Narrow Web Europe
Trade body is upbeat about further label growth
By Barry Hunt
European consumption of self-adhesive labels increased 3.2 percent last year to reach 4.9 billion square meters (52.8 billion square feet) in 2005. This represents 72 percent growth over the last 10 years, FINAT members were told at their annual Congress in Warsaw in early June. The organization forecasts an overall 5.8 percent growth this year, with Eastern Europe continuing to show the greatest year-on-year improvement in demand. The organization says an independent research agency compiled the data, based on statistics from the eight largest label stock manufacturers who comprise 85 percent of the industry.
FINAT’s managing director, Jules Lejeune, said growth in the paper roll sector — nearly 75 percent of the business — was up in 2005 by 5 percent. Filmic material roll output reached a 13 percent growth, which is now 2.5 times greater than it was in 1996. Output of paper sheets slumped 4.5 percent, and filmic sheets were down 2.4 percent.
Per capita consumption of self-adhesive labels varies greatly. In the UK and Ireland it represents over 14 square meters (151 square feet) of labels per person per year, compared with about 2 square meters (21.5 square feet) in Eastern Europe. However, this region showed the greatest label sales increase — of 12.6 percent — while label sales fell 1.4 percent in the UK and Ireland. Consumption in Central Europe and Scandinavia was just under 12 square meters (129 square feet) per person, representing a 5.1 percent growth in the former region, but a 1.4 percent decline in the latter. Southern Europe, with just over 6 square meters (64.5 square feet) of labels per person, showed a 2.4 percent sales growth.
Business sentiment has improved markedly since the second half of 2005, which increased the performances of label converters and material suppliers. GDP growth in the first quarter of 2006 was up 2.2 percent across all 25 EU member states, fuelled by higher domestic consumption and exports. However, energy price increases are pushing up industrial producer prices, which are now 6.6 percent higher than a year ago.
EIS deal strengthens Domino’s technology
As the integration of track and trace RFID technology slowly makes headway within the supply chain, we can expect more mergers and acquisitions. The latest involves Enterprise Information Systems Inc. (EIS), now owned by Domino Printing Sciences plc of Cambridge, UK. Based in Dallas, TX, USA, EIS continues to trade under this name as part of Domino’s Integrated Solutions Group. It gains greater access to other countries, especially the key European and Asian markets. Domino benefits from EIS’s strengths in the consumer packaged goods and aerospace and defense markets.
It has also seen a further boost for its core inkjet and bar coding businesses. The UK division of the GS1 group has chosen Domino to act as an authorized training center, forming part of a worldwide network specializing in cross-sector supply chain standards. The company will host introductory courses on GS1 bar code standards and business applications in Cambridge and Bristol. The GS1System is supposed to ensure that all companies adhere to the same standards not only in bar coding and scanning, but also e-business messaging, data synchronization and radio frequency identification. The introductory GS1 course was developed in response to retailers’ frustrations at poor standards of bar coding from some suppliers.
Strategy aims to reduce electronic waste
Electronic waste is now a huge and growing problem in our throwaway society. For example, most of the 183 million computers sold globally each year are junked within three years or so. But we also throw away vast quantities of electrical appliances, cell phones, spent batteries, and much else. The latest directive from the European Parliament and the Council of the European Union recognizes the shortage of suitable landfill sites and the many hazardous risks that electronic waste produces. Also, it is known that large volumes of western European waste is shipped illegally to Asian countries, especially to China, where the indigenous poor live dangerously by scavenging for saleable materials.
Titled Restriction of Hazardous Substances (RoHS), the directive requires manufacturers of electrical and electronics equipment to eliminate lead, cadmium, mercury, types of chromium, and certain flame retardants from their products altogether, or ensure that they are within accepted tolerances. The problem is addressed at the beginning of a product’s life cycle, ensuring that environmentally harmful substances are eliminated from the production of electronic equipment. This could significantly change the way business and consumer electronic equipment is manufactured and traded, including that used in the printing and packaging industry, of course.
