The Packaging Machinery Manufacturers Institute’s (PMMI) Pack Expo International 2013 is on schedule to be another record-setting event, with its Processing Zone, which hosts processing technologies for manufacturers in the beverage, dairy, baking and snack, and confectionery industries, as well as other vertical sectors, selling out as early as May.

“Since debuting at Pack Expo in 2010, the number of solutions providers exhibiting in the Processing Zone has increased by 42 percent,” said Jim Pittas, vice president of trade shows for PMMI, Reston, Va., in a statement. “This growth stems from the fact that food and beverage processors continue to take a unified approach to packaging and processing and seek opportunities to be connected to solutions for the entire manufacturing lines.”

Beyond the Processing Zone, Pack Expo 2013, which will take place Sept. 23-25 in Las Vegas, will offer a wide range of resources for the beverage community with more than 1,600 exhibitors in seven different industry-specific sections.

For example, the Beverage Cooler lounge, which is endorsed by the International Society of Beverage Technologists (ISBT), gives attendees the opportunity to do some beverage-centric networking on the show floor. Within the lounge, visitors also can stop by the Ask-the-Expert desk for technical advice and a different perspective on the trends highlighted at the show.

In the Brand Zone, attendees can find ideas to help their products stand out on the shelf. Topics of interest in this section include packaging technologies that reduce materials without sacrificing function and appeal, labeling systems that provide greater flexibility, and new formats to enhance shelf appeal, the association says.  

Educational opportunities

Educational opportunities also will be abound at the show. For example, “The Clemson University Packaging Emporium: Design for the Future,” located in the Central Hall, will showcase the impact of package design on consumer behavior and feature a university-pioneered technology for capturing biometric data.

The Food Safety Summit Resource Center at booth S-7332, which is hosted by BNP Media, the parent company of Beverage Industry, will share the latest information about the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) and give attendees the opportunity to discuss their food safety challenges with experts in the field.

In the Education pavilion, attendees can meet with college and university representatives to learn about continuing education opportunities outside of the show.

The Innovation Stage, also located in the Central Hall, will feature 27 free, half-hour seminars throughout the show, featuring engineering, operations and cost-analysis experts from the Alliance for Innovation and Operational Excellence (AIOE) and market research firm Mintel, among others. 

New features

In the new Reusables Learning Center, located in the Lower South Hall within the Reusable Packaging Pavilion, attendees can view free presentations each day to learn from end-users and industry experts about how they have successfully integrated reusable packaging into the supply chain.

Also new this year is the Center for Trends & Technology, sponsored by Rockwell Automation and its PartnerNetwork Program. This one-stop technology center will feature educational displays and presentations to help attendees achieve higher productivity, efficiency and sustainability, according to PMMI.

“CTT will be a gathering spot for attendees who want to learn about new and emerging technologies to improve production,” said Charles D. Yuska, president and chief executive officer of PMMI, in a statement. “We’re pleased to work with Rockwell Automation, which is such an important innovator, to bring this new exhibit to life.”

Interactive displays in the center will explore critical technology trends, such as the Manufacturing Execution System (MES)/Consumer Packaged Goods Suite by Rockwell, line integration, batch solutions, security, wireless configuration and diagnostics, mobile solutions, virtual support, and machine and personnel safety.  Technology companies including Cisco, Microsoft, Motorola Solutions, Spectrum, Jacobs Automation and Rockwell Automation will offer free educational sessions to give attendees more information about topics such as managing energy usage, network security, secure remote access, line integration techniques, cloud computing trends, driving efficiencies with robot integration, trends in enterprise and plant-wide Ethernet networks, integrated safety systems, trends in mobility, and advanced mechatronics.

Beyond educational opportunities, this year PMMI also is introducing a new resource to help small- and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) get the most out of their Pack Expo 2013 experience.

“Small- and medium-sized businesses account for 46 percent of private-sector output in the U.S. economy alone. Multiply that out on a global scale and their impact is undeniable,” Yuska said in a statement. “Creating a special program that makes it easier for SMBs to source innovation, build their network, and advance their operations is a natural step in the evolution of the Pack Expo shows.”

The new SMB FastTrack Program is free for employees of industrial and consumer packaged goods companies with annual revenues between $50 million and $500 million who register to attend the show before Aug. 26. All SMB Fast Track program participants will receive a copy of The SMB FastTrack Sourcing Index to Pack Expo. Additional benefits include the following: an official list of SMB FastTrack exhibitors that have committed to special financing, discounts or support for SMBs; access to the SMB FastTrack Networking Center, a dedicated area for SMB FastTrack participants to rest, recharge their electronic devices, find solutions using a Pack Expo product locator kiosk and meet with exhibitors or industry peers; and access to special on-floor educational opportunities. C-level executives also can qualify for the SMB FastTrack Platinum program, which includes free pre-show registration; a free pre-show package of PMMI’s most recent market and trend studies; and access to a dedicated lounge featuring coffee and lunch service, charging stations for electronic devices, computer and printing stations, and access to meeting rooms, among other perks.

 For more information about Pack Expo International 2013 or to register for the event, visit