Labelexpo Europe 2023 - workflow and inspection

Today’s label and packaging converters are more efficiency savvy than ever, and looking for suppliers that can help them streamline production and get more out of their equipment at a time when workers are in short supply.

CCL’s group vice president, of healthcare and specialty, Lee Prestell put a finer point on it during a panel discussion hosted by HP during Labelexpo Europe 2023.

‘If we can’t find people, we need to find suppliers that can make it so we don’t need as many people,’ he says. ‘Automation happens in small steps, but we’re really going to push our suppliers hard on this. We can’t afford to throw more people at production uptime because we don’t have any more people to throw at it.’

Automation was undoubtedly the key talking point at Labelexpo Europe 2023. It’s clear Labelexpo exhibitors in the workflow

and inspection category took note of converters’ critical need to produce faster, leaner and smarter as the industry moves to an endtoend digitized and agile workflow.


Automation isn’t just about the machinery. Perhaps more critically, workflow software provides the backbone of a seamless production line.

‘Automation is often linked to hardware, but where I think there’s still a lot of opportunity is automating in the front end,’ said Esko’s marketing director Jan de Roeck. ‘A big part of the automation story is getting the press ready. If we do a good job

in the beginning, the less work we have to do further into the production cycle. An error becomes more expensive the later in the printing process it occurs. That’s why it’s so important to automate your process and standardize your workflow.’

He continues: ‘Error and waste reduction have a direct impact on the environmental footprint of packaging businesses. With sustainability and digitalization fundamentally altering how the industry operates, it is imperative that today’s label and packaging companies invest in digital workflow technology that enables them to boost efficiency, reduce costs and improve their overall productivity.’


At the show, Esko, together with X-Rite Pantone, showed an automated workflow, as well as color management, flexo plate making, digital print and print inspection tools. Esko also participated in the Automation Arena, where de Roeck hosted.

Esko highlighted its Phoenix software, an AIbased tool for planning and imposition productivity with an interface between prepress and production data. Additionally, Esko demonstrated how it collaborates with XRite Pantone in color management software and measurement solutions to support digital workflows.

Cerm used the show to promote its smart MIS software and was also featured as a key partner on the Automation Arena.

‘The MIS is the backbone of the Automation Arena,’ says Geert Van Damme, Cerm CEO. ‘By removing the actions of operators, you can save time, you can increase your quality and you can make fewer errors and become 30 percent more productive.’

Cerm offers an automated workflow connecting all elements of the converting business. The company hosted panel discussions with customers and partners to showcase its MIS software to improve productivity and process more orders faster and better by connecting all systems into one interactive workflow.

Meanwhile, Hybrid Software reported an excellent Labelexpo Europe showing, with more than 550 companies visiting its booth, and customers placing orders valued at more than 1.5M USD. Hybrid Software shared the stand with group companies ColorLogic, Global Graphics Software, Meteor Inkjet and Xitron.

At the show, Global Graphics’ SmartDFE, was launched. The digital front end combines technology from all Hybrid Software companies: fast rasterization from Harlequin Direct, spot color matching for CMYK and extended gamut digital presses from ColorLogic, as well as workflow automation tools adapted from Hybrid’s Cloudflow software and file preparation and VDP tools based on Packs. SmartDFE and Xitron’s Navigator DFE were on display at several partner booths at Labelexpo.

Over at the EyeC booth, the company promoted its workflow integration with Hybrid Software. The direct integration of the webbased artwork proofreading system EyeC ProofText into Cloudflow by Hybrid Software enables maximum efficiency in the artwork creation process.

EyeC ProofText uses Mako Core technology from Global Graphics Software to process PDF documents. Mako Core uses a unique document object model (DOM) to control color, fonts, text, images, vector content and metadata. Through DOM APIs, content can be queried and edited across formats and platforms, and digital documents can be modified. The webbased artwork proofreading system EyeC ProofText detects and evaluates deviations within the revision check, including content and font style, within a single process step.


Bel used the show to showcase an integration with its Overprint MIS with Bobst technology. Yiannis Katis, bel’s CEO commented: ‘The activity at our booth and at the show far exceeded our expectations. There was considerable interest in our system, especially in the newly developed Bobst integration and our highly established IML offering.’

