Matt elaborates on the Covid effect in the UK. ‘More time at home through lockdowns, with less commuting and intercity travel, drove up interest in and time spent on hobbies, which spurred local label demand. Increased online shopping created a massive demand for shipping labels.’
However, he adds, lower traffic through restaurants and bars may dent the demand for high-end wine and spirits labels in some markets during 2021. And demand has decreased for durable labels as a result of the drop in new car sales.
Clear trends emerging among ABG customers include increased interest in automation, growing popularity of web-to-print printing, and an increased commitment to the environment.
Jetting into the automated age
‘Automated functionality has become an integral part of ABG’s converting machinery,’ Matt states. ‘The JetFx DigiJet module, for example, automates cold foil throw-off. Digital embellishment is vital in an era of personalisation and dramatically reduced lead times.
He adds that the proprietary workflow management information system enables customers to manage automated runs with intuitive software to respond promptly to product customisation and update requests, and seamless movement between jobs.
Web-to-print popularity growth aligns with digital printing’s continued growth and range, helping labels for smaller brands maintain shelf appeal and compete with more prominent names, Matt continues. ‘ABG’s DigiLase 4.0 unit automatically switches jobs with minimal operator intervention, and there is next-to-no waste.
The call for an environmental conscience grows ever louder. ABG, he explains, has formulated solutions to reduce waste, improve efficiencies and ensure sustainability across packaging supply chains.
‘Customers are under increased legislative and market pressure to deliver sustainable packaging solutions,’ Matt confirms. ‘In France, for example, legislation effective from 2022 will prohibit plastic packaging for unprocessed fruits and vegetables under 1.5kg. FMCG customers are constantly seeking ways of increasing the durability of perishable products, among them anti-fog surface treatment. We expect these needs to influence buying decisions among new and existing customers increasingly.’
Big Foot stamps its authority on embellishment
ABG products that fit the environmental bill include multiple foiling through the Big Foot embellishment module and waste matrix removal system, both available on the Digicon Series 3. Big Foot is a hot foil and embossing stamping module that uses 50 tons of pressure to lay multiple foil colours and a rotatable foil head to foil across and along the web for a more comprehensive array of foiling options.
‘When our propriety Fleyevision camera inspection technology is integrated with the Horizon module, which inspects rejected labels to identify specific roll errors, customers can home-in accurately on defective labels during runs, avoiding having to scrap entire runs should defects appear,’ Matt adds.
Another aspect of ‘ABG’s waste containment efforts is the company’s partnership with Actega Metalprint, which enables a printer/converter to use the precise amount of metal required for a given printed area. EcoLeaf digital metallisation embellishment technology replaces hot and cold foil rolls and reduces the cost of metallic embellishments.
‘When used with ABG’s workflow and automation options, this reduces waste and improves efficiencies further, enabling customers to monitor every element of their production, he states.
‘Our product design ensures modularity and interoperability with other machinery in a plant, further meeting customers’ growth and changing business needs. As we understand how valuable flexibility is, all ABG machines are fully retrofittable.’
The company broadly groups customer buying choices into high-volume, long-run work and low-volume, short-run work.
For higher volumes, the NSU and NSR non-stop winders increase productivity and reduce waste, says Matt. The 670mm wide-web converter configuration provides accurate web handling at high speeds and is designed specifically for high volume, high-speed die-cutting. The converter features a high-performance rotary die head suitable for paper and filmic substrates.
DigiLase 4 is geared for shorter runs and reduced lead times, as it enables customers to satisfy next-day delivery, as traditional die-cutting tools ‘aren’t required.
Ed’s note: AB Graphic International is represented in South Africa by CSM Machine Sales.