Notes about our webinar "Technology for operational efficiency in the packaging industry" - Nov. 24th 2020

November 24th 2020, 4:00pm (London time).

PackIOT launched its webinar about “technology for operational efficiency in the packaging industry”. 

Hosted by the excellent Adam Peek, with the presence of Cristiano WUERZIUS, CEO of PackIOT, Sergei CIACHIR, CEO of Open Packaging Network and our CEO, Thomas OTHAX, this webinar has been followed by more than 40 packaging industry leaders from all over the world: USA, Latin America, Europe, India, Africa. 

Topic of the day : technology to increase operational efficiency in the industry

To increase operational efficiency is an everyday matter, for anyone in a company. 

However, new technologies can boost performances because they can handle things humans cannot; because they can automate, simplify or improve some operational challenges. And that is true for production as well as marketing, sales, pre-sales, cost estimation, structural design, logistics and any other support function.

Through this webinar, designed as an open a discussion with the panelists, the goal was to answer some key questions when we think about this.

What are the main hurdles you face when pushing for more technologies within the packaging industry?

Here was the first question that asked Adam Peek during this webinar. Indeed, even though people tend to think that digital transformation helps to improve the operational efficiency, why many packaging manufacturers and converters have not launched it yet?

Here are some key points suggested by Cristiano WUERZIUS, Sergei CIACHIR and Thomas OTHAX:

  • First, they may feel like they will not manage those  new technologies, especially software and digital tools. Indeed, when you are a printer, you are more keen on changing your  printing technologies (machines) because they concern their core competencies than implementing workflow optimization softwares for instance.  Paradoxically, investing in new machines represent much greater investments and require much more complexity than buying new softwares and other optimisation tools. 


  • Mindset is key.  The packaging industry appears as one of the most conservative industries. Thus, it may not be familiar with the “agile” mindset which is key to implement new processes, based on digital tools. The panelists stated that implementing new technologies for operational efficiency should not be done through V model but with the agile mindset : iterate fast, with short cycles of test and learn in order to minimize the investment and maximize the return on investment (ROI).  
  • Do you really want to change your organization? The packaging industry is an industry that has not experienced a huge constraint unlike the print industry. As projects are more complex, as it is more difficult to compare prices, the webtoprint trend has not yet affected the packaging industry. But for how long? The speakers stressed out the importance of anticipating the evolution of the market, the  new generation of buyers that come with new ways of purchasing. Everyone agreed that General Management must be a strong and convincing advocate of this change in processes and technologies.

Transparency and data : opportunity or threat for our companies?

New technologies come with a “data culture”. Collecting and analyzing those data become key elements with companies.  

But do we really want to know everything, to be transparent internally and externally? 

Cristiano WUERZIUS, while introducing PackIOT solutions – machine sensors that collect and analyze data in real time -, underlined two important factors : 

  1. Gathering information is not a new phenomenon. Many operators have to fill in time sheets manually. Besides being a source of errors, it is a time consuming process. While a digitised and automatic process simplifies low added value data entry.
  2. Data are pushed towards Management but rarely go back down. Bringing digital and collaborative tools can help operators track their own performance, check the gap between the forecast and the production reality. Empowering operators with relevant data is a great source of motivation for them.  


On his side, Thomas OTHAX pointed out that he often heard the following remark: “I do not wish to display my prices online”.


This fear has many consequences : 

  • Not offering an ecommerce experience is inconceivable today when we know that 25% of B2B orders are now placed online, with an annual increase of 16% in value!
  • Opacity about how to calculate a price creates suspicion on the customer’s side. The customer may experience the feeling that he is being cheated and is actually paying too much.


Knowing that a B2B buyer is first of all a B2C consumer, now used to digital and e-commerce practices, to source and compare prices from a smartphone, always wanting more transparency from merchants and brands, how can it be otherwise in his professional relationship with his suppliers?

What are the 2 biggest challenges you face when implementing digital solutions for manufacturers?

Our CEO, Thomas Othax, mentioned the excuse of the “rare bird” packaging project and the challenge of knowledge management.

The “rare bird” excuse seems relatively classic in the industry to justify a complexity that can only be managed by humans. At Packitoo, when HIPE was created, more than 7 million pieces of data were analysed and it emerged that only 20% of the data actually referred to what some manufacturers call “rare birds”. In other words, 80% of the processed information corresponded to manufacturing processes that can be understood and captured in a digital system, such as HIPE.

Finally, the packaging industry is an industry with a high level of expertise and very often, the know-how is transmitted internally and consolidated through long years of practice. People who “know” belong to a generation that is now leaving for retirement; while new generations are either not attracted by the packaging industry or switch job every two years. So how the packaging industry can face this challenge? Digital tools are also here to help. It is important to transfer business know-how in a digital format because digital tools do not forget anything and offer collaborative solutions that brings up knowledge sharing.  

Finally, the webinar has not really tackled the topic of operational efficiency thanks to new technologies, but this open and informal discussion shed light on the resistance to change and data transparency as a new opportunity both internally and externally. Other articles and discussions more related to the subject of the webinar now deserve to be organised.