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Moving Automation Up the Line

According to a new report by PMMI Business Intelligence, OEMs and suppliers should assist manufacturers to identify new automation projects that lie outside the traditional end-of-line packaging and palletizing.

Automation Timeline 5 1

“Automation Timeline: The Drive Toward 4.0 Connectivity in Packaging and Processing” states that there is ample opportunity for OEMs and suppliers to offer automation solutions to all size companies, across all markets, and along the entire line, since the vast majority of manufacturers recognize the urgent need to broaden the use of automation.

When all sizes of manufacturing operations are averaged together, about 40% of operations are a combination of semi-automated or manual: Leading CPGs’ manufacturing lines are approximately 64% automated, with SMEs not far behind with 56% automation on their lines. Automation Timeline 5

Automation has traditionally played a bigger role at the end of the line and applied to processes such as secondary packaging and palletizing. And, 60% of leading CPGs and 46% of SMEs identified secondary packaging as their next planned automation project. There are, however, numerous areas outside of end-of-line in which automation can play an important role.

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Primary packaging continues to see a growing level of automation with 47% of leading CPGs and 38% of SMEs targeting this area for automation. Processing is often overlooked however, with only 27% of leading CPGs and 31% of SMEs identifying processing as the area of their next automation expansion.

What do companies who were interviewed for this report have to say about their automation needs and plans?


“Processing and warehousing both need automation updates to expedite product handling.” — Engineering, Sr. Manager, Leader in Dry Shelf Goods

“Product manipulation moving into slicers needs to be automated and is our next project.” — Process Development Engineer, Frozen Foods


“The most challenging operation to automate is the primary packaging line.”  — Director of Process Engineering, Leader in Meat Industry

“In the next five years, we could increase automation for primary packaging, and also for automated filling, capping, and labeling.” — Engineering Manager, CP/CM Household Products


“We plan to move toward more digital printing to speed up changeover from carton to carton.” — Sr. Director, Packaging, Personal Care

“The next project will be to automate cartoners, case packers, and palletizers.” — Process Engineer, Leader in Pharma/ Supplements

“All of our lines need to be integrated but we’re still automating secondary packaging – we are working on a pick-and-place application for case packing.” — Plant Manager, Dairy SME

“We are looking at using robotics for material infeed.” — Advanced Manufacturing Manager, Household Products SME

To access this FREE report and learn more about automation in operations, download below.

Source: PMMI Business Intelligence, “Automation Timeline: The Drive Toward 4.0 Connectivity in Packaging and Processing”

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