The label industry has always grown through innovation and new ideas. It’s been quick to encompass materials, technology or products that create new opportunities and added value solutions, and has been good a solving problems for potential new customers and markets.
After the past few years of a global financial crisis, difficult trading conditions and a still somewhat uncertain recovery, it is probably even more important for the label converter to now be looking at even newer opportunities – both within labels and beyond and to consider entering new niche markets, becoming more flexible in their production, driving costs down, and increasing profitability.
Perhaps as good a place to start in this quest is by attending the forthcoming Labelexpo Americas show in Chicago to be held at the Rosemont Convention Center on September 14-16, 2010. With some 400 exhibitors, 23 conference sessions, a masterclass and a series of technology workshops, there are bound to be a multitude of possibilities for growth that the converter should be studying – which this year are expected to include unsupported film, flexible packaging and sleeve label applications, cartons, digital sheet-fed printing of wet-glue labels, RFID (radio frequency identification) insertion, medical applications and booklet finishing.
Weber Zebra RFID R170XiIII printing and encoding Weber RFID labels.
Indeed, there is an area of the show in Hall C which will be solely dedicated to the print and packaging processes beyond labels and which are opportunities for converters. In this area, called ‘Beyond Labels – new opportunities for the converter’ exhibitors will demonstrate combined packaging solutions and different product and market applications.
Although still early days in terms of receiving press announcements from exhibitors about this and other areas of the show, it is already clear from advance information that there will be some exciting new converting opportunities and solutions on show this year. Opportunities that any serious converter should be evaluating in their ongoing quest for growth and profitability.
Take Delta Industrial for example. This company will be showing two converting systems for multiple processes at Labelexpo Americas. One application being demonstrated by them which will be sure to attract converter interest will be a medical process converting line – which comes complete with in-line heatseal packaging. They will also be showing a complete digital print finishing line, as will companies such as ABG International.
Meanwhile, among a number of machines that Nilpeter will be debuting at the show, the FA-6 is particularly aimed at the growing number of converters that wish to offer a comprehensive ‘one-stop’ label and packaging service to brand owners and packaging contractors. This eight-color, 22-inch wide, press is equipped with both UV-curing units and hot air dryers for producing a variety of film packaging, labels, and carton board.
Likewise, Mark Andy are another exhibitor setting out to aid converters looking for new solutions or opportunities outside of self-adhesive labels by showing a number of advanced label and non-label applications, such as the latest in RFID insertion, or machines for the printing of unsupported label and packaging films and the production of light cartons.
Or what about booklet labels? Want to get into the production of multi-page labels for agrochemical, food or pharmaceutical markets, then converters should visit the Prati booth where this company will be showing equipment for applying a booklet label onto a base label for automatic application and then adding variable data information as well if required. Certainly an attractive added-value market application.
Also looking at ways of increasing the added-value opportunities for labels is Durst Photechnik, who will be showcasing a digital varnishing module (DIVA) for the Rotoworx modular finishing system. This module has the unique ability to produce different gloss levels – high gloss, semi-gloss, satin, matte, etc, – in just one single pass, and with a single varnishing fluid.
Believed to be unique in the label industry, the module also enables converters to produce special effects, such as textures and even tactile elements – and even vary the top finish from label to label. The company believes that the DIVA module will be a very important source of competitive advantage for converters.
And what about those converters, industry suppliers or label users looking to understand more about digital printing technologies, their market applications and opportunities, or looking to invest in a digital press for the first time? Well, they would do well to attend the digital label printing masterclass being run on the third morning of the show. An intensive three-hour knowledge-based session being presented by some of the leading experts in this sector, the masterclass is an ideal introduction to this fast-growing technology.
A whole range of interesting conference sessions during the show will also provide new ideas and opportunities for converters. Sessions this year include printed electronics, brand protection and anti-counterfeiting, SnapTag technology that can enhance a brand, opportunities in flexible packaging, as well as range of special management and technical topics – including color management, automation and integration of digital solutions throughout the production chain, and the development of a sustainable supply chain.
What seems certain is that Labelexpo Americas now offers converters solutions that extend beyond self-adhesive labels into sleeve labels, heat transfer decoration, flexible packaging, cartons, and much more. Solutions and opportunities that can add value and enhance profitability, solutions that can provide a total packaging and label service to customers, solutions to aid brand owners in track and trace, counterfeit deterrence, and marketing.
Labelexpo Americas is no longer a show where the converter just looks at potential new presses and materials. No, it’s now part of the converter’s business process, of converter decision making, of looking for new ideas and opportunities, of understanding where they could be as a business in two, three or more years time. It’s certainly about understanding how the rapid evolution of digital printing technology and solutions is likely to change in the future.
Above all, Labelexpo Americas is not a show where you can turn up for a day and then leave. To really get full value out of the show it needs more than that. It needs a plan of what to see, what is expected from the show, where the industry is going, what to invest in for success, and how do you get there? That probably takes more than a day – and more than one person from the company.
For further information about Labelexpo Americas, or other Labelexpo events, please contact Camilla Colborne, communication
s executive, Labelexpo Global Series via tel: +44 (0)20 8846 2731 or e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.