Eminence Business Media

Eminence Business Media


President Kurt Walker reviews his
First 12 months in office
and sets out future expectations for FINAT

A year after taking over as president of Finat, the world-wide association representing the interest of the self-adhesive labelling industry, Kurt Walker discusses current and future strategy as well as milestones and collaborations with other leading associations.

Finat’s developing strategy
Finat’s initial four-year strategy was built on four pillars: raising the profile of Finat and ensuring a healthy growth; further strengthening Finat as the European umbrella organisation; offering more room for international business development and networking; and, finally, planting seeds in Asia.

And fairly quickly we achieved the 600 member benchmark we had set ourselves and established The Label Printers Forum and the Young Managers Club and both helped increase membership interest in entrepreneurial and management issues.This success was followed by the agreement of four defined strategic intentions that were later extended to include the fifth:
1. Enhance the global association network as Finat and its members go worldwide
2. Improve our service to members by using new media technology
3. Increase the synergies between the Board and committees
4. Re-assess Finat’s scope as a self-adhesive association
5. A clear agenda to promote sustainability and recycling.

Relationship success
Our relationship with national and international associations is central to our ethos and over the past ten years there has been tremendous evolution. Many national associations, especially in Europe have moved from a purely volunteer-driven force to a more professional structure helping strengthen our operational ties.

Learning from broad industry conversations
Pan-European conversations with key decision makers about their perceptions and expectations regarding FINAT as their European umbrella has helped us to create a better mutual understanding. As I understand it, past discussions tended to focus on our differences but we are now concentrating our energy on subjects where we have a common interest such as recycling, industry statistics, best practice, and education.

Putting into practice
We are now seeing the first tangible results. Thanks to a concerted effort, we have made a real impact in lobbying the European Commission. On the initiative of the Swedish association, the national associations have joined forces to commission AWA to develop and monitor industry-specific raw materials indices. The German association has kindly offered to upgrade their Occupational Health and Safety Best Practice Guide to European level, and an English translation is currently under review by the different associations. The Italian association is sharing their legal terms and conditions of sale and other (technical) industry guidelines. The German and French associations collaborated with Finat on the first-ever ‘Operators’ Day’ at Labelexpo. The UK association adopted our Finat Liner Recycling Brochure and proposed the creation of a European good manufacturing practice guide for food labels. By pooling resources and sharing know-how and expertise, we can be stronger than the sum of our individual parts.

The importance of L9
L9 started as an informal get-together of global label associations at Labelexpo Asia in Shanghai at the end of 2009, at the invitation of Roger Pellow from Tarsus. Eight associations from across the globe met to exchange experiences, discuss common problems, and explore the possibilities for closer future interaction. Obviously, many topics addressed within these associations were of a local nature but, as we talked, we found out that we also share several challenges in common.

First of all, it’s a fact that many of the suppliers offering materials and technology to the label and narrow web industry are now global. A growing proportion of our members' customers are also operating on a global scale. In response to all this our members are now reaching out on a global scale to adopt global standards, share best practices, establish global partnerships, expand their B2B network, and promote the versatility of our products to the world’s markets in a consistent manner.

And last but not least, all the associations share the same corporate responsibility towards our planet and the people who live in it. It seemed only logical that our associations would follow up on this global trail we had defined, and it was therefore decided to meet on a more regular basis. One of the participants came up with the idea to use the name L8 for our informal platform. In the meantime, a ninth association has joined, and we soon expect to welcome our tenth member.

Finat’s global growth
While Finat has its roots in Europe, we maintain a strong global outlook. One fifth of our membership is from outside Europe - Asia in particular - and we have a long tradition of managing international diversity. Finat members have a natural interest in international communication, information exchange, networking, and understanding different business cultures and practices outside their own locale.

