Jorge Izquierdo, vice president, market development for PMMI (, The Association for Packaging and Processing Technologies, says PMMI’s Operational Excellence Forums (OEFs) are more than one-day meetings. They’re part of a larger strategy PMMI is implementing to help move the processing and packaging industries forward.

“Our objective is to bring the entire packaging and processing supply chain together to create an environment in which people can collaborate, communicate and continuously improve packaging and processing operations,” Izquierdo says.

A pair of new reports, summaries from the OEFs in Trenton, NJ, and Milwaukee, Wisc., this spring, describe the results of this type of collaboration. At both OEFs, mixed groups of PMMI members and machinery end users drew up a list of “Points of Progress,” i.e., topic areas, that included total cost of ownership (TCO), requests for proposals, post-purchase projects; global design considerations, managing packaging materials, and bringing stakeholders into the process earlier.

“The participants as a group, collaborated to find answers. They worked together, just as they must on the job, within the customer-supplier relationship,” Izquierdo says. “For example, let’s look at TCO. While it’s critical that a customer and a supplier clarify customer expectations before the order is placed, OEMs and CPGs also need to come together as a group to create a standard template anyone can use.”

TCO is also an area of interest for the Alliance for Innovation & Operational Excellence (AIOE), which PMMI founded to provide a place where all elements of the supply chain can jointly address issues that will, ultimately, move their businesses and industries forward.

“TCO is very important to a buyer’s decision making progress. But when the supplier and the customer define it differently, the result is conflicting information and misunderstandings,” Izquierdo says. “It’s only one example of where coming together, and working together, can benefit everyone.”

But nowhere is the concept of coming together as apparent as at PMMI’s PACK EXPO trade shows, he adds, pointing to the still-growing and upcoming PACK EXPO Las Vegas 2013 (Sept. 23–25, Las Vegas Convention Center), with its more than 1,600 exhibitors and 700,000 net square feet to date.

“PACK EXPO has an amazing breadth and depth of exhibitors serving 40 or more vertical industries,” Izquierdo says. “And one of the great things about that range of solutions is that it allows attendees to draw inspiration from other markets. For example, we’ve heard many tales of food manufacturers picking up tips for complying with the Food Safety Modernization Act from pharmaceutical manufacturers. It’s the serendipity effect.”

PMMI takes advantage of the confluence of industries, too, conducting “Vision 2020” focus groups with attendees to learn more about the trends shaping their packaging and processing operations as well as their businesses overall. "

 “It’s an outstanding learning opportunity,” says Izquierdo. “And in the long run, that’s what PMMI’s industry engagement strategy is all about. It’s our effort to learn and to encourage the continuous improvement of packaging and processing operations. I encourage anyone who’s interested to read the reports.”