Insights into innovations shine at AWA DecTec seminar

Moderated by Corey Reardon, president and CEO of AWA Alexander Watson Associates (far right), the panel discussion included (from left) Séamus Lafferty (Accraply-BW Labelling), Amanda Jones (Paragon Inks), Steve Low (SCREEN Europe), Michael Aengenvoort (ROTOCON) and Brendon Toontas (Morgancoat).

THE AWA DecTecTM Conference Seminar – held at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Cape Town during October – provided a platform for decoration technology professionals to explore the latest innovations and trends.

In an era of heightened environmental awareness, sustainable packaging solutions have taken centre stage. The AWA DecTec Seminar, therefore, served as a hub for exploring eco-friendly packaging materials, designs and production techniques. Attendees had the opportunity to learn about the latest advances in biodegradable materials, recyclable packaging and reduced environmental impacts.

Michael Aengenvoort, group CEO of print technology supplier ROTOCON – one of the event’s main sponsors, discussed the current state of the label printing sector in South Africa as well as ROTOCON’s core business. ‘As a pioneer in integrating cutting-edge technology in this field, ROTOCON has been dedicated to pushing the boundaries of possibility, redefining labels beyond the ordinary,’ Michael stated. ‘We’ve enthusiastically embraced digital and flexo printing, introduced groundbreaking finishing solutions and explored diverse avenues of advancement. Our impact in label making is significant and this success is attributed to our devoted team and loyal customers.’

Corey Reardon, AWA Alexander Watson Associates’ president and CEO with Asheen Sharatkumar, repro manager: technical at First Impression Labels – the sole African representative on the 2023 AWA International Sleeve Label Awards’ winners list.
Corey Reardon, AWA Alexander Watson Associates’ president and CEO with Asheen Sharatkumar, repro manager: technical at First Impression Labels – the sole African representative on the 2023 AWA International Sleeve Label Awards’ winners list.

Shrink sleeve market on the up

Accraply-BW Labelling president Séamus Lafferty’s presentation shed light on the dynamic landscape of the shrink sleeve market, offering valuable insights into its global context and specific challenges and opportunities within South Africa.

The presentation delved into global data on shrink sleeves, highlighting their substantial market share. Séamus explored the evolution of this market over the years, highlighting the dominance of heat shrink sleeves and their prevalence in various end-use segments such as beverages and food. A notable portion of the presentation focused on South Africa’s position in the global sleeve market.

Séamus shared insights from a supermarket tour in Cape Town, offering observations on the local market’s current state. He discussed the challenges faced by the industry in the past, addressing issues related to film selection, graphic alignment and application accuracy. Despite encountering both pockets of excellence and challenges, Séamus mentioned the industry’s ongoing transformation driven by sustainability goals. He stressed the importance of reliable supplier partnerships in navigating these changes, from film and ink to equipment. The presentation encouraged industry players to focus on producing quality sleeves that align with brand owner and consumer expectations.

Looking ahead, Séamus encouraged competitors to prioritise quality over price, deliver shelf appeal and embrace early adoption of innovations.

Think intelligent ink

Paragon Inks’ sales manager, Amanda Jones, delivered an insightful presentation on the formulation process for UV inks and coatings. Starting from the end application, the presentation emphasised working backward to select the right raw materials for the ideal formulation.

The highlight of Amanda’s presentation was the introduction of the Chameleon Solution, a revolutionary approach to printing that stands out in the expanded colour gamut (ECG) landscape. While various systems like oneECG (REVO), Hexachrome and Opaltone exist, Chameleon offers a unique position in the field.

She detailed Chameleon Freedom Evolution, highlighting full printer flexibility, optimisation to three-colour printing, Pantone palette optimisation and fingerprinting techniques. The method, described as flexible extended colour gamut (FECG) printing, ensures low Delta E values, reproduces 100% of the Pantone library and reduces make-ready time by up to 40%.

The advantages and benefits of Chameleon were enumerated, including reduced ink bills by over 30%, improved process images and potential substrate savings of more than 30%.

In essence, she presented Chameleon as a transformative solution in the printing industry, offering not only economic benefits, but also environmental sustainability and adaptability to evolving circumstances.

Relish the embellish(ment)

Roger Meierhofer, area sales manager for Pantec GS Systems, highlighted the competitive edge that the company offers in the realm of embellishment. His central theme revolved around empowering customers to emerge victorious in the fierce battle for attention on retail shelves.

His presentation focused on the crucial aspects of brand protection against counterfeiting and tax evasion, positioning Pantec as a reliable ally in ensuring the integrity of customers’ brands. The product offering presented by Roger covered a range of advanced technologies, with a spotlight on the RHINO™ flatbed and CHEETAH™ rotary technologies. The RHINO flatbed technology in particular was showcased for its unique design features, including brilliant and high-gloss metallisation. Roger highlighted the capability for relief embossing, offering a tangible and persuasive haptic experience.

