Posted by Jonathan Winkel
Last week we had the pleasure of attending PACK EXPO East, which brings top-tier processing and packaging suppliers together from across the U.S. and around the world.
With nearly 130 booths it’s hard to imagine that the expo is actually a smaller, regional version of the larger PACK EXPO series, but we really appreciated and enjoyed the more intimate and in-depth conversations we had with the suppliers as a result. With everything from sorters to software, markers to contract manufacturers, it was a truly immersive experience in the world of packaging production and automation.
One of our main goals at any event is trendspotting, and in that vein we noted that vertical integration is a hot topic. We don’t mean this in the corporate sense, but rather that inline packaging production, filling, sorting, scanning, etc. can be achieved in vertical modules as opposed to a lengthy in-line system that can be hundreds of feet long. While not every component can be integrated this way it was great to envision a future where thousands of square feet in a large warehouse may no longer be a production requirement.
We also learned of a new performance metric being driven by GE and AutomaTech, called OEE (Operational Equipment Effectiveness). As explained by Chris Carlins, Senior Application Engineer from AutomaTech, OEE is “a way of measuring how well your facility is doing in its manufacturing environment,” in this case for packaging. By focusing on performance measurement, this metric can lead to greater uptime and output, as well as reduction of scrap and waste. The result can be a substantial impact on the bottom line. The basics of the measurement are:
If total number of finished units produced = x
And total potential number of finished units produced (i.e. 100% uptime and no scrap) = y
Then x/y = OEE
While the concept is not new, the idea of tracking and comparing this number continuously is the key idea here, allowing production managers to follow this metric over time and measure the impact of training, new equipment, etc. One question we left with was how the human factor is accounted for on a running line when the figure explicitly states “Equipment” in the acronym. Either way, it’s an idea that is very interesting and this measurement, along with its ability to drive continuous improvement will likely someday become a standard. We can’t wait to hear more about this in the future. See more from the presentation here:
This was the first time we visited an industry event with a journalistic eye. We had just launched ChiefPackagingOfficer.com and were also walking the show to report on new ideas, products and thinking, like the new metric discussed above. As we spoke with many people at PACK EXPO East, we spoke extensively about ChiefPackagingOfficer.com’s core concept: the need to make packaging a c-level discussion, with a leadership role — a Chief Packaging Officer – to represent the increasingly strategic role of packaging across the enterprise.
We hope you’ll explore the site and feed us back your ideas in the comments. We’ve created a white paper to make the case for the Chief Packaging Officer. Click the button below to download it for free. Please let us know what you think.