AUSPACK 2015 wrap-up: 5 trends you need to know

Posted by AFN Staff Writers on 22nd April 2015

What happens when packagers, processors and manufacturers come together in one place? Trends unfold, networks are forged and the future of the Australian manufacturing industry is made. That’s what happened when the 30th edition of AUSPACK took Melbourne by storm last month.

Housed in the Melbourne Exhibition and Convention Centre (aka “Jeff’s Shed”) for four days, manufacturers gathered to answer those burning questions: How do we increase line productivity? How do we make our processes more versatile, agile and scalable? How do we become more efficient and profitable? And how do we keep innovating to stay ahead of the competition?

With more than 315 exhibitors on show, the answers were all under one roof. Not to mention the 39 speakers from eight countries who shared their insights in the National Technical Forums (including the writer) – more on that later.

Here, we look back on the event and wrap-up the things you need to know…

1. Asia is shaking things up
Asia is really shaking up Australian manufacturers (as we’ve reported before). There are some massive opportunities out there to export more to, and meet the demand of, Australia’s quality produce, and it was clear at AUSPACK that manufacturers are willing to do what it takes to get the advantage. For some, this means launching new products especially for export to the Asian market. For others – especially those in the dairy industry – this means ramping up production to meet the growing demand. These opportunities also bring challenges: How do you scale production sustainably? What is required to meet the hygiene and quality standards for export?

2. Tackle your serialisation fear
If you’re not already using serialisation, it’s time to start. For some businesses, this isn’t new news. But there are many more out there who are only now realising the power of serialisation in providing complete traceability and enabling authentication. The challenge now is finding out how to implement it in your organisation and get it right. (Hint: we can help!) I spoke on this topic at the National Technical Forums. Find out how you can do something about it with our Serialisation 101 guide.

3. Supermarkets are putting the pressure on
Again, this is not new. In fact, it’s a theme that took the spotlight at the inaugural Food & Drink Business Live Forum. At AUSPACK, it was clear that this pressure is not letting up. But an interesting thing is happening: more and more suppliers are saying “yes” to the demands of the big supermarket players to get products on the shelf, and then worrying about how to do it later. For some, this forces the business to move forward and adapt – not necessarily a bad thing when it means putting in place the right technologies and processes that will ultimately improve your business.

4. Size no longer automation’s biggest barrier
Automated packaging and processing was again a big focus of AUSPACK. Every which way you turned, there was machinery moving, twisting, packing and wrapping. In the past, automation has been solely the domain of larger businesses, with small operators either not being able to justify the cap ex investment, or simply not needing automation for their small production numbers. However, this year there seems to have been a shift. More smaller businesses are asking the question: What can we automate to make our business more efficient and profitable? The answer is one we will focus on in future blogs on our site. So small businesses, watch this space!

5. AR packaging causes a stir
Shelf-ready, pouches and the like are still the main focus for food and beverage manufacturers. And this isn’t going to slow down now that ALDI is a larger supermarket player in Australia. We all know ALDI loves its shelf-ready packaging, but there is another new packaging trend causing a stir, and that’s “augmented reality” (AR). By adding a virtual layer of promotional and informative material to packaging, AR has the potential to take product packaging in a new digital direction. The interactive digital overlay can be scanned and viewed by the consumer through a mobile device, such as smart phone, so that the product’s packaging literally springs to life. AR is already being used by brands in Europe, such as Lucozade and IKEA, to add value to the consumer experience. Will it take off in Australia? Again, watch this space.

AUSPACK highlighted some fantastic innovations in the packaging and processing space. Congratulations go to HMPS for taking out the Best New Product Award for their Coffee Pod Cartoning Machine. And also to Walls Machinery for winning a commendation for their Adaptapack Ulysses Shelf Ready Case Packer (you can read our interview with Walls here) in the 2015 APPMA Industry Excellence Awards. And our own finalist, the Autolabel Label Printer Applicator, attracted attention throughout the show for being the easiest-to-use print-and apply system on the market.

Looking back, one thing is crystal clear: there’s a renewed sense of urgency driving businesses to get their packaging and processing into gear – whether that’s to tick the supermarkets’ boxes, increase exports to Asia or improve their efficiency and profitability. It’s a fascinating time.

What trends did you notice at AUSPACK 2015? And your highlight? We’d love to hear your comments!

* Mark Dingley is chairman of the Australian Packaging and Processing Machinery Association and General Manager at Matthews Australasia. With 20+ years of experience in the product identification industry and the wealth of knowledge gained from working closely with manufacturers and industry associations, Mark actively contributes to industry forums, magazines and the Matthews blog.

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