We believe international collaboration does not stop at the borders of Europe. It is for this reason we have been a strong supporter of the L9 initiative. In our opinion, there is considerable benefit for our members in gaining a better mutual understanding of the comparative strengths, weaknesses and commonalities around the globe. It is a wonderful and enriching experience to find that label printers across the globe share the same values and interests, and to be able to develop business friendships. At the same time, Finat member companies also have an interest in addressing certain matters on a global scale, but a platform for leading this activity was lacking. The L9 is therefore definitely fulfilling a need for Finat members.

L9’s future industry influence
L9 represents a group of associations from regions that are at different stages of the development cycle. On the one hand, there are the organisations from the mature regions in North America, Europe, Japan and Australia/New Zealand. On the other hand, there are the associations in the rapidly-emerging regions like India, China, Brazil and Mexico. The developed regions have an established knowledge base and a rich history. The emerging regions have a short history, but a huge, unexplored market territory and an entrepreneurial mindset dedicated to uncovering that potential.   We therefore have a lot to offer each other, and the benefit of the L9 lies in linking these two strengths for the common benefit of the entire sector.

Improving member service
The internet as a platform for the exchange of knowledge and information is vital in today’s connected world.  It is also a valuable tool for reducing the distance between Finat and its members and, finally, for enabling a virtual network between members. The new Finat website and member community has just gone through its second development phase with more interactive features, and will soon even be supported by an iPhone App. Finat is no longer just for the CEO and owners of the member companies and thanks to this new platform many other levels of a company will be able to enjoy the benefits of FINAT membership.

Member development is a key target for 2013 so we are also appointing a Community
Manager, to drive this new area of communication activity and help increase member engagement. With the marketing committee, we are also running an internet member survey across the whole membership and are looking forward to seeing the results. Initial response has been strong, which demonstrates our members’ engagement with Finat.

But we are also looking outside the association, since we are convinced that the biggest potential lies in the emerging countries in Eastern Europe where Finat is currently underrepresented. We are conscious that most of the markets there come from a different association background, and are at a different stage of their economic and business lifecycle, but there is definitely value for them in Finat membership. That is why we are planning a roadshow. We have the support of two major suppliers on the membership committee and hope that we will be able to use their leverage in addressing converters in the region.

Redefined mission and leadership structures
When the Board set the strategy for the future, it was concluded that a certain degree of streamlining of committee work was necessary. With the growth of the association, the number of committees, sub-committees, task forces and forums had been growing and was becoming more and more difficult to manage. The distance between board and committee members became too great and, sometimes, committee members were asking themselves what, in fact, they were expected to do; what was the association’s strategy that they were supposed to execute; and what their personal contribution should be. Other members who were not themselves serving on a committee were asking what were the requirements for becoming a committee member. And finally, clear guidelines were lacking on committee members’ duties and accountability.  We therefore drafted guidelines to put some structure in place. For the last two years, most committee meetings have taken place back-to-back with board meetings, which has certainly facilitated a better ‘workflow’ and has strengthened the personal contacts between volunteers serving in the different bodies in Finat.

The first committee to implement the new guidelines was the Technical Committee; and although it appeared that there was still a strong need for additional clarification, I think we have now installed an effective framework, which is now also being implemented by the Marketing Committee. The main challenge now is to broaden the engagement of label converters in the work of Finat.

Recycling and sustainability in the self-adhesive labeling industry
A number of recycling initiatives have been developed and are being deployed. However, it is crucial to keep the momentum and create critical mass. To date, only a minor fraction of spent release liner materials in Europe is collected for recycling, and this is not sufficient to establish a sustainable business proposition for companies interested in using the materials generated by our customers. Technically the solutions are there, but awareness is lacking, and the logistics requirements still suffer from a lack of economies of scale. Finat has identified recycling and sustainability as key to the continued success of the self-adhesive label industry, and this is exactly why we have re-established the Finat recycling committee, and why the L9 meeting dedicated an entire session to this topic. Although collection and recycling are typically local activities and circumstances may vary across countries and even regions, there is still a benefit in joining forces internationally, if only to spark new ideas and innovations and to share knowledge and experiences.

