association for
Packaging and Processing Technologies.
Exhibitors and educational sessions
were strongly focused on automation,
cybersecurity, integration, service and
Automation ranks high on the wish
list of many end users because it can
boost productivity while offsetting
labor shortages and meeting challenges
posed by the growth of e-commerce.
The Future of Automation in Packaging
and Processing, a recent report published
by PMMI, highlights how consumer
packaged goods (CPG) companies are
automating to enhance and optimize
production, storage and distribution
processes. The use of robotics is rapidly
expanding due to lower prices, easier
programming, the development of
sanitary, washdown-compatible designs,
and the potential to enhance worker
safety by assuming tasks requiring
repetitive motion or heavy lifting.
Distancing workers from the process
also reduces interaction with the
product and minimizes the risk of
operator-related contamination. In
addit ion, advances in end-of-arm
tooling designs enable gentle handling
of delicate, nonuniform products at
high speeds. New pricing options like
robotics-as-a-service cut lead time,
simplify deployment and eliminate upfront
Automation often involves connecting
systems to allow remote access. Although
available for some time,
the use of
remote access exploded as the pandemic
shut plants to outsiders. Although
packaging lines are more accessible now,
interacting via remote access has not
slowed down because troubleshooting
and repairing equipment without a field
service call cuts downtime and saves
money. Unfortunately, granting access
to systems can open the door to
malicious attacks.
To help end users protect
operations, the Digital Transformation
Workgroup of OMAC - The Organization
for Machine Automation and Control
has developed a series of cybersecurity
documents including The Practical
Guide for Remote Access to Plant
Equipment and Security Considerations
for Remote Access. Other PMMI
resources include Cybersecurity: Assess
Your Risk and Bridging the IT-OT Gap
on Cybersecurity.
Several PACK EXPO International
exhibitors showcased integration
capabilities by linking machines to create
packaging systems or, in some cases,
entire lines from primary packaging to
palletizing. Selecting one OEM to provide
a turnkey system/line streamlines design,
purchase, installation and startup can
overcomes gaps in in-house knowledge
and manpower.
Along with assuming bigger roles in
integration and cybersecurity, OEMs
are expanding service offerings with
part icular attent ion to predict ive
maintenance and downtime prevention.
Tiered plans allow end users to pick the
level of service that best suits their needs.
Plans typically include multiple service
visits that are timed so wear parts can be
replaced proactively. Some service plans
also include training options.
Sustainability continues to command
attention with demands being met by new
environmentally friendlier materials,
replacement of currently unrecyclable
multilayer materials with recycle-ready
mono-material substrates, adoption of
returnable/reusable packaging, increased
levels of recycled content, equipment that
consumes fewer resources and wastereduction
efforts including diversion of
food waste to productive use. For produce
products, suppliers are developing
compostable packaging, which typically
is made from renewable materials and
reduces the use of plastic.
A report from PMMI and AMERIPEN,
the American Institute for Packaging and
the Environment, the 10-Year Packaging
Materials and Sustainability Compass,
forecasts how material choices will shift
in the next three, five and 10 years as
well as anticipated legislative changes.
Meanwhile, to counter the criticism
being leveled at conventional plastics,
entities such as the PET Recycling
Coalition are working to improve
collection and sortation along with
developing recycling methods that
would achieve a true circular economy
for plastic packaging.
On the equipment side, OEMs are
engineering systems that consume less
energy and reduce waste with more
efficient startup and better handling of
sustainable materials. In addition, OEMs
and end users are beginning to calculate
the carbon footprint of their machines
to drive improvements and provide a
metric for comparison. Moving up to the
plant level, there's a concerted effort to
conserve power and water, maximize
the efficiency of pneumatic systems and
reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Learn more at and packexpo.

November/December 2022

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of November/December 2022

November/December 2022 - 1
November/December 2022 - 2
November/December 2022 - 3
November/December 2022 - 4
November/December 2022 - 5
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