In September, our team attended PACK EXPO in Las Vegas. In addition to an entire hall dedicated to extremely dexterous robots that imitate the movement of human arms, there were over two dozen educational sessions that covered a variety of topics around the commercial manufacturing and packaging industries.

Many of the educational sessions were standing room only lectures around sustainability, reusable packaging, and the future of plastics. One of the last sessions of the week titled “Calculating TCO to Better Understand the Big Picture,” had to do with the total cost of ownership and the true cost of capital assets. The session focus was broken into three main categories: people, projects, and processes.

Create Workgroups

Breakdown silos and work together to share knowledge.

This session started with breaking the audience into groups around tables and the announcement of an upcoming activity that required audience participation. This change was an unexpected turn of events from previous sessions where the only requirement was passive listening with optional Q & A.

The Takeaway:
The benefit of getting into groups is that it brings all players to the table. It also forces individuals to break self-imposed silence and communicate openly. The more departments that are involved, the less chance there is of some crucial bit of information or process becoming overlooked in the grand plan.

Discuss Cost Concerns

A variety of stakeholders means more thorough planning.

After an overview of the purpose of the OpX Leadership Network, we received our assignment. It was to discuss challenges, opportunities, and ideas about what points should be examined when identifying concerns for TCO when bringing in new technology or equipment. Our group in the back did not have the benefit of a table (it was a full house), but we still managed to introduce ourselves and dive deep into the topic at hand. We identified several points based on individual industry perspectives, roles, and experiences. They varied from change management to opportunity costs for different technologies, to the soft costs involved in the transition from hardware to software-based tools and even labor expenses for deployment or installation.

The Takeaway:
The creation of cross-functional teams is essential. The speaker went around the room and had each group explain the different ways people went about coming to their conclusions. The speaker then related that in his experience working with various companies, the focus often falls too hard on acquisitions while operational costs never make it into the conversation.

Make A Plan

Time to do the work.

There are no shortcuts to success. The OpX Leadership Network has put together a free TCO playbook and checklist that provides any company that wishes to reach operational excellence, a path to get there.

The Takeaway:
Some of the resources are dense, but it is information that is needed to help make better business decisions. Instead of skimming the material, or asking an assistant to gloss over it, take a deep dive into the content and just get through it. The result is that you’ll be a better CFO, CEO, or COO for it, and your company operations will reflect the quality of that understanding.


Additional Resources for Professional Development

This infographic was passed out to everyone at the session. It is a great overview of some of the ideas presented. They also have graphics for several other industries and numerous free resources in the form of videos and podcasts. The OpX Leadership Network is a solution developer for key industry issues identified by PMMI, The Association for Packaging and Processing Technologies. The PMMI website is also an excellent resource that includes a business intelligence library, filled with international research, economic and industry reports.

Our team was highly impressed with PACK EXPO. Everything from the educational sessions to the convenience of the “first-timers lounge” for quick breaks and the highly organized layout of the show floor was well designed. PMMI went to great lengths to create a seamless show experience, and we look forward to their return in 2021.

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