The two-day program, which is sponsored by HP, comprises 12 themed conference sessions taking place on September 25 and 26, the first two days of the three-day show. Three Label Academy master classes also take place over the second and third days of the show.
Day one of the conference is designed to tackle the commercial side of the labels and package printing industry, examining key issues of relevance, including workforce development and recruitment, mergers and acquisitions, the rise of printing on demand, and implementing innovative logistics labeling. Among the session highlights: the opening CEO converter panel discussion, which will explore creating a productive company and aligning with a long-term strategy; attracting new business and maintaining relationships with key clients; and using competitive pressures and industry disruption to gain an advantage. Confirmed panelists are John McDowell, president of McDowell Label; Sandy Petersen, co-founder and owner of Digital Label Solutions; Bill Muir, president of Grand Rapids Label Company; and Micheal Lane, CEO of The Meyers Printing Companies.
Day two is designed around creativity, branding and innovation. Topics include unlocking flexible packaging opportunities for label converters, elevating your customers’ brands with smart and connected products, preventing counterfeiting, and creating products with standout presence. Session highlights include the opening package printing panel discussion on understanding the market, identifying the opportunities and creating value and connecting the entire supply chain. Speakers confirmed for day two of the conference schedule include Rob Daniels, president of Quality Tape & Label; Benoit Chatelard, president and CEO of Digital Printing Solutions, Flint Group; Lois Leslie, senior innovation product manager and chief marketing officer, Link Technology at HP; Greg Althoff, creative director of Rhinegeist Brewing; and Clara Meinen, owner and creative director, One Sweet Design.
Three in-depth master classes are taking place on September 26 and 27. These cover MIS and workflow automation; shrink sleeve technology; and inks, coatings and varnishes. Attendees can also see this theory in action at the special feature area Automation Arena, which is making its Labelexpo Americas debut.
Tasha Ventimiglia, Labelexpo Americas event director, comments, “This is a fast-paced industry where it’s crucial to keep abreast of the key trends in order to remain competitive, so on-the-job professional learning never stops. Our conference schedule offers a strong mix of panels, technical presentations and practical case studies highlighting actual experiences and lessons learned, through which the issues currently facing the labels and package printing industry will be tackled.”
Labelexpo Global Series has confirmed 13 leading industry hardware, software and materials suppliers taking part in the Automation Arena at this year’s Labelexpo Americas – a brand new feature which has never been seen before at a trade show in the Americas. In addition, the automated shrink sleeve production element is a global first at a trade show.
The 2018 Automation Arena participants are: Accraply, Avery Dennison, AVT, Cerm, Esko, Grafotronic, Klockner Pentaplast, Kocher + Beck, Matho, MPS, Xeikon/Flint Group, WLE, and Zeller+Gmelin.
In a unique collaboration between the aforementioned suppliers, they are digitally printing several different self-adhesive label designs and printing multiple shrink sleeve designs using flexo – all on two fully automated live press lines at Labelexpo Americas 2018. These cover job creation, right through to prepress, printing, inspection, finishing, waste removal, warehousing and customer invoicing. This is all centrally managed by a Cerm management information system (MIS), and integrated with an Esko software platform, supporting an end-to-end label and shrink sleeve workflow.
Located in Hall F of the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center in Rosemont, the Automation Arena is showcasing three 30-minute demonstrations on the first two days of the show at 11 am, 1 pm and 3 pm, and a further two on the last day at 11 am and 1 pm. Each session is being filmed live and relayed via large screens to show visitors every detailed aspect of the job.
The initial job creation, artwork uploading, MIS order processing and workflow automation for both presses takes place in Cerm’s system before label personalization, pre-flighting, quality checks, color management, the creation of rules for inspection, proofing and customer approval are processed using Esko’s software platform and Automation Engine. This is followed by Cerm scheduling and substrate checking, tool ordering and the sending of JDF files, ready for digital label printing to a Xeikon CX3 press, integrated with a Xeikon laser diecutting unit, turret rewinder, and Matho’s waste removal. It is printed on Avery Dennison 79100 Fasson 2 Mil white top coated self-adhesive facestock, using a Flint Group Digicoat gloss varnish. When the Xeikon press starts its run for label printing, the audience is then able to see the different identification barcodes in operation, AVT defect detection, laser diecutting setup and rewinder automation.
The conventional flexo press shrink sleeve print runs are being produced on an MPS EF 430, 8-color flexo press – with no gear cylinder connection, intelligent pressure setting and zero waste roll change – which in turn are fitted with a Kocher + Beck UR Precision 440 U non-stop butt splicer and AVT’s Helios product line inspection technology. It is printing on Klockner Pentaplast PETG 50 micron sleeve film using Zeller+Gmelin’s 32 Series Nuvaflex range of UV flexo inks developed specifically for sleeve production. On this press, the MPS EF 430 operator reads their MIS-generated job ticket on screen, enabling them to check that plates, tools, inks and substrate have been delivered, and changing the unwind roll butt splicer.
Each loaded roll is scanned and becomes fully traceable throughout the whole process, interacting with the Cerm system in order to provide real-time production values. A Cerm inspection command is also sent to the AVT automatic press inspection function, which monitors printing defects. Printed rolls coming off the flexo press are then identified with an ID barcode, which, when scanned, enables an electronic instruction file to automatically set up shear slitting on a Grafotronic high-speed inspection slitter rewinder.
An AVT camera then automatically stops the machine whenever a defective label is detected in the printed reel so that any repairs can take place. The final, “clean” and slit roll is then rewound and a barcoded label is applied to the reel. Unlike the Automation Arena at Labelexpo Europe 2017, the final two shrink sleeve production stages using Accraply machinery are a world first at a trade show. The clean and slit roll first transfers to an Accraply ASFC fully continuous forming and seaming machine. There, the barcode is scanned and the instruction file from the code read to automatically set up the forming and seaming operation. Second, the lay-flat shrink sleeve is transferred to an Accraply DM12 Shrink Sleeve Inspector, a compact vertical seaming inspection machine used for lay-flat quality checking.
The final parts of both job automation processes return to the Cerm operator and the audience is taken through steps, including warehousing, job picking, shipping carrier allocation, customer notification and invoicing.
Ventimiglia comments, “The Automation Arena special feature area is something we introduced at Labelexpo Europe last year and it proved such a popular experience that we are bringing it to Labelexpo Americas 2018 for the very first time. The main difference this year, however, is that the shrink sleeve automation through the two Accraply elements on the show floor are a global first. It’s therefore a unique opportunity for attendees to experience first-hand how the industry could evolve over the next decade, and meet some of the companies at the forefront of this.”