2019 will be an important year for the label industry.
The trends that played a major role in our industry the past couple of years such as personification, digitization and workflow automation are maturing and settling down in our businesses. No longer trends, but facts.
“We expect a market growth above average (~5%)” Says Helmut Gass, Sales Director at ISM.“ But nevertheless it is on a lower level. The customers in our region are optimistic and they have plans to replace older machineries even if they mention that maybe a crisis will be expected within 2019.
Now let’s take a closer look at 3 specific megatrends we think will disrupt and shape the future of the label industry in the year ahead.
Trend 1. The digital revolution
The current digital revolution has no boundaries or borders. It is changing our behavior and our expectations as much as the tools being used to deliver us new services and experiences. But for businesses like MPS, being part of the digital revolution is a very complex proposition.
We need to understand that social media is not simply another channel. It is a fundamentally new way in which people organize and inform themselves. This results in consumers driving our technologies.
Corporate technologies tend to disappoint because we have a very high benchmark for the experiences that we expect from our everyday use of digital apps and platforms. And that is what we expect from our corporate technologies too.
MPS is also part of the digital revolution: working among other platforms, new ways of communicating, service, and more. Part of the revolution is that we are getting more and more connected with everything. By 2020, there will be 7 times the number of connected devices as people on the planet. We are already used to our connected cars and homes.
So why are we not yet connected with our presses?
Connectivity creates positive change.
Connectivity opens up a whole new world of endless possibilities for connectivity in the label industry. Cheaper, reliable and plentiful sensors and almost limitless connectivity means that anything in the label press can and will be connected in the very near future.
Don’t know where to start? During the Labels Connected Seminar we’re hosting on February 28, 2019 we’ll explain and demonstrate the possibilities you have to start implementing connectivity within your own company.
I agree, Rens Driessen, Commercial Product Manager at MPS, explains. “It is my prediction for the near future that connectivity will more and more become a subject of discussion and development in the label industry. Flexographic presses will move more and more into the direction of total automation in preparation for a future of connectivity.
This year the developments for hybrid solutions will continue so printers are able to combine the advances of both digital and flexographic printing, as digital printing is becoming more mature in terms of material development and increasing speeds of digital engines.”
Because of these developments connectivity will have major implications for business models we know today. If we are connected and know when and how are presses run, we can start planning jobs for multiple companies making sure our connected machines are always producing wherever and whenever. This means transparency and a different way of looking at who your customers are.
Bert van den Brink, co-founder MPS: “With run lengths decreasing, pressure on margins and more job changes, connectivity is the way to go for printers. When the printing process is more automated, it saves time and money for your company. When loading the job directly from an MIS, and re-loading print settings from job memory all go automatically, the operator is able to work much more efficiently. Connectivity comes with higher efficiency and higher productivity. Our ‘talk to me’ connectivity platform is a great development that we will further sell in the market in 2019.”
Hideomi Hyakuno, T&K Toka Co.,Ltd: “The Label industry here is confronted with shorter run print jobs, multi-products with low volume manufacturing, and quick delivery. To solve these problems, it is our job as suppliers to the label industry to automate / visualize the entire process of print jobs.”
“2019 will undoubtedly be a year of technology integration and the better use of information in the production workflow”, says Nick Tyrer, Sales Director, MPS Systems (UK) Ltd. “The advancements in flexo technology and their accompanying consumable products have brought back the fight to digital technology and have really started to push back the tide.” Tyrer explains that for years digital press manufacturers have fought a war against flexo from a single pronged attack of lower run length equals digital. “This is no longer true if your workflow, quality control and manufacturing information are optimized, digital printers can also be very wasteful and inefficient. We have seen growing numbers of converters turning towards hybrid solutions as their customers accept mixed print processes. I firmly believe that the question of how it has been printed will become a non-discussion point and the only question remaining will be which print process is the best commercial choice.”
Trend 2. Hybrid printing
Hybrid printing is one of the upcoming technologies that has grown into the market over the last few years. MPS strongly believes that hybrid printing is the technology of the future.
Hybrid printing combines analog and digital print technologies. By integrating the reliability and efficiency of flexographic printing with the innovative possibilities of digital printing, organizations can now meet the demand of their customers. Thanks to hybrid, they are able to deliver the high print quality against low costs of flexo printing with the flexibility and fast turnaround time of digital.
Inge Brinkman, Content Manager, MPS: “With job sizes getting smaller, but on the other hand, labels becoming more and more complicated, there is a growing demand for quick change-over times with many converting options at the same time. The answer to this trend is hybrid printing. Combining the best of both worlds: diversification and easy job loading in digital, and endless converting and printing options in flexo. The sales records of our hybrid EF SYMJET press have been broken in 2018, and I expect the numbers to skyrocket in 2019. Our customers will tell you why!”
