Trends and innovations – start with the why before venturing on the how

Experience in the graphics industry counts by how many drupa’s and ipex’s you have engaged in. You’ve seen the industry evolve, technologies adjust and people coming and going. Right now we’re seeing economic progress and investments picking up, so what trends should we be looking into to make sure we can catch the upwards wave?

Eddy Hagen, director and trendwatcher at the VIGC, could not have picked a better timing for this ‘trends and innovations’ course. Eddy takes you on a trip through innovation, guiding you through the Gartner hype cycle, illustrating how disruptive technology is the instigator of innovation and how time - or better still, timing - is of the essence.

Theory is alternated with practical examples. No dreary introduction of the first printing press here, within the first 15 mins you’re challenged on e-books, appification and why things happened when they happened.

I was astonished at the graphs shown on e-books. Latest research shows that the youngsters are turning to printed books again. And the older your age group, the less likely you are to believe in digital advertising. Flipboard could turn out to be the disruptive technology to the publishing world. And moving into packaging might not be as easy as industry consultants would have you believe, dealing with all the regulations and legal implications can be challenging. So it’s not as simple as deciding you will be innovative, you need to make a well-informed decision.

Innovation should be simple and it should solve a problem. The why is always imperative to the how of it. People need to have a need for it, or it will not catch on. Does that always mean you have to turn to new technology and/or new markets? Not necessarily.

Digital has been on the rise for many years now. Year after year we read about short turnaround, less waste and declining margins. But what if existing technology could do the same? A recent drupa report clearly showed how offset has not rested on its laurels during the digital demarche. Inline control ensures less waste and less set-up time. Big printing companies have upscaled their offset equipment and are now reaping the benefits. A smaller investment with a similar outcome. That too is innovation, albeit not entirely new.

Eddy also foresees a further growth path for designing skills, software development and all special tricks that make print more attractive. There is even a (granted high-end and pricy) desktop printer with white toner or UV spot varnish, which is an interesting tool for designers to show the effect of UV spot varnish to customers thus trying to sell more expensive and more effective print jobs.

This is not surprising, print has slowly been infiltrating new vertical markets.  (check out the upcoming InPrint blog to learn more) Car wrapping, personalized wallpaper and tiles – all potential growth markets for printers with a vision, mind, heart and output set on quality.  

So where will this exploration takes us in the future?

Alas, Eddy did not have a magic ball to answer that one. But his pragmatic and analytical approach did put our perception to the test as to keep in mind why things are evolving the way they do. And we all know perception is reality.

Maya Staels

 P.S. VIGC hosts this seminar on a regular basis. The sessions are usually in Dutch (more info: http://www.vigc.be/waargaanweheen), but can also be given in English.



My epic journey from label printer to label service provider

When I received a recent invitation from Stratus Packaging, a FINAT member, I jumped at the opportunity to attend the event, not only because I have supported FINAT for the last 4 years but above all because I knew it would bring me into the heart of the label converting industry.

March 28th turned out to be a glorious sunny day for the 100 guests who  turned up to the official opening of the Stratus Group’s newly-expanded manufacturing unit in Lille (France). As one of Europe’s larger label converters, the Stratus Group also has plants in Bourg-en-Bresse and Limoges and employs a staff of 225 for a turnover of 37 million euro. The company also has plans for a fourth plant in early May.

The expansion of an additional 1000 m² in Lille will allow for extra storage capacity (both raw materials and finished labels) and the site now boasts a new, additional entry for employees to enter the manufacturing area – which was one of the many prerequisites to become BRC IOP certified. As a result, the Stratus Group will become the first label printer in France to receive BRC IOP certification.

We were warmly welcomed and received a 360° tour that gave us full insight on the Group’s automated back-office support, prepress, printing processes and warehousing  capabilities.

Host and managing director Isidore Leiser introduced Stratus Packaging experts who took us through the newest developments and initiatives taken to stay abreast of the latest technologies, regulatory requirements and customer demands.

"The label printing industry has become a ‘service business’," said Mr. Leiser. "In the past, label converters were primarily printers. Today, they have had to evolve to become full service providers. It has become crucial to provide additional, more efficient and flexible services that can help to differentiate us as a mid-sized player on what remains a very competitive market."

