If you want to grow, what do you do? “Take market shares from competitors or go into emerging markets. Take market shares in North America or Europe,” suggests Wagner, who recently became a member of the board of directors of the Reston, Va.-based Packaging Machinery Manufacturers Institute (www.pmmi.org). For U.S. industries that means more mergers and acquisitions, he says. But he also believes the only way to take market shares today it to come up with innovative packaging solutions.
For instance, there are end-users trying to reduce, as much as possible, use of corrugated packaging to increase product density on pallets. “They want to get away from round bottles in boxes to round bottles in shrinkwrap,” Wagner explains. Because big end-users are trying to find ways to truly change their business, they’re becoming OEMs, he says, calling that a packaging trend.
John Kowal sees another trend. “To achieve the next level of productivity, there will be a control-technology convergence. Packaging lines will become more integrated, in terms of networked safety, with the new safe-motion functions,” says the marketing development manager for Roswell, Ga.-based B&R Industrial Automation Corp. (www.br-automation.com).
Globally, Wagner notes North American technology is coming into China, in primary and secondary packaging lines. That’s because not only are North American companies getting integration services, he says, but they are making inroads in the secondary packaging—which, in China, typically meant hand-packing—because the Chinese don’t supply secondary-packaging solutions.
Perhaps the Chinese need to move into the emerging market existing in its own country?
C. Kenna Amos, firstname.lastname@example.org, is an Automation World Contributing Editor.