Leading up to PACK EXPO Las Vegas set for September 26-28 at the Las Vegas Convention Center, this year’s largest resource for packaging and processing innovation in North America, we spoke with Jonathon Titterton, director of sales & marketing at Bosch Packaging Technologies (Booth #1423), Brian Barr, packaging sales manager at Heat and Control (Booth #2433) and Maria Ferrante, vice president, Education & Workforce Development at PMMI, to gain insight into the trend towards integration.

How have your customers changed the way that they address processing and packaging on the line?

Ferrante: The manufacturers that frequently attend the PACK EXPO shows have told us they do not categorize themselves as processors or packagers, per se. They see themselves as professionals within an industry, such as food, confection or pharmaceuticals, so taking a holistic approach to the way they address their processing and packaging operations is important.

Titterton: When we talk to customers about processing and packaging, we tend to focus more on the packaging side. But as we discussed, manufacturers have to address a number of different concerns across their processing and packaging operations – including speed, capacity, sustainability, sanitation and safety. We need to be there for our customers not only at the time of purchase, but later down the road, so engineering and after-market support is important.

Maria Ferrante, vice president, Education & Workforce Development at PMMI

Barr: I agree. Everyone’s looking for added value from their supplier, all the way from the pre-sale stage through the post-sale stage. It’s a simpler, faster and better approach. Brand owners want to have a single point of contact at a supplier that will help them with a broader scope of purchases and carry them from the quote to the engineering phase. They also need a supplier that’s going to be able to provide after-market support to ensure they reap the most benefits from that equipment through its lifetime.

Ferrante: Part of that support – and what our members tell us their customers are demanding – comes with training. End-users need and want as little downtime as possible, and to get that, their employees need to know the machines inside and out. PMMI’s Certified Trainer program helps create leaders within organizations that can teach their colleagues or customers how to use the machinery. We conduct these “train the trainer” sessions all year long, and will conduct a workshop at PACK EXPO Las Vegas.
What is driving the shift to a total system systems approach? What benefits do end-users stand to gain from integrating processing and packaging?

Barr: No matter how far upstream or downstream we’re going with the equipment, our customers have limited resources today. They’re trying to optimize not only their purchasing dollars, but also their staffing. By combining the processing and packaging areas with one supplier or a single source supplier, they’re able to do more with fewer resources. And that’s at the engineering level, it’s at the service level and it’s at the design and implementation levels as well.

Brian Barr, packaging sales manager at Heat and Control

Titterton: Manufacturers are also trying to leverage their investment. Capital equipment is the significant piece of our customers’ procurement budgets. With the number of SKUs that are always being developed and presented to the manufacturing floor, the ability to seamlessly utilize processing and packaging equipment – even through new installments – is the end goal here. Of course, it’s not as simple as that, but this is the objective that more and more of our customers are sharing with us. They need to be able to leverage their investment over the greatest period of time, to manufacture the greatest number of products so that they see the best possible payback. By combining the efforts and plans of the processing and packaging teams, packagers stand a better chance of getting the right equipment to efficiently meet their production goals.

Barr: And I don’t know if you’re seeing the same thing, Jonathan, but speaking of payback, our customers want to have a much quicker return on their capital investments.  And we’re seeing that across the board.

Titterton: I think that stems a great deal from the short lifecycle that so many products seem to have today. The equipment has to generate return-on-investment at a faster pace. Again, this puts pressure on the equipment manufacturer to provide processing and packaging solutions that offer flexibility and longevity so that the customer can maximize payback on a capital investment.

Ferrante: Capital investment dollars are still being held pretty tightly. As a result, end-users and PMMI members have told us that when companies do decide to invest in equipment, they want and expect to see their investment pay off quicker than ever before. Within two years, even. Another thing we’ve learned is that the “build a better mousetrap” model for technical innovation and marketing is flawed, and in fact, services for spare parts, technical support and training are becoming almost as important as the machine itself. As Jonathan and Brian have said, end-users are trying to get the biggest possible return from their capital investments. And while anyone can mark down a price, it’s a one-time function. With training, parts and tech support you have a “gift that keeps on giving,” in the form of more efficient operations and less downtime.

Jonathon Titterton, director of sales & marketing at Bosch Packaging Technologies

We know that this September’s PACK EXPO Las Vegas will spotlight processing solutions in addition to packaging technologies. How does an integrated show floor benefit the buying team?

Barr: I believe it gives them a venue to view the full spectrum of equipment and solutions that they’re looking for. So many of our customers, especially in this economy, are limited in the number of trade shows they can go to. When they can see processing and packaging solutions in one place, buying teams can maximize their time and effort by seeing as many prospective and current suppliers as possible.

Titterton: As buying teams get smaller, they’re always trying to minimize their costs and maximize time. By defining areas specific to certain industries and needs, the show helps attendees manage their time because they know where to find the technologies that they’re looking for.

Ferrante: And that’s exactly why we’re doing it. It’s integral to the customer-centric approach we’ve implemented for this year’s event. By providing features and services that hone in on the needs of specific vertical markets, we’re giving those attendees additional resources to draw from, and frankly, making it easier to navigate this very large show. When attendees experience a high return on the time and resources they’ve invested in attending PACK EXPO, everyone wins.

For more information about PACK EXPO Las Vegas 2011 or to register, visit www.packexpo.com or contact PMMI’s Show Department at 703-243-8555 or expo@pmmi.org.

About PMMI.

PMMI organizes the PACK EXPO trade shows: PACK EXPO International, PACK EXPO Las Vegas and EXPO PACK México, connecting packaging and processing equipment and materials suppliers with their customers around the world. Coming Up: PACK EXPO Las Vegas at the Las Vegas Convention Center Sept. 26–28, 2011.

Learn more about PMMI and the PACK EXPO trade shows at PMMI.org and Packexpo.com.