Xeikon Café took place at the Westin Chicago Northwest from May 15-17, 2018, and featured a Partner Fair with many of the industry’s leading providers. Among those present were Anderson & Vreeland, Avery Dennison, CERM, FLAG, FLEXcon, Flint Group, Label Traxx, TLMI, UPM Raflatac, Verso and more.
“We built off the Lier Café where we bring in industry experts and leaders to share their knowledge and experience with the audience members,” said Donna Covannon, director of marketing at Xeikon North America. “We try to make the content relevant by listening to our attendees.”
During Xeikon Café, Xeikon launched several new products and detailed its future plans for Labelexpo Americas 2018 and beyond. Matt Mayberry delivered the keynote presentation, while multiple industry experts explained where the digital label printing market is heading.
Benoit Chatelard, president and CEO of digital solutions at Flint Group, and Filip Weymans, vice president of marketing at Xeikon, also laid out the company’s vision for the North American market and provided an update on where Xeikon stands in the rest of the world. Following an introductory press conference, the Xeikon team led attendees on a guided tour through the company’s Innovation Center. Here, visitors had the chance to see Xeikon in motion–including a live look at the new PX-3000, which features digital inkjet technology.
Xeikon’s strong first quarter of 2018 saw 80% growth in press sales quarter to quarter. “We are very happy with the start of the year,” Chatelard said. “The industry is growing and it seems like our repositioning is starting to pay off.”
In order to further promote inkjet growth, Xeikon has established an InkJet Competence Center alongside its EP Competence Center. A new Global Innovation Center in Antwerp, Belgium, has been complemented by increased staffing in North America and China.
The company is also re-emphasizing its “Run or Be Outrun” slogan. “We are running very fast to engage in new markets,” Chatelard added. “If we don’t do that, we will be passed by someone else.”
According to Chatelard, Xeikon’s goal is to continue gaining relevance in the North American market. Over the past year, Xeikon has accomplished several goals. The PX-3000 has started to ship, and the company’s worldwide label installation base grew by 17%–excluding Jetrion.
“This is faster than the industry rate, so for us this is very meaningful,” Chatelard said of Xeikon’s growth. “It’s an interesting reflection of our vision because we advocate to our customers to help them with their digital transformation. It’s a process but we intend to service every dimension in multiple markets.”
Xeikon will continue to drive new opportunities keyed by automation and enhanced value proposition. At Xeikon Café, the company has released a new entry-level finishing suite for labels (both for printing and converting) and its Xeikon Dashboard Services. Chatelard said that the suite is intended for “customers taking their first steps into the digital printing of labels.”
The first commercial installation of the Xeikon PX-3000 recently took place in North America. Grandville Printing, located in the Grand Rapids, MI area, is a $50 million company that boasts six decades of experience. Grandville was tasked with producing six million promotional labels over 250 separate SKUs, which necessitated the move to Panther technology. The order needed to be completed in a 36-hour timeframe.
With the X800 DFE, Grandville Created a RIP farm to process data in less than 30 hours and utilized three Xeikon PX-3000 label presses for the job.
In detailing Xeikon’s plans for Labelexpo Americas 2018, Weymans stated the company will be announcing a new dry toner geared for future food regulations. In addition, the North American market will get the first live look at PantherCure UV ink. The Xeikon PX-3000 and CX500–a new dry toner platform–will also be displayed.
“The reason why we stepped into a market where there were already other UV inkjet platforms was because we could make the difference with our global service and dedicated sales, but we also have a workflow that is designed for the label market,” said Weymans. “The workflow allows you to get much more productivity than just the feet per minute. It’s about doing things differently, and it’s certainly a bigger nail that we’re going to hit–in the coming years–over and over and over again.”
The Xeikon Dashboard will be unveiled for its first public demonstration, and aXelerate will be much more prominent at the event. For DFE workflow and service enhancements, Xeikon will tout the X800 6.0, which is multi-language enabled and features waste and cost reduction.
“The next generation of Xeikon Software will include elements of artificial intelligence, helping customers to get the most out of our solutions,” said Vlad Sljapic.
Labelexpo Americas also marks the first time all of the Flint Group divisions will be joined together. Xeikon will relocate to Hall A to join its Flint Group colleagues.
The event’s presentation slate provided attendees a host of benefits, including how to market and sell digital, as well as print’s overall value in a changing landscape. A changing consumer base necessitates new strategies. According to Vicki Strull, a design strategist and founder of Vicki Strull Design, 20% of millennials expect a customized experience with their brand, and 64% of consumers say brand experiences have the most impact on brand loyalty.
Digital printing can create an opportunity for brands to personalize products to make more of an impact at the shelf, where time is limited to an attention span of eight seconds. Strull added, “We research more than 10 pieces of marketing material during the buying process, and 60% of the process occurs before a sales person engages.”
In addition, TLMI president Dan Muenzer explained that digital and flexo can co-exist–and provide enhancements–within a label converter’s operations. “Digital is an absolute friend (to flexo), it’s not either or,” Muenzer said. “There’s a place for both.”
Muenzer also detailed the benefits to TLMI membership. Of the 2,500 label converters in North America, only 7% belong to the organization. However, that fraction represents 65% of the label revenue.
To conclude the event, Covannon announced that Xeikon Café North America 2019 would return to Chicago, IL for a third straight year. It will take place from May 14-16, 2019.