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Packagers downplay relationships between integrators and vendors

The Automation in Packaging study conducted last fall by Packaging Digest and Control Engineering magazines reveals a host of insights into the relationships between packaging integrators, packaging equipment vendors, packagers and their clients. One observation I noted last month was that a mere 8 percent of the packagers who responded to the first phase of the study cited “affiliations with preferred vendors” as a top criterion for choosing a system integrator. Apparently, packagers don't much care about the relationship between their vendors and their system integrators, at least not when it comes to choosing the right system integrator for a particular project.

So what do packagers care about? Cost is a big issue. Of all the factors cited as the most important criteria for choosing a system integrator, cost was at the top of the list, having been selected by 64 percent of the survey's respondents. Equally predictable was the rebuttal from system integrators who claim that anyone who routinely chooses the lowest bidder will generally get what he's paid for. See the article, “Qualifications Should Come First,” in the June 2009 issue of Control Engineering at for more on that debate.

Tied for second on the list of what packagers care about, with a 51-percent selection rate, were “success of previous project with us” and “expertise in packaging.” On those issues, packagers and integrators agree. Because integrators tend to rely on repeat business from existing clients, their future prospects depend on executing every job to the client's satisfaction. One of the principal skills required to successfully integrate an automation system is expertise in packaging.

Curiously, though, general “technical skills” and “technical resources” were deemed only half as important by the survey's respondents, both with a 26-percent selection rate. Perhaps expertise in packaging requires more than just technical skills.

Even more curious was how few of the survey's respondents cited “geographic proximity” as the top criteria for choosing a system integrator—only 14 percent. That result directly contradicts the preferences expressed by packagers that use the online Packaging Integrator Guide (under the Resources tab at to search for system integrators.

Of the seven available search criteria, “location” is specified far more than any other—82 percent of all searchers ask for integrators located in a particular state or province.

More details about what packagers say they want when in a system integrator is available in a study by Bull's Eye Research (

What End Users are Looking for in Automation System Integrators 2009 analyzes search statistics from the Packaging Integrator Guide and the broader Automation Integrator Guide ( to identify trends pointing to the kinds of integrators in greatest demand.

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