Category: Machinery builders
Security - The next frontier
June 27, 2013
Shop floor data security was a topic at The Automation Conference held last month with security expert Eric Byres of Tofino Security sharing his experiences and the results of government studies on the topic. The takeaway was that you can't hide from security concerns under the belief that your equipment isn't connected. The best security is to connect everything and then take active steps to monitor and protect your information....
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What machinery design standard?
October 3, 2012
In the course of preparing questions for exams in industrial maintenance, the issue arose as to the electrical standards being used today by industrial equipment manufacturers in North America. The standards used for decades were those published by the Joint Industry Council. NFPA 79 is often cited as the replacement to JIC, but is it up to the task?...
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What is a warranty?
September 28, 2012
Warranties are complex. Manufacturers, distributors, sales people, and end users are all affected in different ways by warranties. Warranty terms and claims will affect liability, profits, commissions, productivity, good will, and future sales. For companies doing business internationally, a web of different standards and laws must be daunting. For machine builders, machines may never be out of warranty where safety is concerned. As a manufacturing end user, I often found...
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Will industry accept manufacturing skill standards?
August 31, 2012
Today the Governor's office in my home state issued a report on the status of manufacturing in Pennsylvania along with a series of specific recommendations for encouraging growth in manufacturing. As has been discussed many times in this blog, the report confirmed: "the most pressing problem now and for the near-term is finding people with the education and skills to fill the high-quality manufacturing positions currently available"; and "Of equal...
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Are smartphones sending the wrong message?
July 30, 2012
Was one of your smartphone apps updated today? Hardly a day goes by that I don't have at least one app updated. One day this past week, eleven of my apps had updates. Most of these are listed as 'bug fixes'. What message are we sending to the next generation of engineers, bankers, and software developers about doing things right and complete the first time?...
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A new paradigm for wrapper infeed
March 28, 2012
A new paradigm for feeding product into a wrapping machine is being commercialized. A video on the Beckhoff Automation website demonstrates the principle that packaging machine builders could apply to control the timing of randomly spaced products into a continuous feed wrapper. Taken by itself, it could be viewed as overkill for a wrapper infeed, but when the overall system impact is considered, it may soon become a reasonable approach....
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Evolving strategies for packaging machinery specifications
February 20, 2012
Packaging machines have gone through three major periods of evolution, as have many end user's strategies for writing packaging machine specifications. Let's explore why you might consider changing your company's specification strategy....
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The PLC Charade
October 27, 2011
We need to question the ongoing practice of adding an unnecessary PLC to a complex mechatronic machine while maintaining the primary control software in another control platform. That primary platform will contain the motion control algorithms but could just as well perform the functions allocated to the PLC. Why are we permitting, or in some cases requiring, this added cost and complexity?...
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How to develop a culture of safety in your plant
June 29, 2011
Safety is often listed as the top priority of plant managers. That said, not much more gets said. How does one implement a safety culture? Attendees at the 2011 Packaging Automation Forum sponsored by Packaging World and Automation World obtained some insite into that question. Here are some of the learnings from PAF as interpreted by yours truly....
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PackML World Tour Continues
March 31, 2011
The PackML World Tour is an initiative of the OMAC Packaging Workgroup in cooperation with the Packaging Machinery Manufacturers Institute to explain the real business benefits of adopting PackML. Unlike past initiatives where consumer goods companies' engineers tried to sell the benefits of PackML, this time the executives of packaging machinery companies are speaking out in an effort to drive industry-wide adoption....
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Are the vultures flying around your plant?
March 13, 2011
No manufacturer wants to become food for vultures; yet many do. While publications struggle to stay afloat in this day of free content via the internet, a one year subscription to Plant Closing News will set you back $999. In its 8 year existence, PCN has reported on over 5000 plant closings and relocations. Paul Clemens' book Punching Out - One Year in a Closing Auto Plant, chronicles the events...
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Implications for packaging as US manufacturing rebounds
January 22, 2011
Manufacturing output, productivity, capital investment and jobs are all on the rise as the US creeps out of recession according to this week's Wall St. Journal. As worldwide demand for goods increases, especially in Asia, some US manufacturers are once again investing in capacity in the US and using their overseas capacity to fill overseas demand. With suitable government support, cooperation between labor and management and a return to teaching...
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5S - Unintended Consequences
October 22, 2010
I've heard that application of the 5S methodology is having some unintended consequences in the area of maintenance. Is this possibly a miss-application of the process or are there some roads that 5S will lead you down that were not intended?...
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Another important concept - Integrated Robotics
September 30, 2010
For some time I've mentioned the term integrated robotics in my posts. As time has passed, I've learned that not everyone interprets this term in the same way. I see integrated robotics as a significant advancement in the design of machinery, so I think it worth some further discussion....
