PMMI Addresses Insights on Packaging Automation at Interpack

Robots, Cobots, Predictive Maintenance and 3D Parts Printing Top List of Growing Trends Driven by Labor Shortages and eCommerce

PMMI, The Association for Packaging and Processing Technologies, addressed significant trends in automation at Interpack (Düsseldorf, Germany; May 4–10, 2023). In a press conference on May 5, executives from PMMI (Hall 12, Booth A66) highlighted key trends and insights from a recent report, “The Future of Automation in Packaging and Processing,” which revealed continued interest and adoption of automated technologies as a result of growing labor shortages and e-commerce.

According to the report, 60% of consumer packaged goods (CPG) respondents to PMMI’s study cited a lack of labor availability as a significant driver 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 manpower and will continue to do so. While this pain point has been felt across the globe, it is a significant concern in Germany where the Institute for Employment Research (IAB) expects the nation’s potential workforce to fall by seven million by 2035.

The continued growth across e-commerce is another driver of automated solutions in packaging. About half of CPG respondents reported that growth in e-commerce is impacting their business, increasing the need for greater flexibility in packaging operations to accommodate fast-changing consumer preferences.

“Continuing labor shortages and e-commerce growth represent shared challenges among CPGs operating in the United States, Canada and much of Europe,” said Jorge Izquierdo, vice president, market development, 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 fuel greater efficiency, productivity and cost-efficiency.”

To ease workforce challenges, many companies are turning to robot and cobot solutions. Over 90% of respondents believe that robots and cobots have helped address labor shortages with 27% reporting to deploy cobots in their plants. That figure is expected to grow to 57% over the next five years.

Maintenance represented another opportunity for automated solutions in packaging and processing. 43% of respondents reported use of predictive maintenance technology on their lines while 83% were considering it. Related, 56% reported use of remote access solutions since 2020. Even 3D printing is playing a larger role in machine maintenance while helping CPGs lower downtime and costs. About 25% of respondents claimed to use 3D printing to make and replace non-moving parts prone to quick wear and tear.

For full insights from PMMI’s The Future of Automation in Packaging and Processing report, click the link to request the full findings. Be on the lookout for PMMI’s upcoming industry reports available for request here.

Anyone looking to put their insights into practice can register to attend PACK EXPO Las Vegas (Sept. 11-13, 2023; Las Vegas Convention Center). The most comprehensive packaging and processing event in North America, the show will bring together more than 2,000 suppliers showcasing diverse innovations for more than 40 vertical markets. To learn more and to register, visit Registration for the show is $30 until Aug. 18, after which it increases to $130.

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