I learned that to support and drive growth, the Stratus Group opts for long-term strategy and initiatives including:

  • a strong ERP backbone to streamline the business processes
  • a lean manufacturing approach to optimise costs
  • state-of-the art prepress processes and printing equipment that guarantee quality and speed
  • certification programmes to meet ongoing regulatory, qualitative or environmental requirements, in particular in the food hygiene sector

These strategic initiatives have resulted in being able to produce high-quality labels, offer sharper prices and fulfill orders faster. Additional benefits include delivering and storing on demand, providing better service and increasing customer satisfaction.

One visitor, looking at some sample labels on display, expressed how impressed he was with the level of quality and even asked to what extent and at what cost could the boundaries of perfection be pushed further in this industry. It clearly demonstrated that the Stratus Group is not a multiple FINAT label award winner by sheer luck!

Upon my return a couple of days later, I was happily surprised to receive a personalised thank you note with a brief satisfaction survey. For me, it showed the Group’s continuous engagement in expanding and improving the quality of its services, and definitely an initiative that helps improve customer loyalty.

Attending trade fairs is one thing, receiving a personal tour on the actual ‘printing’ floor and adjacent facilities of a company certainly ticked all my boxes and made this label visit a very rewarding experience.

Lut Verschueren - duomedia

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Ipex 2014 - a fresh perspective

Having joined duomedia since November last year, this edition of Ipex was the first one I ever experienced. Then again this Ipex had a first time feeling for a lot of people since the event took place in London instead of Birmingham. As an event location I have to say that ExCel, located in the Docklands, is a beauty to behold and its accessibility certainly is a big advantage.

(photo from www.excel-london.co.uk)

To begin with, a big elephant in the room @Ipex 2014 was the absence of some of the well-known hall fillers within the Graphic Arts industry such as Heidelberg, Canon, Kodak, HP. On top of that it was a public secret that some of them held off-site customer events during the course of Ipex. The absence of some of the industries heavyweights made it challenging to attract a vast international crowd. The free attendance still managed to attract many visitors, mostly from UK but also Asia and other countries.

As some of the biggest fishes were not present, it opened up a place in the spotlights for other interesting exhibitors. One of the first stands to notice at Ipex was Xeikon. The company announced their very first Trillium order and also promoted the ease of use of the folding carton toy box application, which they presented together with CHILI Publish.

When talking to Patrick Van Baelen, VP Marketing at Xeikon he commented that“Ipex 2014 provided an ideal platform for UK printing companies to explore our product portfolio, especially the enhancements to our Xeikon Folding Carton Suite. The in majority UK visitors experienced that with Xeikon’s technologies, digital printing is ready to convince the packaging industry of its potential and benefits. We were happy to see that the announcement of our first Trillium customer - TagG Informatique in France - had a tremendous resonance thanks to Ipex 2014.”

And of course there was CHILI Publish, as one of the fresh up-and-coming companies, who showed a contagious eagerness at the fair. Their online document editor CHILI Publisher managed to attract a lot of attention. As Cindy Van Luyck, Marketing Manager at CHILI Publish states it:

“We had a really successful event. Ipex provided CHILI Publish with a great opportunity to demonstrate our online editing solutions alongside our partners and effectively show how they can integrate across the production workflow. Visitor engagement was high, and this was reflected in the number of sales that we have made.”

During the course of Ipex I had the chance to meet up with some other clients in the duomedia portfolio: Esko, Enfocus and VideoJet. duomedia hosted a press conference for Xeikon and Alwan, attended by a vast number of international journalists. Which was an excellent occasion for me to catch up with media and associations, to share some duomedia chocolates and to meet some new friendly faces.

From my publisher background it was interesting to see how many diverse titles are available in the UK and internationally covering news and features in print, packaging, labeling, industrial & sign markets.  Some of them branching out to digital platforms, offering also video services and engaging more in social media channels.

Compared to other events, a lot of the attendees at Ipex have discovered a variety of companies with products and services that otherwise get too easily discarded. Ipex was a great networking platform for many printers, suppliers and media -proving once again the importance of face2face contact in B2B environments. But I can’t help to add to this that in order to truly represent the Graphics industries, you still need more of the market leaders. I hope they’ll reconsider next time.

