Packaging Automation Study: A Focus on Packagers

Packaging professionals play a unique role in today’s production ecosystem. In addition to wrestling with “traditional” issues of reducing costs and optimizing production, packagers must also contend with rapid-fire changes brought on by the ebb-and-flow of consumer tastes. The following is an overview of the survey audience, the challenges and opportunities they face, and ...
By Control Engineering Staff April 1, 2008

Packaging professionals play a unique role in today’s production ecosystem. In addition to wrestling with “traditional” issues of reducing costs and optimizing production, packagers must also contend with rapid-fire changes brought on by the ebb-and-flow of consumer tastes. The following is an overview of the survey audience, the challenges and opportunities they face, and future growth of automation within packaging environments. Digital edition of supplement and research study are available .

How many packaging lines does your company typically run in your location?
• More than seven 31%
• 3 – 4 21%
• 5 – 7 19%
• 1 15%
• 2 14%
How often does your company change packages on a line?
• Multiple times per day 38%
• 1– 2 times per week 22%
• Once per day 18%
• Rarely/single-line 15%
• 1– 2 times per month 5%
• 1– 2 times per year 2%
What is the primary reason for line changeover?
• Different/new SKU 61%
• Package size change 31%
• Other 5%
• Accommodate prior shift shortfalls 3%
Are you using industrial Ethernet for connectivity and communication:
• Yes 49%
• No 35%
• Don’t know 16%
What format of Ethernet are you using?
• Ethernet/IP 77%
• ProfiNet 6%
• PowerLink 4%
• SERCOS III 3%
• Other 3%
• Modbus TCP 2%
• EtherCAT 2%

Top 5 job functions of respondents:
• Engineering or production 40%
• Corporate/general management 19%
• Operations management 15%
• Research & development 8%
• Other 7%
Top 5 product types packaged by respondents*:
• Food & beverage 42%
• Pharmaceuticals 17%
• Personal care/cosmetics 14%
• Household chemicals/products 12%
• Machinery/Electronic equipment 10%
* Respondents were asked to check all that apply
Years of industry experience:
• 20+ years 41%
• 11– 20 years 29%
• 6– 10 years 15%
• 3– 5 years 10%
• 1– 2 years 5%
Employee size:
• 1,000 or more 39%
• 250– 499 15%
• 100– 249 14%
• 20– 99 13%
• 500– 999 9%
• Under 20 9%
Annual spend– packaging automation equipment:
• $500,000 or more 28%
• $100,000– $499,999 20%
• Don’t know 17%
• $10,000– $49,999 14%
• $50,000– $99,999 12%
• $5,000 – $9,999 4%
• Less than $5,000 5%

For more information and analysis on the market challenges, please turn to page 5.
Top 5 reasons to automate*:
• Control labor costs 81%
• Gain production efficiencies 74%
• Gain competitive edge 48%
• Increased reliability 47%
• Flexibility 45%
* Respondents were asked to check all that apply
Does any of your packaging equipment have automation options not currently in use?
• Yes 49%
• No 51%
How much value do you place on single-vendor availability?
• Moderate value 55%
• Great value 30%
• Little value 12%
• No value 3%
Does your company currently use preferred vendor lists?
• Yes 75%
• No 25%
How often are these lists evaluated?
• Annually 47%
• By project 29%
• Every 6 months 10%
• Every 2 years 6%
• Every 3 years or more 5%
• Every 18 months 3%
Does your workforce hinder you from making purchasing investments?
• Yes 10%
• Sometimes 49%
• No 41%
Top 5 reasons your workforce hinders new technology purchases:
• Operators lack technical/learning skills 68%
• Maintenance/support staff lack skills 44%
• Difficulty attracting skilled workers 42%
• Too focused on “hitting the numbers” 38%
• Management reluctant to invest 35%

For more information and analysis on trends and opportunities, please turn to page 7.

Read other articles in the Packaging Automation Benchmark Study, Part 1:

Change is constant

Market Challenges

Opportunities For Improvement

Future Prospects

How would you respond to the following statement: Packaging machine flexibility provides key competitive advantages
• Completely agree 51%
• Somewhat agree 43%
• Somewhat disagree 4%
• Completely disagree 2%
Five years from now, how will your number of automation suppliers change?
• Increase 42%
• Remain the same 47%
• Decrease 11%
Top 5 automation and control features to become important in next 5 years*:
• Ease of changeover 62%
• Overall equipment effectiveness (OEE) 51%
• Human interface features 41%
• Data acquisition 46%
• Interchangeable/modular design 38%
* Respondents were asked to check all that apply
Top 5 most desired product features*:
• Ability to access production data 48%
• Recipe-driven/tool-less changeover 44%
• Ability to access diagnostic data 42%
• Connectivity via industry-standard network 40%
• Consistent software structures (regardless of OEM) 32%
* Respondents were asked to check all that apply
Top 5 most important product attributes*:
• Reliability 70%
• Quality/durability 62%
• Price 60%
• Easy to use/install/maintain 56%
• Price-to-performance 51%
* Respondents were asked to check all that apply