Predictive maintenance has become more than just a catchword for the packaging and processing industry, growing to an impactful necessity for consumer packaged goods (CPG) companies, according to the Packaging and Predictive Maintenance white paper produced by PMMI, The Association for Packaging and Processing Technologies. Of all the possible digitalization initiatives, including big data analytics, cobots, digital twins and others, predictive maintenance is far and away the most likely to be of interest for CPGs. As the newly released infographic, Predictive Maintenance: More Than a Buzzword, points out, 29.4 percent of CPGs are evaluating the technology, 21.6 percent are piloting it and 23.5 percent have already implemented it.

Avoiding downtime and preventing product loss are the major drivers pushing manufacturers towards implementing predictive maintenance. Due to the nature of packaging machinery, packaging lines are 30 percent more “slightly likely” to fail than other types of equipment. Some types of packaging machinery are more prone to downtime than others, as the infographic highlights, form/fill/seal machinery, labeling, decorating and coding equipment as the equipment types “extremely likely” to suffer downtime.

Predictive maintenance is being touted now because it is the lowest hanging fruit that can be harvested from another much-talked about concept in industry – digitalization. Sometimes also referred to as Industry 4.0, digitalization is quite nebulous as its scope is broad and its cost can be challenging to justify. This is not the case for predictive maintenance, which aims to solve the age-old problem of costly plant downtimes, which can incur millions of dollars of lost output.

New business models are needed to ensure that predictive maintenance delivers on its promise of optimizing equipment performance for CPGs, while ensuring OEMs get the revenue they need to stay in business. The most promising candidate for this, as highlighted in the report and white paper, is Machines as a Service (MaaS), which involves pricing based on performance goals set between the OEM and the end users (such as the number of cases palletized).

If there is one single problem that could hinder the widespread adoption of an MaaS business model for predictive maintenance, it is the aversion that many CPGs have to connecting their machines to the cloud, and to allowing remote access.

According to the PMMI’s Trends in Adoption of Report Access: Moving Forward During Covid 19 white paper, 29 percent of CPG respondents indicated they do not allow any remote access in their facilities. However, 27 percent of respondents allow certain OEMs or service providers to maintain a dedicated connection to specific equipment.

As both PMMI white papers indicate, cybersecurity is the biggest barrier CPGs cite for not using currently available remote access technologies and fully taking advantage of predictive maintenance options. That said, all parties agree that as a result of the global pandemic, the industry has shown a willingness to respond to remote access and forging partnerships between suppliers and end users would go a long way to overcoming the barriers.

As there are many technologies available to safely implement predictive maintenance and remote access, there is no better place to see these technologies up close and personal than at PACK EXPO Las Vegas and Healthcare Packaging EXPO 2021 (Sept. 27-29, Las Vegas Convention Center). Over 1,500 exhibitors will display the latest solutions to implement predictive maintenance, improve efficiency, productivity, automation, health & safety and remote access. No other event in 2021 will bring together a more comprehensive gathering of suppliers offering the opportunity to meet face-to-face to discuss real solutions as well as see new products, technologies and innovations in action. 

Featuring free education events such as the brand-new PACK to the Future Stage, with presentations by industry experts on advancements such as sustainable solutions, smart packaging and artificial intelligence, this year’s event is the place to be to learn about advances in packaging and processing. The ever-popular Innovation Stage, the Forum and countless networking opportunities at PACK EXPO Las Vegas and Healthcare Packaging EXPO, produced by PMMI, provide opportunities for the more than 20,000 executives and plant managers, engineers, brand managers and packaging designers who come to see machinery in action, connect with suppliers, network and gain the latest perspective on a plethora of industries in over 40 vertical markets. 

PMMI continues to monitor local, state and federal guidelines to provide a safe and productive event for all. With its PACK Ready health and safety program, PACK EXPO Las Vegas and Healthcare Packaging EXPO will reunite the packaging and processing community, implementing thorough and up-to-date protocols for a successful in-person event. Learn more at packexpolasvegas.com/packready.

Registration for the show, which includes access to both PACK EXPO Las Vegas and Healthcare Packaging EXPO, is $30 through Sept. 3, after which the price increases to $130. For more information and to register online, visit packexpolasvegas.com.