Frank Kuntke, Area Sales Manager Germany, MPS: “The share of digital machines will continue to grow. In inkjet printing, we are publicly getting new colors for the use of food labels. In flexographic printing, markets will not grow as they did in recent years, but existing printers will not reduce their share. So, it stays constant. There will certainly be printers who are increasingly concerned with labels or similar packaging products. I see great opportunities for this market. By contrast, in 2019 we will again have companies that join or are taken over by other companies. The general growth forecasts are not as high as in previous years.”
Felix Prieto, CEO / General Manager, Grupo IMPRYMA: “We work in a growing market especially for paper labels. The numbers presented during the last AIFEC Congress (Spanish and Portugal Association of Label Manufacturers) are very promising. Although sales of raw material are growing, it is my perception that runs are getting shorter. Converters are confronted with shorter and even shorter runs with brand owners demanding the highest quality possible. This will be the key factor. This means a growing demand for high quality printing presses, tooling and materials.”
Helmut Gass, ISM Industrial Supply and Machinery Trade GmbH & Co. KG: “In the eastern European region flexo print will remain the most important technology. But customers take care of new technologies going in line with new trends like smaller order sizes including faster job changes. There will be a good chance that customers will invest in new machinery with newest technology. There we see a chance that also hybrid machines can be placed. A second trend can be seen by replacing existing presses with machines with more colors, more in-line modules, with hybrid UV/LED curing systems.
Discussions about offset technology are increasing. E.g. in Bulgaria we are involved in serious discussions about high end machines like printing press with offset units + combined UV/solvent/water based flexo stations. These presses will be equipped with different in-line modules like sheeter, stacker, multi-lamination unit, digital personalization, etc. in order to cover a lot of products and markets – labels, packaging, paper sheeted products like bulletins (to replace the existing sheet-fed offset presses).
Summarizing there will be a strong trend towards machines for short runs and maximum flexibility. Digital printing will grow above average preferably with hybrid solutions. Maybe also the printing width will increase because more and more label printers are filling their open capacities with flexible packaging.”
Trend 3. Sharing economy
If we start looking at different business models, the sharing economy, our second megatrend, becomes very real. Sharing economy refers to the recent shift in the way the world is doing business. Today more than ever, consumers are turning to a collaborative model. And while this concept is totally new, recent growth and success of shared business solutions have demonstrated that this new economy is the way of the future—uncovering an entirely unexplored aspect of the global economy and existing companies.
We all know the consumer market with Airbnb and Uber as examples
But the B2B sharing market is also primed for considerable growth, as more enterprises are seeking to reap the benefits of things such as equipment sharing.
We expect to see B2B sharing activity surge - for example, in machine time. Companies buy time on machines that have been financially out of reach for them in terms of ownership. This means, even smaller companies can flourish in a growing, high quality demand market.
"Smaller or younger players will push their way further into the market by purchasing the newest technologies, thinks Anton Zhukov, Area sales Manager at MPS. They are looking for new profitable business models such as ecommerce or maybe even sharing platforms. Using well established MIS systems for analysis will therefore become crucial. Having possibilities of linking machinery to the MIS system and to the internet will give producers extra advantages on to the market.”
Marc-Jan Goossink, Manager After Sales, MPS: “As the current label industry is following the global trend of data driven business, the time for individual machine set-up and operation will be ending. I believe the future lies within the connected world.
MPS label printing presses do not only show their quality in the printing process itself, but are also able to provide the required detailed information to whom it requires. Uptime, print quality and machine maintenance are the main drivers for this trend. Therefore, sensor driven data becomes more crucial.
As MPS is one of the leading companies to provide this, our focus will be on ‘talk to me’, our IoT and BD platform. In this exciting year ahead, we will show the full potential of this platform to our industry.”
Anton Zhukov: “Standardization, optimization, specialization and consolidation will proceed in the narrow web industry in Europe. Increasing competition, decreasing job lengths in already established market will push the margins of the printing houses even further. Long established printers, seeking profit optimization will lean to one of the four mentioned measures. Productivity of the press will become a very important issue.
InkJet will have a solid, well established market share and will be a trusted technology allowing hybrids to become a more standard solution for InkJet printing in order to optimize the productivity and costs.”
What do you think will happen in the label industry in 2019? Drop me a line, In the comment section below.
Resources: PWC Issues, Marketplace Platform, Financial Times, World Economic Forum, AIFEC (Spanish and Portugal Association of Label Manufacturers)
Marjolein Ekkelboom has been working as Global Marketing Manager at MPS since 2017.