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As the global economy continues to grow and evolve, the demand for efficient and effective methods of processing and packaging consumer goods remains high. In this article, we’ll examine the trends and developments that are shaping the industry of processing and packaging machinery in 2023.
This will include a review of emerging technologies, changes in regulations and standards, alongside shifts in consumer preferences when buying equipment. By understanding the current landscape and anticipating future shifts, we aim to provide a comprehensive overview of the processing and packaging machinery industry today.
As concerns about climate change and environmental pollution grow, people and governments worldwide are demanding action. The packaging and processing industry, often seen as a major contributor to these issues, is coming under increasing scrutiny.
Sustainability affects every aspect of the industry, from the machines it uses to the sources of its raw materials. Businesses that adapt will experience benefits such as waste reduction and increased profitability.
As sustainability becomes increasingly important globally, manufacturers of packaging and processing machines are wondering how they can make the most of this trend. Sustainable packaging and processing can lead to cost savings and reduced carbon footprints, but they can also be expensive to implement.
In addition to meeting regulatory standards for safety and protection, sustainable products and packaging machinery solutions must also be practical and cost-effective to compete with current options.
There’s a continued push for innovative packaging solutions towards using more recycled and biodegradable materials in packaging. These include paper, cardboard, and plant-based plastics. There has also been a move towards lightweight packaging materials to reduce the environmental impact of transportation.
Another area of interest is the development of packing systems that are more convenient and user-friendly for consumers. This includes packaging that’s easier to open and close, packaging that can be reused or repurposed, and packaging that serves multiple functions (for example, those that can be transformed into a dispenser or storage container).
There have also been numerous technological innovations. These include the use of smart packaging technologies that provide real-time information about a product's quality or freshness or interact with consumers through mobile devices.
Advances in technology are expected to increase efficiency in production processes. One example is the use of the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), which allows machines and entire production lines to be connected and monitored in real-time.
By analysing data and insights generated through IIoT, it’s possible to optimise the packaging process, identify areas for improvement, and implement preventative maintenance measures to reduce waste and energy consumption. This is particularly beneficial for processing applications.
Automated packing machines that use robots can perform duties that were previously done by humans, such as repetitive tasks. These industrial robots can work faster, more accurately, and more efficiently than humans. Additionally, their precise movements help to minimise damage to products and prevent contamination.
Today's robot factories are equipped with advanced IoT and machine learning technology that powers every aspect of the production process. This technology also generates data that helps operators understand and optimise factory performance.
In cases where there’s increased demand, the connected production line can automatically adjust production without the need for manual intervention. Similarly, if excess inventory is detected, the production line can slow down to match demand. These decisions are made based on data, allowing the factory to operate at maximum efficiency.
The adoption of robotics and automation in production lines can bring many benefits to businesses, but it also poses challenges. One of the main challenges is the talent gap, as the manufacturing workforce of the future will need advanced technical skills and analytical abilities to operate and maintain these systems.
One solution is to invest in training for in-house personnel to develop the necessary skills to operate and maintain automated systems. By doing so, businesses can ensure that they are getting the most out of their investments in automation and can also elevate their employees to more skilled positions.
This can be a win-win for both the business and the workers, as it allows for more efficient and advanced production processes while also providing employees with opportunities for growth and development.
As the use of industrial robots increases, the range of robots available for various purposes continues to expand. Some robots are designed to perform specific functions, while others are more flexible and can be adapted for different tasks. For example, packaging robots can be modified to handle different types of packaging simply by adjusting their algorithms.
In addition to packaging products, automated packaging systems can also handle tasks such as palletizing and transportation. Industrial robots have applications throughout the production process, from packaging to transportation, and can optimise efficiency in all areas of your business.
Smart factories are using interconnected systems to improve production efficiency, increase output, and enhance flexibility. However, this reliance on interconnected technologies in the industrial sector increases the risk of cyberattacks.
These attacks can lead to the theft of proprietary information, plant shutdowns, and damage or destruction of critical assets. They can have significant financial consequences and even threaten lives. Strengthening industrial cybersecurity is therefore crucial.
While cybersecurity efforts for information and communication technology systems are commonly in place, the security of operational technology has only recently become a priority.
