70% of the world’s population is either Christians (32%) or Muslims (23%) or Hindus (15%). It is a strange fact that for all these 70% people, it is in the last 3-4 months of a calendar year that they are in a state of bliss, elation or jubilation! It is the peak festival time for all these three religions.
Christmas, Eid and Diwali are all celebrated with indulgence and fervor. As the year, nears this time; expectancy, euphoria, partying and celebration is on minds of all, young and old. Another relatively young religion as I term it, “The global label fraternity”, also gets into the celebration mode during this time of the year, though this happens once in two years. It is a time when the Label industry gets ready to celebrate their biggest festival or their biggest industry event, “Labelexpo Europe” at Brussels.
The industry constituents around the world look forward to this event not only as a platform for knowledge but also a time to network, celebrate and party with industry peers around the world, giving credibility to the saying,
“The world is round so that friendship may encircle it!”. Months ahead of the show people start to plan their visit and their programme. It is definitely comparable to the involvement of people in festivals mentioned above, the spirit of celebration is evident. In an effort to put together the industry sentiments, I wrote to industry leaders around the world to express how they feel about this event and what they expect, the kind of response I got is amazing! I wrote to label printers and industry suppliers and almost all either responded or while I write, their responses are still pouring in, I hope I can do justice and mention their responses. Over 60 people have written back already!
Dean Scarborough, chairman, president and chief executive officer of Avery Dennison Corporation, a fortune 500 company with sales close to seven billion US Dollars, wrote back conveying the importance of this global event. In just a few words he has emphasized Avery’s commitment to the event and to the imperative changes facing the industry. He says, “We have exhibited in every Labelexpo since the beginning. Our booth theme is sustainable innovation and will feature many new products that will enable customers to expand their business, just as we have for the past few years.”
Jussi Vanhanen, president of UPM Raflatac, who has recently resigned from this designation to pursue personal literary aspirations and handed over charge to Tapio Kolunsarka, says, “It is a show that we will never like to miss.” He further adds that they will exhibit, thinner and more sustainable standard labelstock products and their industry-leading environmental services along with a number of new specialty labelstock constructions for variety of end-uses.
Tomas Rink, president of Ritrama Group, the recipient of the 2013 R Stanton Avery Lifetime Achievement Award expressed an innovative idea to enhance the value of this august event.
“Labelexpo Europe is the greatest show on earth as far as our industry is concerned and that we should spend our moneys to sponsor foreigners to visit this show (cheaper flights and accommodations, less problems with visas etc).” He further adds that Ritrama is exhibiting at the show with an important presence and will be presenting their very big range of paper and filmic PSA products. Linerless labelstocks will be an innovative exhibit from them.
The equipment suppliers are the backbone of every successful print show, evolution in technology happens with need for new equipment to implement the innovation of those taking the power to print to another level. The inherent necessity of the equipment suppliers to present their creations to printers around the world needs a platform to showcase their wares. The platform needs to be such that it attracts the global label industry to a single event making it worthwhile for them to witness the change taking place, all at one venue where all the leaders, peers and suppliers are present.
Labelexpo provides the possibilities that nurture these needs and no wonder the equipment suppliers are the biggest financial support to such an event. Label press suppliers, lead the exhibitors team from the front and they are committed.
Peter Eriksen, chief operating officer of Nilpeter A/S headquartered in Denmark says, “Nilpeter is always excited about going to the Labelexpo. It is not only a perfect chance to showcase our newest technology, but also an opportunity to meet rest of the industry players. Nilpeter is a long-term key supplier to the printing industry, it is our duty to bring new innovation to the Labelexpo show - and contribute to making it the greatest label show on earth!”
Marco Calcagni, sales director at Omet Srl Italy informs that they will showcase their Xflex X6 in a combination of flexo and offset with sleeve technology and that it is indeed the best show on earth to exhibit such innovations. However he feels that to present innovation in the right perspective and to make the desired impact, the show should be held at 3-4 years duration.
An interesting advice to the label printers comes from Federico d’Annunzio, managing director at Nouva Gidue, Italy. He says, “At Labelexpo Europe, the strategies of the whole label industry are defined. New trends, new technologies, and the future of our industry are there. Be there as a supplier or as a converter or as an active member of the label industry and you will be preparing for a meaningful growth of your company.”
Bibiana Rodriguez, managing director of Rotatek, Spain, reaffirms her commitment, “We will have the same stand as last edition and we will exhibit this time 3 machines, 2 models for a worldwide presentation!”
I could not get the personal comments of Ferdinand Rüesch of Gallus, who showcase benefits of combining digital and conventional printing with Gallus equipment displayed at Labelexpo as he wrote back to say he was travelling.
