November/December 2022 - 4
A welcome 'site'
Pack Expo International, which took place at
the end of October at Chicago's McCormick Place,
was a warm welcome. Meeting with people who I
haven't seen in a while was like seeing old friends.
The Chicago event hasn't happened in-person since
before the pandemic ― 2018 to be exact. While
Pack Expo Las Vegas took place in 2021, there is
something special about Chicago.
It could be that Chicago was the first Pack Expo
I attended back in 2016.
When I started in the packaging/processing space,
I was awestruck at the equipment, materials and companies I met. I
knew little, especially about machinery. Fast forward and I now get
excited seeing new machines, upgrades to equipment and where the
industry is with automation/robotics.
Statistics from this year's event reveal over 44,000 visitors attended,
surpassing the 2018 event. This year saw 2,200 exhibitors showing
packaging and processing innovations over the 1.2 million net square
This year, automation was in every space on the floor. Attendees
took notice more than in previous years, too. Considering the labor
crunch, it's about time.
Labor shortages are, indeed, driving consumer packaged goods
(CPG) companies to adopt automated solutions, according to The
Future of Automation in Packaging and Processing report by PMMI,
The Association for Packaging and Processing Technologies.
The report highlights how CPGs are looking to enhance and optimize
their production, storage and distribution processes using automated
solutions including automated guided vehicles, industrial robots,
collaborative robots and mobile robots. Some of these are being
supported by artificial intelligence (AI) and advanced vision tools too.
E-commerce is fueling the automation trend, moving companies
toward more responsive modes of distribution such as direct-toconsumer,
disrupting traditionally manual warehousing formats, and
in some cases eliminating the need for warehousing.
In a separate PMMI survey of PACK EXPO attendees asking for
thoughts on what they were planning to look for at the show, automation
was top of mind. The potential for automation and robotics to reduce
reliance on personnel and accommodate lower-skilled workers was
cited, as was the possibility of reducing the amount of monotonous
and less rewarding work that must be done manually.
Be sure to check out the New Technology section in this issue,
which highlights various automated equipment for processing and
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Editorial Advisory Board
Adrienne Seiling, American Frozen Food Institute
Rudi Groppe, Heinzen Manufacturing International
Lou Cooperhouse, Rutgers Food Innovation Center
Sherrie Rosenblatt, Can Manufacturers Institute
Leonard Batti, Taylor Farms, Salinas, California
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Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of November/December 2022
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