Identifying industry drivers behind the recycling and sustainability
In many countries, firm legislation is now in place that limits or even eliminates the possibility of landfill as an option to dispose of waste. However, the increased focus on recycling of spent liner materials and matrix waste is not just driven by legislation. Technological and commercial drivers are gaining importance. Higher landfill disposal costs favour the development and implementation of commercially-viable recycling programmes, provided the logistical challenges are properly addressed. Raw material price inflation has increased the comparative value of recovered materials for recycling, but also favours the development and use of thinner materials. And, finally, pressure from customers, either ‘missionary’ (i.e. as part of their corporate social responsibility requirements) or ‘monetary’ (as part of their intention to cut costs from the system) is pushing the label industry to embrace programmes and processes that are more environmentally sustainable.

The digital future
As stated, we are currently expecting the results of the member survey, and this should offer us interesting leads and insights for our future strategy, for which we have set up separate meetings this summer and autumn. At our National Associations Board meeting held at the end of May, we also asked for feedback from that sector of the industry. For sure we will also continue our ongoing internal discussions on the scope of our Finat: should we widen our remit, and embrace narrow-web converting as a full part of our territory as TLMI and VskE have done? Or should we retain our focus on self-adhesive, with an open eye to alternative decoration and conversion methods relevant to our core members?

I know that, some time ago, we discussed whether we should embrace digital print - but the reality has overtaken the debate, and digital label printing is now fully part of our remit. Another thing that I would like to see is a continued effort to strengthen the corporate culture of the label industry by offering management education programmes that transcend national borders. Our recent L9 visit to Japan, and the opportunity we had to experience ‘Kaizen’, gave us new inspiration - and this should be back on our agenda next year.


For more details, call:
Gargi Bhattacharya on 0-98202 77441


The LMAI Conference
Germination of a New direction..

The Indian label industry is complex, dynamic and fast growing. Even when recession hit the label industry across the globe, it wasn’t that the Indian printers have not felt the pinch - small or big, but they were in unison. And this camaraderie is sure to be seen at the forthcoming Label Manufacturers Association of India’s (LMAI) conference – Innovations in Print at Goa. Scheduled from 29-31 July 2011 at the Hotel Park Hyatt in Goa, the LMAI conference will bring in the best minds in the country to discuss their expertise in providing the right solution for flexography.

With the labeling industry opening up further, the event provides the ideal focal point for the Indian and international label industry to meet and identify the upcoming commercial opportunities available in this market. Organised on the lines of the Asian Flexographic Technical Association (AFTA) conference held every year in various locations in Asia, the LMAI conference will welcome a range of prestigious speakers from some of the world’s biggest brands to Goa. International firms in the narrow-web industry will be available at the table-top exhibition while experts will discuss case-studies at the conference and throw some light on success stories and best practices as pre-registration confirms that more than 200 delegates from across India and beyond are expected to attend.

The germination of an idea
According to Harveer Singh Sahni of Weldon Celloplast,”The Label Manufacturers Association of India that had been toying with the idea of holding a conference for long time is finally going to see the light of the day and preparations are in full swing. The management team at LMAI headed by their President Vivek Kapoor is making efforts to make this conference a big success. The industry has welcomed the move and the event appears to be heading for a fully sold out situation! Leading equipment and material suppliers have seen the opportunity in this conference where the “who is who” of the Indian label industry will meet, and have come forward with sponsorships.”

“Most of these renowned international companies are also sending in speakers to make presentations that will impart knowledge on innovative developments in the field. LMAI is making efforts to make this event a memorable one by arranging lunches, dinners, entertainment, celebrity performances, African drummers, etc. This is an evident effort to add value to the meet with good content, good entertainment and great networking. It is interesting to note that with the announcement of this event the LMAI membership has also started to grow,” added Mr. Sahni.