As a result, the implementation of policies and procedures to secure industrial technologies and systems may not be as advanced as other cybersecurity efforts. A specialised approach is necessary to address the unique cybersecurity needs of industrial automation and control systems.
Standards for addressing and mitigating cybersecurity risks in industrial automation and control systems, such as IEC 62443, are being introduced and updated. This series is based on national cybersecurity standards and offers a clear and flexible framework for addressing cybersecurity risks in industrial automation and control systems.
It’s suitable for use in a variety of industries and manufacturing environments, including both discrete and process-oriented environments.
Manufacturers should be taking more care with the details of different participants’ specific cybersecurity responsibilities. These parties include asset owners, product suppliers, and service providers. They need to emphasise the importance of people, processes, and technology in ensuring cybersecurity.
It will help industrial organisations looking to secure their systems from cyber threats, including guidelines for:
Then there’s the requirement for secure product development and component security. These standards form the basis for an effective cybersecurity management system for industrial control systems and can be used to identify and address future vulnerabilities.
Sustainable packaging and labelling should be a key part of your brand strategy for the coming years. A large majority of consumers are willing to pay a premium for sustainable products, and this demand is even stronger from younger generations
This means that not only is participating in the circular economy the responsible thing to do, but it’s also good for business. By highlighting sustainable packaging materials as a selling point, your business can differentiate its brand from the competition.
There are many options for avoiding single-use plastic packaging in fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) industries such as household and consumer products, beauty and personal care, as well as food and beverage.
These alternatives include:
Bio-based packaging is made from renewable raw materials such as wood, cotton, and sugar cane, while biodegradable packaging refers to its disposal capabilities at the end of its life.
The term "end-of-life" in sustainability refers to the choices that ensure the best chances for successful recycling of packaging and labelling. This is important because every year, millions of containers are rejected by recycling centres due to label incompatibility.
Many brands may not realise that the compatibility of materials, adhesives, and facestocks can have a significant impact on the circular economy. For example, PET is a fully recyclable material. When PET water bottles are labelled with PET labels, the chances for successful recycling are very high.
However, using paper labels can be risky, as it depends on consumers properly separating the label from the container before it enters the recycling stream. If labels are not removed, they can pulp up during the PET recycling process.
Investing in recyclability means using recycle-friendly materials that are designed to support the recycling process for both the container and label.
Energy prices can have a significant impact on the operating costs of a factory, and finding ways to save energy can help reduce these costs. With energy prices continuing to be a global issue in 2023, it’s increasingly important for factories to implement energy-saving measures to stay competitive and maintain profitability.
This can include:
By taking steps to reduce energy consumption, factories can significantly lower their operating costs and remain financially viable in the face of high energy prices. Additionally, energy-saving measures can help factories reduce their carbon footprint and contribute to a more sustainable future.
These pressures mean manufacturers are delivering innovations and efficiencies to machinery such as:
This is generated when masses are decelerated during cyclical processes. It can be easily and efficiently used to reduce energy waste and the risk of fire. New regenerative units allow the regenerative energy of drive controllers to be returned to the power supply network. These units are designed to provide both energy supply and regeneration for individual or multiple drive controllers.
These are usually energised and open during operation, only being switched off in emergencies. However, when the brake is energised for a long period, it can heat up significantly and require a significant amount of energy.
Advancements in eco-control modules help reduce energy consumption and heat generation here, by lowering the voltage required to release the brake to a sufficient holding voltage. This potentially reduces energy requirements by up to 94%.
These inverters help save energy in a variety of applications, including when paired with servo pumps and drive controllers. Servo pumps, when used with compact servo motors and drive controllers, can adjust the speed of hydraulic pumps, leading to energy savings.
Also known as flip-flop clutches, they can maintain their open or closed state without requiring any additional power. They’re switched using a short pulse of power specifically designed to change their state.
This can lead to energy savings of up to 99% compared to conventional clutches, depending on the length of time they are powered on. These clutches are highly energy efficient and well suited for use in air conditioning compressors and doors.
The processing and packaging machinery industry is expected to continue increasing its focus on sustainability, automation, and cybersecurity. New technologies and advancements in machinery design will drive efficiency and productivity in the industry, and companies will need to adapt and invest in these innovations to stay competitive.
As the demand for packaged goods continues, the processing and packaging machinery industry will play a crucial role in meeting this demand while also addressing the challenges of sustainability and security.