A Review of Inaugural Digital Packaging Summit for Label, Folding Carton Converters
It was a simple question presented to a room packed with 113 package printers, converters and suppliers: “Do you think the world of package printing will eventually go digital?”
As the majority of hands went into the air, the response was a clear statement that the industry is recognizing that digital printing in packaging is not a novelty — this technology is here to stay. And to stay relevant, business owners need to give it serious consideration.
Digital package printing was the centerpiece of the Digital Packaging Summit, which debuted in November in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla. The event, hosted by NAPCO Media and nGage Events, followed a unique format in which printers and suppliers were challenged to do more than just spend a few days taking in speaker presentations and panels.
Real-Life Case Study Examples
Instead, all attendees were active participants in one-on-one meetings, absorbing personalized information on the latest in digital printing technology. Plus, breakout case study sessions gave label and folding carton converters an up close look at how digital equipment from various vendors has been used practically in the industry.
“Seeing the case studies and hearing about the different customers that are already using the technology helps us move toward a better and more educated decision,” said Kelly Cart, digital support manager of Discount Labels.
Throughout the conference, several presentations and panels placed a focus — not just on how digital technology has advanced — but on how to strategically and successfully implement it in a package printing environment.
In his opening keynote presentation, Kevin Karstedt, CEO of Karstedt Partners and the event’s chairman, cited a report from the Paperboard Packaging Council that surveyed folding carton converters about the rise of short runs. Of the 18 respondents, 100 percent stated that they either agree or strongly agree that short runs are a necessity of doing business.
While digital printing won’t necessarily be relegated solely to short runs as its usage grows, it is a segment where digital thrives. With short runs on the rise, digital printing will likely follow suit in both labels and folding cartons.
“The Digital Packaging Summit seemed to really strike a nerve with the attendees and the vendors and it really seems as though it’s time for it,” Karstedt said in an interview with packagePRINTING, a sister publication of Printing Impressions. “We did it purposely to address both label and folding carton manufacturers and the technologies addressed to them.”
Throughout the event, attendees learned that as digital printing technology is advancing, consumers are starting to think differently about packaging. During one of the Digital Packaging Summit’s first sessions, David Luttenberger explained how digital packaging decoration is being implemented today and how it can be utilized in the future.
Multiple Products, Minimal Inventory
Luttenberger, the global packaging director for Mintel Group, explained that at first, consumers presented a strong interest in personalized packaging. So, to satisfy that need, brands like Coca-Cola launched the immensely successful Share a Coke campaign and Skittles released limited-edition packaging, colored to represent a specific city (think Seahawks colored packaging for a “Seattle Mix”). Beyond personalized packaging, Luttenberger noted that digital will still play a strong role in packaging by providing an ability for brands to go to market with multiple products and minimal inventory.
During the morning of the second day of the event, attendees were treated to a perspective on digital printing from beyond the world of converters and suppliers. Diane Barton, the associate director of graphics for Perrigo Co., a producer of pharmaceutical products, sat down with Karstedt for a “fireside chat” on how digital printing can be a problem solver for Perrigo and its several brands.
When educational sessions and panels weren’t in session, converter attendees were provided with the opportunity to have one-on-one meetings with the various sponsors who made the trip to Florida.
In quick succession, attendees rotated through the numerous booths, learning how the vendors’ digital equipment could benefit them specifically. While the educational sessions provided a wide-reaching overview of digital technology, all attendees took advantage of these meetings to get a far more personal education on digital printing.
Another unique element of the Digital Packaging Summit was the case study sessions that allowed vendors in attendance to provide a deeper dive into how their digital technology has been successfully used in the field. Converter attendees were strategically separated into groups of label printers and folding carton printers. Then, vendors each had 25 minutes to give their presentations and take questions from the room.
Kevin Abergel, vice president of sales and marketing for MGI, explained that he found the format of the Digital Packaging Summit to be advantageous because it concentrated the decision making power in the industry into one place.
“This is where a lot of the decisions are going to start being made in terms of investment strategies and marketing strategies,” Abergel said. “There’s no place else in the world where you can get this much quality time with this much quality management from quality companies.”
The final night of the Digital Packaging Summit included an awards dinner, honoring some of the top participants at the inaugural event. Attendees voted on which case studies they believed to be the best of the bunch and on which company in attendance was “The Company to Watch” in the digital market.
MGI earned the “Best Case Study Presentation” award for the folding carton segment, while Gallus received the nod for the same award in the label segment. HP was designated as “The Company to Watch,” with runners up being Fujifilm, Mark Andy and Memjet.
Dwane Wall Honored for Engagement
A special award was provided to the “Overall Contributing Attendee” who demonstrated an elevated level of enthusiasm and engagement throughout the event. Dwane Wall, president of Creative Labels of Vermont, received the honor.
“[The Digital Packaging Summit] has been extremely insightful and inspiring at the same time,” Wall said. “There’s a dynamic group of individuals passionate about a direction in multiple industries, with a common goal to pursue excellence.”
In post-event surveys, attendees and sponsors all expressed a strong satisfaction with the event. The top two reasons for attending the invitation-only, hosted buyer event, according to the respondents, were to keep current on digital trends and to leverage educational opportunities to make informed decisions.
“Everyone is either already in digital or thinking about getting into digital in terms of how to do it,” said Jeff Feltz, Mark Andy’s director of business development. “The enthusiasm is great. People want to learn and people want to understand the products.”
Following the success of the first Digital Packaging Summit, the event will return to the Ponte Vedra Inn & Club Oct. 31 through Nov. 2, 2016. PI
About the Author
Cory Francer is the senior content editor of packagePRINTING magazine.