One of the industries in which Indramat motion control is most commonly used is in preparing packaging. There may be some question about the future of print books, magazines, and newspapers, but it’s clear that packaging for products is around for the long haul.
In fact, some industry insiders will tell you that all the innovation these days is going into the packaging, not into the products.
That may not be fair. Consider the issues affecting packaging now:
- The demand for sustainability, which calls for recycling and recyclables — but also for less energy usage and conservation of raw materials.
- The need to provide flex packaging for the European and South American markets, plus U.S. specialty foods.
- The conflict over flex pouch packaging, since it requires less energy and raw materials — but is not recyclable.
- Mega-retailers’ demands for new and different packaging for their versions of products.
- The trend toward personalization for modern consumers, and the tendency to rely on special packaging to accomplish it.
- One-upmanship on the design side leading to increasingly ambitious packaging designs.
There may be challenges, but there are also success stories. Nestle was recently able to return to production a popular product that had been pulled from their line up because of packaging issues. Now, with a new line of half a dozen robots, they can begin production once again.
The key? New sensors. Servo motors rely on sensors on various kinds to provide feedback in a closed loop system that allows a great deal of precision in motion control. Old school sensors could only sense things like location, speed, and temperature. New kinds of sensors accommodate flexible pouches, allow machinery to check for food contamination of seals, and manage to stack boxes of inconsistent sizes and shapes.
As sensors evolve, motion control evolves, and packaging can more easily keep pace with the demands of the industry.