Evolving Trends in CPG Packaging
Digitally Transforming Operations Gives Operators Crucial Insights
By Sarah Brumwell, senior business development manager at Emerson
As 2024 kicks off, there are several trends that stand out in consumer packaged goods (CPG) manufacturing, specifically in the personal care product segment.
Expectedly, sustainability continues to be a driving force. It’s joined by a notable shift toward customization and personalization in product offerings, as well as optimized production that provides the highest quality product as quickly as possible at the lowest cost. And the last trend, which affects all the others, is digital transformation.
Each trend presents opportunities for CPGs. To make smart decisions and maintain a competitive edge, it’s important that CPGs understand approaches that capitalize on these opportunities as well as the range of technologies available to support their ongoing success.
Sustainable products, processes and operations continue to be high priorities for CPGs — and rightly so. In addition to meeting corporate sustainability goals, sustainable practices also help meet consumer demand.
There is a clear link between consumer spending and products that make Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) claims on their packaging, with these products accounting for nearly half of all retail sales. From 2018 to 2022, McKinsey 1 reports that products with ESG-related claims grew at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 6.4%, 1.7% greater than those without ESG-related claims.
It’s critical that companies can back up ESG claims with real-world practices to maintain this momentum, and personal care product companies are often under a higher degree of scrutiny. One proven way CPGs can work toward sustainability goals, support ESG claims and provide reliable results is by digitally monitoring resource consumption.
The personal care product segment consumes an enormous amount of resources, specifically water and energy. Digital multimedia monitoring and management makes it possible for CPGs to automatically track these and other utilities, see key values in real time and receive insights. With this level of visibility and control, CPGs can identify resource waste and optimize usage. In addition, automated reporting helps sustainability teams save time by quickly and accurately generating sustainability reports.
Compressed air monitoring and management is typically a smart area to start for most CPGs. Many personal care product manufacturers use pneumatics, and by extension compressed air, extensively in their plants. The average manufacturing site loses at least 30% of their compressed air to leaks, inefficient machine operations and lack of human resources to effectively manage these issues. Waste like this can drive up a company’s energy use and carbon footprint.
Companies that have integrated compressed air monitoring and management into their lines have reduced their compressed air use by up to 20-30%. These savings can significantly reduce energy use, emissions and utility bills.
Meeting the needs of more consumers
Many CPGs are providing greater customization and personalization in their product offering to meet customer demand for products that are formulated according to individual needs. Shoppers have different skin tones and hair types, are different ages and genders, and have different styles and preferences. Brands with product offerings that serve a wide range of individuals, such as foundation that comes in a variety of skin tones, can earn consumer loyalty and increase sales.
However, product variations and packaging configurations can cause productivity bottlenecks in traditional processing and packaging lines. In response, many companies are finding ways to streamline production processes to meet rapidly changing consumer needs efficiently.
Automation solutions that can handle frequent changeovers efficiently can better accommodate a wide range of product and packaging variations. For example, servo motion systems connected to edge controllers or PLCs can perform advanced motion control and synchronization. By replacing mechanical cam discs with servo motion systems with electric cam discs, manufacturers can significantly reduce changeover time. These solutions can perform machine conversions with the push of a button, saving time, improving accuracy, minimizing scrap and reducing costs. It’s important to look for systems that also use extremely versatile electric actuators to cover a wider range of application requirements.
Advanced control systems, smart sensors and analytics platforms provide operators real-time insights, predictive maintenance and data-driven decision-making, further boosting productivity. These solutions put the right information into the hands of the right expert at the right time, which allows companies to continually optimize equipment, processes and overall production.
Optimizing production to improve quality and reduce costs
While personal care product companies are prioritizing sustainability and personalized product offerings, they’re also focused on achieving high product quality at low cost. Often, companies experience inconsistent product formulation, packaging quality and label accuracy due to irregularity in raw material availability and quality, as well as multiple packaging configurations. Challenges like these can result in inferior quality, defects and product waste.
To mitigate such issues, companies require precise control over their production equipment. Real-time monitoring and data analytics provided by software platforms can help identify quality deviations. Advanced SCADA/HMI software tools can help CPGs create user-friendly interfaces and gain better insights into their processes and, in turn, product quality. Equipped with this information, operators can address issues promptly and effectively, improving quality and reducing cost.
It’s important to look for software tools that are highly scalable and customizable. Some software can monitor and control localized information up to geographic/enterprise-wide information and can be specifically tailored to a company’s specific needs and goals.
Digitally transforming operations
There’s one thing all these trends have in common — digital transformation. By digitally transforming their operations from the factory floor to the cloud, companies can address all their challenges and capitalize on their opportunities at the same time.
Most companies have the information they need to reliably improve their operations but can’t access it. Digital transformation can give companies real-time access to this valuable data. With it, companies can better understand equipment performance and make real-time decisions that can continuously improve their productivity, increase quality, reduce waste and effectively improve profit margins.
This level of visibility and control can put CPGs on a pace for continued success in the new year — and propel them ahead of the competition.
About the Author
Sarah Brumwell is a senior business development manager at Emerson. Learn more at www.emerson.com.