The best show in Australia
The Australian Packaging and Processing Machinery Association – or the “A-double-P-MA”, as they are more commonly known – is a national, non-profit volunteer organisation that represents the packaging and processing machinery manufacturers as well as suppliers in the industry. Their membership includes manufacturers and importers who are major packaging and processing machinery suppliers to the food, beverage, cosmetic, pharmaceutical, veterinary and household packaging industries. The APPMA believes that whether you are a supplier or user of packaging and processing machinery, quality, reliability and efficiency are the keys to success – and membership in the APPMA is a major benchmark of those key qualities.
In recent years, the APPMA has been undergoing something of a metamorphosis. The biggest example of that occurred last year, when the organisation changed their name – they used to be called the APMA, with the single ‘P’ standing for Packaging. Adding the word ‘Processing’ to the association’s branding demonstrates APPMA’s growing commitment to the industry. “It just reflects our growth,” says Mark Dingley, Chairman. “By adding the processing machinery companies into our membership, we’re recognising that our packaging machinery members are also involved in the processing machinery industry.”
Prior to the name change, the APMA went back as far as 1983, when they were first established. “A group of individual companies got together to form an association that was looking to develop, build and grow a packaging machinery industry exhibition,” Dingley recounts. “They wanted to create an association that had the best interests at heart for its members, and put on a high quality, low cost packaging machinery exhibition. Those were the fundamentals that formed the association, and even today we still hold very close to.” The industry exhibition that was established became known as AUSPACK. Recently, AUSPACK’s name was also changed to reflect their growing expansion – they are now known as AUSPACK PLUS. “That is the core function of the APPMA – to put on for our members and the industry at large a high quality, value-added exhibition for packaging and processing machinery equipment.” The next AUSPACK PLUS will be held in Sydney, in May of 2013.
Dingley himself has volunteered on the APPMA board since 2002. Throughout his tenure at the association he has been heavily involved along with all board members in the organisation of AUSPACK PLUS, working closely with the event’s organisers. “The APPMA owns AUSPACK PLUS, but we do have a very close partnership with a company that organises and runs the show for us,” Dingley explains. Most of the decisions and directions surrounding the event are directly controlled by the APPMA, however, and as a board member Dingley is heavily involved in those decisions, as well as all other facets of the business. “It’s contributing back to the industry that we’re all involved in,” Dingley says. The opportunity to make those contributions was what inspired him to get involved in the first place.
Putting on a high quality exhibition like AUSPACK PLUS is currently APPMA’s central focus. However, as Chairman, Dingley is looking very closely at expanding the association’s services moving forward. “I’m looking at opportunities for what we can do to provide further service for our members outside the exhibition,” he says. “We have a lot of initiatives on the go at the moment that will hopefully provide our members with more services, and help the APPMA give something back to our members outside the exhibition.” One specific area Dingley is looking at is the association’s involvement with government. He hopes to one day be able to channel government resources – and not just monetary resources – to help APPMA and its member businesses. “That’s an area we’re keen to review, look at, and see what options there are to utilise government services to benefit our members.”
The biggest challenge currently posed to APPMA is the uncertain future of manufacturing in Australia. This uncertainty has resulted in many manufacturing companies moving offshore, and for the remaining companies it has meant having to adapt. “For the manufacturers who are left in Australia it’s all about improving efficiencies,” says Dingley. “Therefore a lot of automation needs to come in to improve manufacturing efficiencies. That’s where our members can really benefit.” At events like AUSPACK PLUS, APPMA can promote new technologies and methods, and educate their members. They provide differentiation, which is what their member companies and AUSPACK PLUS customers are looking for.
As far as the association itself goes, the main challenge is working around peoples busy schedules. APPMA is a volunteer organisation, after all. “We’ve got a very good dedicated team, and I think that’s the key,” Dingley says. “The board that we have here is committed to the greater benefit of our industry, so it does involve a lot of hours on a monthly basis but the board is committed to providing their time and their businesses time.”
Looking to the future, and the next AUSPACK PLUS in 2013, APPMA plans to keep improving. Not only are they opening up their industry exhibition to processing, but also materials. “Following our exhibition in 2011, we actually conducted some fairly extensive surveys of both our exhibitors and the visitors, so over the last three months we’ve just come out of a fairly rigorous review of the last AUSPACK PLUS,” says Dingley. “What came out of that has formed our platform for moving forward in 2013, and how we’re going to grow AUSPACK PLUS.” A lot of the feedback they received had to do with people wanting to see more materials, which include all elements from film, plastics, components and generally the ancillaries of packing and processing machinery. “A lot of the visitors to our exhibition not only install the processing and packing machinery but also maintain it, and they want to see the companies that sell the components and ancillaries that go into our packing and processing machinery.” For this reason, APPMA plans to expand the footprint of their 2013 event to incorporate those elements.
Moving forward, APPMA plans to continue to receive input from their members and the industry, and will continue to ensure that input is heard and implemented. “It’s all about working towards an industry exhibition that not only benefits our members, but also our customers,” he says. “It’s putting on an exhibition that the customers want to see when it comes to packaging and processing machinery and materials.” APPMA does not just seek to put on just any show either – they want to make it the best exhibition in Australia. “That’s our aim, and we’re well on the way to achieving that.”