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Editors

The Editor!When it comes to innovative packaging machinery design, innovative machinery technology and high reliability, packagers tilt the scales in favor of non-North American machinery companies. Further, the larger the packager, the stronger their belief in the design expertise of foreign manufacturers.

Such are the findings from a study commissioned by the Packaging Machinery Manufacturers Institute and presented at a recent Pack-Ops workshop in Chicago. The Packaging Machinery Purchasing Process Survey, analyzed and written by Dr. Philip Kuehl of Westat, evaluates the input of packaging machinery purchasers through both focus groups and telephone interviews. While several machinery attributes were decidedly favoring non-North American products and manufacturers, the home-grown machinery had its own set of strengths, including quick delivery times, better safety features, short changeover and favorable pricing. Further, 44 percent of the packagers feel that North American manufacturers make the best machinery for the primary packaging function. Kuehl referred to this competitive comparison as the ?truth serum chart.?

How many countries actually contributed materials and parts for your American-built SUV?

The recognition of superior engineering capabilities, especially of German companies, is nothing new, nor is it unique to the packaging machinery market. (Take a good look at what's whizzing down the Autobahn.) Consider also the impact that the Japanese automotive makers have had upon the U.S. market. The globalization of the manufacturing segment makes it increasingly difficult to define ?Made in America,? especially if your U.S.-built SUV is constructed with Chinese-made steel, German electronics and a Japanese sound system.

The survey also found that the majority of companies, regardless of market segment or size, work with well-defined machinery purchasing teams. Between four to six people populate this buying team. By job title, 81 percent of the teams have plant/process/production engineers, 55 percent have plant management, 50 percent purchasing, 51 percent corporate management, and 34 percent packaging designers. (For an inside look at how the buying team at Campbell's Soup works the Pack Expo International trade show, see our online exclusive story at www.packagingdigest.com.) In the past two years, 45 percent of the purchasing teams have recommended that their companies?particularly those in beverage and those with sales under $200 million/year?buy reconditioned or rebuilt machinery, and for one reason: cost reduction. However, only 14 percent of the respondents to the survey see this as an accelerating trend. Machine automation and control systems are becoming more important in the buying decision process. This month, Packaging Digest and Control Engineering bring to many of our readers a special supplement on the topic of automation and controls. If you did not receive this supplement with your issue, you can still read the special report online as a digital magazine on our homepage, www.packagingdigest.com. Or, contact us at [email protected], and we'll be happy to mail you a copy.

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