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Is carelessness the new norm?
September 26, 2010
Information technology (IT) has been a great enabler in nearly every area of life and business. Mechatronic packaging machines, enabled by IT, are far more capable, flexible, and affordable than their non-IT enabled counterparts. Our ability to communicate with one another has expanded in unbelievable ways. The benefits that IT has brought to our lives can't be fully enumerated. But while enjoying the benefits, we've also picked up some bad...
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Words are important- Mechatronics
August 31, 2010
Words are important to our lives. Careless use of words gets us in trouble with our wives, children and coworkers. Incorrect use of words obscures meaning. Overuse of words reduces impact. Today the word mechatronics is being carelessly, incorrectly and too frequently used. The result could be a setback to innovation, education and workforce development. Let's review the definition of mechatronics and what we should do to keep its use...
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Clarification on PackML
August 20, 2010
After a recent post in which I mentioned PackML, I received a response from Dave Chappell pointing out what has become a pervasive bit of confusion about the official ISA document that contains the PACKML guidelines. I was unaware of this situation and have been contributing to the confusion, so let's try to set the record straight....
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Good times ahead for packaging machinery
July 30, 2010
As more and more companies report increased earnings along with disappointing sales, this says to me that good times are ahead for packaging machinery companies and others who facilitate automation. Why? Because the only way to increase earnings on weak sales is through gains in productivity. These hard times are providing proof positive that there is another wave of productivity gains that can be achieved even by those who were...
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PMMI Launches Mechatronics Certificate Program
June 30, 2010
The Packaging Machinery Manufacturers Institute (PMMI) has launched their certificate program in mechatronics. The first test in the series of certificates is now avaiiable to be taken online. This test covers the principles and applications of basic industrial electricity and electronics as they relate to packaging machinery and systems. This is the first of a planned twenty one tests for certificates covering packaging-oriented mechatronics skills required for industrial maintenance, design,...
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All this talk about sustainable packaging machinery - Are we being honest?
May 25, 2010
One of the world's packaging guru's asked my opinion this month on whether sustainability is now a factor and if it will become more so in packaging machinery evaluation and selection. By the time I had finished my response, I decided that I had something to share with my readers, although many may disagree with my conclusion. I think that all of this talk about sustainable packaging machinery is being...
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Mechatronic Solutions for OEM's and Training for Users
January 29, 2010
This isn't a tweet, but I am on the train returning from a visit to Festo, the sponsor of OnTheEdgeBlog. I must admit that I didn't know to much about Festo beyond their pneumatic components, and readers may be in a similar situation, so without getting too commercial, allow me to share a few observations. If you want to learn more, check out one of the links in the left-hand...
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It's a New Year - What sort of customer will you be?
December 18, 2009
It's late December, and when the Christmas rush is over, our thoughts may turn to resolutions for the new year. I have a suggestionthat you might want to consider. Resolve to become a better customer....
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Should Packaging Machines have Total Recall?
November 30, 2009
A new technology application called Total Recall could, in the foreseeable future, change the way we interact with people and live our lives. In the even shorter term, this technology could change the way we interact with, design and support machines. Should we be thinking about our machines being built with total recall?...
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Sustainability replaces innovation at PackExpo
October 24, 2009
I was underwhelmed by the number of innovative machine applications at PackExpo. A colleague with the same observation expressed it succinctly: it was all about sustainability. The emphasis on green and sustainable is being driven by political correctness. Technological innovation, not political correctness, is necessary to sustain our industry. Let's not allow this to become yet another distraction that allows our international competitors to increase their competitive advantage....
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What I'm expecting at PackExpo
September 29, 2009
It's time for many of us to be off to this year's PackExpo in Las Vegas. I'm sure that many exhibitors are concerned about the payback from a trade show in this economy and many end users are fretting about not attending due to travel restrictions. But perhaps this will be an opportunity to turn lemons into lemonade. Here's what I expect....
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What's up with used equipment?
August 31, 2009
I've been seeing more and more notices about major auctions of used process and packaging equipment. That may not be too unusual in a down economy, but the thing that has me thinking about it is that so much of it is relatively late model equipment being sold out of plants in Mexico. What's up with that?...
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Higher wages: one solution to cheap labor
June 29, 2009
We often hear about cheap overseas labor destroying the US manufacturing base. The response of threatened manufacturers is often to pull in, cut spending and try to beat the foreign competition at their own game by squeezing labor costs. But, you can't save your way to prosperity. A better solution might be to reinvest in people and advanced technology....
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The importance of geek leadership
April 30, 2009
Lack of geek leadership is crushing American business. The inability of "suits" to relate to and motivate geeks denies business of needed innovation. The lack of will by geeks to hone skills to exercise leadership stifles careers and further erodes geek influence on business. If you are a packager, packaging machine builder or converter, you need geeks and geek leadership to drive your business into the future. Geeks and suits...
