End of Line (EoL) packaging machinery trends are being driven by retail demand, e-commerce growth, and direct-to-consumer (DTC) growth. Manufacturers are optimistic about continued expansion for EoL machinery, and in PMMI’s Business Intelligence report “2021 End-of-Line Equipment |Purchasing Trends and Design Insights” five key insights were examined in detail:
1. Big Piece of the Pie
End-of-Line machinery accounts for $4.42 billion, or 46.8%, of all domestic equipment purchases, with a steady growth forecast of 5.13% through 2026. There are five categories of EoL equipment, and two of them - case/tray handling, and labeling/coding - account for two-thirds of all EoL machinery sold. Food and beverage industries purchase over half (57%) of all EoL equipment.
2. Trends Create Demand
The pervasive trends of sustainability, supply chain visibility, SKU expansion, and labor shortages are all contributing positively to the demand for EoL equipment.
- Sustainability trends such as lightweighting, the use of recycled materials, and a general reduction in machine energy usageare driving new innovations in EoL machinery.
- With supply chain, EoL packaging for greater product visibility is driven by a combination of regulations, retailer requests, and manufacturer logistics, pushing manufacturers to expand theirlabeling on EoL packaging configurations to track their products more efficiently and accurately through the supply chain.
- SKU expansion levelled off during the pandemic due to supply chain issues, but is expected to increase with the continued expansion of e-commerce. Flexible equipment is a must-have to keep up with changing production realities.
3. The Robots are Coming
Automation and robotics play an important role in achieving production goals with significant opportunities for expanded implementation at EoL. Cobots and robots are a key method to increase flexibility and their use is expected to grow, but non-robotic automation is also being used for palletizing. Of the manufacturers interviewed, 58% are currently automated at EoL, and 75% plan to be in the future.
For OEMs, this means reducing changeover times by integrating automated changeover into equipment, offering design and integration services, and offering predictive and preventive maintenance strategies, monitored and managed through the use of integrated smart sensors.
4. Plans for Future Purchases
A strong majority of manufacturers (80%) predict their budgets for EoL equipment will grow in the coming years and they are looking for help in justifying new purchases. Fifty-three percent said that cost considerations are the primary hurdle to justifying new purchases, and they need help with the comprehensive cost analyses of machines, including total cost of ownership (TCO) and return on investment (ROI) projections. Overall equipment efficiency (OEE) is also important as 61% of those interviewed said they intend to increase usage of OEE calculations in the future.
5. What Manufacturers Need from OEMs
Manufacturers are explicitly seeking out more guidance from their OEM partners to help them navigate EoL packaging strategies. Planning and design of new equipment and layouts by using 3D modeling and digital twinning to plan, design, and simulate new machine additions to EoL lines is desired, as is integration strategies and services, and training and instruction. With severe labor shortages, many manufacturers are struggling to find labor with a high enough skill level to operate automated machinery, and may require expanded courses or ongoing education.
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Source: PMMI Business Intelligence, “2021 End-of-Line Equipment |Purchasing Trends and Design Insights”