In the face of growing demand for more sustainable labelling products, this project is set to provide a common understanding of LCA and the environmental hotspots within the label industry, as well as creating a harmonised sector approach for LCA.
‘FINAT and TLMI recognise the need for guidance for our industry as customer demand for sustainability continues to grow,’ comments FINAT president Thomas Hagmaier. Adds Calvin Frost, TLMI Environmental Committee chairman, ‘One of the reasons harmonisation is important from a global perspective is so that we don’t have China doing one thing, Europe another, and North America something else. All disciplines were involved in this work: the ink industry, material OEMs, the adhesive sector and converters. Task forces from FINAT and TLMI worked together – the first time we’ve undertaken a joint project of this size, funded by these two prominent associations. I think it’s marvellous and demonstrates how we can work together for the greater good of the industry.’
In recent years, growing demand for more sustainable labelling products has been driven by governments, global brand owners and consumer groups. As a result, a growing number of companies in the labelling industry have created transparency on the environmental impact of their products using LCA. These developments have resulted in various in-house tools and methodologies within the labelling sector. However, without a standard and overall sector approach, there’s a risk of conflicting messages to customers and suppliers. For this reason, FINAT and TLMI have taken the lead to create a joint LCA guidance document to ensure a level playing field, satisfy stakeholder demands and reduce the industry’s work burden.
The LCA guidance document will provide:
- a common understanding of LCA and industry hotspots, illustrated with case studies;
- insights into the different standards available and how these relate to the harmonised LCA approach;
- guidance and training on LCA methodology;
- a level playing-field, making LCA also accessible for SMEs in the sector.
First key findings
The first step of the LCA project, the state of the practice review, shows that only 14% of respondents to a FINAT and TLMI member survey currently use LCA to measure the environmental impact of their products while 62% plan to use LCA in the future. Transparency on environmental performance, product development and marketing are the most important planned uses.
Two detailed case studies, one for a paper label and the other covering a film label, provide examples of how to conduct an LCA study. They show that in these specific cases raw materials are responsible for more than 40% of the environmental impact of the self-adhesive labels. Printing and manufacturing of the label as well as transport are other significant factors. Compared to landfilling or incineration, recycling of the liner and matrix waste could reduce the environmental impact of the labels used in the case studies by 10 to 20%.
Presstec principals report huge success
According to Presstec’s Antron Hendricks, he and his brothers were kept so busy on their principals’ stands that they barely had time to visit the rest of the halls!
‘It was a brilliant show,’ says Antron enthusiastically. ‘We received numerous enquiries and plenty of really solid prospects that will definitely develop into sales in the weeks ahead.’
Nine demos a day stirred things up on Omet’s stand, attracting crowds of visitors to watch three presses in action.
The big news, of course, was the iFlex 370mm press seen for the first time at a show. Visitors clearly appreciated its simplicity of operation and the effortless production of high-quality print using just one gear per flexo unit! Preregister, register and job change were performed in a flash, showing significant reductions in costly waste of material and time.
Also amazing visitors were novelties such as Omet’s iLight laser-assisted pre-register system, its QCDC (Quick Change Die-Cutting) by means of a trolley for sliding heavy die-cutting cylinders in and out, and its iVision, camera-assisted system for immediate set-up of perfect register.
Next to iFlex, the XFlex X6 Offset, flexo + offset hybrid press captured the attention of those already operating in the flexible packaging business or tempted to enter it. Omet claims that the XFlex X6 Offset is the only press that mixes flexo and rotary offset in 530mm width. This multi-technology and multi-application approach can handle medium to large volumes of filmic labels, shrink sleeves, in-mould labels, flexible packaging and folding cartons with minimal waste and high-quality output in a single pass.
To complete the picture, Omet presented the XFlex X6 Digital with flexo + digital inkjet combination for short-run printing, delivering excellent quality and high productivity.
First presented at drupa 2012, this press is now enjoying considerable market success. Thanks to the integration of flexo and digital workflows, plus inline finishing and converting technologies (such as screen printing, UV lamination or cold foil), the XFlex X6 Digital provides three solutions in one press, for maximum versatility in any label and packaging printing business.
Omet staff declared unprecedented success at Labelexpo, with many orders signed during the show and more orders expected in the coming weeks.
As Marco Calcagni, Omet’s sales & marketing director, comments, ‘Visitors to our stand showed a real interest in our presses. At every edition of Labelexpo, we’ve introduced innovations. This year it was the turn of iFlex, by far the most attractive flexo printing machine in Brussels – and the ideal press for modern label converters looking for operational simplicity, cost reduction and high-quality results.’
On the Cartes stand, key innovations included the latest in the Gemini series, the GE362VR, which amazed visitors by converting labels in semi-rotary mode at over 90m/min. And at the top-end of the line, the GT360 with semi-rotary die-cutting unit is a fresh concept that allows magnetic dies to be used to produce different length labels. Causing a stir among visitors was the GT360’s electronically-controlled Air Gap System that permits absolute depth precision from the first cycle, not only reducing waste but avoiding the possibility of breaking dies through a mis-adjustment.