Mark Andy, another important and prominent supporter of this event will present several flexo printing solutions including the Performance Series P3 and P5 narrow-web presses at Labelexpo Europe 2013.
Mary Sullivan, director of marketing at Mark Andy, further adds, "We will also showcase new technology like LED as well as a new version of a mid-web press called Versamax". No printing event in present times is complete without display of digital printing technologies. Leading from the front in this segment, HP has a special hall, all for themselves!
When asked if this really was the biggest show on earth, Christian Menegon, WW business development manager, Labels and Packaging, Hewlett-Packard Indigo, says, “I have not been on other planets to be able to compare, but with what I know and have seen, where else can you get all the label industry gathered?” HP will also display not only complete solutions for digital printing of labels, from design to finished product, but also what label converters can think about in terms of business extension to move towards packaging.”
As no marriage is complete without either of the partners being there and active in participation, similarly any equipment has no real value till proper finishing equipment is there. The product has finally to land up at the customer’s shop floor in a state that they can immediately put it to its intended use. It thus becomes necessary to invest in ancillary finishing equipment that enhances the value of the product created on the state of art label presses. These equipment suppliers also are an important part of Labelexpo. Anilox rolls being clean to deliver the correct quantity of ink to the plate is imperative for good printing and for this the anilox cleaning equipment is also an emergent need.
David Jones, owner of Alphasonics agrees to the fact that the status of Labelexpo, is supreme. He will present his anilox cleaners, a parts washer, a water recycling system and a hand applied chemistry applicator. All of the anilox cleaners have gone through a complete overhaul and now include chemical resistant membrane keypads and lcd displays, but the real improvements are in their new active cavitation technology, which greatly speeds up the whole operation. Vetaphone will exhibit a variety of their VE1A-treater stations and iCorona generators for narrow web.
Nicolai Bisguard from the company states, "It is a good exhibition that gives us an opportunity to meet with end-users and especially OEM customers. It is important for us to be present and support our OEMs". As end-user customers of labels get more and more quality conscious and impress upon suppliers to supply 100% defect free labels, it has become a dire need for organized label printing companies to invest in high-end slitter rewinders with defect detection systems on them. Two of the leading suppliers in this category, Marco Aengenvoort of Rotocontrol Germany and Chiara Prati of Prati Company Italy responded.
Chiara Prati asserts, “Labelexpo Europe is an exceptional stage where the elite of label industry worldwide is present.” Prati will showcase their STARplus off-line turret as an alternative solution to the traditional slitter/rewinders. It works in-line with any printing and converting machine. The Company will also be making its official entry into the packaging sector with the brand new Alhena IML series, in one of its most advanced segments, In-Mould-Labelling.
According to Marco Aengenvoort of Rotocontrol, “It is the main tradeshow we invest in.” Rotocontrol will unveil it’s new DT340FC digital finishing line featuring an automatic knife positioning system and an integrated fully-automatic 4-spindle turret. Also demonstrated will be the DSP340 pharmaceutical inspection machine, the P440S high-speed die cutting machine, the P340 basic high speed slitter, and the company’s flagship RSC 340 high-speed slitter including a 100% inspection system. Innovation and technical up gradation so as to reduce waste, protect the environment and achieve faster production to attain economies of scale, are imperatives for evolution of any product.
Montreal-based ETI converting has been in the forefront in developing the liner less self adhesive label technology. ETI will be showcasing its Mini-Cohesio, a servo driven in-line coating technology using 50% less space with 30% shorter web path and a faster setup time. This innovative technology is ideal to convert an unsupported pre-printed film or paper into finished labels. The 330 mm (13") web width press with the Pellicut technology enables die-cutting on extremely thin release liners. Also on show will be pre-printed shampoo label being silicone and adhesive coated, as well as die-cut on an 18 microns (0.75 mil) PET liner being converted in one manufacturing process from raw material to finished product at a speed of up to 150 metres per minute (500 fpm).
Lars Beck, president, Kocher + Beck, informs that his company will display three new versions of the adjustable anvil cylinder GapMaster, TecScreen material and universal use screen mounting tower. He further expresses, “Increasing number of label shows makes products expensive. As the complete supply chain is suffering from price increases, shows need to be reinvented.”
Raul Sylvestre of Lartec says, we will display our full existing range. The show he says, is actually the only one worth spending money on.
Peter Henderson of Esko says, "Labelexpo is in my opinion one of the best shows I have attended, one location that is totally dedicated to labels. This is the show that not only reconfirms customers buying decision, but is the footprint for technology in the coming years, it's everything in labels covering the entire process from consumables to digital to conventional.”