Overprint MIS is optimized with improved materials management, traceability and quality control features. Additionally, bel showcased its system for automated realtime data collection utilizing IoT devices on the shop floor. The latest innovations that leverage the power of technology, connectivity, and machine learning were introduced, such as realtime job ticket submission via JDF integration on a DFE and incorporating inspection reports from other systems into the job ticket. Overprint MIS has undergone many enhancements, with a focus on materials management, traceability, and quality control.


eProductivity Software (ePS) used the show to showcase its latest integration between ePS Radius ERP and HP Indigo. The integration between its Packaging Suite and HP Indigo PrintOS means that it fully automates the process from order receipt through job estimating, planning, prepress and scheduling.

The system also features an integrated data collection system, realtime visibility, and full traceability for any job on HP Indigo presses.

eProductivity Software also demonstrated its eFlow Enterprise Service Bus which ties the Packaging Suite together along with thirdparty software that includes a new ePS Automator capability. ePS Automator is a business process automation engine that watches for specific events that trigger an automated action, providing businessspecific workflow orchestration, thirdparty integration, event notification and workflow and system monitoring to make dramatic improvements in optimizing workflows across the enterprise while providing actionable insight notifications to users to drive improved business performance and customer satisfaction.

ePS also unveiled its recently acquired Tharstern SMB Cloud ERP system, designed specifically for small and midsized label converters.

Webtoprint is gaining more traction, particularly in the digital production space. Webtoprint expert Infigo promoted its latest integration with Cerm that brings together Infigo’s ecommerce and personalization expertise with Cerm’s estimating, workflow and job management technology. The integration allows label converters to retrieve estimates, create products from estimates, push orders into Cerm, and reorder directly, synch both customers and contacts, view estimates, products and order history. Converters also can upload artwork directly from Infigo to Cerm, and preflight all artwork before passing it into Cerm.


Infigo illustrated its webtoprint capabilities in a mockup storefront that allowed attendees to see how a personalized beer label can be designed, ordered and paid for before it’s preflighted and proofed, placed into the workflow, printed and converted – all with minimal human interaction. The promotion was a partnership with HP Indigo, AB Graphic, Hybrid Software and Cerm.

Infigo’s head of global marketing Chris Minn sees today’s popular AI tools as a boon for future label production. ‘We’re predicting that print will be digitalized in the near future – the likes of ChatGPT and other AI tools will only strengthen it,’ Minn said. ‘Don’t fear it, embrace it. It can help you make more money.’

Label Traxx showed its MIS/ERP software for the labels and flexible packaging segments. Its latest Version 9 modernizes the user experience and introduces Cloud API, data warehouse, Siteline Sales Portal / CRM, and batched automated scheduling enhancements.

OneVision showed its Label Automation Suite, a flexible, modular automation software that combines production planning with print file optimization. The company says Automation Suite ensures an errorfree and fast production process, with increased throughput and maximum transparency and reliability across all production steps.

Optimus showed its MIS software solutions in conjunction with its longstanding Italian distributor Servizio Informatica, including Optimus dash.

Lenze presented its digital networking services including Nupano, an open automation platform. The company promoted its other digital services including machine condition monitoring, without requiring extra sensors. The company uses AI for machine optimization and predictive maintenance to ensure improved machine availability. If a fault occurs, the machine automatically creates a ticket to inform service technicians.

Priber showed its SQ Label barcode and labeling software, a singlepage designer for uncomplicated tasks, and a comprehensive job designer for a detailed look at print jobs. The company also offered the SQ Label Barcode and Labeling Software for customized printing capabilities.

Sistrade showcased its latest software version V.12.13 which highlights the label technical data sheet (TDS) as the main data repository, which in combination with graphical process management and digital job order contains all the technical data necessary for a smart production and full data traceability. Graphical process management allows users to control in realtime the status of all the different graphical processes of the products and confirm if the customer approves all the information, design files and samples.

SQ Label presents its customizable barcode and labeling software. It supports various printer models, allowing for advanced printer features and settings.

