Each year Pack Expo becomes an even greater swirl of robot arms and speedy actuators. Oddly, as the equipment improves, it becomes less noisy, making for less rancorous exhibit halls even if they remain packed. The packaging industry is demanding equipment that is smooth, fast, and precise. "Customers want to know how we can help the line go faster, get better throughput, and improve material utilization," Jim Hulman, business development manager for packaging at Rexroth Bosch Group, told Design News. "The equipment has to smooth the traction and limit the slosh as it moves from zero to speed."
In addition to speed and precision, the packaging industry also seeks safe equipment that won't break down. Speed and precision mean nothing if you can't reduce downtime. "Safety and reliability are critical for customers. They want packaging components that either last a long time or have a predictable count cycle and life cycle," Erl Campbell, key account manager for food and beverage at Aventics told Design News.
Pack Expo also offered a peek into the packaging technology future. Equipment is becoming more flexible and everything is getting connected, which offers opportunities to study the line and improve performance. "The equipment is getting integrated by the industrial internet of things," said Ben Furnish, a marketing manager for Parker, told Design News. "We're getting questions about prognostics and advanced systems. So we're pushing the envelope of connectivity and data management."
Click on the image below to see 10 of the most cutting edge products seen at Pack Expo.
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Rob Spiegel has covered automation and control for 15 years, 12 of them for Design News. Other topics he has covered include supply chain technology, alternative energy, and cyber security. For 10 years he was owner and publisher of the food magazine Chile Pepper.