The Pack Expo International 2010 show, held by the trade association Packaging Machinery Manufacturers Institute (PMMI) in Chicago this week, featured the latest in packaging and processing technologies. Pharmaceutical Technology talked to representatives from two exhibitors, Systech International and Marchesini Group, to discover their impressions of the event.
Systech International is a provider of packaging execution systems, and Marchesini Group USA focuses on labeling technology. The two companies showcased their integrated platform designed for global serialization requirements for the pharmaceutical industry. The demonstration featured Systech’s Serialized Product Tracking (SPT) solution integrated with Marchesini’s labeler and casepacker to show a complete packaging environment for serialization in real-time production mode. Joe Ringwood, COO at Systech, and Roger Toll, executive vice-president at Marchesini, shared their thoughts about the show.
PharmTech: What were some of the hot topics at this year’s Pack Expo? What were people buzzing about?
Ringwood: At this year’s show, some of the hot topics that we saw and heard were an emphasis on overall equipment effectiveness (OEE) and line efficiency. This information was prevalent at exhibitors’ booths, speaking sessions hosted by the event, and in the discussions we had with attendees.
Toll: Robotics and line efficiency.
PharmTech: What were the top concerns of clients and people visiting your booth?
Ringwood: One of the major concerns attendees had with implementing serialization was the impact of IT touching the packaging line and ultimately impacting OEE. Whether we discussed authentication or track and trace, employing these initiatives on the packaging line and through the supply chain requires a very high quality of serialized data. We discussed that in order to ensure that bi-directional communication can occur between IT and packaging when executing serialization, manufacturers need a packaging execution system (PES) infrastructure. By managing data between the packaging line and the enterprise, a PES will need to protect data integrity at the enterprise level while ensuring packaging line throughput. Implementing productized, configurable, and expandable serialization solutions that leverage a PES infrastructure, manufacturers can protect data integrity while also quickly and cost-effectively meeting new demands and maintaining operational efficiency.
Toll: Projects seem to be starting to come back on line after restrictions were in place for a couple of years now. People were also concerned about mergers and the effect that they are having on us all.
PharmTech: How did this year’s show compare with previous years, particularly in terms of today’s economic climate?
Ringwood: We observed several differences between this show and Pack Expo 2008. First, we saw an increase in the amount of foot traffic starting on Sunday through Tuesday. Second, from our perspective, there were more quality leads that we were able to capture than two years ago. Third, the number of vendors exhibiting serialization/track-and-trace solutions were down from two years ago. However, the customers and attendees that we spoke to were interested in serialization and sought information about track-and-trace solutions. Last, attendees had actual projects that they were working on and we think that may have affected the amount of foot traffic and types of conversations we were having with them in their search for vendors.
Toll: This show did not have the same volume of customers in our opinion; however, we did get a higher quality of meetings and project discussions than ever before.
PharmTech: What are your overall impressions of the show?
Ringwood: It was a great show and very beneficial for us. It provided us with an opportunity to meet with customers, prospects, potential partners, and current partners. Additionally, show attendees were able to view a Systech–Pester Pac solution that a major pharmaceutical manufacturer will deploy at their packaging facility. Attendees also had the opportunity to see Marchesini showing a functional configuration of a casepacker and a labeler running our vision inspection, line management, and serialization solution with post-lot rework and manual pallet-building stations. Overall, the show provided us with a great way to unveil some our new products, work with our partners to showcase integrated serialization solutions, and speak with show attendees about what their needs and challenges are.
Toll: It was better than previous years.
Systech also partnered with Pester Pac Automation, a supplier of end-of-line packaging systems, at Pack Expo to showcase a serialization solution the companies created that is designed to support track-and-trace and authentication initiatives. In the solution, Systech’s SPT handles serialization, delivers data to enterprise IT systems, and integrates with Pester’s end-of-line equipment, which includes a top-loading casepacker, a two-station palletizer with a 6-axis KUKA robot, and an interlayer slip-sheet magazine. The booth exhibit showed the same system that will be deployed by a major pharmaceutical manufacturer, according to a company press release.
Look for more on the pharmaceutical industry at next year’s show—Pack Expo’s organizer, PMMI, announced earlier this week that due to industry requests, it will add a Pharmaceutical Pavilion at Pack Expo Las Vegas 2011.