Louis De Nolf



Behind the scenes: lessons learned on our journey to Belarus

Increasingly, online video is playing a bigger role in the way businesses communicate. The reason for this growth is that it works; video gives companies an interactive and compelling way to share their story with a wide audience.

So when Esko wanted to showcase the work of one of their long-term clients, they asked duomedia to create a video to tell the story. I thought it would be a new and exciting challenge, and we set out to create a video about JV Uniflex, one of the biggest flexo packaging and self-adhesive label specialists in the region. .

What we didn’t know at the start was that what made it such a great story – the Belarus location – would also add complexity to the process of creating the video.

For those of us who live in the European Union, it’s easy to forget about country boarders. So at first, we had had to get used to the local life in Belarus. For example, the process of getting a visa was a complex challenge, requiring countless emails between Uniflex and duomedia to get visa confirmations. Money was another challenge for us - 1 euro equals 13,500 Belarusian rubles; imagine calculating the budget needed for the trip!

But soon we had all of the logistics sorted out and traveled to Belarus to begin shooting at the Uniflex office. The Uniflex staff are true experts in their field, so they were very comfortable being interviewed in the video.  They answered our pre-prepared questions quickly and accurately, and were wonderful to work with. We changed locations often to make the film more dynamic and to highlight Uniflex’s extensive range of equipment and offerings. In all, the filming process took six hours.

In post production, Richard got slightly lost in translation. But together we managed to find our way!. As the shooting was done in Russian but the final video needed to include English subtitling, we had to ensure the content was correct and not wrongly edited. Luckily, the combination of my translating skills from Russian into English, and Richard’s video editing expertise - worked out just perfectly!

The end result is an interesting, compelling video that successfully tells the story of the excellent work being done by an innovative Esko customer. And, we are especially proud of the fact that it is in Russian!

The groundwork that goes on behind the scenes – what the viewer doesn’t see – is what ended up making this project successful. This video could never have happened without the professional help and friendly countenance of my colleague, Nancy Vermeulen and experience and advice of our partner and videographer and editor, Richard.

We’re looking forward to seeing where our next video project will take us. In the meantime,

enjoy the video!

Elena Bondarenko



Guest Blog: Innovation at the vanguard of FINAT’s Technical Seminar

This year, FINAT chose Barcelona again for its Technical Seminar and it was definitely a good choice of destination! Discussions on the future of the self-adhesive label took place under a glorious spring sun and in a very relaxed atmosphere.

As usual, the organisers provided a rich programme that helped attendees fully understand the challenges facing the world of the self-adhesive label. These challenges were perfectly put forward during the 2-day event by guest speaker, Alan Hazlewood from Skanem. “Western Europe is a tight and saturated market where the only market share you can hope to win is that from your competitors! The opportunities you are still able to grab are in Eastern Europe and in emerging countries. So it is easy to understand that innovation is the only way forward if you want to stay ahead!”

Alan Hazlewood and the other speakers then further expanded on the topic, with discussions ranging from sustainability to inks and migration. Marc Macaré from FINAT re-iterated how the legislation around use in the food industry remains diverse and imprecise.

Also on the agenda, was the popular linerless technology. Maxime Bayzelon presented the well-known ETI processes. Less well-known is Ravenwood Packaging and its Comac 500 system that is designed to efficiently manufacture linerless labels and to finish printed master reels with individual coating heads, without using paper but instead using silicon strips. Interesting!

Wolfgang Aufmuth of Collano Adhesives and Marcus Gablowski of Herma gave some very technical presentations on the processes of labelling while Alex Knott of Dow Corning concentrated on the silicone processes.

Another hot topic on the table was the recycling of the release liner. A round table was organised which concluded that there are solutions out there but that the clients lack the motivation to implement them and that there is still a lot of communication to do around the subject. To this purpose, FINAT is launching a great initiative: its first Recycling Award competition!

Alan Hazlewood ended his session by going against all the forecasted trends and statistics by stating, that film would be the printed media of the future but that paper was still alive and kicking, that we should still believe and even come back to it as it still maintains many advantages.

As to the future of self-adhesive labels, Alan Hazlewood believes that in this complex and dynamic market, the label is at a crossroad: it needs all players to be fully involved together in a common goal to innovate, and even to change the nature of this product in the near future.

