Profitable packaging in batches of one using Industry 4.0

Automation for packaging machine builders and factories

Production, maintenance and engineering teams of machine builders and end users have easy access to key indicators and full diagnostics via standard web technologies

Increasing competition and awareness of consumers are factors providing the packaging industry with daily challenges, pushing it to adopt innovations to remain competitive. While packaging offers a pivotal communication bridge between consumers and brand owners, it is generally associated with high volumes of standard stock keeping units. Industry 4.0 can
help in the mass customization of a wider variety of SKUs in smaller quantities as low as one.

The packaging industry is less likely to be undermined than other sectors since it embraces digitalization and automation. Automation and robotics over the years have been instrumental in providing cutting-edge technology to packaging solutions. Today, with the latest industrial revolution, packaging too is expected to benefit from communication between devices by creating a networked value.

With ever-changing consumer demands, there is a clear need of sustainability and cost effectiveness for optimizing packaging machines for customization. Personalized products are gaining prominence and machine builders are concentrating on ideas and methods to satisfy these market demands. They are focusing on strategies that adopt custom packaging techniques. The major challenge for machine builders is to manufacture batch sizes of one economically and at the same time improve overall equipment effectiveness (OEE) as well as reduce unplanned downtime.

B&R enables machine builders in their digital transformation journey with various solutions for machine and factory automation. With edge architectures, B&R also collaborates with factories for making not only new but also existing installations smart. These architectures together with energy and condition monitoring and process data acquisition are perfect solutions for packaging machine builders and factories to cost-effectively become efficient and smarter.

Industry focus on mass customization

In a multivendor environment, the industry looks for collaborative partnerships ensuring interoperability, transparency and decentralized intelligence for operational consistency. Moving from mass production to mass customization in a batch size as low as one is a central goal of Industry 4.0 without compromising productivity and profitability. Mass customization needs fast production changeovers demanding a modular, flexible machine design.

A conventional packaging line comprising conveyors and robots needed precise synchronization and many times product transport resulted in damages. Moreover, maintenance of such systems on the shop floor was always challenging. Various solutions have been tried to enable mass customization; however, most were not economically viable. Technology from B&R has been a game changer in this segment enabling the adaptive machine.

Personalized packaging with ACOPOStrak

ACOPOStrak 03 image 1.0 de fullres jpg cmyk
Next generation industrial transport
system enabling batch size one

Next generation intelligent transportation systems offer unmatched dimensions of flexibility and usability to packaging lines and adaptive manufacturing. ACOPOStrak, a highly flexible transport system from B&R, extends the economy of mass production down to batches of one. Parts and products are transported quickly and flexibly from processing station to processing station on independently controlled shuttles. A generational leap in intelligent, flexible transport systems, ACOPOStrak’s unique design delivers decisive technological advantages for connected manufacturing, producing small batches efficiently and benefiting from the higher margins of personalized products. In addition, ACOPOStrak diverters enable merging product flows or diverting product flows at full production speeds. It helps manufacturers produce multiple product variants on the same line and packaged in custom sets with zero downtime for changeover.

ACOPOStrak boosts OEE, multiplies return on investment (ROI) and accelerates time to market (TTM). B&R’s powerful software tool Automation Studio is a single platform for entire software development supporting the complete range of B&R hardware that guarantees this approach. Automation Studio coupled with open standards such as POWERLINK, openSAFETY, OPC UA and PackML enables machine builders to take advantage of seamless communication and perfectly orchestrated performance across multi-vendor lines.

Development made easy with PackML and OPC UA

OPC UA and PackML provide seamless
OPC UA and PackML provide seamless communication and a uniform look and feel across multivendor packaging lines

Vendor independent packaging lines are more of a reality using PackML, which gives all the machines that make up a packaging line a common look and feel and ensures operational consistency. The modularity and consistency of PackML enables self-optimization and self-configuration of production lines and facilities. B&R has eased the implementation of PackML in machines with its modular application development method – mapp technology. B&R mapp technology has revolutionized application development in the field of automation. Its modular software blocks simplify program development, reduce development time by an average of 67% and improve diagnostics.

mapp PackML represents the logic of a machine controller as per the OMAC PackML standard. With mapp, it becomes extremely easy to configure and relieves the developer of having to program every single detail. mapp View helps to manage and visualize these integrated programmable states easily across different platforms and displays. mapp OEE permits automatic collection of production data and provides OEE functionality without any programming.

The open standards of PackML combined with OPC UA enable seamless flow of data from field level to supervisory level or IT. OPC UA is an independent and flexible communication protocol used to transfer all production data within machine, machine-to-machine and machine-to-MES/ERP/cloud. This eliminates the need for traditional factory level fieldbus systems. OPC UA is implemented using standard PLC open function blocks. Such widely used queuing protocols such as OPC UA, MQTT or AMQP enable machines to share data to IT systems. These ensure that the cloud receives data even when the network connection has low bandwidth or is intermittently unavailable.

Machine tweeting its status

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Ranjithkumar G is the marketing manager of B&R Automation in India. Contact –

With packaging machines, moving into a digital ecosystem, remote diagnostics and maintenance have taken a great leap. Alarms, emergency states and otherm key health factors of machines are now available to a supervisor irrespective of his presence next to the machine or even in the factory. The hierarchy of escalating critical scenarios to different levels in a factory and demanding corrective action is now easier using mapp Services. mapp Services is able to handle basic diagnostic functions of machines. The components of mapp Services not only help developer program faster but also reduce commissioning time. It is possible to implement functions such as automated text messaging and handling various machine options. The machines connected to web services are able to request
maintenance actions autonomously. Operator interfaces take advantage of technologies based on web standards eliminating the need for dedicated software. An operator or supervisor is able to see machine status and diagnostics information on any device using a standard web browser. It is even possible to diagnose down to variable levels using mapp Services.

Complete package for Packaging 4.0

Today, the packaging industry is embarking on the path of digital transformation. It is possible for machines and lines to aggregate data such as production scheduling, asset management, operational data, energy data and more. B&R enables machine builders in their digital transformation journey with various solutions for machine and factory automation. With edge architectures, B&R also collaborates with factories for making not only new but also existing installations smart. These architectures together with energy and condition monitoring and process data acquisition are perfect solutions for packaging machine builders and factories to cost-effectively become efficient and smarter.

The impact, resilience, and growth of responsible packaging in a wide region are daily chronicled by Packaging South Asia.

A multi-channel B2B publication and digital platform such as Packaging South Asia is always aware of the prospect of new beginnings and renewal. Its 16-year-old print monthly, based in New Delhi, India has demonstrated its commitment to progress and growth. The Indian and Asian packaging industries have shown resilience in the face of ongoing challenges over the past three years.

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The capacity for flexible film manufacturing in India increased by 33% over the past three years. With orders in place, we expect another 33% capacity addition from 2023 to 2025. Capacities in monocartons, corrugation, aseptic liquid packaging, and labels have grown similarly. The numbers are positive for most of the economies in the region – our platform increasingly reaches and influences these.

Even given the disruptions of supply chains, raw material prices, and the challenge of responsible and sustainable packaging, packaging in all its creative forms and purposes has significant headroom to grow in India and Asia. Our context and coverage engulf the entire packaging supply chain – from concept to shelf and further – to waste collection and recycling. We target brand owners, product managers, raw material suppliers, packaging designers and converters, and recyclers.

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