CHICAGO — For the wholesale baking industry — as with most commercial food businesses — automation is not only changing the game operationally, but it’s also rapidly becoming the standard.

At Pack Expo, which took place Oct. 14-17 in Chicago, Harpak-Ulma, a supplier of packaging solutions for bakery and other food products, announced its new strategic alliance with Rockwell Automation by joining the Rockwell Automation PartnerNetwork.

This new partnership will bring Harpak-Ulma to the forefront of smart packaging technology, said Kevin Roach, president and chief executive officer of Harpak-Ulma.

“Our customers face intensifying global competition driven by customer expectations and market pressures,” Mr. Roach said during a Pack Expo press conference. “We need to focus on innovations, performance reliability and better packaging solutions.”

Through this network, Harpak-Ulma also will team with PTC, a manufacturing software producer, to create digital turnkey packaging solutions.

“Smart connected machines are by their nature meant to be part of a greater whole,” Mr. Roach said. “This strategy cannot be achieved in isolation. Every part is an ecosystem, the right combination of technology and market presence. Selecting an ecosystem is a critical decision. But the criteria was simple: get the biggest bang for the buck for our customers.”

At Pack Expo, Harpak-Ulma announced that its ULMA Thermoformer lines are now delivered with Rockwell’s Integrated Architecture production control and information system that includes features such as augmented reality platforms designed by PTC.

Show attendees had the opportunity to experience a live demo at the Harpak-Ulma booth.

Mr. Roach explained that the decision to join the Rockwell Automation PartnerNetwork was based on its far-reaching strategic vision for digital solutions.

“Rockwell is a preeminent thought leader in the industry that is delivering on the promise of digital transformation,” Mr. Roach said. “Rockwell’s investment and relationship with PTC reinforces that position. Together, these companies represent a powerhouse of Industry 4.0 Smart technology with overwhelming presence and momentum. That’s important because the digital transformation is real. It’s here, and it’s accelerating. Together, this well-aligned team can help.”