RoHS complements the existing Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE), which encourages recycling and places the onus on manufacturers to collect and dispose of the products they produce. Of course this introduces complex considerations, like supply chain liabilities and proof of compliance, which suggests that both directives could be difficult to implement universally. Nevertheless, support for this type of action is growing.
California is understood to have similar RoHS legislation, and several US states are reexamining their waste disposal policies. Federally, the USA has yet to introduce legislation regarding the use of hazardous chemicals and the disposal of waste electronics. Pressure from globalized companies selling into Europe and Asia, and who presumably must meet the directives’ objectives, might force the issue. Also, the US Environmental Protection Agency would like to see American industries reduce their use of lead and other hazardous materials. Apparently Australia, Canada and Taiwan will soon follow suit with their own schemes. Japan already has waste disposal legislation on recycling electronic products, and South Korea has a voluntary scheme. Even the Chinese Republic might consider it necessary to tighten up legislation on restricting hazardous substances. Further information, including the likely impact of these directives, is available at www.rohscompliance.info/.
One final thought: The label industry thrives on meeting the demands created by various types of legislation, and the electronic waste directives are no exception. LGInternational, of Portland, OR, USA, is an example. It can supply RoHS compliant labels and nameplates that cover purchasing and manufacturing practices. The company even includes wheeled waste bin labels in standard or customized formats displaying compliance symbols. More at www.lgintl.com/RoHS-WEEE-labels.htm.
Nipson celebrates 15 years of VaryPress
Long before digital color printing made its mark, several competing non-impact monochrome and spot color technologies were establishing the print-on-demand concept. Loosely termed “laser printing”, it included the magnetographic process. Developed in France by Bull Computer during the early 1980s, it recorded an electronic magnetic image onto a hard metal drum and transferred the variable data under pressure to a wide range of substrates.
Eventually the patents passed to Nipson Digital Printing Systems, based in Belfort, near the Swiss border. This year the French company celebrates the 15th anniversary of the VaryPress. Users of this high speed electronic press include printers of direct mail, business forms and security items, as well as roll, sheeted or folded electronic data labels for industry and commerce.
The first model was installed by Wallace in 1991. Since then Moore Wallace and R.R. Donnelley have added more than 20 Nipson units in their plants across the US. The VaryPress with serial No. 1 is still in operation, producing forms and labels. Transcontinental Inc., said to be the seventh largest printer in the North American market, recently installed six VaryPress 200s at its direct mail plant in Philadelphia.
Funding fuels expansion for a global RFID player
Here’s another link to Cambridge, this time the one in Massachusetts, and also involving RFID technology. Again, it shows the attraction to high-tech companies in being connected to towns or cities with long-standing reputations as centers of academic and technical excellence. TAGSYS, which claims to be a leading international player in asset-tracking RFID infrastructure, recently moved its global headquarters from Marseille, France, to Cambridge. The company expects to benefit from the region’s pool of talent and resources, including the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and other leading academic institutions. TAGSYS will still retain its facilities in France. It also has offices in Boston, MA; Doylestown, PA, and in Hong Kong.
The move follows the completion of a $35 million round of financing involving private banks and venture capital investors. This will fund further growth and more R&D expenditure in the item-level aspect of the RFID market.
Fix-a-Form partners with UK label equipment supplier
Fix-a-Form International has formed a partnership with Daco Solutions, a manufacturer of inspection rewinders, rotary diecutting modules, turret rewinders and slitter/rewinders based in Beverley, East Yorkshire, UK. It will supply its range of finishing and converting equipment to worldwide label converters who are licensed to produce Fix-a-Form’s patented system of producing leaflet labels. The Fix-a-Form network has more than 20 label printing partners worldwide and effective quality control and inspection equipment is seen to be of increasing importance.
Daco was formed in 2001 and has since supplied more than 95 machines to narrow web converters in 29 different countries. These range from entry level products to high speed and high volume customized machinery. Its North American agent, Quality Discount Press Parts & Equipment, will display examples at the forthcoming Labelexpo Americas.