The ultimate test of strength of any show is the visitors, the label printers who are the buyers of what the exhibitors have to offer. The quality and number of visitors decides the importance or success of a print show. At labelexpo it is no different. The show continues to attract the global label fraternity to its showings on an ongoing basis. Printers come from all corners of the world.
John Hickey, chief executive officer, of the 135 years old Smyth Companies, one of the largest label producers in North America has his focus on digital technologies besides other things at the show. He says, "Brussels’ show always seems to lead the pack for product introductions amongst Labelexpos."
The growing interest in digital technologies is reinforced by Sandeep Lal, president of Canada-based Metro Label Company. However he would like to comment on whether Labelexpo-Europe is actually the largest on Earth, after he has visited the event.
Mikael Dahl, vice president/ technical director and co-owner at AB WH Nordvall, Sweden, will spend all the days at the show. His interest lies in digital and offset printing equipment and evaluating how as leading label converter they can add value to present business, extending product portfolio to production of flexibles, tubes and carton products. Commenting on the show tagline he says, “Absolutely, the one and only show! It is a pleasure meeting/networking with colleagues and all nice people who join up on this great event, a chance we shouldn´t miss out!”
Roland Schreiner, president and chief executive officer of Munich Germany based 700 million Euro Schreiner group agrees to the importance of this show. He expresses, “It is always very interesting to see the latest trends and technologies of our industry, especially in digital printing. Besides this, it is very enjoyable to meet the colleagues from all over the world and discuss about the current situation as well as the future.”
Nimeesh Lilani of Pacman-CCL Group, Dubai, defines the show as an “amalgam of the label industry.” They look forward to meeting suppliers who normally do not visit their region. Karachi, Pakistan-based Hanif Usman from AG-GiGi does not agree this is the largest show however he did not mention what other show he held in comparison.
He will look for technologies to produce neck labels. Tehran, Iran-based Ahmad Kavoosi of Parsian Labeling, has a voracious appetite for knowledge and will visit to satisfy that urge. He also looks forward to meet his global label family at Brussels.
Sathis Abeywickrama, managing director of Flexiprint Srilanka, will visit to look for innovations.
Manoj Garg of Gulfscan Sharjah, UAE, has networking in focus besides new technology upgradation. He feels UAE printers can cater to the growing markets more effectively.
Zulqiurnain Ali Khan, chief executive officer of Zultecgroup, which is headquartered in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, says, "With presence at 22 locations worldwide will be looking for new presses, inspection systems, auto turret rewinders, and software for costing and production. He feels, “It is a good and informative show.”
Ageing is a process that we have to accept as an eventuality and transition of power to the generation next or to a younger and more effective management is a part of commitment that all passionate business persons have towards their business ventures. Last year a friend, Helmut Schreiner handed over the reins of the Schreiner Group to his son Roland Schreiner. Now while I was reviewing the responses I came across one from my Australian friend, Allan Dabschek of Austab, who wrote, “I am formally retiring from Austab Labels on 2 September, 2013 after 45 years as the principal. I am not planning to go to Labelexpo this year as per settlement and change of ownership of the company. Yes, it is the greatest label show on the face of our planet. Have a great time when you are there”. Allan has been a regular visitor to all Labelexpos, I feel sad I will not see my friend this year at this show.
As regards the Indian presence at Labelexpo Europe, it has steadily grown in the last eight years. It is a matter of pride for me that my company, New Dehi-based Weldon Celloplast, was the only Indian exhibitor at the 2005 edition of this event. My colleagues in the industry rightfully picked up the lead and the number of exhibitors have grown steadily to reach 16 exhibitors this year. Weldon will exhibit yet again through their stationery and manufacturing division. The Indian offering is a complete and diverse mix from equipment manufacturers, material suppliers and tooling suppliers.
Indian press manufacturer, Multitec, will be exhibiting for the second time with a running press, the only Indian press manufacturer to have endeavored to do so. Amit Ahuja, director of Multitec, informs they will exhibit their Ecoflex VSi, 6 colour press with rail system having cold foil, turn-bar and a newly developed delam-relam system. Leading India film supplier Cosmo films will display top coated BOPP films for PS Labelstock. Clear, white opaque and metalized variances are available in this category. Also available are direct thermal printable, thermal transfer printable, Linerless HP Indigo digital printable and coated BOPP films.
First time exhibitor, Anuj Bhargava of Kumar labels says, “We shall display our offline re-register rotary die-cutting machine. This is possibly the world’s most compact machine and first ever from India.”
Labelstock producer, Ajay Mehta, managing director of Mumbai-based SMI coated products, who will exhibit their entire range, says, “There is something in the air, at Labelexpo, Brussels which justifies it to be the greatest label show on Earth. The vibrancy at the show is amazing and the industry across the world gets together here.”
