From rapid changes in today’s retail landscape to increasingly stringent regulations on food safety and the need for greater efficiency, today’s meat product manufacturers face myriad challenges. Fortunately, advances in robotics and the growing adoption of automated machinery can help the meat industry to advance in both productivity and safety. According to the 2017 Trends in Food Processing Operations Market Research Report by PMMI, the Association for Packaging and Processing Technologies, robotics is now used in 94 percent of packaging operations, with predictions for increased usage. 

PACK EXPO Las Vegas (Sept. 25-27 at the Las Vegas Convention Center), co-located with Healthcare Packaging EXPO, will provide a one-stop shop for meat industry professionals seeking the latest innovations in automation across industries. Both PMMI produced shows will house a variety of automated technologies for applications throughout the entire line.

Crossing the line

Though food manufacturing was previously behind the curve in adopting robotics compared with other industries, automation is making its mark on the meat industry and will only continue to become more prevalent. As PMMI’s report uncovered, robotics are beneficial for product pick and place, tray loading, incoming de-palletizing and package selectivity. In addition to minimizing instances of potential contamination through human contact or error, automated and robotic technologies help to prevent work-related injuries caused by repetitive movements. These technologies enable more thorough oversight of the line using Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) solutions, which expand opportunities for real-time troubleshooting and greater efficiency. Moreover, track-and-trace systems with SKU creation have become a critical tool for meat processors managing recalls. Meat and poultry professionals will find these solutions and more at this fall’s show.

Seek and you shall learn

On pace to be the largest PACK EXPO Las Vegas to date, show organizers anticipate 30,000 attendees, including 5,000 international visitors from more than 125 countries, combined with more than 2,000 exhibiting companies spanning 800,000 square feet of a nearly sold-out exhibit floor.

Meat and poultry professionals will have access to an array of solutions throughout the show floor, including extensive educational programming. The show’s Innovation Stage, a series of 30-minute free seminars on technological breakthroughs and industry specific innovations, will pack a punch for meat packagers and processors seeking the latest technologies.

Updates and insight on important regulations such as the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), thought leadership on topics such as the adoption of automation, and firsthand insight on best practices for work force development strategies will be covered. The shows will also provide opportunities for food manufacturing professionals to connect with suppliers outside of their industry, facilitating the cross-pollination of ideas to drive innovation.

Come to network, “Listen to the Music”

The show floor will be filled with valuable opportunities to network across industries.  The Cold Pressure Council — focused on the advancement of High Pressure Processing (HPP) — will address questions about the technology. HPP delays spoilage bacteria, increasing food safety, while preserving freshness and reducing waste.

Additional opportunities to reduce waste can be found at the Reusable Packaging Pavilion, sponsored by the Reusable Packaging Association (RPA). This pavilion, located in the South Hall, will provide a single destination for the best reusable products, services and supply chain solutions.

Attendees and exhibitors can get a head start on networking at the PACK gives Back™ event, sponsored by Rockwell Automation. This year, Grammy Award-winning band the Doobie Brothers will take the stage. A portion of the proceeds will go toward the PACK EXPO Scholarship, providing grants to U.S. and Canadian colleges with packaging and processing programs.

Registration for PACK EXPO Las Vegas is $30 through Sept. 1 and $100 after. Registration also includes admission to Healthcare Packaging EXPO for all three days of the show.  NP