EskoWorld 2019, with the theme “Packaging Connected,” welcomed more than 550 users to Nashville, TN, USA. The event focused on networking, education, and a multitude of new product updates designed to simplify the prepress packaging workflow. Roadmaps, live demonstrations, and keynote presentations–and a little music, of course–highlighted the latest edition of EskoWorld, taking place from June 24-26.
“A lot has changed over the years at EskoWorld, but the one thing that hasn’t changed is the passion for the people who are attending this meeting,” said John Morrow, president of VinPeak Advisors. “It really is an energizing session. … It’s another record breaking year and another record breaking attendance. EskoWorld continues to grow each year because more Esko customers come here for the learning experience and the opportunity to influence the roadmaps at this event.”
EskoWorld 2019 marked the first-time attendance of new president Mattias Bystrom, as well. Bystrom succeeded the outgoing Udo Panenka late last year. “This is a fantastic company to be a part of,” exclaimed Bystrom, upon meeting the crowd for the first time.
Esko was also joined by a host of sponsors, including Asahi Photoproducts, AVT, Dupont, FujifIlm, MacDermid, Printing United and more. The event allows many facets of the packaging industry, from brand owners and printers to media vendors, to gather under one roof.
“The packaging industry truly is a fascinating industry and an exciting industry to be in,” explained Jan de Roeck, director of Industry Relations & Strategy at Esko. “It’s a place that has great growth but also challenges, external impacts and drivers impacting our business.”
Among the new product updates, WebCenter features new functionality to improve the operations of its biggest install base to date. The enhanced functionality includes a better user experience, improved reporting, and 3-D aspects. Automation Engine 18.1, meanwhile, can more easily handle job tickets in workflows and group files more efficiently. The Wait for Action feature in Automation Engine 18.1 adds the ability to change parameters, adds significant possibilities to workflows, provides changes to the GUI task for easier reading, and adds text fields, combo boxes, checkboxes, information and links.
Cape Pack, ArtPro+, ArtiosCAD, and multiple other software suites, including digital finishing, have been updated to provide more automation and enhanced efficiency. These products are designed to handle customer challenges and barriers such as time to market, SKU proliferation, and cost pressures. Other challenges include color consistency, translating the designer’s screen to the substrate, and a multitude of new materials with which to work.
“There are challenges impacting the entire supply chain,” said Bystrom. “Packaging is a dangerous business. There are a number of ripple effects that affect our everyday life within the packaging industry. For example, 86% of designers have little to no understanding how color is manufactured. Small brands are on the rise, and there’s a limited knowledge in packaging. Thankfully, there are packaging heroes, and we have to help them make important decisions before they go to press.
“Part of the reason packaging is a dangerous business is because people trust packaging so much,” Bystrom added.
According to a recent survey of 400 respondents, 71% said they trust the information on the package. For a comparison, Bystrom said similar surveys shows that in the US, only 15% trust the government. If consumers trust the package, they in turn trust the brand–and the process the brand takes to disseminate that information– the tools, equipment, software, printing presses and so on.
“Our mission at Esko is to support the heroes who can hold trust in their company’s capabilities, and therefore in the entire packaging value chain,” said Bystrom.
Esko has put strong R&D and quality assurance teams in place to ensure the highest quality of their products. Esko’s software quality assurance team consists of 81 engineers tasked with making sure Esko software is of the highest quality and trustworthy among customers.
“Without trust, there is not very much brand value left. So what are we doing about trust? Esko aims to build trust into packaging itself, and into our tools, to handle these challenges,” said Bystrom. “No one can afford errors, today or at any time.”
EskoWorld’s Brand Track allows the brands themselves to attend the event and receive hands-on training and live demonstrations on Esko’s wide range of software and hardware. According to Danielle Sauve, 115 brand owners attended EskoWorld 2019. As Esko’s software is utilized by nearly 680,000 packaging professionals, Esko continues to try to build trust with the users.
The Brand Track plays a key role in that endeavor, especially since brand owners might have different needs and use the products in different ways. “Overall knowledge and interest in brands is growing,” acknowledged Stephen Kaufmann, chief product officer at Esko. “There’s an entire brand leadership now under Mattias (Bystrom).”
Ultimately, the event is designed to bring different factions of the packaging industry to one unified event, offering different benefits for the various needs of the users.