A large number of Indian visitors are expected at Brussels. Many Label printers have responded with similar comments.
Narendra Paruchuri of Pragati Offset, Hyderabad sums it all in these words, "At these shows we never look for anything in particular. This is a good platform for launch of new technologies and we can see, assimilate and guesstimate where and how we can use the technology. I tend to agree with that tag line and that seems to be the reason why like Drupa, most companies would like to have their technologies debut here at Labelexpo.”
Leading label printers who responded similarly include Amar Chhajed of Webtech, Mumbai; Gururaj Ballarwad of Wintek (ITW), Bangalore; Kuldip Goel of Anygraphics, Noida; Rajesh Nema of Pragati Graphics, Indore; Dinesh Mahajan of Prakash Labels, Noida; Mahendra Shah of Renault Paper, Palghar and Ramesh Deshpande of Renu Prints, Aurangabad.
There are others like Jigesh Dani of Maharshi Labels in Ahmedabad who are more specific in their focus to visit Labelexpo and with purchase intentions on their minds. Chandan Khanna heading Ajanta Packaging with production facilities at Daman, Baddi and Sharjah (UAE) surprised all at Labelexpo Brussels a few years ago by buying two label presses in one go. When I called him to ask he laughed and says, “Wait for surprises.”
The preview or the review would not be complete without understanding the vision and indulgence of the organizers of this show. I quote Douglas Emslie, group managing director of Tarsus who own the Labelexpo group, “The vision is very simple – to continue offering the best possible show for visitors and exhibitors alike. 2013’s edition will be the largest ever in our 33 year history. We are committed to ensure that we continue to deliver the best content possible. We are in a very strong position when it comes to understanding and addressing what is going on with global and more localized trends in the label and package printing industry. This knowledge is put to the most helpful, relevant and beneficial use it can be for our show visitors and delegates.”
When asked about adding more to the fun part for the visitors, he says “Labelexpo Europe is definitely about working hard and playing hard! I always feel that Labelexpo takes over Brussels when the show is on there. What started out as a small, specialist niche event for the label sector in 1980 has become one of the biggest brands in the exhibition world because it has remained true and in sync with its audience. Labelexpo has and always will be entirely focused on the needs of label and package printers rather than the wider commercial print industry.”
At this time I would like to also mention the efforts of Finat, the worldwide trade association for the self-adhesive labeling and adjacent industries based in the Hague, Netherlands. The association has been in existence for over 50 years. One of the aims of FINAT from its foundation has been to develop, promote and defend the interests of self-adhesive labeling. This mission has been part of the FINAT articles of association and no doubt was the explicit wish of the founding fathers in the late 1950s. Over the last 50 years FINAT has done a lot to achieve these aims.
Jules Lejeune, managing director of Finat communicates to inform the label industry that, “As always, FINAT, as the co-hosting partner of Labelexpo Europe will have a prominent hospitality stand in Hall 11 (P40), where members are welcome for refreshments and to use it as meeting point for discussions with fellow members. FINAT’s staff and volunteer leaders will take turns to welcome visitors and inform them about the benefits of FINAT membership, and the added benefits of active participation in committees, projects and events. We will also have a small meeting room that subject to availability can be reserved for limited time slots.
At the stand there will be permanent exhibition of winning labels. As at previous occasions, there will be a separate Recycling Desk where label printers and users of labels can learn about the different recovery and recycling programmes for liners and matrix materials across Europe. As special features, each day FINAT will host a special interest session at its stand. Hosts confirmed for these sessions are Tony White (Design & Print), Calvin Frost (liner and matrix recycling) and on the use of FINAT Test Methods.
Another special programme (at the Expo conference centre) is a yet to be confirmed industry dialogue lunch session with a leading brand owner on Friday 24 September. Finally, the YMC will be present to welcome future leaders to FINAT.
It is a tremendous response and we can expect a great show. The excitement of meeting the industry colleagues is building up and four days of learning, networking and partying will leave nostalgic memories that will last for a long time and linger-on much after the show.
One of the best responses to my questions came from my long time friend Isidore Leiser heading the Stratus group, France, listed amongst European leaders in the printed label manufacturing field, with 240 people and a turn-over of 37 Million Euros. Isidore, wrote, “Sure I wouldn't want to miss visiting Labelexpo, it is like going the the toy store for a little kid and as for innovation, I look for new answers to our customers in an increasing competitive market.”
The final remark was extremely outstanding. "It is the best show in the world I have been to the Labelexpo show in four other places in the world. Brussels is still by far the most complete and interesting show in the world… and, I absolutely want to see Harveer again.”