Maybe new directions for the FINAT congress in Monaco in June? We certainly hope to see more European label printers at this next event.

Martine Delefosse, Directeur de la rédaction Etiquettes Plus
http://www.papiercarton.com/

                     

Alan Hazlewood, Skanem (UK)          Kurt Walker, President at FINAT



The packaging arena is undergoing a paradigm shift

This tweet was posted following the visionary keynote presentations and workshops taking place during the three-day Packaging and Converting Executive (PACE) Forum in Brussels last week. This PACE Forum was well attended by brand owners, packaging vendors and consultants such Procter & Gamble, Grupo Bimbo, Reckitt Benckiser, Arla Foods, Seymourpowell, Crown Packaging, …

The industry is indeed having to become much more proactive in responding to changing demands and expectations. The shift identified in the tweet is gaining momentum thanks to four major trends and influences as described by Michaël Nieuwesteeg - Managing Director NVC Netherlands Packaging Centre who was chairing the event.

Key trends include collaborative innovation, globalisation supported by workflow management, a changing distribution model and sustainable development.

All about interaction and collaboration, the event promoted the benefits of improved supply chain communication and knowledge sharing. It also discussed how globalisation is making packaging design challenging with regional differences and regulations increasing the opportunity for mistakes and making managing brand consistency and quality standards complex.

Suggested solutions included brand owners, packaging and technology suppliers, finding ways to collaborate to innovate as well as using cloud management for easy recognition of errors and increased speed in reportability and approvals. John Kuijt, Brand Innovation Solutions at Esko took to the floor with an incisive presentation on 3D packaging design for increased shelf appearance and explained the technologies on how to get there.

As for changing distribution, the example of the largest bakery in the world, Grupo Bimbo’s desire to promote a new cheese snack was discussed. It chose Justin Bieber as the face of the product because he has fans worldwide but did not have a distribution channel in place in China. So the company turned to Amazon.com to fill the gap. The lesson is that packaged product manufacturers have to prepare for Web Retail Packaging (WRP) ensuring that they can meet global online demand also via new distribution channels

The final trend making headlines was sustainable development and the ability to think beyond a single reuse of a product. The emphasis was towards a cradle to cradle approach that reduces the impact of the product from its inception.

Above all, the event provided an excellent networking platform to interact with the brand owner community as 7th year in a row guest speaker and delegate Arno Melchior, Global Packaging Director at Reckitt Benckister told us. This was confirmed by first time attendee Mike Horsten, Marketing Manager EMEA Mimaki when he said: “These kinds of events are perfect platforms to get acquainted, explore and discuss new application possibilities.”

So to keep apace with the expectations of the packaging market and to put the necessary changes in place make sure the 10th edition of PACE is on your calendar for next year!

by Ingrid Van Loocke, duomedia



A trip to #graficusvakdag: gaining insight into the dynamics of the print industry

The trip from Brussels up to the Graficus Vakdag in Nieuwegein was well worth it! This new event was clearly appreciated by the Dutch print industry, seeing the huge number of participants (over 1,600 visitors turned up for the 1-day event) and the vibrant atmosphere.

Graficus took the initiative to bring like-minded people together and engage them in key conversations. But also to present them with a platform where they could show they haven’t been sitting still over the past year. The event hall was stacked with over thirty top players in the graphic arts industry and very professional-looking stands populated with product experts meeting up with customers and journalists. It was interesting to check out the Ricoh stand and great to meet up with the CHILI Publish-team!

Above all, the goal to me was gaining a broader perspective and insight in the dynamics of the print community. From the keynote speakers programme, I wondered what André Kuipers, Holland’s, most famous astronaut was doing there? Exactly that, he was offering a broader perspective, showing what we are capable of if we focus on technology, will power and an entrepreneurial spirit in the right way. Print related examples of this came amongst others  from Nathalie Brendel of ProQure, who convinced us once more of the bright future of print.  Clearly no lack of visionary experts there, and I enjoyed chatting with Ed Boogaard and Alex Kunst.