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Are US and European machine automation architectures diverging?
November 17, 2008
As I reflect on 5 days of observations at PackExpo, it strikes me that automation architectures of US and European machine builders are diverging and becoming more entrenched....
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Is anyone measuring packaging machine sales per capita?
November 11, 2008
I've always been a believer in managing by metrics. Is anyone looking at packaging machinery sales dollars per capita in a particular region of the world? If not, I think they should be....
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Recession may drive investment in higher technology machines
October 27, 2008
As we continue into what is most likely a global recession, I am sure that many are concerned about the impact on sales of packaged goods, packaging materials and packaging machinery. No doubt there will be a quantitative reduction in sales of many products, but in addition, there will be a qualitative shift in what is being purchased. Those able to capitalize on that shift, will be best able to...
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More trends from Interpack - Globalization, Consolidation & Customer Intimacy
July 21, 2008
They say that sometimes we miss the forest by looking at the trees. If you didn't spend all of your time at Interpack looking at the machines, you could step back and see some evolution in the industry as a whole. I've attended Interpack many times, mostly as an end user, then as a trade group organizer, and now with press credentials. Each way of attending opens up a new...
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Robots at Interpack: Cars to nuts, and purpose-built too!
June 22, 2008
What was the most significant trend at Interpack 2008? Many would agree that it was the ubiquitousness of robotics. The halls of the Duesseldorf messe contained hundreds of robotic arms. The smallest item I saw handled by a robot was a single almond and the largest was an entire automobile. But the big news is the number of purpose-built arms that have been implemented by the European packaging machine industry....
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Can you stop China from copying patented packaging machinery?
June 16, 2008
Interpack has often had its intellectual property intrigue and this year is no different. Ishida, the statistical scale company, obtained injunctions against nine Chinese entities that prevented them from displaying their statistical scales at the fair. The dispute involves a patent related to the waterproof construction of the equipment. In a press release that I read in Ishida's booth, three Chinese companies had been named, Highdream, Jinyi and Saimo, but...
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What is mechatronic design?
May 16, 2008
What is mechatronic design and how do you recognize good mechatronic design when you see it? What are the principles that should be followed?...
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Packaging applications of linear motors debut at Interpack
May 5, 2008
Linear motors have been slow to catch on in packaging, but several applications appeared at this year's Interpack. It's time to put linear motors on your company's technology plan....
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Italian machines using German technology earn my respect
May 5, 2008
There is a popular verse that says Heaven is where the police are British, the lovers French, the mechanics German, the cooks Italian, and the whole is organized by the Swiss. Another verse describes Hell, but we'll skip that one. From my observations at Interpack, there are some corollaries to this verse that relate to the building of packaging machines. It seemed to me that the most elegant and sophisticated...
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It's time to do Interpack
March 31, 2008
It's soon time for Interpack, and many of us will be heading for Dusseldorf where we will be obliged to leave behind a huge quantity of our under-valued dollars. But Interpack is not something you'll want to miss, so I have ten suggestions on how to do it and not have it do you. Perhaps these suggestions can make Interpack a more valuable experience....
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Wireless sensors and actuators are on the edge
February 5, 2008
If you are a machine builder, how valuable would it be to eliminate the need of running wires all over your machines to sensors and actuators? I think that could have some value. Wireless technology has been available to eliminate the control wiring, but power wiring was still necessary. New products are beginning to emerge that eliminate the need for both control and power wiring and that are small and...
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Customer-focused innovators make the best customers
January 28, 2008
If you are a packaging machinery company prospecting for customers, my recommendation is to look for those who are leaders in customer-focused innovation. They make the best customers....
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Social Networking - The Next Great Enabling Technology
December 7, 2007
Few would disagree that the digital servo has been the great enabling technology for packaging operations over the past 15 years. Could it be that social networking software as exploited by YouTube and MySpace may be the next great enabler?...
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The robots are coming
October 29, 2007
We may be OnTheEdge of major growth spurt for robotics on North American packaging lines. That is what some, including Ben Miyares of PMMI, reported at a robotics conference held over the weekend leading up to Pack Expo in Las Vegas....
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It's not your father's packaging machinery company - or is it?
August 27, 2007
The look of a packaging machinery company is changing. Where once they resembled machine shops, some now resemble IT departments. I first became aware of this about 5 years ago on a tour of some Italian packaging machinery companies, some of whom neither made parts nor assembled machines. Their businesses were built upon the core skills of 3-D modeling, design and software development. This same trend is catching on around...
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Interchangeable parts - Why not software?
