October 27, 2022

Automation use in times of labor shortage

Labor shortages are driving consumer packaged goods (CPG) companies to adopt automated solutions, according to The Future of Automation in Packaging and Processing report.

The report, produced by show organizer PMMI, The Association for Packaging and Processing Technologies was released this week at PACK EXPO International. It highlights how CPGs are looking to enhance and optimize their production, storage and distribution processes using automated solutions including automated guided vehicles, industrial robots, collaborative robots, and mobile robots, with some of these technologies being supported by artificial intelligence (AI) and advanced vision tools.

Automation, including robots/cobots, machine vision systems and more, are replacing humans on the production line more every year due to labor shortages.

According to the report, e-commerce is fueling the automation trend, moving companies toward more responsive modes of distribution such as Direct-to-Customer, disrupting traditionally highly manual warehousing formats and in some cases eliminating the need for warehousing.

Additionally, supply chain problems are impacting the availability and cost of raw materials and parts for packaging machinery. Over 90% of CPGs say these problems are either extremely impactful or somewhat impactful and while most companies expect them to be resolved over the short term (within three years) at least 25% of companies anticipate them persisting over a longer time span.

Additionally, 60% of companies report that labor shortages are extremely impactful on their packaging and processing operations, pushing CPGs toward automation, and increasing the importance of developing a skilled workforce. With more than 1,500 high school and college students expected at PACK EXPO International, upskilling the future workforce is front and center at the show. PACK EXPO International offers many activities aimed at getting students excited about careers in packaging and processing and connecting them with professional mentors in the industry.

It seems clear that automation technologies play an increasing role in the future of the packaging and processing industry and are a key focus of companies looking to cut costs, improve productivity and reduce dependency on personnel as skills and retention problems continue to affect them.

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