Despite Hurricane Sandy’s best efforts, Pack Expo in Chicago carried on with healthy attendance the two days I was there (one of which was an extra unexpected day due to a cancelled flight.)
The show draws thousands from all over the world and is the premiere event for packaging equipment and processing with over 1,800 exhibitors filling the three massive halls at McCormick Place.
Packaging applications are by nature motion-centric, so I saw a lot of familiar faces and companies at the show, stopping in to see what was new and exciting.
Jim Hulman at Bosch Rexroth showed me some of the latest innovations from Bosch, including their IndraDrive Mi with drive-integrated Motion Logic. We also talked about the company’s new strategy of offering a complete mechatronics solution to meet any motion control challenge, from servomotors and actuators to pneumatic systems and conveyors.
Stephan Stricker at B&R showed me their company’s latest addition to its line of distributed, machine-mountable IP65 rated servo and stepper drives. The new ACPOSmuilti65m is a new family of integrated servo motor/drives that feature flexible mounting and cabling options, onboard I/O and advanced safe motion functions.
Integration was also the theme with Keith Blodorn from Cognex, as we talked about the ongoing integration of motion control functions and vision systems.
One trend that was clearly noticeable at the show was the level of interest in energy efficiency. The people I spoke to told me repeatedly that their customers were asking them how could their products help them save energy in their plants and systems.
Both Russell Boughton and Jamie Barber from Schneider Packaging Equipment Co. told me that their customers were asking for energy efficiency as a basic design demand. Schneider partners with Rockwell Automation in designing their packaging systems.
Likewise, the engineers at Mitsubishi Electric Automation have heard the same demands from customers for energy efficiency and have added a real-time energy monitoring component to their MC Works SCADA software package to help users solve energy usage issues in their machines.