Among the notable features of RHINO was its ability to emboss nano and microstructures, producing astonishing effects even without foil. The placement of registered holograms and 3D images further illustrated the cutting-edge capabilities of Pantec’s offerings. The RHINO SERIES was presented as a comprehensive solution, providing inline refining for single-pass production.

The RHINO E-SERIES, tailored for less complex label designs and shorter runs, achieves up to 18 000 strokes/hour and a maximum web speed of 85m/min. On the other hand, the RHINO S Series, designed for complex label and packaging designs as well as long runs, achieves up to 30 000 strokes/hour and a maximum web speed of 150m/min.

Roger concluded the presentation by highlighting the easy integration of Pantec’s technologies into various printing presses or finishing lines, offering both stand-alone and integrated solutions.

Dawning of greater digital sustainability

Steve Low, vice president for service and support at Dainippon SCREEN Europe, presented SCREEN’s commitment to sustainable innovations. In response to the changing landscape, there was a need to augment staffing levels and establish the right partnerships, focusing on factors like uptime, automation and local support.

The impact of Covid-19 reshaped industries, prompting a surge in inkjet book production and bringing print jobs back from the Far East due to supply chain disruptions. Short-run digital printing emerged as a pivotal element, marking a shift back to print. This transition towards short-run digital printing aligns with a broader goal of achieving sustainability. With fewer CO2 emissions, lower energy consumption and a reduced environmental footprint, SCREEN aims for more sustainable printing practices.

The European Printing Ink Association’s (EuPIA) change in standards in April reinforces this commitment, emphasising low migration inks, short-run processes, automation and promoting sustainable packaging through the 4Rs (reduce, renew, reuse and recycle). Supply chain optimisation through process automation is a key focus, leading to reduced lead times, increased efficiency, improved accuracy and enhanced inventory management.

Automated packaging production, end-to-end solutions, data sharing and streamlined processes are pivotal components. Remote support tools like TRUST (Total Remote User Support Tool) comprising Assist, Guard and Dialog ensure 24/7 multilingual support, worldwide support systems, operator training and compliance with EuPIA standards.

Looking ahead to 2024, Steve explained that SCREEN envisions a changing service model with easier maintenance, auto log collection, intelligent nozzle control, auto print quality adjustment, QR error codes, PTZ cameras and advanced customer support training.

He noted that the emphasis remains on speed, resolution, quality, compliance, reliability and uptime, all contributing to a lower cost of ownership.

Panel discussion: what keeps you up at night?

The panel discussion brought together industry leaders to delve into critical topics impacting the decoration technologies sector. Moderated by Corey Reardon, president and CEO of AWA Alexander Watson Associates, the panel featured Séamus Laffery (Accraply-BW Labelling), Amanda Jones (Paragon Inks), Brendon Toontas (Morgancoat), Michael Aengenvoort (ROTOCON) and Steve Low (SCREEN Europe).

The panel identified and discussed myriad challenges, including the far-reaching effects of disruptions such as the Covid-19 pandemic, weather-related incidents, production plant incidents, transportation issues and geopolitical conflicts.

The dialogue centred on the interconnectedness of these disruptions, emphasising the need for collaboration within the industry to navigate both short-term and potential long-term impacts.

Looking ahead, the panellists shared insights into the industry’s business outlook, addressing questions about potential recessions, market growth drivers and prevailing challenges and opportunities. The discussion underscored the importance of strategic planning, regionalisation and adapting to evolving market dynamics.

The conversation shifted to sustainability, with panellists sharing their companies’ initiatives and addressing the broader industry’s role in tackling environmental challenges. These leaders highlighted the urgency of balancing short-term results with long-term sustainability goals and explored how communication, coordination, cooperation and consolidation can drive positive change.

The discussion concluded with a timeless question posed to all panellists: ‘What keeps you up at night?’ Each executive shared the top challenges they grapple with personally and within their business. From immediate concerns to long-term considerations, the panellists provided valuable insights into the multifaceted nature of industry leadership.

Ed’s note: The AWA DecTec™ Conference Seminar was made possible thanks to the support of Accraply, Morgancoat, Paragon Inks and ROTOCON.


Main photo: Moderated by Corey Reardon, president and CEO of AWA Alexander Watson Associates (far right), the panel discussion included (from left) Séamus Lafferty (Accraply-BW Labelling), Amanda Jones (Paragon Inks), Steve Low (SCREEN Europe), Michael Aengenvoort (ROTOCON) and Brendon Toontas (Morgancoat).

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