There were too many interesting seminars planned to list them all, but one that stuck with me was certainly the “Add Value” presentation by Wim Schuurmans where he explained that the key to having a flourishing business was not focusing on the product, but rather on the service and broader perspective beyond the product. Being a PR lady, I have to say I was already quite aware of that…

By Marijke De Troyer, duomedia

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ETS demonstrates the advantages of paper towels for hand drying during Hygienalia + Pulire

Hygienalia + Pulire, the Cleaning and Professional Hygiene Trade Show, held in Valencia (Spain) has drawn to a close having welcomed more than 3,000 visitors and 85 exhibitors from many different sectors ranging from interior cleaning equipment, chemicals, cleaning solutions and accessories to cellulose usage and service companies.

Over the course of the three days, visitors were able to discover a wide variety of innovative applications marked by a Red Label tag for easy finding. Green Label items indicated products that were showing strong sustainability credentials.

In addition, the event featured a full schedule of conferences providing attendees with a strong platform for networking and exchanging knowledge and ideas.

Our client ETS (European Tissue Symposium) took the opportunity to share its latest scientific studies confirming paper towels as the most hygienic way to dry hands.

Roberto Berardi, President of ETS, conducted two presentations to share the conclusions of the studies. The first was aimed at professionals interested to learn more about the advantages of using paper towels for hand drying compared to other drying systems.

Berardi demonstrated the preferences of European consumers when it comes to hand drying and showed that two out of three people prefer to use paper towels rather than air dryers. Their reasons are primarily based on hygiene, but also on speed, since many air dryers take almost one minute to get hands completely dry. Studies show that this is too long for consumers and that they typically leave after just 20 seconds, with their hands still wet.

On the issue of hygiene, high speed air dryers pose an additional problem by spreading water droplets contaminated with bacteria into the air and onto nearby surfaces. Experts have agreed, through studies and recommendations from institutions including the WHO, the CDC and the HPA that to achieve optimal hygiene it is necessary to wash hands thoroughly and also to dry them properly to ensure that all bacteria are killed.

Trade press too had the chance to see the conclusions of these studies  when Roberto Berardi delivered the presentation at a session staged exclusively for them.

Findings of new and additional research  will be presented by ETS during the ISSA show in Amsterdam in May. The show will have a strong representation from Spanish companies with Asfel, the Cleaning and Hygiene Association of Spanish Manufacturers, confirming that 38 companies will be exhibiting.

The Spanish cleaning industry, which comprises 25,000 companies and employs 400,000 people, will gather together once again later this year when the first edition of Esclean is held in Madrid in June.

Looking foward to seeing you at one of these next events!

Rosa Arza, duomedia

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Roberto Berardi at Hygienalia + Pulire



Win-win for PR agencies and journalists

The relationship between journalists and PR/communication people has been a topic of debate for years already. So when I found out that for the first time in Belgium journalists (VVP and AJP) and communication professionals (3C and BRPCA) had been working together on a survey investigating all aspects of the communication interaction, I jumped at the opportunity to hear the results first hand. They are mostly consumer-oriented and, with a focus on the Belgian market, not representative for the whole of Europe, but still, lessons can always be learned.

Among the findings was the figure that 97% of communication professionals thought press releases have an added value for journalists. Not really that surprising I agree. But what was eyebrow-raising was that as much as 79% of journalists agreed with them.

This figure strengthened my belief that journalists will continue to value the work of those PR agencies they have come to trust for delivering timely and accurate information in a responsive way. Whatever market you are active in.

Journalists and PR professionals need to possess the ability to communicate clearly, concisely, and honestly. Especially in highly technical and precise markets, like the technology and industrial ones duomedia is active in. As a journalist, you must be protective of your publication and your reader. As a communication professional, you must be protective of your company or client. That is also why at duomedia we have many team members with a journalist background, and why we work with many expert journalists for copywriting assignment. For us, it is a perfect and natural fit.

Basically, the key elements for being on the right track are quite simple: research the story pitch before sending it, make sure to articulate the content in a couple of sentences instead of sending a manifesto and keep the email subject line newsy and not cutesy. Your company will then belong to the exclusive club of agencies that have ‘got it’ and will earn the respect of the journalists you are working with. In a nutshell, if you can’t write good tailor-made content, talk to people, and put forth easily understandable arguments, you are in the wrong profession. Both as a journalist and a PR person.

