Harpak-ULMA has announced it has joined the Rockwell Automation PartnerNetwork program as an OEM Machine Builder to facilitate the development of smart, connected packaging solutions.
The company’s ULMA Thermoformer lines are now delivered with the Integrated Architecture production control and information system from Rockwell Automation and can leverage IoT and augmented reality platforms supplied by smart manufacturing software leader PTC. At a press conference, the company demonstrated PTC’s augmented reality application, which guides employees’ maintenance or production activities through 3D step-by-step work instructions using available tablets, smartphones, or glasses.
Intensifying competition among the food producers is driving packaging specialists to find new ways to meet customer demands for convenience, freshness, and sustainability while keeping operating costs low. Production automation is crucial to delivering on market demands for reliability and quality. Smart, connected machines and enterprises that converge automation with information technologies can overcome longstanding operational and maintenance constraints. They improve collaboration through integration of equipment and applications and enable new innovative technologies associated with industrial digital transformation.
“IoT, AI, machine learning, big data, predictive maintenance, and augmented reality are just a few of the ways that connected machines promise to improve packaging operations and reduce total cost of ownership but realizing those benefits will require nothing short of rethinking packaging automation. By forging closer ties with Rockwell Automation and PTC, we can create innovative solutions and deliver them faster than any company can work independently,” said Harpak-ULMA’s CEO, Kevin Roach.
The collaboration has already resulted in advanced thermoforming machine capabilities that aid packagers seeking to manage Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE) or other crucial Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) across lines composed of varied equipment.
“Smart, connected machines are a critical piece of an end user’s digital transformation journey. Together with Harpak-ULMA and PTC, we are helping companies turn the data that’s a natural byproduct of their manufacturing production process into useful, contextualized information,” said Blake Moret, president, and CEO, Rockwell Automation.