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Packaging machinery connectivity can help open your door to young engineersPackaging machinery connectivity can help open your door to young engineers

Lisa McTigue Pierce

December 4, 2014

3 Min Read
Packaging machinery connectivity can help open your door to young engineers

Packaging engineers will be in even higher demand in the near future as older, experienced engineers retire and the pool of new recruits is more the size of a reflecting pond than a Great Lake.

It’s long been known that the latest computer gadgets help recruit the next generation of employees in offices. Did you know that engineers are also enticed by companies open to the latest technologies on their packaging lines?

Packaging Digest has been talking about the Industrial Internet (aka the Internet of Things) and its tangible benefits for the packaging industry. Helping you hire the best engineering talent is another bonus.

“If we have difficulty in finding young people to be interested in our business, there is certainly more than just salaries” to interest them, says Dominique Blanc, general manager at eWON Inc., a company that provides products for remote communication in industrial environments, including packaging operations. With its Talk2M, COSY (short for communication made easy) and Flexy products, eWON (short for Eyes Watching Over Network) offers ways of connecting to packaging machines through an industrial router via the plant’s network. This bypasses the need to tap into a company’s corporate network and involve the information technology (IT) department—a common pain point of many packaging engineers.

So Blanc asks the critical question: “Why do we have so few engineers in this business?” He explains, “They are always on the road. It’s not appealing for young kids.”

He contends, “It’s a pretty demanding job. The trend is clear: People want to spend more time with their family and their hobby. They want to help their employer, don’t get me wrong. But if there is a means to make [their job] more efficient…instead of losing 10 hours of traveling for 10 minutes of troubleshooting…” Blanc says. “Technology can help us here. You don’t have to be on the road every weekend. You can fix something remotely and still have a family life.”

Today, more original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) are adding remote monitoring to their machines as a way to help minimize downtime and quickly get their customers’ packaging lines operating again. It cuts service costs, yes. But uptime is usually the key driver. “We have a tendency to see that the end users get less competent on these technologies. They rely more and more on the OEMs,” Blanc says. “Now the OEM has a capability to provide a very good service and help customers keep running those machines.”

However, as we get into situations where qualified packaging engineers will be hard to find, there might be an opportunity for the end user to maximize the experience and expertise of their in-house engineers by giving them remote access. Package engineering supervisors and managers can save time and travel, and quickly help operators troubleshoot lines that are down, by tapping into the same technology.

“If a factory becomes more efficient because there is less downtime, then this trend of having more manufacturing here in the States might be more sustainable. We can produce more efficiently and more cost effectively if the product is running all the time instead of like today, at 50% or 60% at the best,” Blanc says.

“We need to find a way—any way—to help customers grow their business. I suspect technology will provide a means to be more efficient with existing resources,” Blanc adds. “Kids today love technology. They love to be connected with their phone. Having suddenly a different relationship with those machines might be appealing…if we know how to present it to them.

“There’s a full industry that’s going to happen around the Internet of Things. We have the ambition to provide the means for connecting at eWON. But there are beautiful opportunities to develop for kids in providing service and being able to enjoy life.”

About the Author(s)

Lisa McTigue Pierce

Executive Editor, Packaging Digest

Lisa McTigue Pierce is Executive Editor of Packaging Digest. She’s been a packaging media journalist since 1982 and tracks emerging trends, new technologies, and best practices across a spectrum of markets for the publication’s global community. Reach her at [email protected] or 630-272-1774.

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