So if you “get” it, you will see for yourself that you succeed in joining the community of the industry you are striving to reach. In the end it comes down to showing respect between all parties involved -  journalists, PR agencies and companies - and keeping each other in balance for a perfect win-win-win situation..

You can find a link to the full article by clicking here.

Louis De Nolf

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‘The Best is Yet to Come’ - Optimism! Is it infectious?

When the bells rang out at midnight on the 31st December 2013, I immediately felt optimistic. It’s a strange feeling, optimism. It promotes feelings of security that all will be well - that the future holds possibilities. Of course there is the ‘half full /half empty glass’ theory that suggests we are born optimists or pessimists, that it is a biological or hereditary trait. Others think it has more to do with environmental factors and we are affected by what is happening around us. So there might be some of you reading this that are thinking - she probably had a few bubbles on the big night and that would account for it! Well the feeling has carried on well into January and at the recent BAPC conference on 18th January, I could definitely feel optimism in the air. The word is derived from the Latin optimum, meaning ‘best’ and Sidney Bobb had chosen the title for the conference ‘The Best is yet to Come’.

Saturday’s conference started off with an upbeat and optimistic forecast on the UK economy from former HSBC economist, Dennis Turner. A mine of knowledgeable information on global economics Turner was very entertaining and gave out a message of visible growth potential for the UK, increased economic certainty and likely investment opportunities for the future – a good start to any conference!

This was followed by Steve Lovatt of LumeJet advising us of a positive future for SME’s and small start-up businesses. Next item on the agenda was ‘Question Time’, hosted by Gareth Ward with Plucky Marketing’s David Packman on B2B social media solutions, Laurence Knopf, on maximising Google and managing search engines and Peter Jolly of Duplo on marketing the brand. Lots of questions ensued on the potential and use of social media - for companies, both internally and externally - also on the upcoming trend of differentiation by using clever and creative video and visuals for online marketing – this is an area well worth investigating for all content makers.

The chat over lunch was good – all positive commentary. When it comes down to it, the majority of us are looking for a green light, signs that there are good vibes – possibilities to take hold of – chances! There are loads of us that want to hear the good news that there is a turnaround, that trends are swinging our way!

I do think optimism can be infectious and I love being around positive thinkers and listening to plans and current trends. The afternoon session took off with Fraser Chesterman and he had loads of optimism on tap. Talking about the present trends in marketing, the use of emotional content, the changes in advertising, how designers now create stories and symbols to visual effect to catch at the heart strings and encourage global consumption. Chesterman talked up the opportunity for PR and Design Agencies to manipulate perceptions with creativity and risk through innovation – clever thinking!

Trevor Crawford gave us the latest updates on progress on the plans for Ipex and Marc Hogan ended the conference with an amusing and thought provoking hour of comedy on thinking positively and editing the editor - that little voice in all of our heads that says ‘don’t, can’t, wait, stop. His message was that we all need to ‘edit the editor’ and kick out the negatives and believe in ourselves!  

The conference drew to a close with the annual BAPC awards and dinner. The prizes for Business of the Year went to digital printer, Copy Color and BAPC Supplier of the Year to Canon. Commercial printer, Formara won the Environmental Award and Product of the Year was awarded to Duplo for its latest digital finishing product the DC-745 slitter/cutter/creaser. All in all the conference turned out to be a great start to the year and hopefully the ‘optimism’ will continue and carry us all through 2014 until next Hogmanay.

Annie Hotton

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Gipea 2013 – Italian label industry on the rise

The 26th Gipea technical meeting highlighted how the Italian label industry is continuing to weather the difficult economic climate.

Staged in Milan, speakers at the event discussed the varied innovations on show at Labelexpo 2013 – from in-line printing systems to all kinds of imaginative finishings.

Presenters also spoke about legislation regarding printing food labels, and the latest inkjet printing technologies for producing labels. There was also a discussion about the need for universities and businesses to forge closer links, to help develop technical professionals with the right skills needed for the label printing industry.

At the event the second edition of Gipea Observatory was also presented, which analysed the performance of around 100 Italian label companies between 2008 and 2012.

The analysis revealed that in 2012 self-adhesive label producers consolidated their revenue – total turnover hit 667 million euros, in line with the previous year’s figure.

