The numbers are in. And with over 44,000 attendees, Pack Expo International 2022 was one of the biggest and best. It could even be argued that IT WAS the largest for North America given the fact that international representation remained a bit tempered due to the pandemic.
The high attendance is only part of the reason I would consider this Pack Expo to be one of the best. Below, I will provide a few personal insights and predictions from the show that are pivotal for our beloved industry.
Automation. Undoubtedly, automation in production environments is nothing new. But the conversations on automation were different this year at the show. I think it has been difficult for manufacturers to appreciate the true value of automation, especially when it come to their coding and labeling processes. The ongoing labor issues have revealed the true costs of waste and rework of product that has been marked/coded/labeled incorrectly due to human error. Additionally, most companies are taking a more conscientious view of the waste they are producing, driving more interest in automated printing solutions.
Openness to change. Manufacturers are recognizing old ways are not going to cut it anymore. They have real problems and are exploring the industry for different options and new ideas. New partners are being invited to the table. Additionally, old processes are being scrutinized, and not just those on the manufacturing floor. All parts of the business are considered opportunities for improvement – from how equipment is bought to how it is serviced and everything in between.
Desire for collaboration. No one can navigate these changing times alone. In this exploration I describe above, it’s becoming clear that it takes a team. No one entity has the deep specialized expertise critical to solving some of today’s manufacturing and packaging challenges. This requires OEMs to work together on solutions that help customers meet changing and challenging requirements. Moreover, CPGs/manufacturers are leaning in and sharing at a deeper level, helping us all learn more and contribute at a higher level.
These are just of the few takeaways from Pack Expo 2022 that, for me, are clear signs of a shift in our industry. For many years there has been much talk about all three of these topics, but limited action. The baton has been passed to a younger generation of engineers, packaging designers, entrepreneurs and leaders who are clearly driving change. As a member of the “older packaging generation,” I am excited for the change and the innovation to come.
I would love to hear your takeaways from the show and your comments on mine. Connect with me on LinkedIn and drop me a message.