This is a guest post by Michelle Pudlo of E-PAK Machinery, Inc. who is responsible for the marketing, communications, and business development efforts for E-PAK Machinery, Inc., Oden Machinery, Inc,. and Change. 

As the manufacturing industry continues to evolve, we’re only going to see more changes in machinery throughout 2019 and in the future. The state of the manufacturing industry is changing: With an economy that’s been at its healthiest since the recession a decade ago, more investments are being made in equipment and innovation, along with high-quality product materials. This recovery has made it an ideal time to develop manufacturing equipment that meets the demands of flourishing markets. This year has introduced certain trends that will impact the industry, mainly when it comes to increasing efficiency and versatility in an effort to satisfy customer demand

As these trends continue to impact packaging, businesses can adapt to these series of changes in the ever-changing value chain.

Cannabis Packaging and Diversity

The cannabis industry is experiencing huge growth as more and more states legalize both medical and recreational marijuana use. A report compiled by Whitney Economics and industry site Leafly, 2018 saw 64,389 new positions added to roles in the industry, with 296,000 workers in all related industry areas. Last year, the legal marijuana industry in the U.S. also expanded to $10.4 billion, with Whitney Economics predicting that number will grow to over $16 billion this year. In total, the cannabis industry across the globe has grown more than 310% in the past four years, as per the Association for Packaging and Processing Technologies, while the cannabis packaging market alone is predicted to reach $5.20 billion by 2026 according to a new report by Reports and Data.

Cannabis itself is a versatile product that can come in various forms such as oil, lotion, salve, or dry, and you can also infuse it into foods and beverages. Therefore, cannabis packaging is available in a wide variety of options such as glass vials, rigid tubes, pouches, and bottles, along with decorative tin types of packaging.

With such fast-paced growth and subsequent demand for competitive high-quality products, the manufacturing processes for cannabis products need to be as productive and reliable as possible.

Subsequently, cannabis equipment manufacturers will need to design machinery that is versatile to allow customers to use the same equipment for multiple filling applications, particularly those with minimal changeover and clean-out to minimize downtime for the customer. Both operational efficiency and scalability are in high demand in this industry and others such as CBD.

Technology and Versatility

Another trend that will continue to develop is that of new packaging technologies and overall versatility. There is a wide variety of packaging available today for all types of products as brands look to stand apart and improve user experience, which means that manufacturers have had to develop new machinery and redesign existing equipment to meet those needs. Trays, plastic tubes, box inserts, blisters, clamshells, vials, cardboard, and hinge top containers each have specific fabrication requirements when it comes to shape, size, and materials.

For instance, digital printing has become the primary way to create labels, with most companies have switched to this format over the last decade. Different packaging materials are also preferred for products: According to PMMI, packaging for cannabis products is highly regulated with requirements for child-resistant and resalable lids that provide tamper evidence and opacity. Formats also differ for the different forms of cannabis, with flowers in glass jars and tubes, concentrates in heatproof, borosilicate, glass or polystyrene containers, and edibles in resalable smell-proof bags.

Sustainability

A growing number of businesses are also focusing on sustainability, ensuring that their packaging and the manufacturing processes behind it are efficient and environmentally friendly. According to Market Research Future, the sustainable packaging market is expected to grow at about 7% CAGR by 2023 to encounter countless growth opportunities. As a result, biodegradable and recyclable packaging materials are being used for many products today, while energy-efficient and reliable packaging equipment is also favored.

In addition to developing packaging made with sustainable materials and eco-friendly machinery, companies want to minimize product and packaging waste, which makes it necessary to maintain accuracy and consistency throughout the manufacturing and packaging processes.

Keeping Up with Today’s Packaging Trends

With these trends affecting the packaging industry in the near future, it’s important to implement manufacturing and turnkey processes to avoid falling behind. Incorporating versatility, diversity, and customizability in packaging and packaging equipment will ensure long-term customer satisfaction.

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