In terms of the performance of individual label printing companies, results varied considerably. Around a dozen companies registered an operating profit of more than 15% of revenue, while 24 recorded profits of 5% of revenue. Not all results were positive however, with 24 companies unfortunately making a loss. Interestingly, the study found that some companies are leaning increasingly towards exporting, and have seen their revenue increase as a result.

When it comes to comparing the performance of large and small companies, it was the larger companies that registered the best results, in terms of both revenue and growth. However, the smaller companies fared better when it came to value-added revenue, underlining their ability to produce creative, innovative products for niche markets.

So overall the Italian label market is relatively stable – perhaps because despite the downturn people will always buy food and drink, which means there will always be demand for packaging and labels.

And while print runs are decreasing, the use of digital printing is on the rise, as brand owners are realising that special effects on labels and packaging give products greater shelf impact.

Barbara Bernardi

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The 2013 wrap-up blog

Wait, what – wrap-up already? Yes, you got that right, this year has just flown by so it seems. 

Professionally the year has treated us kindly, allowing us to support our customers at great events like Fespa, Labelexpo, Viscom and Fachpack. We spoke to the customers of customers and did some great stories and videos.  We unraveled crossmedia campaigns, developing content for print, digital and social campaigns. Challenging projects, but vital for the future of this industry and PR trade.  First results are more than satisfying, so this is a course we’ll be further pursuing in 2014. In Belgium we say: “Standing still is going back.”

Or as Darwin said: the survivors will be the ones most adaptable to change.

That’s why we were also thrilled to welcome Louis De Nolf to our management team. And expanding our communication reach in the DACH area with the partnership with Naucke_Kommunikation. In Russia we’re also working with  Elena Bondarenko to offer on site communication services. Kicking our strategy into another gear for an even better 2014.

We’re not afraid to challenge our comfort zone, so make sure to send us your wishlist for 2014.

On a personal plane, 2013 did not treat some of the duomedia team members all that kindly. We’ve experienced some scary, tough and rough even couple of days and weeks, but you stuck by us. Your words and acts of support were heartwarming. From the bottom of our heart, thank you

-       for your kind messages of support and consolation

-       for your continued trust in our expertise

-       for putting the personal back into public relations

We’re taking a break that starts December 23, 2013. Most of us will be back on January 2nd, 2014.

Have a festive Christmas and inspiring New Year!

duomedia will be ready to engage with you next year! Above and beyond.

Cheers to 2014 - we’re ready for you!

Some pix at:

#duoXmas

#duoselfie



Flexo Day 2013: flexo goes from strength to strength

If you thought flexo printing might struggle in the downturn, it’s time for a re-think. Flexo Day 2013 – staged in Bologna, Italy end of November – attracted 330 delegates from across Europe.

Flexo has progressed massively since the early days, when it was dubbed aniline printing, due to the aniline dye inks used. Today flexo is something of a scientific art, and has established itself as the printing technology of choice for companies looking for high-impact shelf appeal for a wide range of packaging applications, including corrugated boxes, folding boxes and labels etc.

There are many reasons for flexo’s growth in the graphics industry – not least the leap in quality. It’s now possible to produce such vivid, detailed images and texts that flexo  has become a viable alternative to gravure printing.

Flexo also provides great repeatability and productivity, offering users excellent consistency throughout high-speed print runs. Then there’s the excellent flexibility, with companies using the technology on a wide range of substrates.

Another major plus of flexo is the way it slots right in with digital printing, enabling users to harness the collective benefits of these technologies and create a customized packaging solution.

With flexo making such great strides, there has been an inevitable boom in applications. Davide Deganello of the Welsh Centre for Printing and Coating (WCPC) at Swansea University, spoke about the new opportunities presented by flexo. WCPC is a research centre dedicated to improving the industry’s understanding of printing and coating processes, and creating innovative manufacturing processes with its global industrial partners.

The WCPC specialises in functional materials, plastic electronics and bio printing, and RFID for labels and packaging, using ‘thin films’ – multi-layered structures made of special material that interact together to create the device.

Flexo printing is the best-suited printing technique for such devices because it’s more economical than chemical vapour deposition (CVD), while inks are flexible and produce top-quality results. 

