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  • 23 Nov 2017

Editor's note - Domination of automation

The Automation Arean feature area was a big draw at Labelexpo Europe 2017

Three major themes stood out at this year’s record- breaking Labelexpo Europe. Firstly, inkjet came of age: suppliers such as Screen and Domino reported multiple sales, including to users of HP Indigo presses who clearly see it as a complementary process. Domino director Philip Easton told L&L this year has been a ‘tipping point’ in adoption.

Secondly, the event showed the industry’s continuing evolution towards other kinds of package printing, evidenced by the host of flexible packaging materials and presses shown, as well as equipment for folding carton and direct-to-container printing.

Thirdly, automation took a dramatic step forward. The Automation Arena, a new feature which debuted at the event, showed how converters can increase efficiency and reduce waste by linking systems together – in this case pre-press, MIS, conventional and digital presses and inspection rewinder.

It was inspiring to watch equipment and software from different suppliers working seamlessly to move a job from file preparation to finished label in around 30 minutes.

Implementing automation is not an easy road – we are still some way from ‘plug and play’ – but suppliers are now working to common standards and the results are impressive. The last piece of the jigsaw is opening flexo press control systems to these same common standards, and MPS made a big step forward with the launch of its ‘Talk to Me’ MIS protocol. Hopefully the other manufacturers will follow this lead.

This opinion was first published in L&L issue 5, 2017, available here

James Quirk

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James Quirk is group managing editor of Labels & Labeling.

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