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Smart sensors on automated packaging machines enable Big Data advantages

Sean Riley

February 2, 2017

4 Min Read
Smart sensors on automated packaging machines enable Big Data advantages
Identify packaging line performance improvements through Big Data analysis, powered by smart sensors.

Connectivity within manufacturing and packaging plants brings efficiency, safety and better quality. And what packaging engineer doesn’t want that?

With the rise of the Internet of Things (IoT) and remote monitoring technology, manufacturers in a number of industries are experiencing a revolution when it comes to optimizing production lines for efficiency, safety and product quality. But what makes this technology possible for packaging professionals?

By implementing smart sensor technology, manufacturers are able to detect issues on the line and collect this data to correct errors in real time. These intelligent sensors pick up information and send it to control and monitoring systems that aggregate meaningful data that is useful to manufacturers. With growing connectivity between packaging machinery manufacturers, their customers and their product lines, overall manufacturing and production are becoming smarter.

Smart sensors boost efficiency for manufacturers

According to the National Assn. of Manufacturers, the manufacturing sector accounts for 9% of the workforce in the United States with 12.3 million workers—and with about 3 million new employees likely needed within the next decade. Additionally, manufacturers contributed $2.17 trillion to the U.S. economy in 2015. As the manufacturing sector continues to grow, companies are making more intelligent decisions to improve efficiency.

Using Big Data, sensors implemented into packaging lines are able to detect where on the line manufacturers are seeing inefficiencies and unexpected downtime. Through the collection of these data points, smart sensors can be used to reduce downtime, improve overall machine performance on the line and implement predictive measures that will ensure production is not slowed—and output is optimized.

Safety and product quality benefits

Implementing smart sensor technology also benefits end users by creating safer environments for employees. Because sensors are either hard-wired or digitally configured to send information to a control and monitoring system, employees are less likely to be put in situations where they must interact with machinery that is in operation. By eliminating these risks, sensors provide an extra safety precaution for manufacturing plants.

With the ability to identify issues in real time, manufacturers are also able to improve the quality of their products. Not only is intelligent sensor technology able to detect where equipment can be more efficient, but information collected by sensors can be used for corrective measures automatically, rather than manually. Original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) are then able to use corrective measures to ensure that their equipment is producing consistent products of the highest quality.

At Pack Expo East 2017 (Feb. 27–March 1; Philadelphia), several exhibitors will showcase technologies that leverage smart sensors to enhance packaging lines. Attendees will be able to learn how to apply these technologies to create more efficient, safe production lines.

For example:


Piab Inc. (Booth 722) will showcase its Smart-IO Link, a generic communication technology that enables users to easily link together different systems within a plant. Easy wiring is one of the main advantages of this technology, which can be used with any type of fieldbus.


Inopak’s (Booth 954) industrial automation sensors for the baking and snack, food and beverage, cosmetics, dairy and pharmaceutical markets will be on display. Product lines include barcode readers/scanners for linear and two-dimensional (2D) codes, vision and photoelectric sensors, and inspection/verification systems.


• Additionally, Keyence Corp. of America (Booth 407) will exhibit its sensor technology designed to meet automation needs in the beverage, confectionary, automotive, meat and poultry, pharmaceutical and cosmetic industries. Keyence Corp. of America’s technology on display at Pack Expo East includes sensors, measuring systems, laser markers, microscopes and machine vision systems that assist with factory automation.

• Attendees can also learn more about automation technology and other packaging and processing solutions at the Innovation Stage presentations at Pack Expo East 2017.

To learn more about smart sensor solutions on exhibit at the show and to register, visit www.packexpoeast.com.


Sean Riley is the senior director, Media & Industry Communications, for PMMI, The Association for Packaging and Processing Technologies. He began his work with PMMI in 2006 as editor of its Packaging Machinery Technology magazine. He is a member of various industry organizations including the International Packaging Press Organization (IPPO) and the American Society of Business Press Editors.


See a host of new ideas in packaging machinery, materials and more at WestPack 2017 (Feb. 7-9; Anaheim, CA). Register today!

About the Author(s)

Sean Riley

Senior Director, Media and Industry Communications, PMMI

Sean Riley — senior director, Media and Industry Communications, for PMMI — is an award-winning communications and marketing professional with more than 25 years of experience in consumer and business-to-business (B2B) publications, as well as public relations, corporate communications and marketing. PMMI, The Association for Packaging and Processing Technologies, connects consumer packaged goods companies with manufacturing solutions through the world-class PACK EXPO portfolio of trade shows.

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