Deganello discussed the WCPC’s most recent project, Specific – an academic and industrial consortium led by Swansea University, with Tata Steel as the main industrial partner. The aim is to develop functional coated steel and glass products for roofs and walls that generate, store and release renewable energy, transforming buildings into power stations to deliver environmental and economic benefits.

To coat the substrates, printing technologies must be compatible with material in reels – rotary screen printing for thick film, and flexo for thin films.

Another interesting area highlighted by speakers was the creative element of the workflow that creates a flexo-printed product: the brief should consider costs; the lowest quality acceptable (because you don’t always  need top quality); production methods of the different elements; and the ability to guarantee repeatability.

Overall the event was a big success and really underlined how far flexo has come. With the global packaging market worth 400 billion dollars in 2012 and 180 new flexo machines installed in Italy between 2008 and 2013, flexo clearly has a very promising future.

Barbara Bernardi

Some useful links:

http://www.wisegeek.com/what-is-a-thin-film-device.htm

http://www.atif.it/download/FLEXO%20DAY%20BOLOGNA%202013/06_WCPC.pdf

http://wcpcswansea.com/



#duoselfie for our #duoXmas - Elena Bondarenko

It’s my first Christmas with duomedia. I’m very proud to be a part of this professional, active, clever and nice team. I wish for everybody to be on top in every part of their life, not only professionally, but also personally. I wish you to do everything as good as you can and to do everything with love.

These words of Khalil Gibran come to mind: Life is indeed darkness save when there is urge, And all urge is blind save when there is knowledge, And all knowledge is vain save when there is work, And all work is empty save when there is love.

Merry Christmas. God bless you.

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A brave new world - RadTech Europe 13

RadTech Europe actually ran its 13th edition of this biannual conference/exhibition and celebrated 25 years of its members’ achievements in UV/EB curing.  It was well attended by around 400 delegates from around the world. The conference was an excellent opportunity to learn about what is new in the scientific arena, in regulatory and health and safety concerns, and in innovation across a broad spectrum of applications.

It was the presentation of Paul Kelly, Perstorp (SE) and RadTech Europe marketing committee member, that provided me, ’ lay(wo)man in this market’, with an excellent insight and overview of the current market profile.  And just like in any other  markets, the market for energy curing needs to identify new capacity to keep the industry on track. In 2010, it represented 1.9% of the global coatings market, projected the growth by the end of 2013 to 3% and 3.9% in 2014.  Worldwide, most applications can be found  in industrial coatings (44%), OP lacquers have a 21% share, electronics applications 19%, and printing inks 12%.

In Europe, the DACH region claims the largest market share of 40%.  In terms of end-use markets, wood coating is by far the most important, representing 38% of usage, with OP lacquers and printing inks joining second place with 22% of the market.

Trends and innovations

Current market trends emerge in the area of inkjet, field applied floor coatings, water-based UV, UV LED and developments in 3D technology.  And innovative applications include marble repair on and offsite, cosmetic fingernail decoration, repairs to car windscreens, dental curing tasks, textiles and clothing, inkjetted solar panels, membrane panels and the production of contact lenses.

Graphic arts

In the graphic arts markets, there are differences in predicted growth rates.   Between 2011 and 2016, packaging use will grow at an estimated 24%, but UV inkjet print for labels and flexible packaging will see an estimated 250% growth over the same period.

Environmental considerations are as strong in the market for printing inks as elsewhere, and of all the environmentally-friendly ink technologies, UV inks are the fastest growing.   UV inkjet inks are a major global growth opportunity, accelerating to an estimated 38% of the total market by 2017.  

Industrial coatings

In Europe, industrial coatings’ geographical growth to the east of Europe is evidenced, alongside significant technology shifts reflecting increased emphasis on energy costs, weatherability and corrosion resistance, among other factors, and increased interest in water-based UV and EB systems.

I have enjoyed meeting with many RadTech Europe committee members, to gain additional insight in how this association operates and understand how we at duomedia can further build on their PR programme, and this with the help of many volunteering members. And I’m grateful for the industry’s relentless pursuit for more sustainable and innovative applications that makes our daily lives in many respects more comfortable and enjoyable.

Lut Verschueren, duomedia

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David Helsby, President of RadTech Europe, opening address at ‘RadTech Europe 13’

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