PMMI, the Association for Packaging and Processing Technologies, addressed the significant trends in automation at Interpack (Düsseldorf, Germany; May 4-10, 2023). At a press conference held on May 5, PMMI executives (hall 12, stand A66) highlighted key trends and insights from a recent report, “The future of automation in packaging and processing,” which revealed the continued interest and adoption of automated technologies as a result of the growing labor shortage and e-commerce.
According to the report, 60% of respondents from the consumer packaged goods (CPG) sector who participated in the PMMI study cited the lack of availability of labor as a major factor of interest in automated solutions. As a result, 31% of all CPG respondents said they were deploying automated machinery on production lines as a substitute for labor and will continue to do so. While this weakness has been felt around the world, it is a major concern in Germany, where the Employment Research Institute (IAB) forecasts that the country’s potential workforce will shrink by seven million by 2035.
The continuous growth of e-commerce is another driver of automated packaging solutions. Approximately half of respondents from the consumer goods sector reported that the growth of e-commerce is affecting their business, increasing the need for greater flexibility in packaging operations to adapt to rapid changes in consumer preferences.
“The continuing labor shortage and the growth of e-commerce represent shared challenges among CPGs operating in the United States, Canada and much of Europe,” said Jorge Izquierdo, vice president of market development at PMMI. “However, the resulting interest in automated solutions as a remedy have accelerated adoption and carved new paths in collaboration and creative problem solving between these companies and OEMs to drive greater efficiency, productivity and profitability.”
To alleviate labor challenges, many companies are turning to robotic and cobot solutions. More than 90% of respondents believe that robots and cobots have helped solve the labor shortage, and 27% claim to have implemented cobots in their plants. This figure is expected to increase to 57% in the next five years.
Maintenance represents another opportunity for automated solutions in packaging and processing. 43% of respondents reported the use of predictive maintenance technology on their lines, while 83% were considering it. In this regard, 56% reported the use of remote access solutions as of 2020. Even 3D printing is playing a bigger role in machine maintenance, while helping CPGs reduce downtime and costs. About 25% of the respondents claimed to use 3D printing to manufacture and replace non-moving parts prone to rapid wear.
For complete information about PMMI’s The Future of Automation in Packaging and Processing report, click on the link to request the full results. Keep an eye out for upcoming PMMI industry reports available here.
Anyone who wants to put their knowledge into practice can register to attend Pack Expo Las Vegas (September 11-13, 2023; Las Vegas Convention Center). The most comprehensive packaging and processing event in North America, the fair will bring together more than 2,000 suppliers showing various innovations for more than 40 vertical markets. For more information and to register, visit packexpolasvegas.com . The registration fee is $30 until August 18, after which it will increase to $130.