Tuesday, 19 Feb 2019 12:29 GMT

Packaging Innovations

Packaging Innovations is one of 2019’s most exciting exhibitions, showcasing the latest technology and ideas for the sector. Genevieve Lewis looks ahead to February’s innovative event

The forefront of packaging

Packaging has been identified as a growth sector for the print industry, with protective and transit packaging forecast to be worth $4.7bn (£3.73bn) in 2019 in the UK. As the world becomes more rightfully conscious over its plastic use, there is a focus on how packaging can be developed to be greener. The packaging of a product is also the best way of catching a consumer’s eye and plays a crucial role in being picked up in a store.

Visitors will be able to see over 320 suppliers under one roof

Packaging Innovations, co-located with Empack and Label&Print, takes place 27th – 28th February 2019 at the NEC in Birmingham is one exhibition that can inspire a printer to take on the world of packaging. There are 300 suppliers for visitors to see, as well as a number of areas to offer inspiration and networking opportunities. The exhibition covers the length of the packaging supply chain, from start to finish, with Contractpack and Ecopack allowing visitors to find potential partners and education on packaging waste production and protecting the environment.

As per the title, the exhibition has an overriding focus on innovation and the aptly-named Innovation Zone is made up of three sections. The Innovation Stage will play host to brands and speakers, while the Start-up Village is where visitors can experience cutting-edge technology. Arguably the most exciting of the three areas is the Innovation Showcase, which sees ten finalists and their ground-breaking solutions pitted against each other for the title of ‘Most innovative pack’. The winner is voted for by the visitors over the two days.

James Drake-Brockman, divisional director for Easyfair’s Packaging Innovations says that the show offers visitors two main functions – networking and showcasing cutting edge technology

James Drake-Brockman, divisional director for Easyfair’s Packaging Innovations, explains: “The show has two main functions for the packaging community. Firstly, we provide a place for suppliers and the procurement community to meet, network and do business. As the UK’s largest packaging show, we bring together over 320 suppliers under one roof, offering key decision makers an unrivalled opportunity to discover the latest offerings in the industry, from major players, through to nice specialists.”

Drake-Brockman adds: “For exhibitors, the show is a perfect platform to meet with existing clients and make contact with new ones, all with a focus on new business.

Packaging has been identified as a growth sector for the print industry, and many printers will visit to find out how they can capitalise

“Our second role is to expose visitors to the most cutting-edge developments in packaging, as well as innovations from outside of the industry that can be applied to our audience. We pride ourselves on remaining at the forefront of the industry, and this focus on innovation and new technologies and solutions creates real value for our visitors.”

Key trends

A key trend that is witnessing a boom within the packaging sector is digital, and Drake-Brockman highlights that as something to look out for. He explains: “One of the biggest trends we are observing currently is the development of more digital packaging solutions, particularly in the printing sector. Companies are increasingly developing the capacity to create shorter print runs and produce packaging with greater personalisation. These technological advances, which enable brands to take less of a one-size fits all approach, means that packaging is becoming a marketing tool, as opposed to a functional, branded product.

One of the biggest trends we are observing currently is the development of more digital packaging solutions, particularly in the printing sector

“We are also seeing more and more brands opting to create seasonal and bespoke packaging solutions,” adds Drake-Brockman. “These engage the consumer in a way that standard brand packaging just isn’t able to do, and this is largely due to innovations in the printing sector. If you walk the aisles you will see all of these innovations on show.”

Packaging Innovations (including Ecopack and Contract Pack) is co-located with Empack, Industrial Pack and Label&Print
 

Packaging Innovations does pretty much what it says on the tin, and with packaging a significant growth sector for the print industry, taking inspiration from the event may be in your best interest.

Roland DG will be supporting reseller Revolution, and Goleniowski highlights opportunities such as braille for packaging and cosmetics
 

One major player in the packaging sector is Roland DG, which will be supporting one of its resellers at the show, Revolution. Rob Goleniowski, head of sales for UK and Ireland, explains that it would be difficult to find a specific section of the industry that utilises more Roland equipment than the packaging industry. He says: “A lot of thought and creativity goes into every stage of the packaging process, from the initial concept to the final prototype. Roland create a broad range of devices from printer/cutters to 3D milling machines and it’s difficult to think of an industry that uses the entire gamut of Roland equipment to the extent that the packaging industry does.”


A lot of thought and creativity goes into every stage of the packaging process, from the initial concept to the final prototype

Obviously, there is more to think about than just the printer when it comes to packaging, and Goleniowski focuses on other areas of technology: “Whether the prototype is milled as a 3D object, or printed as a foldable carton, it will invariably go through several iterations during its conception. To keep the creative process fluid and unimpeded, it’s important to keep the time between drafts as short as possible. Many businesses have contacted us for this very reason – they need to improve turnaround times to ensure the confidence of their customers. The best way to do this is to bring production in-house.”

With packaging production now a sought-after opportunity, once in the sector, how can printers stand out? Goleniowski adds: “Of course, customers aren’t just interested in turnaround. With advancements in technology, expectations are much higher, and businesses need to create something that accurately reflects the customer’s requirements. Prototypes aren’t just rough drafts anymore – they need to show the true potential of the final product.

Luxury packaging is also another opportunity for printers to diversify into

“It would be a shame to have your agency’s creativity hindered by the limitations of the equipment, so you need to look for devices that can add the ‘wow’ factor. Special effects, like simulated embossing are easy to create with the use of gloss ink in a UV printer. Aside from making standard packaging look more impressive, it opens the pharmaceutical market with the ability to print Braille.”

Labelling

Another company that is supporting resellers at this year’s show is OKI, which will be showcasing its technology through A M Labels and Revolution, much like Roland.

Rob Brown, head of specialty print, explains: “Between us, we will offer dedicated expertise in label production systems and short run personalised packaging, or packaging mock ups.”

OKI will be supporting its resellers A M Labels and Revolution, which will be showcasing the Pro9541 and envelope feeder 3-4 CMYK

A M Labels and Revolution will also be highlighting new equipment from OKI, with Brown adding: “The first official showing of the Pro1050 5 colour narrow format label press, and the five colour sheetfed label machine Pro9542 [will be on show]. The leap forward in full colour roll to roll, at an affordable price and in high quality with amazing versatility in media handling on a very wide range of substrates from paper, to PE and PET and heavyweight sheet card stocks is also something to look out for.”

Why packaging?


A strong contender in the packaging market is Xanté, and Mark Priede, vice president of sales, believes that the upward packaging trend surrounds conshhhumer trends, which includes online shopping. He explains: “I think a very big factor is that we’re buying more and more things online. I’ll give you one example: this year I did most of my Christmas shopping online. I didn’t go to a retail store to purchase whatever I was going to purchase for the large part, 75% I did online.

Mark Priede, vice president of sales for Xanté, says that packaging has seen an increase due to consumer habits like online shopping
 
“I think that’s pretty typical of what everyone else is doing. It makes it easier, you don’t have to get in that hustle and bustle. It gets delivered to you or wherever you’re sending it. I think that’s why we’re seeing a boom in the packaging industry.”


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Factoid: In 2016, 71.4% of UK packaging waste was either recycled or recovered compared to 64.7% in 2015. This exceeds the EU target to recycle or recover at least 60% of packaging waste (Government Statistical Service). O


Bearing this in mind, along with the continuous opportunities that present themselves, perhaps a trip to Packaging Innovations  for inspiration could be worth your while.

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