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Efficiency and margins propel sales of drives for packaging

11 August, 2011

European sales of variable spoeed drives for packaging machinery were worth €184.4m in 2010 and will reach €272.6m in 2017, according to a new forecast from Frost & Sullivan. It predicts that an economic recovery and increasing investments in packaging infrastructure, coupled with government regulations, will boost the adoption of drives by the packaging industry.

“The need to maximise profit margins, while maintaining the competitive pricing of the end-product, is motivating the implementation of drives in the packaging production line,” suggests F&S research analyst Ramasubramanian Natarajan. “The shift towards energy-efficient machinery will increase the demand for electric drives in the European packaging industry over the next seven years.”

Surging energy costs have had a negative impact on packaging manufacturers’ margins, he adds. “Methods to reduce energy consumption by coupling electric drives with inefficient motors and running them at optimally desired speeds, helps reduce the power consumed by the motors. This results in lowered production costs and, thereby, maximised profit.”

New developments in drives technology will expand their role in packaging, Natarajan predicts. At the same time, the demand for packaged goods and growth in packaging applications will attract new investments in packaging machinery, fuelling sales of drives. This trend will be reinforced by the increasing adoption of automation in Eastern Europe, in countries such as Bulgaria, Hungary and Poland.

Creating awareness about the benefits of electric drives in the packaging industry has been a challenge, F&S suggests. Convincing end-users to implement drives in their production lines has been a challenge for drives manufacturers.

“Most end-users are unaware of the potential benefits of using drives and are not readily willing to implement them in their production line,” says Natarajan. “Only 50% of the motors used in European packaging applications have drives attached to them, underlining the importance of awareness raising strategies.”

In addition to benefits related to energy efficiency, end-users need to be made aware of other advantages, such as reduced downtime and enhanced productivity, F&S suggests.

“Drives that are compatible with existing packaging infrastructure and customised drives for specific packaging applications – such as drives that meet the cleanliness standards in food and beverage packaging industry – are expected to experience higher demand than generic, multipurpose drives,” Natarajan concludes. “Market participants, therefore, have to focus on sustained research and development initiatives to meet the specific demands of varied end-user industries involved in packaging.”

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