A conversation with Lisa Milburn, managing director, Labelexpo

Lisa Milburn, managing director, Labelexpo
Lisa Milburn, managing director, Labelexpo

Akanksha Meena: How was the LMAI conference in Kochi for you?

Lisa Milburn: I found the LMAI conference in Kochi to be a positive and valuable experience. LMAI is a key Labelexpo association partner in the region, and it was an excellent opportunity to meet with some of their members again, many of whom exhibited at the last Labelexpo India show in 2018 or attended our industry forum in Kochi last Autumn. The mood was very upbeat, with delegates and speakers keen to share their knowledge and hopes for the future, which was very much in line with the conference theme ‘Future Next’.

There was a strong focus on digital, sustainability, wide-web printing and upcoming packaging trends. All of these will be very much in evidence, not only at the upcoming Labelexpo Europe 2019, but also Labelexpo India 2020.

AM: What new developments have been there at Tarsus recently?

LM: On the labels and package printing side of the business, we are expanding our events portfolio with a new series of shows, Brand Print, aimed at printers who print promotional materials and collateral for brands. It is the only trade show that focuses solely on the growing areas of print; POS/POD, fleet graphics, sampling packs, collation packs, corrugated luxury packaging and promotional graphics.

These new shows will be co-located with Labelexpo shows. For example, Brand Print Thailand will run alongside Labelexpo Southeast Asia 2020 in Bangkok in May 2020, while Brand Print Americas will run alongside Labelexpo Americas 2020 in Chicago in September 2020.

AM: What are your observations of the label industry?

LM: I am amazed by the pace of change in the label and package printing industry. I think the label industry in the South Asia region can be best summed up by one of the LMAI conference speakers, Ranesh Bajaj from Vinsak, who said that, with increasing numbers of converters moving to wide web printing, the industry must start re-thinking of them as “solution providers and not just label printers.” This is already happening in other parts of the world, and India is fast catching up. Labelexpo shows in India and China are becoming more international with each edition, as visitors are sourcing an ever expanding range of solutions, and diversifying into flexible packaging, hybrid printing, and shorter run customization.

It’s an extremely competitive space, if we don’t evolve we will be left behind. These developments are going to have a huge impact on the way the industry operates in future, and it’s also one of the reasons why our shows have moved away from being niche label shows, to broader label and package printing shows. The lines are becoming less defined. Incredible when you think that our first show 40 years ago had just 44 exhibitors. This year, we will see well over 600 exhibitors!

AM: What can visitors expect to see at Labelexpo Brussels?

LM: Our main feature is the Flexible Packaging Arena, where visitors will be able to see two press lines in action – a Xeikon CX500 (digital) and a Bobst M6 (UV Flexo) producing indirect food contact flexible packaging to the latest GMP standards. Live demonstrations will be taking place throughout the four days of the show.

In addition, HP Indigo will offer live demonstrations of digital pouch making on its HP Indigo 20000 digital press, Pack Ready Lamination, and the Karlville pouch-making machine at its stand. Colordyne and Memjet are introducing pigment water-based digital print modules for flexible packaging. I would urge visitors to get along to at least one live flexible packaging demonstration!

Away from the show floor we are offering our most extensive educational schedule to date. We will conduct three in-depth master classes and a workshop covering inks and coatings, digital label and package printing, and, for the first time, flexible packaging and self-adhesive materials. These half-day sessions are led by industry experts including Mike Fairley, founder of the Label Academy, and Andy Thomas-Emans, Labelexpo strategic director.

We will also be celebrating the 40th anniversary of Labelexpo on the first night of the show, at our annual Label Industry Global Awards event. We have introduced a couple of new categories to this year’s Awards to mark this milestone – European Converter of the Year and the Rising Star Award. We will also be honoring past Lifetime Achievement winners, so it’s going to be a memorable night.

AM: Can you give us a flavor of some of the products being launched at the show?

LM: Several press manufacturers are launching new machines at Labelexpo Brussels, hybrid printing presses, in particular. Bobst will launch its new hybrid flexo press, Canon’s Océ LabelStream 4000 series UV inkjet press will make its debut, and MPS will launch a new 17-inch, 430 millimeter edition of the hybrid EF Symjet press. Domino will launch its N617i inkjet printer, in a wider 17 inch/430 millimeter width and in a new colour scheme.
Omet is launching its new X7, the latest in its XFlex line, a flexo printing machine for labels and flexible packaging with 670 millimeter (26 inch) web width. Lombardi is launching its Invicta i2 line created for flexible packaging in the mid web sector.

There are too many new products to mention here of course, but others to look out for include the Gallus Digital Printbar digital embellishing unit designed specifically for opaque white and using inkjet-based digital print technology. Konica Minolta will display its recently launched AccurioLabel 230, a new version of its digital toner press. Mark Andy is unveiling the latest version of the Performance Series line. Nilpeter will show its 17 inch wide FA-Line press, featuring cold foil, lamination and Nilpeter’s new semi-rotary die-cutting unit.

The Covid-19 pandemic led to the country-wide lockdown on 25 March 2020. It will be two years tomorrow as I write this. What have we learned in this time? Maybe the meaning of resilience since small companies like us have had to rely on our resources and the forbearance of our employees as we have struggled to produce our trade platforms.

The print and packaging industries have been fortunate, although the commercial printing industry is still to recover. We have learned more about the digital transformation that affects commercial printing and packaging. Ultimately digital will help print grow in a country where we are still far behind in our paper and print consumption and where digital is a leapfrog technology that will only increase the demand for print in the foreseeable future.

Web analytics show that we now have readership in North America and Europe amongst the 90 countries where our five platforms reach. Our traffic which more than doubled in 2020, has at times gone up by another 50% in 2021. And advertising which had fallen to pieces in 2020 and 2021, has started its return since January 2022.

As the economy approaches real growth with unevenness and shortages a given, we are looking forward to the PrintPack India exhibition in Greater Noida. We are again appointed to produce the Show Daily on all five days of the show from 26 to 30 May 2022.

It is the right time to support our high-impact reporting and authoritative and technical information with some of the best correspondents in the industry. Readers can power Packaging South Asia’s balanced industry journalism and help sustain us by subscribing.

– Naresh Khanna

Subscribe Now


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here