Harpak-ULMA Packaging, Taunton, Mass., joined forces with Rockwell Automation’s PartnerNetwork program as an OEM machine builder to help facilitate the development of smart, connected packaging solutions.

Harpak-ULMA’s thermoformer lines are now delivered with Rockwell Automation’s Integrated Architecture production control and information system, leveraging Internet of Things (IoT) and augmented reality platforms supplied by PTC, Needham, Mass., which guides employees’ maintenance or production activities through 3D step-by-step work instructions using tablets, smartphones or glasses.

“IoT, AI, machine learning, big data, predictive maintenance and augmented reality are just a few of the ways that connected machines promise to improve packaging operations and reduce total cost of ownership, but realizing those benefits will require nothing short of rethinking packaging automation. By forging closer ties with Rockwell Automation and PTC, we can create innovative solutions and deliver them faster than any company can working independently,” says Kevin Roach, chief executive officer of Harpak-ULMA.

The collaboration aids packagers seeking to manage overall equipment effectiveness (OEE) or other crucial key performance indicators (KPIs) across lines composed of varied equipment. 

“Smart, connected machines are a critical piece of an end user’s digital transformation journey,” says Blake Moret, president and CEO, Rockwell Automation, Milwaukee, Wis. “Together, with Harpak-ULMA and PTC, we are helping companies turn the data that’s a natural byproduct of their manufacturing production process into useful, contextualized information.”

“Three market leaders collaborating around a shared vision for industrial innovation makes it far easier for customers to realize the value of digital transformation,” adds James Heppelmann, chief executive officer of PTC.