In the midst of all the chaos and uncertainty brought on by the global pandemic, Hutch Coburn has a rather upbeat message: Think big. Think creatively. Think into the future.
Coburn delivered these words recently in a presentation titled: “The COVID Chronicles – Capturing Opportunities for Technical Graduates in Consumer Packaging” as part of the L.E.A.D. (Lead. Educate. Accomplish. Discover.) Speaker Series at Dunwoody College in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
Why is Coburn, the Senior Vice President of Robotics & End-of-Line group at ProMach, so bullish on packaging these days? It’s simple – the industry holds much promise and opportunity in response to the ever-evolving new normal currently underway by the pandemic.
BOPIS, which stands for buy online and pick up in store, is a relatively new term that measures online purchasing. Pre-COVID, about 62% of Americans were making some purchases via BOPIS; today, that percentage has jumped to 80%, with more than 90% preferring home delivery versus in-store purchases. Additionally, e-commerce sales were up more than 40% from 2019 to 2020, and indications are these trends are expected to grow in the coming years. Despite this growth, percentage of retail sales conducted on the internet has increased from only 16% to 21% in the past year.
Coburn’s main takeaway here is that there is still tremendous room for sales growth within the e-commerce market – and that equals great opportunity for machinery and equipment to support e-commerce applications.
“What were initially thought to be significant challenges now are perceived to be significant opportunities for those who think of them that way, and I’m encouraging you (students) to consider this in that very same light,” Coburn said in his presentation. “Dunwoody graduates and students like you are in a really good position if you choose to go into this industry.”
One of the major industry shifts over the past year is how consumers are now driving packaging. This has created major spikes in demand and pressure to increase production on items such as cleaning products. Coburn said when products or different packaging sizes become hot, those trends typically translate into new packaging equipment to accommodate that demand – allowing packaging engineers to flex their creativity.
“Every time there is a change in products, that usually turns into an order for an upgrade, or retrofit, or in a lot of cases, new equipment or manufacturing line,” he said. “This industry is constantly evolving.”
Coburn said the packaging equipment of tomorrow needs to be flexible to accommodate changing products, and be easy to program. Automation and robotics are expected to gain in popularity on packaging lines. As evidence, Coburn pointed to a 2020 statistic that showed most consumer-goods manufactures, about 75%, used robotics in their secondary packaging lines; that percentage is expected to jump to 95% in the next 10 years. “There are fantastic opportunities, even in the midst of a global pandemic,” Coburn said. “(Packaging) has been thriving, lots of change and innovation. This industry is a wonderful way to be intellectually challenged and have a very positive impact on both your local communities and the greater world as a whole.”
Learn more about Brenton at: https://www.brentonengineering.com/
Learn more about ProMach Robotics & End-of-Line solutions at: https://www.promachbuilt.com/business-lines/robotics-and-end-of-line/
Learn more about Dunwoody College of Technology – Minneapolis at: https://dunwoody.edu/