Range of prestigious speakers
Senior industry experts will be speaking to the international delegation giving their in-depth insights and perspective on the future developments in the industry. The experts will also discuss case-studies at the conference that will help throw more light on a particular solution. The two-day conference program will cover many hot topics affecting the future of the local and international label market, including: trends in the Indian label industry; the economic outlook for India; increasing productivity and saving costs; the role of the Indian converter as a global player as well cover topics ranging from pre-press to printing as well as materials management to finishing. Several converter panel sessions will also feature during the conference.

The Curtain raiser
The high-level LMAI conference will take off post lunch on the 29th July with the lighting of the traditional lamp and a welcome note by Vivek Kapoor, President – LMAI who will welcome all the delegates to the conference. This will be followed by an Indian success story by Ajay Mehta of SMI Coated Products. The conference agenda has been designed in such a way that everything from pre-press to press to post press including consumables is covered. The pre-press section will take off on the first day of the conference with a presentation by the Vice President (Asia Pacific & Japan) of Esko Artwork on “Security designs and anti-counterfeit techniques”.

The last presentation of the day will be given by Boon Chai Tan of DuPont Packaging Graphics. Boon Chai will be discussing on the “New techniques in plate making technologies and HD Flexo” and how DuPont is working closely with EskoArtwork to optimize the performance and benefits of HD Flexo with digital DuPont Cyrel to give unsurpassed sharpness and detail, Fine highlights and vignettes and Enhanced solid ink density. With HD Flexo, the flexo converter will notice many significant advantages; especially the sharp detail in plates and high quality text and line art. With an exceptional dot structure and extraordinary screening, tints are smoother and easier to print. Meanwhile, there is a smooth vignette transition throughout the highlights to ‘zero’ and a high contrast in highlights and shadows without visible, hard edges.

After the hard hitting sessions clustered with mind boggling details and knowledge on innovative developments in the field, the delegates would sure look for something entertaining to unwind. LMAI has arranged for some mind blowing performances by African drummers clubbed with the networking dinner to make this event a memorable one.

Presses – Flexo, Digital and Combination
Day two of the conference starts with two sessions pre-lunch and two sessions post-lunch. The first session of the day starts with the opening address by Sandeep Zaveri the Co-Chairman of the LMA conference committee. After the opening address, Bhrigav Jain of Monarch Graphics will speak on the latest technologies related to intermittent presses. Speaking of intermittent technology, it will be interesting to note that intermittent technology facilitates fast job changes without standstills and minimum waste. Bhrigav Jain will be speaking on behalf of Label Planet at the conference. This will be followed by a presentation on “New flexo technology drives lean manufacturing and sustainability” by Jeff Feltz of Mark Andy. The presentation will explore the philosophy on removing waste from manufacturing operations, both in labor and in materials.

Just before the coffee break is called, Federico d’Annunzio’s presentation is sure to spark off a debate between “Flexo v/s Digital”. This presentation by Gidue President will impart more knowledge on the Digital - Flexo Concept from Gidue -The new benchmark for the labels and packaging industry. Delegates to the second session before the lunch will hear a presentation on “Innovative packaging and improving brand security, brand awareness and functionality” by Andrew Crawford, Vice President Marketing of Avery Dennison (Labels and Packaging materials).

Kishor Sarkar, Strategic Development Manager from the Swiss label specialists, the Gallus Group will offer an insightful presentation on the “Threats and opportunity of self adhesive label applications”. The power point presentation filled with facts and figures are sure to throw more light on the threats of these applications as well as the opport-unities they offer.  

After the insightful presentation by Sarkar, International Sales & Technical Support Manager of Nilpeter Mr. Dilip Shah will delve into the “Advantages of using combination presses” and related technologies. According to Dilip Shah, combining print technologies allows for increased benefits in the resulting label, but requires a high degree of operator skill, long make-readies for complex labels, and speeds that are governed by the slowest process in the combination. On the other hand, “New technologies in intermittent converting” will be the focus of discussion by Rotatek Vice President Gaetan De Charry before the session breaks for lunch.

