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The packaging industry continues to be a hotbed of innovation, with activity driven by automation, recyclability, and increasing the shelf life of the product and growing importance of technologies such as biodegradable packaging, Internet of Packaging, and active packaging.
In the last three years alone, there have been over 310,000 patents filed and granted in the packaging industry, according to a report by Inside Packaging’s parent company, GlobalData, on Robotics in Packaging: Automated Bundling Tools.
However, not all innovations are equal and nor do they follow a constant upward trend. Instead, their evolution takes the form of an S-shaped curve that reflects their typical lifecycle from early emergence to accelerating adoption, before finally stabilising and reaching maturity.
Identifying where a particular innovation is on this journey, especially those that are in the emerging and accelerating stages, is essential for understanding their current level of adoption and the likely future trajectory and impact they will have.
80+ innovations will shape the packaging industry
According to GlobalData’s Technology Foresights, which plots the S-curve for the packaging industry using innovation intensity models built on over 87,000 patents, there are 80+ innovation areas that will shape the future of the industry.
Within the emerging innovation stage, automatic garment packaging, cigarette packaging conveyors, and autonomous vehicles for warehousing are disruptive technologies that are in the early stages of application and should be tracked closely. Mechanically actuated dispenser packaging, automated bundling tools, and automated storage and retrieval containers are some of the accelerating innovation areas, where adoption has been steadily increasing. Among maturing innovation areas are vial filling and sealing conveyors and automated tissue dispensers, which are now well established in the industry.
Innovation S-curve for robotics in the packaging industry
Automated bundling tool is a key innovation area in robotics
An automated bundling tool is used for polyethylene films that are suitable where the packaging needs a thicker film. It is used for bundle packaging of jars, plastic bottles, and cans.
GlobalData’s analysis also uncovers the companies at the forefront of each innovation area and assesses the potential reach and impact of their patenting activity across different applications and geographies. According to GlobalData, there are 10+ companies, spanning technology vendors, established packaging companies, and up-and-coming start-ups engaged in the development and application of automated bundling tools.
Key players in automated bundling tools – a disruptive innovation in the packaging industry
‘Application diversity’ measures the number of different applications identified for each relevant patent and broadly splits companies into either ‘niche’ or ‘diversified’ innovators.
‘Geographic reach’ refers to the number of different countries each relevant patent is registered in and reflects the breadth of geographic application intended, ranging from ‘global’ to ‘local’.
Nippon Shuppan Hanbai is one of the leading patent filers in automated bundling tools. Some other key patent filers in the automated bundling tools space include Crown, Orgapack, and FROMM.
Crown announced its plans for new production sites in Nevada. As global beverage brand owners struggle to source aluminium cans, Crown will open a two-line plant in Mesquite, Nevada, in the second quarter of 2023.
In terms of application diversity, Leonard Green & Partners leads the pack. Andritz and Nippon Shuppan stood in the second and third positions, respectively. By means of geographic reach, Sms Logistiksysteme held the top position, followed by Andritz and Toyota Industries.
With manufacturers looking to reduce cost and increase efficiency, automated bundling tools will potentially become an important aspect in the packaging industry.
Main image: Tero Vesalainen | Shutterstock