Harpak-ULMA, the industry leader in complete packaging line solutions for food, medical, bakery, and industrial products, announced it has joined the Rockwell Automation PartnerNetwork program as an OEM Machine Builder.  As a member of the PartnerNetwork, Harpak-ULMA is teaming with Rockwell Automation Inc. 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 today, 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, medical and industrial producers is driving packagers 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 though 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 working 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,” said Blake Moret, president and CEO, Rockwell Automation. “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.”

“Companies that leverage new smart, connected capabilities are better positioned to offer innovative, sustainable, and cost-effective packaging. Our studies show that adopting converged automation and information technologies drives up to 10% improvement in Key Performance Indicators,” said Julie Fraser, Principal of Lyno Advisors and Leader of MESA International’s Smart Manufacturing Community and Research Program.

“Three market leaders collaborating around a shared vision for industrial innovation makes it far easier for customers to realize the value of digital transformation,” James Heppelmann, PTC’s CEO and co-author with professor Michael Porter on a recent Harvard Business Review series on the disruptive potential operational improvements and new business models it promises. 

Industry veteran Craig Resnick, Vice President of ARC Advisory Group analyst covering industrial automation and embedded intelligence commented, “Broadly accessible real-time information is fundamental to operational efficiency today, but it’s also an enabling platform for disruptive industrial technologies. When three proven market leaders share a coordinated vision and strategy, it generates real customer value and market traction.”

Harpak-ULMA is already taking orders for the new thermoforming applications, marking the first wave of smart, connected solutions that will transform packaging automation.

 For more information visit www.harpak-ulma.com.