The human being is our most complex machine. Capable of combining intelligence with imperative actions, man has made the modern world possible through a union of creative thinking and logical application. Recent tributes to the life of Leonardo Da Vinci serve as a reminder to many of us that human genius can so easily cross the boundaries of art, science and social benefit.

Anyone who has anything to do with packaging will learn from a visit to this year’s PPMA Show. Here, in a whirring of robotic arms or a flash of laser-guided filling and sealing, lies Da Vinci’s continuing influence.

Today, in our modern microchipped packaging industry, there are buildings without lighting, staffed by machines without attitude, capable of folding, sealing, printing, labelling and sending products safely to supermarket.

And, even more, these are machines, which are dedicated, preprogrammable, reprogrammable and accountable.

There is always something to learn from witnessing the packaging and processing machine in action, a certain admiration and excitement at our ability to make life easier.

Yet in the presence of all this ‘innovation’, it is still the skill of the packaging professional which has the power to make the difference between functionality and fascination.

The best packaging is highly functional yet instantly inspirational, and it comes from man and machine working together. So it may be worth remembering that the giant investment in machines for our packaging plants should never be made entirely by sacrificing our investment in knowledge and people.

John Webb-Jenkins is chief executive of the Institute of Packaging