Be open to change, say speakers at Pack Expo

Advice on how to succeed, greater flexibility, speed to market, and training effectiveness were among concerns discussed at Pack Expo International. The 50th anniversary show, produced and sponsored by the Packaging Machinery Manufacturers Institute (PMMI), was held in Chicago Oct. 29-Nov. 2. One way to succeed is to apply market knowledge to your products before your customers know about the t...

12/01/2006


Advice on how to succeed, greater flexibility, speed to market, and training effectiveness were among concerns discussed at Pack Expo International. The 50th anniversary show, produced and sponsored by the Packaging Machinery Manufacturers Institute (PMMI), was held in Chicago Oct. 29-Nov. 2. One way to succeed is to apply market knowledge to your products before your customers know about the trends, speakers suggested.

Explaining how “Packaging can be a change-agent in change,” keynote speaker Harris DeLoach, chairman, president, and CEO of Sonoco Products, noted that rapidly changing influences in the packaging industry “present unique opportunities. It's best not to be fixated on the past.” Engineers sometimes are guilty of trying to find a market for current offerings, instead of doing research into materials and trends then offering suggestions on how to add value. Other suggestions from DeLoach included offering innovations that are flexible, fast, and convenient; contribute to consumer safety; are environmentally sound; provide differentiation; help elderly customers; attract young talent into packaging engineering; and challenge the status-quo.

“Willingness to change will separate those who are successful from those who are not,” DeLoach said. More automation is a given, DeLoach told Control Engineering after the address, but even more important is staying ahead on research and development, especially on trends and material sciences.

Keeping an open mind to newer ways also was among threads of discussion in another session: “How new technology has affected equipment training and bottom-line results.” Marc Soucy, senior staff engineer at the Hershey Co., says all training requires relevant content, assessment of skills, and appropriate delivery. The last point, Soucy admits, sours some staff who may like a more traditional classroom setting, compared to a more blended, computer-based approach.

John Kowal, global marketing manager for motion-technology provider Elau, noted a need for a higher base of understanding among those in the plant. Programming should be modular, not linear, he recommended, for more efficient preservation of knowledge. Sequential function chart programming, among the five IEC 61131-3 languages, is a great way to organize, Kowal said. He also advised of the need to break old habits. 'If a machine is properly designed and implemented, you shouldn't be tweaking it anymore.” It's like the difference between older cars that benefited from frequent tuning, he suggested, and newer, computerized automobiles that need adjustment rarely and only with appropriate computers, software, and training.

“We have an older workforce coming to us for training,” said Kenneth Ryan, director of manufacturing automation research, Alexandria Technical College. Getting the right blend of instruction can be challenging, he agreed. “There's often pushback from some learners even as technology is rapidly accelerating.” Small class size and hands-on technology opportunities help considerably, all agreed.

Video profiles on packaging suppliers and products are available.

www.packexpo.com/findprod/videocenter.html

www.camc-online.org Alexandria Technical College

www.elau.com

www.hershey.com

www.pmmi.org

www.sonoco.com





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