‘Pack for a Purpose’ Showcase Displays Why Robotics Is Taking Hold in Packaging

One of the most riveting developments in packaging? The expansive use of robotics technology. As robotics use has taken hold, it’s not an innovation that is bypassing paper-based packaging.

In fact, as PMMI’s Tom Egan points out, there are distinct uses where robotics and corrugated are an ideal match—particularly when it comes to protecting a container’s cargo, being able to quickly identify contents and even for some specific grasps by robotic arms.

Plus, many businesses find that investing in the machines yields fairly quick return on investment because of the increased production rates possible, Egan says. And there’s the potential to save on staffing costs.

That was on display in a special “Pack for a Purpose” setup at the Robotics Zone of Pack Expo 2019. PMMI created the special showcase to make giving back a continuing part of its annual packaging conference.

The nonprofit Blessings in a Backpack worked with robotics systems makers—Bosch Packaging Technology; Chicago Electric; Fanuc America; ProMach Performance Services with ABB, Soft Robotics and Cognex; and Universal Robots in partnership with Allied Technology—to put “philanth-robots” to work on a special project to feed kids.

At five stations, the robots sorted and packed food for kids who otherwise might not get adequate nutrition over the weekend, which is the chief focus of Blessings in a Backpack. Each package also included a personal inspirational note, many handwritten by visitors to the Robotics Zone.

Over 21 hours during the three-day show in Las Vegas, the “Pack for a Purpose” robots created more than 6,000 food packages, with six nutritious snacks each, to be distributed to children in Chicago, Las Vegas and Northern Virginia.


  • Tom Egan, VP, Industry Services, PMMI
  • Brooke Wiseman, CEO, Blessings in a Backpack
  • Paul Aiello, Director, Education Programs, Fanuc America

For all our coverage from the show, go to How Life Unfolds® at Pack Expo 2019.