“The world is changing: growing geographically smaller through globalisation, and universally bigger via the clouds. In this complex value chain, the challenges that face participants at all levels today are massive. Our time-honoured print technologies have new young digital partners; new label decoration and finishing technologies; new substrates; new inks and curing methods and much more. On top of that, brand owners want just-in-time delivery, personalisation, and price restraint. How can we win in this multi-faceted arena?” asks Jules Lejeune, Managing Director of FINAT, the international label industry association.
The biennial FINAT Technical Seminar, taking place 7-9 March 2018 in Barcelona, is always an excellent source of news of technical innovation; this year’s wide-ranging agenda – opened by FINAT President Chris Ellison – promises to deliver practical advice on how the industry, and label converters in particular, can achieve real results.
Andy Hobsbawm delivers the keynoteIt is particularly appropriate, in this day and age, that the programme will be launched by internationally-acclaimed keynote speaker Andy Hobsbawm, a pioneer in internet marketing, and co-founder and Chief Marketing Officer of IoT smart products platform EVRYTHNG, which can connect any consumer product to the web, as well as manage real-time data to drive applications. He will helpfully look at the technical side of the way in which smart products can transform brand relationships, business operations, and service experiences. Labels and packaging are just beginning to explore the available technologies – among them augmented reality, sensors, printed electronics, batch/SKU QR codes – that can make packaging and labels smart. With live solutions, Andy will show the audience how to answer the call and transform their labels into smart, digital assets.
Optimising workflowNext, Alex Knott, Chairman of the FINAT Seminar Subcommittee, will chair a session dedicated to workflow optimisation – a key topic for label converters today. Chris Ellison will share his personal experiences as MD of the growing OPM Group with the audience to provide a practical users’ guide to the challenges and pitfalls of choosing an MIS supplier. Then Jeroen van Bauwel, Director of Product Management for Xeikon, will explore digitalisation of the production processes – in other words, ‘doing things differently’; and Geert de Proost, Director Solutions Marketing for Esko, will look at the principles of workflow automation, and the many helpful improvements to productivity that it can deliver.
Daragh Whelan, Process Manager of Bobst Firenze, will discuss the technicalities of three different levels of digital automation for flexo print, and give insight into the economic values behind investment in each technology. His economic analysis will include several case studies simulating various production environments and job schedules; and he will cover colour matching using Extended Color Gamut ECG technology. The session will close with MPS’ Global Marketing Manager Marjolein Ekkelboom discussing the different factors that influence a business connectivity platform, through which companies can combine and connect all their processes.
Troubleshooting workshopsAfter lunch, De Ruyter Strategy will moderate lively and insightful troubleshooting workshops, extending their in-depth research with FINAT members that the company first introduced at FINAT’s European Label Forum. Two specific scenarios will this time be explored in parallel sessions: self-adhesive multi-layer peel-and-reveal labels, led by John Hammond, Sales Director of Nilpeter UK, and flexible packaging and sleeve labels, led by Nanette Thomas, CEO and founder of Synthogra. The session will be rounded off by a plenary follow-up and workshop outcomes by Paul de Ruyter after which participants will adjourn to Barcelona’s Maritim Restaurant for dinner and an evening of entertainment.
Inks and decorationNext day, Martin Stierle – FINAT Technical Committee member – chairs a session on inks and decoration, opened by Bo Meyer (UK), European Business Development Manager of UEI Falcontec. He will detail value-added options for labels through the use of hot and cold foiling, embossing, and adding texture.Effective UV ink cure with a reduced photo initiator platform is indeed practically achievable, and a useful added-value feature for food labels, as Heinz Schweiger, Group Research Director of Printing Inks, for Zeller+Gmelin, will show. Sun Chemicals’ Marketing Manager, Energy Curing and Narrow-web, Jonathan Sexton, will detail developments in ink drying and curing, which are proving to be the key to faster speeds, web handling, and finishing.
Gary Seward, Managing Director of narrow-web ink and varnish specialists Pulse Roll Label Products, will discuss varnishes – their manufacture and constitution, the different types available, and appropriate applications.
Facestocks and finishingThe programme then moves on to its final session, on facestocks and finishing, chaired by Mikko Risanen, FINAT Technical Committee member. Dr Axel Niemöller, head of R&D for Sihl, will address coated facestock media for water-based inkjet inks for demanding applications, with a special focus on problems and solutions.Recent advances in PSA label films will be explored by Dr Anil Gaikwad, Head of R&D for Cosmo Film PVT Ltd. His paper will cover the growing range of today’s BOPP labelling films, as well as cavitated core layer splitting resistance for different cavitating agents and skin and tie layer composition. It will also show the variation in standard tests for core anchorage and end-use application challenges.
Stamping foil manufacturer Dragon Foils’ General Manager Raymond Lu will be presenting his company’s extended research into cold foil application techniques; influential factors for cold foil applications; and the means to solving printing problems.
Smart labelsClosing the seminar will be a timely exploration of traceability, food safety, authentication and branding with smart labels from Günther Dieroff, Sales and Marketing Manager for Beneli, who develop and produce printed, diecut, and smart self-adhesive label solutions. He will demystify IoT technologies and show how smart labels – embedded with electronics, software, sensors, or actuators – are used to increase consumer engagement as well as to provide traceability and product security.
The FINAT Technical Seminar 2018 will be ‘a particularly appropriate and insightful event’, promises session chairman Alex Knott, who will close the programme, thanking the speakers, the event sponsors and the participants.