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Packaging Automation Forum Plays to Packed House

The first annual Packaging Automation Forum, produced by Automation World and Packaging World magazines, met all expectations and more.

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The first annual Packaging Automation Forum, held May 24 near Chicago, was a resounding success. About 150 machinery builders, users and technology suppliers gathered at the event—sponsored by Automation World and Packaging World magazines— to hear 13 speakers from the industrial world talk about what they are doing to bring new success to manufacturing.

The Forum speakers left no doubt that the future belongs to such concepts and techniques as modular software, industrial networks and information sharing. Based on the speakers' comments, packaging professionals had best acknowledge the growing reality that their realm is now an integral part of the manufacturing process.

Several speakers warned that automation engineers in both the processing and the packaging areas of the companies had best learn how to align their priorities with corporate ones in order to make themselves a vital part of business growth and profitability, and not be thought of as a liability to be endured until something better comes along.

Common theme

Following are some observations regarding the Forum from Pat Reynolds, Editor of Packaging World:

One thing I found intriguing about the Forum as it unfolded is the way the speakers returned again and again to a common theme centered around one thing: optimized line performance and the vertical integration needed to achieve it.

I was astonished to learn from Aubrey Hawkins that Eli Lilly and Co. could generate annual savings of $3.5 million through the use of pre-validated reusable software modules in the processing side of its business. “Modularize and re-use,” was Hawkin’s mantra, as he urged packaging machinery builders and the technology providers they rely on to bring the same kind of reusable modularity to the packaging side of manufacturing. He also asked the packaging machinery builders of the world to settle on reliable standards. Huge savings, he pointed out, can be had if standard event tags can be implemented for widespread use in packaging equipment, because then vertical integration from shop floor to top floor will be possible.

Procter & Gamble’s Dave Chappell, chairman of the Make2Pack initiative, was on the same page in his presentation. Create internal libraries of automation modules so that manufacturing can become a strategic asset with the agility and flexibility to support modern business needs, Chappell told the audience.

And then there was Joe Wagner of Hershey describing how, by opening specifications to include multiple global control suppliers, Hershey in the last two or three years has been able to reduce project cycles from nine to four months, eliminate control-related issues on projects that have been completed, reduce equipment costs and lead times, and obtain equipment guarantees in line with corporate strategies.

The complete list of Forum speakers and their companies follows:

Wade Latz, The Hershey Co.

Brad Neuroth, Wyeth

Aubrey Hawkins, Eli Lilly

Mark Swatling, AstraZeneca

Brian Hemphill, Clos du Bois

Larry Trunek, Miller Brewing Co.

Brenton Smith, The Aagard Group

Russ Agrusa, OPC Foundation

Doug Gray, Coors Brewing Co.

Dave Chappell, Procter & Gamble

Dave Bauman, OMAC

Joe Wagner, The Hershey Co.

Dragan Filipovic, Kraft Foods

A set of photos from the event can be seen here .

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