Courtesy Pack Expo
Courtesy Pack Exp

5 for Friday: The One Word at Pack Expo; Mergers and Acquisitions of All Kinds; Participate in the 2023 Salary & Career Survey

Sept. 15, 2023
Machine Design takes a look at the past week, and a look ahead to the issues facing the design and manufacturing sector.

1. The One Word at Pack Expo

While the nearly 1 million sq ft of exhibit space at Pack Expo this past week in Las Vegas showcased the full spectrum of packaging and logistics technology, one word seemed to dominate the discussion: sustainability.

From show officials to booth managers, the concept of sustainable process design and packaging materials were touted at all corners. As I reported this week, that was reflected in the industry research presented at the show.

Pierre Pienaar, president of the World Packaging Organisation, told a media luncheon that sustainability tops the list of major issues facing global package suppliers. “Sustainability is No. 1,” Pienaar said. “The word was spoken, but there was no action. The picture seems to be changing.”

PMMI, the presenting association at the show, and the American Institute for Packaging and the Environment (AMERIPEN), jointly published a report called Packaging Compass. “By releasing this deep dive into the trends driving the circular packaging industry, we hope to facilitate an industry dialogue that will help close the gap between design needs and recovery needs,” said Jorge Izquierdo, vice president of market development at PMMI, in a release at the show.

The PMMI/AMERIPEN report concluded, “A circular economy can be achieved by focusing on how best to invest in recycling and composting infrastructures across the U.S. and tying that dialogue to what is happening with packaging design and the multiple variables packaging designers must juggle.”

2. Participate in the 2023 Salary & Career Survey

For those of you who have yet to submit your opinions for our annual Salary & Career Survey, there’s still time to participate. This research will help highlight key issues and benchmark compensation by job types, experience and region. This is a valuable reference tool for everyone in manufacturing, and it becomes more valuable with every new contribution. We welcome your views.

3. On the Acquisition Front

There were two new blips on the acquisition radar this week. Rockwell Automation acquired Clearpath Robotics to help grow Rockwell’s depth in the :the autonomous mobile robots (AMR) market. As Editor-in-Chief Rehana Begg reported this week, Rockwell Automation’s acquisition will also add fleet management and navigation software. Their interest in Clearpath isn’t hard to explain: According to Interact Analysis, the market for AMRs in manufacturing is expected to grow about 30% per year over the next five years, with an estimated market size of $6.2 billion by 2027.

Emerson’s acquisition of Swiss linear motion company Afag was on display at Pack Expo to highlight the combined technologies and the further enmeshing of pneumatic and electric actuation for precision factory automation. Emerson officials said in a press release the merger  will “enhance Emerson’s capabilities in factory automation, one of the company’s four priority adjacencies, and create a leading motion portfolio combining Afag’s electric linear motion solutions with Emerson’s pneumatic motion technology.”

4. A Merger of a Different Kind

The Association for Manufacturing Technology (AMT), which presents the biannual IMTS Show in Chicago, and the Society of Manufacturing Engineers (SME), have joined forces around continuing education and workforce development efforts. Both groups expressed their excitement over the potential depth of educational possibilities in the alliance.

“Workforce development continues to be one of the most important factors affecting our members and the manufacturing community, so it makes sense to combine our forces in this area to scale solutions,” said Douglas K. Woods, president and chief executive officer at AMT, in a press release.

“This is a key indicator of our belief that unprecedented collaboration is required at this time to fully address the current and near-term education and workforce development challenges facing manufacturers in North America,” added Jeannine Kunz, chief workforce development officer at SME. “There are a tremendous number of valuable programs happening across the United States, and the more we can amplify, align, and strengthen one another, the more impactful we can be for individuals, educators, employers and communities.”

5. Get Ready for Automation 201

As part of its continuing webinar series, Epson Robots and Machine Design will team up to present “Automation 201: Clarifying Your Requirements for Project Success” on Thurs., Oct. 12 at 2 p.m. EST. Automation 201 will take a deeper dive into the critical topic of understanding project requirements and their associated performance tradeoffs. Presenting the webinar is Scott Marsic, senior product manager at Epson America. Whether you’re still looking for the best use cases for robot deployment or if you’re already a robotic fan looking for fresh ideas, the webinar presentation will provide plenty of help.

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