ProMat 2013: Is packaging now part of materials handling?

By Bob Trebilcock, Executive Editor
February 01, 2013 - MMH Editorial

The argument for the creation of Modex, a show that will co-locate a logistics show within a materials handling show, is the recognition that what happens outside the four walls is converging with what happens inside the four walls.

After attending ProMat, I think another convergence is underway. That is the convergence of automated packaging systems with automated materials handling systems. A number of solutions were on display in Chicago that were designed to handle the new complexity of packaging orders for e-fulfillment, or what our industry is calling multi-channel distribution. Think of it as ProMat meets PackExpo.

They came in a couple of flavors.

First, there were the box on demand solutions. These are designed to create a shipping container that is the right size for an order of one to a few items with a minimal amount of void fill. They are also designed to integrate with an automated materials handling system. I saw solutions from Packsize, Sealed Air and System Logistics. There were other exhibitors that I didn’t get to visit.

What’s of particular interest is that each is bringing a different business model to the market. Packsize sells its solution similar to the way Gillette sells razors and razor blades. The cost of the machine is minimal; the customer pays for the corrugated that is designed to work with the machine.

Sealed Air charges an installation fee but does not sell the corrugated. Instead, it charges a transaction fee for every box that is formed by the system.

System Logistics operates with a traditional sales and services model: a customer purchases the equipment and works with the vendor of its choice on the packaging materials.

A customer can choose the system that best suits its operational needs and the business model that best meets its capital requirements.

The second area includes automation to add packing slips to shipping cartons, print and apply shipping labels, or both. I visited with the Numina Group, Fox IV Technologies and Logopak and spoke with PSI Engineering after the show.

While solutions like print and apply have been in the marketplace for years, something is changing. They are moving from a packing process to part of an overall materials handling process. “What’s resonating with our customers is that we now look at this as part of a continuous process,” says Dan Hanrahan, president of Numina Group. “We look at pick, pack, validation and flow as one continuous process from picking right into the truck door. What’s flowing out your doors has a great deal to do with how you build efficiency into your operation.”



About the Author

Bob Trebilcock
Executive Editor

Bob Trebilcock, executive editor, has covered materials handling, technology and supply chain topics for Modern Materials Handling since 1984. More recently, Trebilcock became editorial director of Supply Chain Management Review. A graduate of Bowling Green State University, Trebilcock lives in Keene, NH. He can be reached at 603-357-0484.


Subscribe to Modern Materials Handling magazine

Subscribe today. It's FREE!
Find out what the world's most innovative companies are doing to improve productivity in their plants and distribution centers.
Start your FREE subscription today!

Recent Entries

Bill to direct $5 billion in funding to 1,600 infrastructure projects throughout the state.

The PMI, the ISM’s index to measure growth, fell 1.4 percent to 51.5 (a PMI of 50 or greater represents growth), declining for the fifth straight month since reaching 57.9 in October 2014. And it is 4 percent below the 12-month average of 55.5. The March PMI is at its lowest level since May 2013’s 50.1.

The visit is intended to highlight the city's warehousing, distribution and logistics industries.

In today's supply chain, the only constant is change. Our white paper 'Change Your Perspective: Four Keys to Effectively Adapting to Rapid Change in the Distribution Center Environment' provides key insights on not only adapting to trends, but which trends will enable you to achieve running the warehouse of the future.

Custom pallet manufacturer and global provider of temperature assurance packaging join association.

Article Topics

News · Automation · Packaging · ProMat · ProMat 2013 · All topics

About the Author

Bob Trebilcock, editorial director, has covered materials handling, technology, logistics and supply chain topics for nearly 30 years. In addition to Supply Chain Management Review, he is also Executive Editor of Modern Materials Handling. A graduate of Bowling Green State University, Trebilcock lives in Keene, NH. He can be reached at 603-357-0484 or email [email protected].

Comments

Post a comment
Commenting is not available in this channel entry.


© Copyright 2015 Peerless Media LLC, a division of EH Publishing, Inc • 111 Speen Street, Ste 200, Framingham, MA 01701 USA