Basic Beverage Industry Trends
Underlying the beverage industry changes are several overarching trends, including the growing influence of millennials, who are emerging as the largest generational segment of the population. Their values and behaviors directly impact the beverage market. Preferences for convenience, healthier beverages and sustainable packaging are just three key millennial issues that affect the entire industry.
The Effect of SKU Proliferation on Beverage Conveyor Systems
The trends toward greater convenience, smaller bottles and healthier beverages have contributed to an explosion of SKUs. Now, instead of a set number of standard-sized bottles in a standard-sized box, beverage manufacturers must deal with various bottle and package sizes to meet market demands.
The proliferation of SKUs requires changes in conveyor technologies to accommodate the multitude of container and open-tray sizes. For instance, conveyor system manufacturers need to develop belt conveyor systems that prevent big and small boxes from colliding on the same belt.
Conveyors also need to be able to transport products at lower speeds without affecting overall throughput. Belt conveyors and driven-roller conveyors with tighter centers are two solutions that provide more accurate control of their conveying systems to improve throughput without the danger of damaging cases.
One result of the proliferation of SKUs is shorter production runs, which increase the need for more flexibility, higher production speeds and faster change-overs. Beverage conveyor systems need to be able to accommodate all these demands.
Beverage Conveyor Systems and Packaging Lightweighting
The growing requirement for eco-friendly and sustainable packaging is another beverage industry trend that affects the conveyor market. The increasing emphasis on sustainable packaging led to the lightweighting of primary packaging, like cans, and secondary packaging, like boxes. The lighter containers and cases require conveyors that move at adjustable speeds and incorporate different belt systems.
Reducing the weight of packaging often entails the use of less sturdy material. To prevent damaging more fragile packaging, beverage conveyor systems need to use belt conveyors or closer centers on driven-roller conveyors, as well as processes that slow conveying speeds.
Brand Growth and Beverage Conveyor Systems
Evolving trends in the beverage industry include the growth of brands, varieties and flavors of beverages. This explosion of choices has led to a more diverse universe of packaging that must be conveyed, with taller and smaller packaging more likely to fall off conveyors. Manufacturers of beverage conveyor systems accommodate this trend by incorporating gentler inclines and declines.
Deteriorating Profit Margins in the Beverage Market
These trends in U.S. beverage manufacturing, along with ongoing supply chain issues, increasing material expenses and rising labor costs, have led to deteriorating profit margins across the beverage industry. This affects all market segments and is reflected in beer and soft drink industry trends.
In many cases, beverage manufacturers are reluctant to pass the cost increases to customers, further exacerbating the decline in profit margins. As the beverage industry looks to contain production costs, manufacturers of beverage conveyor systems can play an essential role in the process by increasing automation, improving throughput and providing conveyors that do more in less space.
Greater Conveyor Manufacturing Trends
In addition to beverage industry trends, manufacturers of beverage conveyor systems also must consider the larger trends affecting the overall conveyor industry. These overarching trends include the demand for quieter operation, the need for more simplicity and the use of advanced materials. Conveyor manufacturers who take these trends into account will be ahead of the game.