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Software advances lead food packing machine automation trends - Business news: business trends people - software for food packaging machinery

In 2010, 60% of packaging machine cost will be software, with mechanical and electronic content accounting for roughly 20% each, predicts K. Blender, Ph.D., professor of the Technical University of Munich. This is in contrast to today's machines, in which roughly 40% of cost is software, 20% is electronic and 40% is still mechanical.

Bender was one of many packaging machinery design experts who recently participated in "The Future of Packaging Engineering," a forum hosted by automation supplier a German firm in Germany. They are an automation technology provider that specializes in machine control for the packaging and converting industries.

Major European packaging machine builders present at the forum included Bosch, Focke, IWK, Optima, Pester Pac, SIG Pack Systems Simson and more. Consensus among participants was that next generation (Gen4) machines are just a few years away--but the task ahead is "we must completely redesign our machinery!"

One key to Gen4 redesigns will be platforms that can accommodate new software and communications capabilities.

Another idea was presented by R. Spetter, Ph.D., president of software quality consultancy. He overturned the traditional approach of addressing control system considerations as an afterthought to mechanical design. He presented a model that describes a methodical sequence of design reviews, testing and documentation at distinct intervals throughout the project cycle.

Among the goals of new Gen4 packaging machinery designs are simplified operation and diagnostics, processing and packaging line integration, vertical integration with manufacturing execution systems (MES) and expanded regulatory compliance requirements.

food packing machine
RELATED ARTICLE: food packing machine costs will shift to software.

The Impact of food packing machine software use in packaging machines will mount as machine design engineers replace discrete hardware with software modules. Overall machine prices may go up--but not excessively so--as new technology adds improvements.

Gen3 systems (now)

Software 40%
Electronic 20%
Mechanical 40%

Gen4 systems (future)

Mechanical 10%
Electronic 10%
Software 60%
food packing machine 10%

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