Manufacturers, mainly in Eastern Europe but also in the Middle East, and Africa (EMEA), are turning to automation and robotics as a means of speeding up lines, making production more efficient and reducing labour costs as they expand their sales opportunities.
The report, published by IMS research, indicates that the drive for automation technology is likely to increase the overall value of the packaging machinery market to €11.3bn by 2009.
IMS calculates that new EU member states and Russia will account for the strongest growth in machinery demand, with annual sales increasing 10 per cent. Coupled with the expansion in other EMEA markets, the machinery industry should sustain 4.3 per cent annual compound growth over the next three years.
Until recently, Eastern Europe production has been well behind their western counterparts, however their integration into the EU has increased consumer incomes creating more demand for processed food and beverages. As these markets have grown Eastern-based companies are automating their lines to keep up with the domestic demand while expanding their export potential.
IMS senior analyst Don Tait speculated that this demand would have a long-term affect on the automated machine industry.
"The use of faster and more automated food & beverage processing equipment within the industry can only be expected to rise, to improve capital efficiency and reduce labour cost," said Tait. "Technical innovation is enticing producers to replace obsolete mechanical solutions with more versatile handling through robotics and more extensive use of PLCs, servos and machine vision."
The drive is also coming from producers who are bringing their lines up to EU directed standards for safety and hygiene, saidTait.
"EU membership by 10 Eastern European countries in May 2004 is having a positive impact on economic activity in these countries in general, and on their food processing needs in particular," he said. "New EU member states have had to modernise and upgrade facilities in order to meet EU standards."
The two-piece IMS report by Tait and Tim Dawson analysed the growing demands for packaging in both the bottling and processed food industries.