The Grey Elephant took Labelexpo Europe to showcase a new way to help flexo label and packaging printers automating their printing tool inventory. The company’s technology automatically compares art files for commonalities, and schedules print sequences for the day based on the complexity of each job and the plates already on the press. Its offerings include Brain4Tools automation software, Scan4Tools, a handheld scanner that identifies print tools and knows which plate is needed for what job.

‘Flexo manufacturers have an average of 30,000 to 40,000 plates in the archive in their plate room,’ CEO Robert Kohl says. ‘More complex work, means more tools, means more to archive.

This is a very easy way to make an educated decision on what plates to choose, what plates to use, and what plates to destroy.’



Repeating the same color, regardless of the print process and print job is a crucial step for label converters. Suppliers in this realm also kept an eye on automation.

ColorConsulting showcased its color and ink management technology. The company also unveiled InkWeigh version 6.0 with a new ‘Smart Traceability’ feature allowing tracking of production batches including orders, leftovers and warehouse locations.

GSE unveiled software and dispensing solutions for fully automated ink and color management in label printing. SE Ink Manager provides technology for automating every inkrelated step in the print house. It features programs for purchasing, inventory control, reusing press returns, ink batch tracing, color formulations and management reports. GSE also showcased its Colorsat ink dispensing systems, which blend accurate spot color ondemand, while cutting out waste, errors and delays in color preparation, and potentially reduce ink consumption by up to 30 percent.


Axicon Auto ID promoted the Axicon 15000 series of 2D and linear barcode verifiers. The 15200 and 15500 models can measure and grade the quality of DPM (direct part marked) symbols, as well as conventionally printed 2D matrix codes, such as Data Matrix, QR Code, GS1 DataMatrix, and GS1 QR Code, as well as PDF417.

Baldwin launched its upgraded Guardian PQV 4.0 with a new WizardiQ Interface. WizardiQ can set up a repeatable process with a few clicks, lowering the barrier of entry for new employees. PQV 4.0 incorporates automatedDeltaE color monitoring and both single and dualsided 100 percent print quality inspection.

BST showed its BST TubeScan Eagle View 100 percent inspection system. BST also demonstrated dynamic job changes in realistic production environments where multiple jobs are printed on one roll. TubeScan automatically detects the new job and retrieves the corresponding master image in realtime without stopping the press.

DecoSystem presented a full range of inspection systems. Sentinel is a 100 percent print inspection system including color control, 2D and 3D code grading and variable data verification. The Sentinel Workflow option enables connection between the press and rewinder to minimize waste and monitor production. Scandiff2 proof software identifies prepress issues early in the work cycle. Multilabel is optimized for pharmaceutical labels and includes the Sentinel print inspection system and numbering inkjet system.

Durst Group introduced Hawk Eye technology, which uses camera vision systems and artificial intelligence to automate print quality and significantly reduce setup time and waste, resulting in enhanced efficiency and a more competitive total cost of owners (TCO) for the RSC platform presses.

Nikka Research showed the Alis camera used for optical inspection on printing presses and rewinders. The Alis cameras cover web widths from 250 to 880mm and are offered in three lines: M entrylevel, L modular and H highresolution inspection. All models are suitable for new or existing equipment and can be linked in workflows. The company also offers a range of apps for enhancing the functions of the camera. It also introduced a quick job change technology for 100 percent inspection of short production runs. This PDFdriven process enables automatic setup and inspection from the first copy in digital printing and converting lines.


GTI Graphic Technology showcased its D50 LED color viewing systems, which all conform to the ISO 3664:2009 viewing standard.

The company demonstrated a PDV3e desktop viewer with dimming. PDV desktop viewers have a hinged design that allows for easy setup, transport, and storage. A lower luminaire and side walls are available as options.

Re SpA launched at Labelexpo Europe ReVision Net, a web viewing and control system integrated with compact highquality cameras and a 16X Zoom feature. The company also introduced its web guiding systems, tension control systems, pneumatic and electromagnetic powder brakes, safety chucks, pneumatic air shafts and friction shafts.

Unilux presented UniPrint, a web inspection system. UniPrint features touchscreen operation and users can choose between a standard software package or an upgraded Pro version with advanced inspection features. Unilux also offers over 45 models of stroboscopic lights for surface inspection, ranging from portable batterypowered units to widearea fixedmount units.

Chelsea McDougall

  • Group managing editor