From a performance standpoint of packing machine exporters, what is
the chief concern of equipment buyers?
Historically, packing machine exporters and customers wanted faster
speeds. Now, the focus is on changeover. In the last decade, manufacturers
of packaged products have dramatically increased the number of items or
SKUs that they offer. A soup company, for example, now offers product in
metal cans, cups, plastic jars, pouches, and so on. Today, the average
packaging line undergoes four changeovers in an eight—hour period.
What other trends will you see in equipment at Pack Expo Las Vegas?
You'll see more onboard diagnosis and continued implementation of "mechatronics"—the
blending of electronics and mechanical technology—in packaging machinery.
By 2010, it is said that 60 percent of packaging equipment cost will be
for electronic components: servos, controllers, sensors, machine vision.
How much progress is the packing machine exporters industry making
in developing open standards?
Equipment users want more information on their packaging operations.
However, many users are still wary about giving machinery suppliers access
to their internal networks for diagnostics. In terms of open systems,
packaging equipment manufacturers build what their customers want, and
when it comes to communications protocols, it still boils down to Rockwell
standards in the U.S. and Siemens in Europe. The Open Modular Architect
Controls (OMAC) initiative for establishing universal standards for
controls has not had the following that its founders had hoped. Perhaps
more success will come with the Make2Pack effort that is starting.
Do you see growing concern for greater packing machine exporters
security in packaging?
Yes. Pack Expo Las Vegas will have two pavilions focusing on this
issue—one on security, and the other on RFID.
To what extent do packing machine exporters consult equipment
suppliers on innovative concepts?
This doesn't happen enough. Quite often, packaging machinery builders are
brought in late in the cycle. A food manufacturer may not know at the
outset what format a new product will take such as a can or pouch. As soon
as that format is determined, the equipment supplier should be consulted
for input on features that the customer may want in the package.
What other challenges are packaging equipment suppliers facing today?
The key concern on packing machine exporters is how to thrive in an
increasingly competitive environment. Not only has equipment produced
abroad penetrated our domestic market, but equipment manufacturers in
North America also are seeing their traditional customers expand overseas.
In many cases, these customers want to deal with local equipment suppliers
that can support their machines. Many domestic suppliers are still not set
up to provide such packing machine exporters