August 19, 2007
The concept of interchangeable parts is one that packaging machinery builders readily understand and depend upon every day. Not only are parts from a single manufacturer interchangable within a machine, but builders source custom parts from multiple manufacturers to control cost and schedule and generic parts are interchangeable across a host of different machines and devices. We have come to enjoy and expect that fasteners, shafts, gears, couplings, motors, valves,...
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Huge potential exists for packaging automation
July 22, 2007
Recently, I have had occasion to visit a variety of packaging plants the likes of which I never saw in my first career of 28 years. I had no idea that there were US packagers that were throwing so much labor at their operations. Even 30 years ago, I didn't see these labor levels in the industry segments in which I was involved....
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OMAC Standards: Marketing ploy or value-adding?
June 25, 2007
With the price and scarcity of manufacturing labor, the future of manufacturing in America depends upon our ability to automate – Really Automate. Our ability to really automate depends upon making it simple to reliably automate and simple to reliably integrate our automation with our supply chains. Making it simple and reliable depends upon our adoption and use of standards like those under development by OMAC and the availability of...
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The hidden packaging economy
May 30, 2007
Let's do a little experiment. Ask yourself the following questions? Can I name 2 of the top 3 North American automobile companies? Can I name 2 of the top 3 North American metals companies? Can I name 2 of the top 3 North American petro-chemical companies? Can I name 2 of the top 3 North American packagers? Can I name 2 of the top 3 North American packaging machinery?...
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Getting technology education suited to packging - A how-to guide
May 18, 2007
Technology education in America has been driven by the automotive, metals, aerospace and petro-chemical industries. Certificate programs from organizations like ISA do a good job in preparing technicians for the petro-chemical industry. Programs from NCIST (National Center for Integrated Systems Technology) prepare technicians for employment in the automotive or metals industries. But where does one go for a certificate that prepares technicians for packaging and consumer packaged goods? The available...
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Packagers deprived of talent by misunderstanding of manfuacturing
May 18, 2007
If you ask the average parent, guidance counselor or high school student what manufacturing is all about, you will probably get a description of a steel mill, auto factory, refinery or machine shop. You may also hear that manufacturing is no longer viable in the United States and that manufacturing jobs are hot, dirty, mindless and vanishing. Our general perception of manufacturing is a narrow and outdated one. I call...
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How packaging can compete for workforce development $'s
May 18, 2007
Federal, state and local government agencies can provide significant financial assistance to an industry segment for the updating of skills and technology. Programs such as the Presidents High Growth Job Training Initiative and similar state initiatives target industry clusters that are perceived to offer high growth and stability, often as the result of underlying high-tech. Is packaging getting its share of these dollars? Probably not- but it can. Here are...
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Community activism or tribalism for automation industry?
May 14, 2007
Automation professionals used to behave as a community. End users, technology providers and systems integrators would convene at industry-wide events, much like county fairs, to share ideas, best practices and lessons-learned....
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Why demographics will drive your packaging automation
March 26, 2007
Indications are that capital spending for packaging automation is on the rise. PMMI reports increased sales among their members; automation companies are reporting a brisk business environment; and machine suppliers that I have talked to report both increasing backlogs and forecasts. One reason often cited for this is workforce demographics....
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Packaging machinery design may be impacted by NIST R&D
March 11, 2007
R&D activities related to smart assembly at the National Institute of Science and Technology may have direct impact on packaging machinery design....
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Small packaging machinery suppliers may be shut out of pharmaceuticals
March 11, 2007
Some packaging machinery manufacturers and systems integrators have shied away from pharmaceutical customers due to the burden of process and machinery validation. The costs of validation may exceed the costs of hardware and software, and going through the process is not for the faint-of-heart. Costs of 1.5 times the total automation cost have been reported for initial validation and changes to a validated process that may take 2 hours in...
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How risk aversion robs packaging machinery buyers--and builders--of innovation
February 20, 2007
I've heard from several end user and supplier sources that packaging machinery customers are becoming more risk-averse. This is really too bad. Risk-aversion is one of those insidious diseases, like cancer, that can eat away at a company's growth and development....
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Standards increase design creativity, not restrict it
February 10, 2007
During a remodeling project at my son's house, a trip to the home improvement store revealed that the track and fixtures that they now carry aren't compatible with the track and fixtures that my son already has. Result: he can forgo the improvements, or he can tear it all out and start over with new track lighting, or he can waste time and resources to try to find the parts...
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|About Keith Campbell
|Leaders learn from the past while
looking to the future - and bring both to bear on the here
and now. This is the philosophy that has steered Keith Campbell's
30+ years in manufacturing. It has worked for him in operations,
maintenance, engineering, R&D, education, consulting and
professional organizations--and now he's putting it to work
for you--taking you to the edge of his thoughts on packaging