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Coming Events
Feb. 28 - March 1: 5th Packaging and Label Gravure Assn. Annual Marketing & Technical Conference & Exhibit
, Adam's Mark Hotel, Clearwater Beach, FL (937/390-2528; plga.com).

March 3-6: TLMI Converter Meeting, Registry Resort, Naples, FL (630/357-9222; tlmi.com).

March 13-16: LabelShow 2002, Sokolniki Culture & Exhibition Ctr., Moscow, Russia (+7 (095) 268-63-23; exposokol.ru).

PCMC Adds Staff to Service Webtron/Zigzag
GREEN BAY, WI, USA—The PCMC In-Line Systems Div. has appointed a Service and Support Team for the Webtron and Zigzag family of in-line flexo presses:

David Hatchell, with 20 years of Webtron/Zigzag experience, joins PCMC in the Customer Service/Sales Div. He will be working out of south Florida. Serving as senior service engineers will be Scott Smith, a 17-yr veteran of Webtron/Zigzag located near Chicago; Jim Rinaldi, working near Atlanta; and Colin Bateman in South Florida. Chuck Schoen, working out of Green Bay, joins the company as a service technician.

“The creation of a full-service and support organization is now complete,” says Mark Gillis, VP of special products. “PCMC is the only authorized supplier of OEM parts and service for the Webtron and Zigzag brands.”

For more information contact PCMC at 920/336-4300; pcmc.com.

Gallus Honored with “Red Dot” Award
PHILADELPHIA, PA, USA—An international jury of experts from Nordrhein-Westfalen's Design Centrum in Germany has presented its famous Red Dot Award for outstanding design quality to the innovative Gallus RCS 330. The machine system, which was developed in partnership with leading Swiss design company Meyer-Hayoz Design Engineering Group, Winterthur, is acknowledged as setting a new benchmark for design and customer satisfaction in label production.

In its new form, the Red Dot is recognized as one of the most reputable awards within the international design scene. This year's contest attracted a record 1,523 projects. The Gallus RCS 330 also received a “Good Design Award” from the Chicago, IL, Athenaeum Museum of Architecture & Design last year. A photo panel of the Gallus RCS 330 is now on display in the museum's Permanent Design Collection.

Conference Puts Release Liner Innovations in the Spotlight
European Journalist Ann Hirst-Smith sent the following report to PFFC.

Release liners remain a key factor in the successful converting and application of self-adhesive materials. In Europe this is in the face of extreme pressure in two areas. One is pressure on profit margins throughout the supply chain. The other is increasing pressure from the environmental lobby and the imposition of European Union legislation that requires the packaging supply chain — including the producers of converted products, laminators, and raw material suppliers such as release liner manufacturers — to collect its waste and dispose of it responsibly.

AWA Conferences organized the first event covering the topic of release liners last year in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, and its success led to a second conference held Nov. 28-30, 2001, at a larger venue (again in Amsterdam).

Entitled “Release Papers and Films — a Global Review of Industry Issues and Dynamics,” the event was sponsored by PFFC; the Assn. of Industrial Metallizers, Coaters and Laminators; coating machinery manufacturer Black Clawson; paper manufacturer UPM-Kymmene from Finland and its release liner div. Loparex; and silicone specialist Wacker-Chemie of Germany. The 18 speakers were an equally international line-up, and the 100 delegates came from around the globe.

Corey M. Reardon, principal of international market research and consulting firm AWA Alexander Watson Assoc., was first to speak at the conference, presenting worldwide market statistics that highlighted industry issues and opportunities.

Moving from market-related topics into the make-up of the release liner itself, Bob Hamilton of Stirling Consulting addressed the ongoing debate on glassines versus SCK backings, which is now moving toward glassines, even in North America and Asia. He also confirmed Reardon's earlier suggestion that Teflon — the world's slipperiest substance — may, intriguingly, find future use as a release coating.

The possibility of a revival of linerless self-adhesive labels was a topic of interest to the delegates, although — except for butt-cut labels for on-demand and low-speed application — they remain at present little more than a daydream.

The siliconizers have made major advances in their technologies, as demonstrated by Michael Ortner of Dow Corning in his presentation. The recurring problem of silicone misting on the coating line can be controlled, thanks to a new anti-misting additive that delivers dramatic improvements, even at today's high line speeds, and by rigorous measurement and aerosol extraction around the coating head environment.

Getting on the E-Bandwagon
In an industry where margins are seriously under pressure, e-commerce can deliver a competitive advantage. Holger Bienerth of Wacker-Chemie offered an impressive example of e-business in practice with his own company and presented a convincing case for its future use throughout the whole supply chain.

LabelstockExchange (LEX) is an independent trading platform specializing in the label stock value chain. One of its founders, Rick Amado, presented a clear case for industry players at all levels to think seriously about the many benefits of e-commerce.

Waste Not
One of the key issues in Europe, particularly for the self-adhesive label stock industry, is waste management. Germany took a strong, early initiative in this respect and continues to provide a fully working solution to the problem. Its packaging industry collects and recycles (or incinerates to create a useable energy resource) waste at all levels through the value chain. FINAT, sister organization in Europe to the Tag and Label Mfrs. Inst., reported on the current status. Despite increasingly demanding definitions of recycling targets from the EU, there are few current initiatives other than those in Germany that are addressing what is likely to become a major issue throughout the continent.

In contrast, the almost missionary zeal of Calvin Frost of Channeled Resources, with his model solution to the reuse/recycling of release liners, was a fine example of what can be achieved, with a positive bank balance.

An End-User Speaks
A degree of keen — not to say tense — expectation accompanied the arrival on the podium of Sophie Canonne, packaging development manager for Personal and Home Care Products at Unilever. At a time when the self-adhesive label supply chain is driven in purchasing terms by the end-users, a view from this very dominant global user was one of the conference highlights.

Canonne was unequivocal: “We value partnerships with our suppliers, but we have to be realistic and face the fact that we are all being asked to make drastic savings. We need to make the product decoration supply chain much more transparent, and we would like to develop relationships with suppliers in order to understand the cost drivers of the supply chain. Our role as development managers is to be informed about innovations and other new developments. This information should preferably come from our converters, but we are proactive in our approach to getting informed — and thus able to challenge our converters, if necessary. Unilever's way of thinking is global. This is difficult to reconcile with the label industry's fragmentation. Globalization of specifications is currently not a problem in the other spheres of the packaging industry — but still, specifying labels across the world is difficult. I recognize the globalization of end-users must be uncomfortable for label printers, but it is the way the economy is going…. Our aim is to challenge our direct suppliers all the time, while mantaining a strong partnership with them. That means helping them change and innovate so the partnership remains attractive for all players.”

This view was echoed by Todd O'Reilly, global business manager, labels, for UCB Films, in a conversation during one of the conference networking events: “Consolidation has stepped up the globalization of this industry at most levels overnight — and changed its whole dynamic. It's an incredible opportunity for companies willing proactively to take the strategic advantage — but on the other side of the coin, you could wake up and find the business gone.”

The events of September 11 may have affected the number of North American delegates, and there was a disappointing lack of Asian participants, but overall this is an event that is becoming a “must” in the industry's agenda. For more information visit awa-bv.com.



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