SIG´s new Director Corporate Development and Digital Transformation, Christian Alt, outlines in his commentary for SIGnals 3 key aspects and benefits regarding digital transformation within the food packaging industry:
Stagnation means regression: This is particularly true when it comes to digitalisation. Companies all over the world are on their way to realise that – and they look for handy solutions to get digital. Why? The digitalisation of production promises benefits like more efficiency, a higher transparency and – in the end – happier customers.
The Industry 4.0 has a wealth of advantages in store for the packaging industry. Required are easy to use end-to-end solutions that offer them clear added value. We could call it Packaging 4.0.
Three different aspects
“Based on a constant data exchange between every participant – from manufacturing robots to storage to microchips – all production and logistic processes are networked.”Motivated by an ever increasing competition and demanding consumers, packaging companies are under constant pressure to optimise service and product quality as well as their internal processes. Industry 4.0 solutions help in three different aspects:
• Machines become more efficient: Production sites that communicate with workpieces and autonomously call for a service technician, if needed? With Industry 4.0 this vison becomes reality. Production machines connect thanks to state-of-the-art communication technology to a self-learning system, a Smart Factory. Based on a constant data exchange between every participant – from manufacturing robots to storage to microchips – all production and logistic processes are networked. As a result, everything can be controlled and monitored remotely, reducing personnel costs and increasing productivity. Thanks to data analysis, the machines learn from past occurrences and adjust themselves accordingly. Thus, if for example a batch change-over is coming up, they react autonomously to it and spare the operator the trip. Additionally, they report and react to errors. By sending alarms to service technicians on their own, the downtime can be effectively reduced. And with predictive or condition based maintenance, breakdowns can be detected and avoided before they happen and affect the whole process negatively.
• Small print runs and even unique packaging become realistic: Cost-effective and freely combinable production chains enable manufacturers to produce individual carton packs with extremly short lead time. This makes it possible for them to react better to current events, for example adapt their packaging to the news or world events. Of course it can also reflect social media trends, thus using the packs as smart marketing instruments. It allows them to comply with customer wishes for more individuality too. Customised packages with names or a personalised design on them meet the requirements of increasingly demanding customers and serve at the same time as advertising material.
• Packaging gets smart: Aseptic carton packs that can tell how and where their content comes from and how it was processed are convenient for customers and profitable for manufacturers. Connected packs become smart – and visible in real-time in the value chain. Due to this, manufacturers can use them to provide information about the origin and quality of the contents. With this service, they are reacting to a growing demand for more transparency and enhance the status of their product itself. Additionally, in case of any product claims, the cause for the trouble can be traced back more quickly; for example in case there was a quality issue with some raw material or a problem in the supply chain.
Control the product flow
“Interfaces to ERP systems allow for a true and full visibility through the entire value chain; linking the final products to the exact retailers.
This smart product labeling of connected packs is made possible by modern technologies like digital printing of unique QR codes. SIG’s packaging with individual codes and the accompanying scanning and software solutions give packaging companies a wide range of advantages: They can improve quality control and standards to avoid quality issues and eliminate risks. Additionally, they are able to reduce inefficiencies in production processes and control the product flow within the supply chain better.
But how does it work? A printing unit encodes each carton pack, tray, or pallet with a unique code, created by special software. Thus equipped the packages go on their journey. At every step, cameras or reading stations scan the information and, connected to capturing software, identify the packages and tell downstream software what is where. Interfaces to ERP systems allow for a true and full visibility through the entire value chain; linking the final products to the exact retailers. Real-time information increases operational productivity as well as reduces failures and wasted time. Solutions like these are closing the gap within the value chain, for the benefit of customers and processers alike. From packaging, ingredients, processing to warehousing and distribution: Every step becomes crystal clear and easily traceable.
Are you interested in our Industry 4.0 solutions? Write us an email, leave a comment or give us a call.