The post lunch session will start off with a discussion by Itsik Krief on “The Digital Challenge: When and how to go digital”. Itsik who is the Global head - label solutions of HP will throw more light on how digital solutions add value, flexibility and security for brands, marketers and consumers. According to him, “Digital solutions are very much in step with market trends: more frequent, shorter runs, reducing waste in the supply chain, adding value through enhanced marketing, and responding quickly to new marketing opportunities.” He also reiterates that digital printing offers print quality as good as or better than flexo, while making it possible to quickly adapt labels and packaging for seasonal promotions, etc.

Panel discussion on presses
This will be followed by a “Panel discussion on presses” by Roger Pellow, MD - Labelexpo Group and will include all the press manufacturers who would be there to provide more ideas and insights as well as clear the airs and doubts of the printers on the kind of presses that would suit their style of business. This panel discussion is all the more recommended to all those printers who are looking at investing in new and advanced range of presses to accelerate their growth.

Post tea break, the session will be more focused on post production and finishing. Keith Montgomery of ABG will present a paper on “Digital web finishing including Braille and booklets” and throw more light on new developments in its Digicon Series label converting line and include several new innovative modules from Braille to booklet insertion, etc.

Materials and Consumables
“Stamping foils decoration and brand protection” is next on the agenda after digital web finishing. This presentation will be done by Wolfgran Buckard of Kurz who adheres that stamping foils are not only used for branding, decoration and security purpose but they create a strong anti-counterfeit barrier besides enhancing the brand equity of the product.

Talk of consumables and the talk invariably veer towards ink - one of the primary ingredients of the printing process. However, a printer should be aware that the ink technology that was in vogue a few years may not meet the challenges of today. It is thus imperative that a printer keeps himself updated on ink makers to meet even the strictest demands of their customers. George Lyle of Flint Group in his presentation on “New technologies in Ink” is sure to throw more light on these aspects.

Liners and siliconising
The final and the last paper in the series will be presented by Michael Bethge of Ahlstrom on “Efforts, challenges and tasks of the recycling of siliconised liner”. The Label industry has been struggling with this concern for years. However, siliconized liners are recyclable and can be mechanically skimmed off from paper or re-melted from film quite easily without the use of chemicals. What you have left is raw material for reuse with good physical and mechanical properties. As all good things come to an end, so will this interactive conference that will be concluded by a vote of thanks by Ajay Agarwal, Chairman of the LMAI Conference Committee.

Curtains drawn
The last day of the conference will be rounded off with a gala dinner and an colourful entertainment program. The host for the evening will be the glamorous singer, composer, performer and actress “Manasi Scott” who was seen in the bollywood film “Acid Factory” as well as the John Abraham starrer “Jhootha hi Sahi”.

According to Sandeep Zaveri of LMAI, “This is an opportunity to not only listen to what industry leaders have to say at the conference but also gain insights into the latest technology and future trends. The conference will examine a wide variety of strategies and practices - right from pre-press, printing, post-press, material handling to management in the label printing industry. This is also a good opportunity to learn as well as network with your peers in the industry as you join the industry bandwagon at its largest gathering and benefit from its combined knowledge and experience and build new relations to grow your business.”

The Support System
The LMAI conference has also got a lot of industry support from major suppliers to the industry that has come forward to sponsor the event. Avery Dennison has shown support in a major way and is the Platinum sponsor to the event. Creed Engineers, Kurz, Esko Artwork and Dupont are the Gold Sponsors while Mark Andy and its Indian arm Flexo Image Graphics, Heidelberg / Gallus, Flint Group, Label Planet, Nilpeter, Reifenhauser and SMI Coated Products are Silver sponsors.

Vivek Kapoor, President - LMAI, said: “We’re very much looking forward to the conference and it’s going to be an exciting time to be holding the event with the Indian economy going from strength-to-strength and news of various sectors increasingly opening up to international investment. We’re delighted to provide a strong educational platform to help stimulate growth and investment in the label industry in India and would like to thank our sponsors for their support.”

Even we from Labels India will be there at the LMAI conference. Meet us there..