Another innovation was the ILC (Invisible Laser Cutting) system that allows conversion of dark-coloured labels while eliminating the white edges usually caused by laser-cutting temperatures. The system is suitable for in-mould labels and other linerless materials.
Another of Presstec’s principals, Grafotronic, presented its line-up to help converters increase speed and productivity in the finishing process. The latest modular concept was particularly well received.
As Mattias Malmqvist, Grafotronic MD, explains, converters don’t have to make all their decisions when they first order equipment. With this ‘future-safe concept’, they can extend machines whenever needed. This, says Mattias, was a prime reason for multiple orders received during the show.
Grafotronic’s latest WiFi Slitting technology is a time-saving knife positioning system in which knives are individually controlled by WiFi, eliminating cables and accommodating up to 17 knives with minimum slitting width of 15mm. Positions can be entered on the touchscreen or remotely and the technology minimises set-up times (17 sets of knives in under 10 seconds!).
As digital presses get faster, there’s growing demand for fast and flexible finishing; and meeting this need is Grafotronic’s Frontload quick-change rotary die-cutter that speeds up changeover of magnetic cylinders, allowing finishing of digitally-printed labels at 180m/min with minimal downtime between jobs.
Star of the show on the and generating a great deal of attention on the Lundberg Tech stand was a MatrixCutter, handling matrix waste and trim from a finishing machine. Enabling a non-stop production, the MatrixCutter is a perfect solution for increasing the productivity of a label press. Six units were sold at the show for immediately delivery.
The latest-generation MatrixCutter is an all-in-one unit fulfilling the requirement of capturing, cutting, collecting and compacting waste, while providing a better working environment for operators.
Explains Presstec’s Antron Hendricks, ‘Lundberg Tech’s outstanding matrix removal system makes a difference to waste handling in aspects of energy efficiency, low noise level, productivity, volume reduction and recycling possibilities.’
Martin Automatic scores with innovations
Martin Automatic reported high levels of interest in its roll handling technology at the Brussels event, with the company’s stand attracting converters from all parts of the globe.
On working display were two of Martin’s most popular machines for the narrow-web market, the MBS automatic unwind butt splicer, and the LRD turret rewinder. Both machines, designed and built with the rugged simplicity required for reliable performance in today’s hardworking environment, feature the latest software and operator interface that moves them towards being a ‘set and forget’ stage in the production cycle.
A particularly eye-catching innovation was the ‘laser assist package’ that provides an optical guide for operators when preparing a splice. Available on new MBS machines or as a retrofit, the laser beam aligns the web edge with the splice tape for more accurate positioning on the reverse side of the substrate. Says Martin’s VP, Gavin Rittmeyer, ‘The laser assist package typifies the way that we continue to innovate, and bring practical solutions to the market that improve productivity and show a fast ROI for the converter.’
Also attracting attention was the space-saving stacked festoon accumulator on the MBS splicer. Designed to facilitate installation where floorspace is in short supply, it is one of a number of tailor-made configurations offered by Martin to converters who need the added productivity of automation, but have an already crowded production area. ‘Once again, a relatively simple concept has been utilised by Martin to revolutionise the way converters can make full use of their presses, even in confined spaces,’ comments Gavin Rittmeyer.
Grafikontrol confirms interest in labels
Among first-time participants was Grafikontrol, manufacturer of press controls for the printing industry. Not yet known in the labelling sector, the company was in exploratory mode but by the end of the show was able to confirm enthusiastic response.
Particular excitement was sparked by the presentation of Grafikontrol’s Lynex system on Omet’s flexo press.
The Lynex project, developed by Grafikontrol and now optimised for labels, is easy to use, thanks to its multitasking interface on a high-resolution monitor. This configuration allows a panoramic view of the entire printing process through direct navigation from one screen to another, making the system extremely interactive.
‘It was important to show the Lynex control system in operation on a label press,’ explains Grafikontrol’s Paolo de Grandis. Further information is available from Grafikontrol’s local distributor, Ceramic Anilox Engravers.
Rotoflex boosts industry presence
Rotoflex showed innovative technology in the shape of VSI and VLI slitter rewinders, and rated Labelexpo a resounding success.
A VLI slitter rewinder ran unsupported film at speeds up to 610m/min while delivering consistent, high-quality rolls and the Rotoflex flagship VSI slitter rewinder, with its small footprint, was finishing printed labels with an inline Nikka Research inspection system.
Both models were equipped with the Rotoflex URC 2.0 proprietary control system. Designed for ease of operation, with simple menus, automatic set-up, and an intuitive interface, all functions can be monitored from a single screen. Job set-up is quick and with the job save/load capability, job-related details are stored and easily recalled for repeat runs.
Also featured on the stand was a dedicated terminal showcasing the revolutionary Report Management System (RMS), a new option available with the URC 2.0 control system. Designed by Rotoflex engineers, RMS collects real time production data from multiple finishing machines to a single interface, which can be accessed remotely via computer or handheld device.
Both VSI and VLI machines on the stand were equipped with biometric (fingerprint) authentication for operator access. This innovation provides optimal security and identification, and is an optional feature on all new Rotoflex offline finishing machines.