This year’s PACK EXPO takes place Oct. 31-Nov. 3 in Chicago and features the latest innovations in the processing and packaging industries. Food Manufacturing spoke with Leo Petrokonis of Rockwell Automation about the expo.
Q: What trends are you anticipating for this year’s PACK EXPO?
A: We will continue to see machine builders address the end user demand for increased flexibility of the machinery in terms of quick product changeovers. Some machine builders are addressing this by closely integrating robots with machine control. In addition to quick product changeovers, end users are also pressured to reduce any type of downtime. Some machine builders at PACK EXPO will demonstrate the ability to have a common language of machine states with PackML to help reduce any emergency downtime that may occur while integrating safe and standard machine control and to enable remote diagnosis of any issues on the machine.
Q: How will these trends affect the processing and packaging industries?
A: You will see a closer integration of robotics, safety, and machine control. You will also see some unique approaches in gathering data from machines and remotely connecting to them.
Q: Sustainability concerns seem to be a hot topic right now. How do you see these concerns affecting the packaging and processing industries?
A: Machine builders will start looking for solutions to help them optimize the sizing of the components on a machine that use power, such as drives, motors and actuators. They will also be looking for solutions to help analyze their mechanical designs in order to come up with a solution that requires less energy to move them.
Q: How has the recession impacted the industry, and how do you see the industry responding?
A: With the reduction of demand, I would think that machine builders are looking for ways to innovate to help differentiate their solutions from those of competitors.
Q: What do you see as the most important aspect of this year’s expo?
A: The most important aspects of this year’s expo can be summarized in the following questions: How is sustainability being addressed? How is machine flexibility and the reduction of downtime being addressed? How is the need for more useful data from process and packaging lines being addressed? Will machine builders look for ways to gather data from machines to help their customers optimize the process and packaging lines?
Interview By Lindsey Coblentz, Associate Editor