If you read my recent blog post, “The Quiet Revolution in Food and Beverage Packaging Machines” you know why I believe the global market for food and beverage packaging machinery is growing, as well as some of the reasons why.
To summarize, food companies and retailers continue to offer more unique items for sale (more “SKUs”), while traditional rigid packaging types like cartons and bottles are losing ground to flexible packaging types like pouches and bags. At the same time, the use of measures to preserve and enhance food safety during all steps of food processing, including packaging, have grown in importance to food and beverage companies.
I believe all of these changes have implications for packaging OEMs. As the companies hired to design and build packaging machinery, OEMs can foster significant revenue growth in the food and beverage machinery segment by aligning their systems to directly address these growth areas.
By studying the packaging changes against the current state of the packaging OEM sector, the Fluid Connectors Group has identified specific strategies in five key areas where OEMs stand to gain a larger share of the growing machinery market.
- Flexible machinery to accommodate varied product types
- Faster system development and throughputs
- Packaging systems that deliver sustainability
- Lower Cost Machinery and Operations
- Ensuring Food Safety
For details on these specific strategy solutions, please Click here to download our free whitepaper, “Five Ways Food Packaging OEMs Can Innovate Projects.”
1. Flexible machinery to accommodate varied product types
Even though food and beverage companies are being asked to supply more varieties, sizes, and unique packaging types these days, food companies also want to be able to provide them with as little disruption as possible. That means food and beverage manufacturers need machinery they can easily modify to package different items on the same lines if at all possible. Machinery built with the flexibility to deliver multiple unique items, is particularly valuable to them.
As explained by Glen Long, senior vice president of The Association for Packaging and Processing Technologies (PMMI), based in Reston, Virginia, many end users now want machines that can be readily adjusted to handle multiple tasks, because this eliminates the need to buy a whole new line for every new item they package.
There are virtually unlimited ways for OEMs to help end users make their packaging lines more flexible in this way. When it comes to pneumatically powered equipment, it makes sense to start with valves and cylinders built for adaptation, and to use modular components designed to be adjusted and switched out. Another strategy is to configure pneumatic controls so they’re easy to adjust.
2. Faster system development and throughputs
We all know there are only so many hours in a day. With end users having to upgrade machinery alongside having more unique products to process, the time it takes to do both of these things must be trimmed if those end users expect to maintain productivity.
When it comes to packaging system development and installation, end users usually want their equipment designed and installed yesterday. Choosing modular pneumatic equipment is one of the best approaches for faster development, because it allows OEMs to leverage their knowledge of certain components across builds to maximize their capabilities. Completing this type of learning curve translates to faster installs, training, and troubleshooting in the long run.
Increased throughput speed is another way for end users to shave packaging process time, and OEMs can help manufacturers do this by adding pneumatic processes to automate tasks that were previously done manually, such as secondary packaging operations.
OEMs can also increase throughputs by adding systems to speed up tasks that have already been automated. Pneumatic system refinements, such as advanced flow control and enhanced speed adjustments, can be particularly helpful here. Altering the way pneumatic components are connected can also deliver significant improvements in productivity.
3. Packaging systems that deliver sustainability
End users continue to value packaging machinery that promotes their sustainability, both in terms of reducing waste and by way of the equipment they install. So it’s no surprise that many of the latest investment trends have centered around equipment that can handle lightweight and/or flexible packaging.
Pneumatically driven components can help in this area, because they often allow for systematic upgrades of older pneumatic machines previously built to handle heavier materials, rather than widescale replacements.
The compact design of many of the newest modular and re-engineered pneumatic components also contributes to sustainable packaging production, because compact equipment translates to reduced surface areas to be cleaned and sanitized.
4. Lower Cost Machinery and Operations
As with most other equipment purchases, the cost of packaging machinery often has a direct impact on an end user’s decision to buy it. In fact, as PMMI points out in its 2016 research reports, OEMs able to offer lower cost machinery often become fierce competitors for end user business. However in many cases, these lower equipment costs come with higher performance risks.
OEMs that are serious about cutting operational costs for their end users should instead look for long-term ways to build value into their machines, such as by reducing the amount of downtime those machines will experience. One critical strategy can be using high performance core elements, such as pneumatic cylinders, to reduce downtime and expensive maintenance needs.
The use of compact, modular componentry can also deliver value, as it contributes to best use of space, can eliminate the need for facility expansion, and promotes ease of replacement and repair, which all help to lower costs over the long run.
5. Ensuring Food Safety
OEMs that can help food and beverage companies reduce the risks of contamination, preserve food safety, and document process flows, also will find their machinery increasingly in demand among food and beverage companies.
There are many ways packaging OEMs can help address these concerns, beginning with the use of components constructed and designed to resist bacterial entrapment. That means tubing, hoses, and fittings with smooth, nonstick surface designs and connections. It also means installing global air preparation systems as well as air preparation and filtration systems at the point of use in food and beverage packaging operations.
Besides selecting FDA-compliant components, OEMs also need assurances that the equipment they use will be able to withstand repetitive and aggressive washdowns, without corroding or leaching harmful materials into foods.
Sound packaging machinery strategies
There’s no question that engineering packaging systems that simultaneously incorporate these five qualities is challenging for any OEM. However there are resources directly aligned to these goals.
One of them is our free whitepaper, “Five Ways Food Packaging OEMs Can Innovate Projects.” Click here to receive the white paper.
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Article contributed by Ted Moyer, global platform manager, Fluid Connectors Group, Parker Hannifin Corporation
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