CPGs want partners that are transparent in their operations, willing to listen to unique needs, and offer appropriate suggestions and solutions, according to “Automation Timeline: The Drive Toward 4.0 Connectivity in Packaging and Processing.” End Users and CPGs in the Food, Beverage, Personal Care, Pharma/Nutraceuticals, and Household Products markets were interviewed – many of whom also participated in the 2017 report – and found five key points about automation today:
1. COVID-19 has affected most every manufacturing company, across all industries, drastically altering the course of many industries, but also providing opportunities to expand automation.
2. Since 2017, the needle on automation has moved forward in the adoption of smart technologies,in all markets and applications. Though manufacturers recognize the “Big Picture” advantages of automation, they may struggle to identify applications within their own facilities.
3. The obstacles to automation that are slowing progressremain consistent from 2017: ROI (return on investment), labor, and internal resources. These are the primary challenges faced by manufacturers when considering automation expansions.
4. Manufacturing operations and machines of the futurewill be driven by an automated and integrated enterprise. The key to many future strategies is expanding IIoT and integration at an operation – particularly automated data collection.
5. OEMs and industry suppliers have the opportunity to lead the way in identifying applications to deploy smart manufacturing technologies, and to educate manufacturers on automation integration across their entire enterprise.
While the bulk of automation is still concentrated at end-of-line, and larger companies are generally automating and integrating operations at a faster rate than small to medium enterprises, the study finds that implementing machine automation is an ongoing process that ebbs and flows depending on the specific product applications at a manufacturer.
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Industry 4.0, with its foundational concepts of data, connectivity, continuous monitoring, and process optimization, will be a vital solution to help manufacturers remain competitive as traditional manufacturing evolves.
Said one Plant Manager at a Meat Plant, “In 20 years, our plant will be 100% automated and IIoT deployed and active . . . we increasingly rely on our OEMs to help us better understand the potential capabilities of our equipment.”
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Source: PMMI Business Intelligence, “Automation Timeline: The Drive Toward 4.0 Connectivity in Packaging and Processing”