The Labelexpo Americas 2014 conference program kicked off with a converter CEO panel. Joel Carmany, president of Consolidated Labels, talked about the importance of investing in IT hardware and professionals that can develop software to streamline business processes.

‘What Amazon is doing is going to be pervasive,’ he said. ‘People will go to make purchases where it’s easier to do business. I’m looking at how my systems are going to deliver goods to our customers. We want to know what our customer needs before they know they need it. We are focus-driven on IT because it is a major factor in delivering our product and helps us assist customers in making good decisions.’

Digital printing is now well established as a mainstream technology for high quality label manufacturing – accounting for nearly one-third of the narrow web press installations over the last year globally. While speed was a challenge for early models, a number of inkjet systems at Labelexpo can be seen running at near conventional speeds. Full color production presses from Mark Andy (hybrid), Domino and Colordyne are all claimed to print at 250 ft/min. EFI Jetrion is showing demonstrations at 200 ft/min while Durst and Screen are printing at speeds around 150 ft/min. Shopper behavior has change significantly in recent years. There’s more emotion behind consumers’ decisions; they want to trust brands to deliver them a new experience every time they open a package, even if the product inside is the same.

Digital print technology and full end-to-end workflow structures and finishing systems are key to meeting the demands of these contemporary shoppers. It’s an excellent way to improve engagement on-shelf. The IoT panel had supplier experts discussing the importance of connected products that can make our lives simpler. With more than 1.5 billion people on this planet using smart phones, the panel felt that, at some point in the future, every label and package will have some kind of intelligent technology integrated into it, whether to reduce food waste, track an exclusive bottle of wine or improve inventory management for retailers.

The Smart Mart feature area of the show has seen great interest from attendees eager to see how new IoT and Big Data technologies can be used to reach consumers in totally new ways via packaging. Blippar’s augmented reality (AR) solutions and Evrythng’s software collection and management system help brands reach consumers with flair while evaluating data for future improvements in meeting consumer needs. Rick Spear, president of the label division at Constantia Flexibles, commented on sustainability during the CEO panel: ‘If you can develop a product that is more sustainable and cost neutral, you’ll win.’ There’s much discussion around sustainability and new innovations coming to market that help reduce the industry’s impact on the environment. I encourage attendees to listen to Nu Label in the conference program tomorrow. They’ll be promoting their new liner-free technology using an activatable adhesive, positioning themselves as a solution between wet glue labels and pressure sensitive labels. Also stop by the booth of Smart Planet Technologies to review how their mineralized resin technology is allowing the value chain to recycle high value fibers from paper packaging like coffee cups and ice cream tubs.

Tonight we celebrate the R. Stanton Avery Lifetime Achievement Award winner Suzanne Zaccone, the first female to be bestowed with the prestigious annual award. Congratulations Suzanne. Much deserved! You have been a quality leader and mentor to so many in our industry over the years. We’ll also recognize the 2014 World Label Award winners at this year’s annual awards ceremony. Enjoy the show!

Written for: Labels and Labeling Magazine

Author: Danielle Jerschefske

September 2014

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