Now, it is always great to reconnect and network with many of our friends in the label industry – some of whom we have not seen since the last Labelexpo – but much of the fun centers around the growing capabilities that are continually making their way into print shops. And suppliers and converters alike are all in-tune with the latest trends. This was evident in Brussels, as the show included a Flexible Packaging Arena and an Automation Arena. Visitors had the opportunity to see how the latest and greatest technologies can benefit their businesses. Flexible packaging, (alongside shrink sleeves, which are covered in-depth starting on page 70) is one of the fastest growing segments of the packaging industry. Automation, meanwhile, will affect converters and the future workforce in a positive way, too. Automation will not eliminate the need for a labor force, but it will create new opportunities in different areas.
Everything exhibited at Labelexpo Europe can help companies prepare for the future. Many converters have already started to look ahead, which is evidenced in our annual Companies to Watch feature that begins on page 42. For this year’s edition we visited and talked to eight different converters and one supplier. Throughout all of our conversations, one thing became evident: no one is standing still. As VJ Melapioni, president of Beau Label, told me, “If you’re not going forwards, you’re going backwards.”
None of our Companies to Watch are content with the status quo. Hybrid presses were the name of the game in 2019, and they were prominently featured at Labelexpo Europe. Cypress Multigraphics, another one of our Companies to Watch, recently turned to Mark Andy for a hybrid solution, while Orion Labels and Wegmann Companies both opted for the CEI BossJet powered by Domino.
Meanwhile, e-commerce is driving operations at Emerald City Label. Sustainable solutions is the theme at Beau Label. Fortis Solutions Group, Graymills, Model Graphics, and Target Labels & Packaging are all intent on expansion, whether it be through M&A activity, new facilities, equipment acquisition or all of the above.
New developments on both the supplier and converter sides of the business truly make our industry one to watch. Even as technology changes the world around us, labels and packaging companies are finding new ways to reinvent themselves and generate profits. Conceding an expected “Amazon effect,” the world will still need a label and a package, and suppliers and converters are working together to answer this question: “What’s next?”
Greg Hrinya, Associate Editor