From a South African perspective, however, scant news has emerged from the show – very few South African equipment suppliers or label printers made the journey to Chicago, preferring, as usual, to save their beleaguered rands for a trip to Brussels to attend the biennial Labelexpo Europe (next up in September 2015).
Nevertheless, having said that, there is one exciting news items to report that has a strong local connection – Gidue’s receipt of the Label Industry Global Award for Innovation for its Digital Flexo Excellence Project, the company’s latest revolutionary technology for labelling and packaging converters.
Founded in 2004 to celebrate innovation and excellence, the Label Industry Global Awards have become an annual high point, with entries judged by label associations, FINAT and TLMI, and the editors of leading industry magazines. Sponsored this year by Flint Group, the Award acknowledges specific innovation by a supplier or converter.
And this year it was Gidue’s Digital Flexo Excellence system that won through. Developed to ‘digitise’ the workflow, set-up and run of a flexographic press, the system delivers high productivity, lower costs, flexibility and consistent quality with ‘digital’ efficiency, repeatability and ease of operation. With fast changeover times, improved press uptime and minimum waste, it propels flexography into a new era, challenging digital printing for quality, efficiency and profitability, even for short runs.
Not surprisingly, Federico d’Annunzio, Gidue president, is proud that his team’s work has been recognised with this highly-sought-after accolade. ‘Since 2000, we’ve introduced many concepts and innovations that have become industry standards,’ he says. ‘This award is high incentive for Gidue to continue developing new technologies for the benefit of the label and packaging industry.’
Adds Cristina Toffolo, VP marketing, ‘This award is dedicated to the entire Gidue team that has worked hard to strengthen its role as an innovative Italian manufacturer. We thank our customers around the world for supporting us with trust and confidence by investing in our new technologies.’
Equally pleased is local Gidue distributor, Ipex Machinery’s Bruce Allen, ‘Gidue has always been at the forefront of innovation,’ he says. ‘Receiving this award provides industry recognition of this innovation and excellence. South African customers also recognise this and continue to invest in Gidue technology.’
The future role of active, intelligent labels
Some of the latest developments in active and intelligent labels and packaging were showcased at Labelexpo Americas’ brand new feature area, called Smart Mart. Exploring advances in substrates, inks, digital systems and printing, visitors saw augmented reality, QR codes and scanners, RFID and NFC-enabled smart tags, temperature-indicating packaging and films that prevent food spoilage.
Some leading suppliers provided an insight into the future role labels and packaging will play across the retail supply chain, highlighting ways in which brands are better able to engage and interact with consumers, intensify their appeal and differentiate themselves from competitors.
Comments Tasha Ventimiglia, event director for Labelexpo Americas: ‘Active and intelligent labels and packaging are already effective weapons in the battle against counterfeiting, but they’re fast proving to be immensely useful in engaging with consumers and generating brand loyalty. This is a massive growth area for our industry and market research released earlier this year by Freedonia predicts that active and intelligent packaging in the US will rise 8% every year, reaching $3.5-billion in 2017. With so many new and fast evolving technologies in the pipeline, developments over the next few years in this area will be very exciting and will revolutionise our shopping aisles.’
Among a considerable list of exhibits, here are just a few stand-outs.
Avery Dennison featured RFID technology and presented FiberTracker, an anti-counterfeiting labelling solution that provides a paper facestock with unique fibre patterns that can be scanned at point of purchase to validate product authenticity.
Thinfilm exhibited its NFC-enabled labels with temperature sensors designed to monitor perishable goods. Mobile devices with NFC capabilities can wirelessly detect the smart label’s signal and display alerts on the screen if a critical temperature threshold is reached or exceeded. The intelligent labels also have a unique ID, so it’s possible to log the alert in a cloud-based application for further data analysis.
Clemson University demonstrated eye-tracking technology that can assist designers and brand managers with rebranding tactics and shopper response and reach schemes.
Derprosa Film (now part of Ti Films) promoted Bacterstop, an anti-bacterial BOPP film that prevents food contamination.
Phoenix 27 focused on its system that allows premium wine label producers to capture data on consumer demographics, including buying preferences, product authentication and suggestions for foods to enjoy with wines.
Smartrac showed intelligent RFID systems highlighting industrial and commercial applications, from real-time asset interaction, analytical trend data to component visibility and authentication, all the way to customer experience and customer retention.
T+Sun – an organisation created through the partnership of Sun Chemical and T+ink – exhibited conductive inks that allow packs and objects to communicate, engage consumers, manage inventory systems and provide brand authentication. Among these is Touchcode. When touched to a smart device the embedded code activates a range of options, including security and web interaction; it’s seen as a great first step to engaging with consumers.
MPS boosts awareness
Reporting a successful show was MPS, locally represented by Rotocon, whose strategy to strengthen its American presence was clearly communicated during the show.
Also promoted was MPS’s flagship EF multi-substrate UV flexo press, now available for both print sleeves and plate rolls. Additionally, MPS was a sponsor of Label Academy, a global training and certification programme for the label and package printing industry. But causing the largest sensation was the company’s sponsorship of the Harley-Davidson motorcycle competition held on day three of the show.
Comments Denny McGee, president of MPS North America (pictured below): ‘We were pleased to welcome a high volume of visitors to our stand. With the positive reception of our press technology and receipt of multiple orders, we achieved our goal of increasing awareness of MPS as a significant printing press supplier in the Americas. We’re proud to sponsor the Label Academy programme, as it fits perfectly with our vision: that the key to success in today’s label and packaging industry is the press operator. His or her skills, experience and motivation contribute significantly to the press productivity, print quality and ultimately to return on investment.’