HP Indigo, of course, stands out as the main supplier and the only press vendor at the event. But Dscoop has attracted the attention of 88 additional suppliers whose products were on exhibit and demonstration in a large hall at the Gaylord. Fully operational machinery, such as the Digicon II from AB Graphic and a finishing unit from Delta Industrial Services, drew crowds on Thursday night shortly after the official opening of the conference.
The majority of attendees were from the commercial printing segment and utilize HP Indigo’s sheetfed presses, but the narrow web printers in the rollfed business were well represented. Among label converters are Innovative Labeling Solutions, Dion Label, Lightning Labels, Taylor Made Label, CL&D Digital, Prestige Label, Nosco, and Sancoa. Several others, who are not Indigo owners – including Stixon Labels, Amherst Label and Lauterbach Group – attended as prospective customers.
The program of educational sessions was highlighted by a focus on Lean printing with L&NW columnist Tom Southworth, a consultant with ConnStep. Southworth spoke in everyday terms about the nuts and bolts of the Lean process, emphasizing that it requires a full-time, visible commitment by top management to be successful. “Lean requires only that you commit to change,” he said. “Lean is easy; believing in Lean is hard. Lean demands a disciplined, daily approach. Lean could show short-term P&L hits. Lean is not an overnight success. Lean is not a tool – it is a way of life.”
For the label and packaging people in the group, Hewlett-Packard conducted some targeted sessions, including a close look at the WS6000 rollfed press, the company’s newest Indigo. The press operates at a higher speed and has a repeat of 36”, more than triple that of the popular ws4500 press. HP also unveiled its Label and Packaging Capture Business Success Kit, a marketing tool for converters that aids them in securing new business for their digital presses. Included in the kit are samples of labels, flexible packaging, shrink labels, and folding cartons, all printed on the Indigo, along with a guidebook that assists sales personnel with answers to customer questions.
A panel of brand owners – engineers and research professionals from Procter & Gamble, Bic, Frito-Lay, and Texas Instruments – turned out to be somewhat disappointing to the printers in the audience. The brand representatives apparently are not utilizing HP Indigo digital printing technology to a great degree, and they were challenged by printers over that. “You mentioned the printing of sales samples and prototyping as opportunities for digital printing,” said Jay Dollries, president of Innovative Labeling Solutions, Hamilton, OH, USA. “We are way beyond that. How do we convince the brands of that fact?” Alexia Karpilov of Bic responded that “It’s your job to educate us, and our job to educate ourselves.” Liz Head-Fischer of Texas Instruments observed, “Digital has started coming around for us to use in smaller runs in small countries in Europe.”
Another printer volunteered that “We can print millions of labels and packages a week, not just 500.” Head-Fischer said that the process requires “education over time, and it’s also a question of price.”
A member of the audience noted that the penetration of HP Indigo technology is expected to grow significantly over the next four years, and asked if the brand owners are planning a transition to digital printing. Mike Ferrari of P&G said, “I don’t see Procter & Gamble changing its current supplier base, so I will say no.” Kurt Sands of Frito-Lay observed that its packaging for many products, such as Tostitos and Lay’s potato chips, requires a press that is much wider than the 11” Indigo, and therefore the digital format cannot be used.
On Saturday, the final day, HP Indigo Vice President Alon Bar-Shany addressed the state of Indigo and the printing industry, presenting a positive report of growth and optimism for the future. The final sessions for the label crowd included a session on expanding into new applications, achieving web-to-press order flow, and tips and tricks for the ws4000 series and the WS6000.