EskoWorld 2018: Packaging Connected

Esko users explore how automation and connected workflows can impact their businesses.

More than 500 attendees gathered in San Antonio June 5-7 for the 27th annual EskoWorld conference. The agenda was geared toward users of Esko design and prepress software and hardware, and included sessions for business and brand owners. The event provided an opportunity for packaging buyers and suppliers to connect around the entire packaging manufacturing ecosystem.

Connecting the Dots

In an introductory session, Esko President Udo Panenka focused on how automation and a connected workflow can create greater efficiency. He discussed trends in the industry, changing consumer behavior, and how to address challenges in the packaging industry. 

One challenge? Big consumer packaging groups have experienced stalled growth – only 0.7 percent from 2012-2016. That stagnation is due in part to bigger companies lacking digitalization. Smaller startups are growing significantly faster – many of whom started as digital natives, Panenka said. Udo Panenka speaks to the audience at EskoWorld

There’s a trend toward shorter print runs with shorter lead times. Throughout the 2.5-day event, there was recurring conversation about how the packaging industry could someday reach a one-day target for turning around a product label change – something which currently takes an average of 198 days, Panenka said. He pointed out that no one wants a product with a label touting the World Cup months after the event concluded. 

To promote growth and address challenges, Panenka suggested brands respond faster to changes in customer tastes and capitalize on trends; create an engaging omnichannel campaign to reach shoppers; and craft consistency between products found in-store and online (as 79 percent of consumers expect the product packaging online to match what’s found on store shelves). 

Roadmap to the Future

The conference featured a new keynote session this year, “Packaging Connected: The Event.” The interactive presentation centered on Esko’s vision for the future of package creation, taking a fictional packaging project from the idea stage to the finished product. The audience was led through each step – showcasing the workflow tools to get there – through the eyes of the key stakeholders, including the brand owner, converters, and premedia shops. 

Packaging ConnectedDuring this session, Esko experts and partners shared insight into the world of packaging. John Morrow, president of VinPeak Advisors, echoed Panenka’s sentiment that “packaging has to be integrated with e-commerce.” Morrow also predicted that voice-activated commerce, like Amazon’s Alexa, will be an even bigger disruptor to retail than e-commerce. 

Additional sessions laid out product features and development roadmaps through presentations and hands-on learning focused on the company’s suite of software and finishing systems, including the Kongsberg cutting table with a new Flip-Side Camera to reduce manual setup time and the new Automation Engine QuickStart for Sign management software, which gets a shop up and running with the software in five days. “It’s all about standardized production. The idea is that everything flows into QuickStart,” said Kevin Peters, Esko solutions expert. 
 

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