Some 1,000 people gathered at the Messe Wien Congress Centre in Vienna from October 11 to 13 for FEFCO’s Technical Seminar where the latest technologies in the sector were showcased. Packaging Europe attended the event and was impressed with the sheer amount of information and innovation available.

The FEFCO Technical Seminar is a highlight of the industry’s calendar, offering corrugated manufacturers and suppliers some of their most productive innovations and new business development activity. The Vienna edition was the most popular in the last ten years: there were 126 stands and 87 exhibitors on hand, a new record, FEFCO was happy to report.

FEFCO President Jan Klingele said the corrugated industry is experiencing an extraordinary transformation as new technologies emerge in the sector, including digital printing, intelligent automation and big data. “It’s clear that as our clients move into Industry 4.0, we will have to adapt. We need better, faster and safer ways to meet customer demand,” he said.

Bringing together buyers and suppliers

The seminar, entitled ‘Corrugated Processes Complexity – Challenges and Solutions’ brought together buyers from the corrugated industry and their suppliers from Europe and beyond to discuss innovations in areas like corrugators, conveyors, labelling, coding, digital printing and die cutting. The experts examined how to further improve the durability, versatility, sustainability, customisation, protection, graphic appeal and cost-effectiveness of corrugated products.  

Participants debated industry trends from new customer demands to the latest innovations rolling out on the market. There were discussions on how to build lighter, stronger and more environmentally-friendly boxes, and how to exploit new production technologies. 

Varied topics

Amongst the key topics, the presentations looked at the different approaches to digital printing, with speakers agreeing that while it was very high tech, it was also very investment intensive. These costs are not just with the assets and consumables, but with training the people to run the asset. Participants could see that the benefits to digital are many, for example, allowing manufacturers to respond to short-run market demand efficiently

The sessions on big data looked at how to turn the increasing amounts of data on speeds, power consumption, and water consumption into faster production, lower energy costs, lower heat transfer, predictive maintenance and better quality board. 

There are other new technologies that are emerging which could change the corrugated product itself, including nano materials that could make the paper super-hydrophobic or give it antimicrobial properties. 

The spotlight sessions gave companies the opportunity to provide insights into technology innovations in a concise way, with each session lasting just six minutes. Speakers included representatives from major industry players, such as KBA, Bobst, Durst Group, HP, Fosper and Sun Automation. 

"The FEFCO Technical Seminar is the only platform in Europe dedicated to the corrugated industry that combines seminar sessions, presentations of suppliers’ innovations with a well-attended exhibition," Mr. Klingele concludes.

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