Page 34 - Packaging News Magazine Nov-Dec 2021
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PACKAGING INNOVATION | PACK EXPO | | November-December 2021
  Pack to the future
PackExpo is the big American packaging trade show, second only to Germany’s Interpack.
After a year’s hiatus due to Covid, the show took place in Las Vegas in September.
Packaging journalist John Henry walked the aisles to share with PKN what caught his attention.
IADMIT it. I am a sucker for old machin- ery and technology of any kind. Especially packaging machinery. It is hard to move forward to the future without being aware of the past. This year at PackExpo, the Packaging Machinery Manufacturers Institute
(PMMI) showed 300 years of packag- ing history with its Pack to the Future exhibit. Machines on display dated from 1900 to 1980 and showed how far the industry has come in that time. Even machines from the 1980s look dated compared to what we have today.
A common problem shared by Australia and the US is labour avail- ability. Skilled manufacturing people in particular and unskilled labour in general just gets harder to find and keep every year. Covid has aggravated the problem. The solution is more auto- mation but that brings the problem back to the skilled labour to maintain the machinery. Machine builders have been working hard to make machines smarter and easier to operate and maintain, reducing labour demands.
Robots, especially collaborative robots continue to gain popularity. Programming has been a bottleneck. Robotics companies have been work- ing to simplify this, and Fanuc and
Robotiq both showed interest- ing solutions.
Robotiq showed a “kit” palletiser based on Universal Robot’s cobot. What I found interesting about this, besides its size and form factor, was how it is programmed or “taught” a new pallet pattern. The interface is drag and drop and even an unskilled oper- ator can teach a new pallet pattern in minutes.
Fanuc America’s CRX cobot
also comes with a graphic teaching pendant. This allows
drag and drop teaching rather
than complex programming. Modifications or even entirely
new programs can be developed quickly with little skill required.
Simplifications like these reduce the skills needed, relieving techni- cians to perform other, higher level tasks. They also, by letting the oper- ator do something other than just repetitive rote work make their jobs a bit more interesting. Opportunities like this are likely to help with job sat- isfaction and retention.
Robots are always interesting and con- tinue to be used in new applications. Most of the major robotics compa- nies had machines in action. One that really wowed me was from a name I’d never seen before, a Swiss company named Wyzo. All the cobots I’ve seen until now have been articulated arm. Wyzo showed their Sidebot, a
    ABOVE: Fanuc CRX cobot comes with a graphic teaching pendant.
RIGHT: Syntegon Pharma Technology’s new single-use diaphragm pumps for aseptic filling eliminate the need for cleaning.
 Machine builders have been working hard to make machines smarter and easier to operate and maintain.”

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