FPLMA Conference gathers international audience

This year’s edition of the Flexible Packaging and Label Manufacturers Association (FPLMA) two-day technical forum saw 16 international speakers, who under the motto of “Creation to consumer”, discussed the latest packaging trends and innovations.

Delegates at the 2023 technical forum have been treated to an extensive line-up of international speakers, which included industry leaders and professionals from as far as Japan, Malaysia, Thailand, Belgium, Italy and the United States.

The focus of the technical forum was ”Creation to Consumer”, with speakers covering a wide range of topics, from going beyond packaging to a virtual world, enabling new ways of communication between brand and consumers, to the latest trends in European packaging and the latest machine innovations.  

The event, held in the Crowne Promenade conference centre in Melbourne in the first week of March, was opened by Vince Senduary, president of the FPLMA, who welcomed all attendees and thanked the event sponsors for their support. 

A keynote was delivered by Taylor Nugent, an economist, and corporate and institutional banking specialist from the National Australia Bank, who drew the path back from inflation and gave an economic update on the Australian financial market. 

“The Q4 was expected to mark a peak of interest rates, but it is still a long way to go to stabilise at lower levels. Freight costs more than doubled, with domestic transport and warehousing costs still elevated. We are hopeful that these costs will be coming down, but we are yet to see the data to confirm it,” Nugent said. 

Avery Dennison A/NZ commercial director for labels and packaging materials Cath Cornaggia delivered a captivating presentation venturing into the world of digital packaging, opening the enormity of new possibilities for brands to connect with consumers, unique shopping experience, enabling a holistic environmental approach and more efficient value chains. 

“Traditional packaging and labels will remain the foundation of this vision, but our industry is growing. We must cooperate with digital services providers as the metaverse parallels the physical world. The future is wow, and the future is now,” Cornaggia said.

Amcor Flexibles Asia Pacific operational excellence manager David Correzzola gave an in-depth presentation on achieving successful transformation and implementing sustainable change, a well-defined and documented set of practices and business processes to run, maintain and improve operations enterprise-wise – executed through daily management systems. He accentuated the importance of developing business talent and empowering teams. 

Chris Foley, CEO of APCO gave an update on sustainability and what to expect in 202

Technical advancements in the packaging sector were the focus of Ian Hayes’ presentation. The packaging specialist at the Australian Packaging Covenant Organisation (APCO) outlined the challenges and expectations of packaging in a demanding environment. Apart from its primary purpose of simply protecting a product from external conditions, packaging needs to respond to consumer pressures, mainly sustainable angle. Hayes gave several examples of brands trialling refillable packaging concepts and switching to fibre-based packaging but also highlighted the fact that it is not possible and feasible to remove plastic from packaging entirely. 

“We will not be able to discard plastic from packaging markets. However, it is important to follow simple rules: remove it where we can, reduce it if we can, reuse if possible and recycle the rest,” Hayes said.

APCO CEO Chris Foley followed this presentation by giving delegates an update on sustainability and what to expect in 2023. According to Foley, this year will focus on sustainability and packaging. 

“Recycling rates for plastic in packaging were lagging well behind the 70 per cent target set for 2025. Plastic usage is increasing. Resetting community confidence in recycling in light of the REDcycle collapse will be a major challenge for the industry,” Foley said.

Gavin Rittmeyer, US-based vice president of sales and marketing at Martin Automatic, spoke about the perfect marriage of business practice and social responsibilities with a particular focus on waste reduction and production automation leading to profitable sustainability. 

MPS Systems Asia Pacific managing director Tim Klappe explained after a 1,000 sqm job length, a narrow web press with UV treatment becomes more economical than a digital press. He also emphasised the myriad of finishing options. Klappe also touched on intelligent manufacturing and MPS-made AI-based connectivity software, which benchmarks machine performance with over 100 other machines on the market, offering easily actionable operational and performance improvements. 

The third session of the day, entitled “Reshaping the world – blurring the lines of digital and physical”, featured Michael Dossor and Paul Rushton of Result Group, labels innovation and solution expert Ben Testa from MCC Label and Michael Davis, retail account director of GS1. Dossor guided the audience through an interesting case study of Hungry Jack’s integrated Uno campaign.  

HP established a connection with a converter to troubleshoot an issue with the printing press using Microsoft Hololens

The last session of the day, led by HP Industrial A/NZ country manager Craig Walmsley, took the audience for a virtual tour of the ePac operation in Melbourne, followed by a fascinating presentation of the remote assistance program trialled by HP. During the session, a service engineer, who joined the audience in the room, established a connection with a converter in Singapore and, using Microsoft Hololens 2 glasses, helped to troubleshoot an issue with the printing press. 

On the second day of the event, the attendees were welcomed with a much-needed session by a mental health speaker from The Wellbeing Effect, Kim Huckerby, who spoke about the effect of burning out at work and how to manage the stress associated with daily operations and effectiveness pressures. 

The international guests took to the stage to discuss how Australia is placed to row with onshore automated solutions. Sante Conselvan, president of the European arm of the FTA, gave an update on the latest developments in the European packaging market, followed by an insight into the main drivers of the Japanese packaging market presented by Koki Noritake, of Noritake Japan.

Ball & Doggett took on the sixth session of this year’s technical forum. Leigh Hooper, general manager and Zaidee Jackson, national business development manager, presented their guidance on streamlining and delighting customers simultaneously. Hooper spoke about supply chain, global trends, and innovation, while Jackson drew the pathway to a more sustainable future. 

The last session of the event focused on trends and sustainability. Doug Canon of DIC inks expanded on sustainable inks. An Italian guest at the event, Chiara Prati of Prati Italy, gave the audience a preview of the latest trends in digital embellishment. This session was closed by Peter Woods, zone business director at Bobst Southeast Asia, who shared the newest press developments, which will determine the future of packaging. 

The forum was organised under the patronage of The Collie Print Trust and sponsored by DIC Corporation, Visual Connections, APCO, Amcor, Ball & Doggett, BrandPack, Catalyst, Currie Group, DuPont, Efficient Anilox Care, Esko, Hamillroad, Independent Design & Graphics, Kirk, LeadEdge, MacDermid, Martin Automatic, SYD STAAS Perpetuity Fund, tesa, Windmöller & Hölscher, Orafol, Result Group, Uteco and Nekkorb.

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