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Integrators Role in Automation

Research Methodology
Key Findings
Packagers Speak Out on System Integrators

Packaging is a specialty that manufacturers in virtually every industry must address. To some, it means skids, shrinkwrap and labels. To others, it includes complex "recipes" of materials, sizes, cartons and containers. Control Engineering and Packaging Digest set out to investigate this dynamic market through the Automation in Packaging Benchmark Study, a three-part, year-long research project conducted by Reed Research Group. This 360° overview of the state of packaging automation reveals the technology, market drivers and business issues affecting packagers, equipment builders and system integrators.

In Vol. 1, published in April 2008, research results came from the packagers and brand owners themselves. Vol. 2, published in August, focused on packaging equipment builders.

This is Vol. 3, and it focuses on system integrators. This small, but influential group provides hands-on help for system design, manufacture and installation. They also offer multi-industry insights to help packagers obtain the optimal solution for automating their production.

Complete results from all three volumes of the Automation in Packaging Benchmark Study, as well as other resources based on the research, can be found online at or Watch for release of the Webcast summarizing and contrasting all three studies in mid-December.

Types of automation

Package handling 69%
Palletizing/unitizing 69%
Conveying 65%
Cartoning 63%
Labeling 59%
Marking/coding 55%
Product inspection 53%
Fill form/fill/seal 51%
Casing 47%
Robotics 45%
Overwrapping 33%
Other 2%
Multiple choices allowed

Areas where integrators claim automation experience

Multiple choices allowed
HMIs and industrial PCs 80%
Motors drives and motion control 78%
Application and programming software 71%
Instrumentation and control components 65%
Networks and communications hardware and software 55%
Process and advanced control 53%
Machine and embedded controllers 43%

Steps in a packaging automation project
1. Opportunity identification
2. Conceptual design
3. Detailed design
4. Installation/implementation
5. Troubleshooting

Most important automation and control product attributes

Multiple choices allowed
Reliability (e.g. performance) 55%
Price-to-performance value 45%
Quality/durability (e.g. long lasting) 39%
Easy to use, install and maintain 31%
Compatibility with existing systems 27%
Product specifications 24%
Long term cost of ownership 18%
Price 18%
Scalability 10%
Enhances speed of changeover (line) 10%
Products performed well during in-house testing 4%
Offers development tools 2%
Lot tracking/tracing capabilities 2%
Other 2%

Which brand-related characteristics are most important when evaluating automation vendors?

Multiple choices allowed
Technical support 53%
Previous experience with vendor 51%
Vendor reputation/known brand name/longevity 49%
On-time delivery 37%
Product availability 37%
Breadth of product line 20%
24x7 service and support 18%
Vendor's partnerships 16%
Offers remote, diagnostic support 16%
Global support 10%
Specialized product line 8%
R&D/innovation 8%
Other 2%

Ethernet protocols supported

Multiple choices allowed
EtherNet/IP 90%
Modbus TCP 43%
ProfiNet 43%
Foundation Fieldbus 20%
PowerLink 10%
EtherCAT 8%
Other 8%
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