A deep dive into the rise of Industry 4.0 at the Processing Zone at PACK EXPO Las Vegas

Sept. 21, 2021
With the return of The Processing Zone to PACK EXPO Las Vegas, process manufacturers will have the opportunity to discover solutions to help increase efficiency, achieve total system integration and ensure safety.

Advancements in automation, both machine and software, are moving manufacturing toward a smarter factory. As traditional manufacturing evolves, implementing Industry 4.0 will help manufacturers remain competitive, according to the Automation Timeline: The Drive Toward 4.0 Connectivity in Packaging and Processing white paper produced by PMMI, The Association for Packaging and Processing Technologies.

The COVID-19 pandemic has drastically altered the course of many industries, but opportunities to expand automation still exist, and some are even accelerating. Food processors recognize the “big picture” advantages of automation but often struggle to translate that understanding into identifying applications within their own facilities. Both now and over the past few years, food manufacturers working to increase automation face the primary challenges of considering return on investment, labor and internal resources to take on these projects.

Expanding the use of the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) and integration at an operation — especially the automated collection of data — is key to enabling many future automation strategies. While the bulk of automation is still concentrated at end-of-line, there is significant opportunity to explore automation integration across an entire enterprise. As PMMI’s white paper indicates, there are numerous areas outside of end-of-line where automation can play an important role — but utilization of automation technology is still fairly low. Primary packaging continues to see a growing level of automation, with 47% of leading consumer packaged goods (CPG) and 38% of small-to-medium enterprises ( SME) targeting this area for automation. Processing is often overlooked however, with only 27% of leading CPG companies and 31% of small-to-medium enterprises identifying processing as the area of their next automation expansion.

One of the most crucial areas where automation is lacking is on the IIoT and integration side. Typically automation is envisioned as hardware — a robot or a sensor on a machine — but one of the most important aspects of automation is the more nebulous concept of IIoT software and integration capability. Automation strategies now extend out beyond individual machines to encompass entire operations from processing through end-of-line packaging. The key to linking an entire operation together is a comprehensive IIoT strategy. The PMMI white paper indicates that in the next five years, on average, 75% of machines at leading CPGs will be capable of collecting critical machine performance data — thus facilitating a fuller implementation of automation.

New technologies, solutions and education addressing the changing automation landscape will be on display at PACK EXPO Las Vegas (Sept. 27-29, Las Vegas Convention Center), where the packaging and processing community will reunite. Food processors looking to explore integrated solutions need only to head to the Processing Zone in the North Hall at PACK EXPO Las Vegas.

In today’s manufacturing environment, processing and packaging are becoming integrated systems, making it more important than ever to bring both packaging and processing solutions under one roof. Search for front-of-the-line solutions such as homogenizing, heat treating, forming/sizing and coating in The Processing Zone. With the return of The Processing Zone to PACK EXPO Las Vegas, manufacturers will have the opportunity to discover solutions to help increase efficiency, achieve total system integration and ensure safety.

New in 2021 is the Processing Innovation Stage also located in the North Hall at PACK EXPO Las Vegas. These 30-minute free education sessions will focus on the latest breakthroughs specific to processing.

With more than 1,500 exhibitors, no other event in 2021 will bring together a more comprehensive gathering of suppliers offering new products, technologies and solutions. PACK EXPO Las Vegas is where executives and plant managers, engineers, brand managers and packaging designers come to see machinery in action, connect with suppliers, network and gain the latest perspective on a plethora of industries in over 40 vertical markets. PACK EXPO Las Vegas will bring attendees and suppliers of packaging and processing equipment and materials together.

To learn more about the advanced packaging and processing solutions that will be on display as well as the educational, networking opportunities and the virtual component of the show, and to register, visit http://www.packexpolasvegas.com. Visit the show website for information on the PACK Ready health and safety plan.

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