For quality, safety, efficiency and economic reasons, the packaging industry is moving toward a way to capture, analyze and use Big Data on individual machines, as well as on entire packaging lines.
Stimulating conversation with Friedbert Klefenz, president of Bosch Packaging Technology, at the Pack Expo 2014 show (Booth S-3514), explored the impact of machine connectivity and Big Data on the future of packaging operations.
One of the keys to making this work will be incorporating more sensor technologies on packaging systems, Klefenz says. “Big Data will only work with sensors that we can afford. We need penny products,” he says.
Klefenz admits that Bosch has many thoughts on how to move ahead—but isn’t settling in any one direction yet. Many discussions today are still in their early stage and seem to be a bit more theoretical than dealing with practicality. More conversations and pilot projects will help identify the viability of various options.
What data do packaging engineers need? What sensor technologies will be best suited to getting that data? What will manufacturers do with the information once they have it?
The future, Klefenz predicts, will see more automated packaging systems outfitted with smart sensors that can deliver data that will allow manufacturers to better regulate the packaging process at each stage.
The end goal? “Automation is the driving factor to achieve high—and constant—quality,” Klefenz says.
He also tells me that he and I may have more to talk about in this regard in 2.5 years at the next interpack show. I think we will.