Individualized products – for example, products that are “personalized” via online configurators – and thus packaging in very small quantities, in batch sizes as small as one, will be the rule rather than the exception in more and more sectors in the future. Producers of cosmetics and pharmaceutical products are traditionally among the trendsetters in the packaging industry. But in other areas as well, product and/or packaging variations changing seasonally or for special campaigns, and ever-shorter product lifecycles in general, are placing increasingly higher demands on the flexibility of production systems.
Of paramount importance in this process is a production and material flow in the plants that can support the increasing number of variations, although the focus is not so much on very high throughput rates but rather on high flexibility and dynamism between the stations as well as on process safety. Many operators would like a continuous material flow with optimized (i.e., small, or preferably no) buffers in between in order to be able to design future generations of machines that are even more compact. In the face of increasing numbers of different product formats, minimized set-up times are also a stated aim.