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Optimism grows after Labelexpo

You could almost hear the sigh of relief as the doors closed on Labelexpo Europe in Brussels in September. Converters did come to the show – attendance was down only slightly on the last show in 2007 – and most exhibitors and visitors noted an air of optimism from an industry emerging from the dark days of the worst global crisis in living memory.

Label printers were reporting the return of some big orders as end users finally re-stock their depleted warehouses. Manufacturers of printing presses and converting systems reported high levels of interest in new machinery, stimulated by the launch of a raft of new systems from some of the industry’s biggest names.

A significant trend was label converters looking for systems which improve efficiency and reduce waste – for example rewinders which can be networked with press inspection systems, and MIS systems which integrate with digital presses, relaying orders to the machines and receiving back real-time production and cost data.

On a similar theme, the growing maturity of JDF as a data interchange standard is now allowing companies like EskoArtwork to build links with MIS suppliers fully to integrate graphics management servers with estimating, ordering and production planning systems. The well-deserved award for Patrick Wack’s 5/7 Etiquette for the tight integration between his EskoArtwork system and a CERM MIS is a great example for our industry.

You could not mention Labelexpo Europe 2009 without talking about the accelerating pace of digital printing developments. It’s clear that in terms of inkjet, production-ready 4-color digital presses are getting faster and resolutions are increasing, while the established ‘top end’ systems from Xeikon and HP continue to push back the prime label crossover point with conventional presses.

In Issue 5 of L&L we have the most comprehensive review ever of a Labelexpo. If there is anything exciting which you saw, and we missed, then please let us know.

Finally, I would like to add my congratulations to the winners of the Label Industry Global Awards – Mike Fairley for Lifetime Achievement, EskoArtwork for Continuous Innovation, EFI-Jetrion for New Innovation award and Rako Group, European converter of the year.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Andy Thomas is strategic director of Labels & Labeling.

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