The Future of Packaging Technology

New and emerging automation solutions help consumer packaged goods (CPG) companies reduce energy consumption, streamline processes, optimize resource use, increase machine availability and much more.

New and Emerging Technologies Improve Sustainability, Efficiency and Production

By Christine Hoffman and Samuel Orozco are product marketing managers for fluid and motion control at Emerson

Emerson’s AVENTICSTM Series SPRA electric, rod-style linear actuator provides enhanced load capacity, accuracy and reliability that can maximize productivity and comes in three different screw technologies that can meet exacting application requirements. Image courtesy of Emerson.

Pressure to increase throughput while lowering operating costs and environmental impact is driving packaging lines to accommodate an unprecedented level of product variety and complexity. New and emerging automation solutions can help consumer packaged goods (CPG) companies reduce energy consumption, streamline processes, optimize resource use, increase machine availability and much more. As solutions become widespread, the future of packaging is looking more sustainable, more efficient and more productive than ever.

Optimizing lines using hybrid automation systems

Traditionally, automation systems only used pneumatic or electric linear motion control — and only provide that technology’s advantages. Now, original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) can build packaging machines with hybrid automation systems that combine them, offering the greatest advantages of both technologies in one solution.

Emerson’s CIP Utilities & Automated Reporting Analytics package digitally transforms manual and semi-automated systems, making it possible to optimize CIP cycles, reduce energy use and improve productivity. Image courtesy of Emerson.

Using pneumatic actuators as well as electric actuators, hybrid systems allow OEMs to apply the most appropriate technologies for each specific function and truly optimize packaging line sustainability, efficiency and productivity. The latest electric actuators are energy-efficient and can achieve unparalleled repeatability and uniformity, which can improve overall equipment efficiency and reduce scrap, while pneumatic actuators offer robust operation and easy maintenance. Additionally, overall system flexibility makes it possible for machines to produce a range of products and significantly reduce changeover time.

Gaining visibility using smart sensors and analytics software

The pressure to improve sustainability, efficiency and productivity drives CPG manufacturers to optimize resource use and streamline operations in new ways. This includes gaining greater visibility and better analytics of processes that use the most resources, like compressed air lines and clean-in-place (CIP) systems.

The high-flow model of Emerson’s AVENTICS AF2 air flow sensor monitors air consumption in large air lines and pneumatic pipe systems, providing CPGs access to actionable insights that help operators address potential issues and improve sustainability and machine uptime. Image courtesy of Emerson.

Typical food and beverage processing facilities devote about 30% of utility resources to CIP operations and lose time during changeovers. CIP skids without sensors and analytics software can run at unnecessarily long preset cycles, which waste time and resources, and necessitate manual reporting, a time-consuming, error-prone process. New analytics software automates CIP and steam-in-place (SIP) utilities monitoring and reporting, which allows operators to optimize resource use, benchmark against known cycles and generate automated reports. Stakeholders can use data to make decisions that reduce energy consumption and improve system or overall facility productivity.

Most packaging facilities use pneumatic systems that require compressed air, which can take a significant amount of energy to produce. Unfortunately, some air can be lost to undetected leaks, resulting in wasted energy and unnecessary costs. Smart air flow sensors are proven to detect leaks in pneumatic systems and now come in high-flow models that can help reduce energy consumption in larger air lines and systems. This expanded capacity makes it possible for personnel to clearly see compressed air use, identify and address leaks quickly and optimize energy efficiency across an entire packaging facility.

Unprecedented benefits today — and tomorrow

The future of packaging is ever evolving, and the industry is transforming with each change to remain at the leading edge. CPGs, OEMs and technology providers are working together to develop solutions that address the most demanding packaging and production challenges. Each innovation brings unprecedented benefits — and opportunities to significantly improve sustainability, efficiency and production.

About the Authors

Christine Hoffman is a product marketing manager for fluid and motion control for Emerson. She holds a bachelor’s degree in mathematics from Madonna University and a Master of Science in applied statistics from Michigan Technological University. She has been with Emerson for 10 years.

Samuel Orozco is a product marketing manager for fluid and motion control at Emerson. He holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Detroit Mercy and earned his MBA from Oakland University.

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