Packaging innovation is one of the key issues that will be addressed at this year’s PPMA Total Show, a packaging machinery show covering all aspects of the Packaging industry and how the landscape will look in the future. The speed of change in Packaging is unlike anything the sector has seen before. There are huge advances in materials, machinery and technology. Consumers are demanding more variety, and environmental issues are now centre stage. Add in political uncertainty and changes in regulations; the future of packaging looks exciting, but daunting too.

Everyone involved in Packaging – producers, machinery suppliers, consultants alike – needs to keep right up to date with packing innovations to plot their path through the opportunities and potential pitfalls that lie ahead.

Visiting PPMA Total Show 2019 at the NEC Birmingham, from 1 to 3 October, is the ideal packaging innovations event for gathering information and insights from key industry leaders, peers and exhibitors. Register for free now.

Here are six innovative topics on packaging that industry professionals need to know about.

Paper or plastic – which is better?

The essential fact is that paper is recyclable, whereas plastics can (at best) be recycled, to a limited degree. See the pros and cons of paper not plastic. Innovation in paper and board are happening all the time (for example, grass-based papers, and lined cardboard for fresh food packaging).

Reduce, Re-use, Recycle 

The ‘three R’s’ is the mantra behind the UK government’s approach to sustainability, as well as that of the EU and many businesses and environmental organisations. The direction in which Packaging is going means less packaging materials, the reduction of single-use packaging and an increased use of recyclable and biodegradable packaging.

New, innovative packaging solutions which follow these principles are appearing all the time. What does that mean for your business? You can catch up with new developments in recycling with the Confederation of Paper Industry’s New Recyclability Guidelines.

Sustainability is high on the agenda at PPMA Total Show 2019. Make sure you have our opening Keynote Address in your diary, On a Mission to Make Sustainability the New Normal from Joanna Yarrow, head of Sustainable and Healthy Living at Ikea Group.

Packaging Industry Automation

Innovative automatic and semi-automatic systems are being adopted in multiple packaging environments for many reasons. Higher speeds are a key issue, with modern machinery capable of running many times faster than previous generations of equipment, let alone on manual systems. New machinery also delivers increased efficiency, with more accurate operation and a reduction in waste due to flaws in the packaging process.

Innovative companies from across the industry will be presenting their automation solutions at this year’s PPMA Total Show, the ultimate packaging innovations show for all those wishing to learn more about the evolution of packaging. Register for free here.

Robots in Packaging

Robots and, most commonly, ‘cobots’ (collaborative robots which work alongside human staff) are increasingly a feature of modern packaging environments. Innovative design and programmability enables cobots to perform an increasing number of challenging tasks.

Robots are also able to repeat tasks with great efficiency and accuracy, and many offer a flexible capability for varied operations which greatly increases their value to many kinds of packaging operation. This allows, for example, a manufacturer who produces slightly different products under a variety of labels to keep machinery resources to a minimum.

Vision systems

The potential of advanced vision systems in many fields of packaging is increasingly being realised. Vision systems can be used for robotic guidance;, for example, to guide a forklift accurately into pallet recesses and avoid any damage. Vision is central to inspection processes and as image quality increases, so does the accuracy of inspection.

Innovative 3D vision systems take the level of inspection accuracy higher still, and allow for the collection of an increasing amount of data. The value of that data is to increase the quality and reliability of visual inspections, and also to feed big data into machine learning and artificial intelligence environments. That, in turn, results in machines being able to make intelligent decisions in real-time to maximise the efficiency and quality of packaging lines. 

Industry 4.0

Businesses, governments and expert organisations use Industry 4.0 to refer to today’s data-driven world, where machine learning and artificial intelligence lead the way. Many believe it is a hugely significant step change from the first round of computerisation (Industry 3.0), just as computerisation was a step change from Industry 2.0, the age of railroads and telegraphs.

A key part of Industry 4.0 is the ‘Internet of Things’, which includes the ability of machines to communicate with each other, allowing them to make decisions and trigger actions. For the packaging world, that means the use of robots and cobots with advanced vision systems and cloud-based data feeds which will decide when to slow down or increase production in relation to the amount of stock in warehouses, transport or stores. It also allows for a flexible and customised approach to what is being produced, including packaging. The future will increasingly be about mass customisation.  

PPMA Total Show: The Ultimate Packaging Industry Event

For more information on what’s happening in Packaging, see Packaging Innovations and Smart Packaging. You’ll find out much more about Packaging Innovations at PPMA Total Show 2019.

With over 450 exhibitors and 2,500 brands at the show you can get up to date with new developments under one roof at the NEC Birmingham, 1-3 October. If you’ve yet to do so, register for free now to join thousands of industry professionals at this leading packaging innovations show.