As with other speakers at the 7th Innopack F&B Conference in Gurgaon, Dinesh Mungi, the packaging expert of B&R Industrial Automation in India headquartered in Pune, also described some of the major changes in consumer purchasing behavior that directly affect packaging requirements. The number of SKUs is increasing even as batch sizes are becoming smaller. With more customer engagement and interaction using cellphone and QR codes to connect to the internet, there is an increase in customized products and active and intelligent packaging. Mungi said, “Consumer product and package lifecycles keep on shrinking, while SKUs continue to expand. It is impossible to anticipate changes, especially disruptive ones that are likely to occur over the service life of any industrial machinery.”
Customers have become used to finding a multiplicity of choice at the large organized retail outlets and in eCommerce. Choice engenders the promise of immediate gratification and quick delivery of a very wide choice of flavors, sizes and, ultimately, SKUs. This has shrunk the time to market even as the number of SKUs keeps expanding. Thus, there is need not only for more automation in packaging but also for automation with flexibility. The implication is that intelligent automation is needed where the packaging systems are in a two-way communication environment receiving instructions that could eventually request a single variant of a product to be filled and sealed within an automated line. For such Packaging 4.0 machines or lines to work with accuracy and precision in such demanding and flexible eco-systems, individual modules or even machines need to see and read and also to talk to each other.
Automation for packaging, copacking and consumer products companies
Mungi explained the automation technology components that both packaging, copacking and consumer product companies need to understand and look out for. “With our next-generation intelligent transport solutions SuperTrak and ACOPOStrak, we deliver key benefits for adaptive manufacturing to enable flexible and efficient production at any batch size. These adaptive machines provide machine builders with improved overall equipment effectiveness (OEE), higher return on investment (RoI) and reduced total cost of ownership (TCO). These industrial product transport technologies such as B&R ACOPOStrak and SuperTrak together with B&R integrated machine vision, make the packaging industry ready for digitization,” he said. The presentation showed that automation in packaging lines, systems or environments requires first of all, a very flexible base platform on top of which the adaptive machines can be built or configured. The key to building the adaptive machine is to have a modular design with high-speed diverters. The adaptive packaging machine of the future must have reduced cycle times and be ready for parallel operations. It must be configurable on the go through the use of simple visual interface (that ideally should also give feedback of the line in operation). This will also make for very quick changeovers to new SKUs. The re-configuration will be controlled by the interface and not done manually. B&R has already implemented this type of automation on the filling, sealing and cartoning lines of several Indian manufacturers.
In conclusion, Mungi said, “The Indian packaging industry is experiencing rapid growth, fueling the need for advanced automation concepts and the best manufacturing practices. B&R is already satisfying various customer demands with modular, flexible and integrated automation solutions. We are the preferred partner for packaging machine builders for implementing innovative advanced automation concepts and helping them becoming competitive. With our hardware and software solutions, we are technology and market leaders in various industry segments, providing best-in-class machine and factory automation solutions.”