PD_Packaging Digest

Packaging Digest, Fall 2015

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viewpoint 6 FALL 2015 www.PackagingDigest.com Lisa McTigue Pierce executive editor lisa.pierce@ubm.com Member of the Intl. Packaging Press Organisation Making the most of being medium Main Street America sufered a devastating blow during the Great Recession of 2008/2009 as small businesses folded in droves and even stalwart companies, like Sears, teetered. As incomes dropped and consumers scrutinized their spending, manufacturers sought more proftable margins by moving operations to labor-friendlier climes. Much has been written in recent years about the resurgence of American manufacturing. We've seen how automation advances are contributing to reshoring eforts. According to A.T. Kearney's 2015 FDI Confdence Index study, foreign direct investment (FDI) shows "a clear preference for regions that ofer technological development and productivity over those that ofer plentiful low-cost labor." Yet one of the trends SCM World, the supply chain talent development partner for the world's top companies, identifed from its 2014 survey of 150 leaders in manufacturing was that "Te factory of the future will be digital, but it won't be lights-of, fully automated with few or no people involved in production operations." Troughout this manufacturing debate, a lot of the attention has been on large or Fortune 500 companies, which had led the ofshoring exodus. But also consider the consumer's predilection today for customized and/or personalized products, which demand the utmost in packaging and production fexibility. And look ahead to the rosy future of online sales— with their highly customized and personalized packaging— which PMMI taps at an annual growth rate close to 6% in its 2015 report E-Commerce Market Assessment. All of this (and more) points to a decisive shift in U.S. manufacturing toward medium-sized operations, even for large companies (in multiple locations). We saw evidence supporting this at Pack Expo Las Vegas at the end of September, with several exhibitors touting new packaging equipment for medium-volume outputs. And it explains why almost half (48.7%) of the respondents to Packaging Digest's 2015 survey on capital expenditures said they would be buying semi-automatic packaging machinery this year. According to the whitepaper 2014 Summary: State of SME Finance in the United States, "Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), frms with fewer than 500 employees, are the backbone of U.S. economy. Tey make up 99% of all frms, employ over 50% of private sector employees, and generate 65% of net new private sector jobs." Tese SMEs are often the most creative, too, when it comes to packaging. For example, our cover story features the innovative packaging of startup company Two Soldiers and a Marine LLC, which donates a portion of its profts to feed homeless veterans. Medium, in this case, is far from mediocre. PACK EXPO Booth #C-5406

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