Tech plus brand management

In conversation with A Appadurai – HP Labelexpo Brussels, Hall 5 Patio, Stand 5C200

A Appadurai, country manager for HP Indigo.
A Appadurai, country manager for HP Indigo.

Ahead of the four-day Labelexpo Brussels, which begins on 24 September, we at Packaging South Asia spoke to HP Indigo & Inkjet Solutions Country Manager in India A Appadurai, on what’s special in the company plans and what might be especially relevant for Indian label converters.

“We believe Labelexpo is the greatest label show on the planet. Every year, we try to encourage a lot of our convertors from India to attend the show to not only see the technology that is presented there but also because they get a chance to actually visit the offices or manufacturing facilities of European convertors to see how things work there. Moreover, this show offers a great opportunity to engage in a conversation with peers. That’s the kind of knowledge that, according to me, is most valuable,” says Appadurai.

Appadurai believes that one can simply visit the HP website if one needs information on any Indigo product. A website may have extensive information about HP products but it is shows like Labelexpo Brussels that one must visit to seek knowledge that is not available on any website. “This is what we try to give to our potential customers. We also try and do very specific sessions with brand owners, where we explain to them how they can benefit from the technology we have on offer. On top of this, at shows like Labelexpo, we get to show a lot of new stuff,” he shares.

There are many new developments in HP technology, primarily in the ink segment, where the company is coming up with many different permutations and combinations. Take for instance, the silver ink which HP came up with recently. At the show, HP will be showing how to produce silver metallic effects with huge savings both in cost and in a more environmentally friendly way by reducing the use of silver and gold foils.

“That is one area we will focus on in the upcoming show. The other area we will emphasize is the use of thermoforming inks. We are coming up with something called peel-off inks, which are used for scratch card applications. We will have a huge gallery in our stand, which will be purely around inks and the development of inks. Currently, we have around 42 inks in our portfolio. That’s the kind of menu one would never have imagined until sometime back; brands could not have thought of anything but CMYK or in some cases spot colors. When you get to see 42 different shades of inks, you realize the potential of digital and how you can improve your business around that,” informs Appadurai.

Alongside this, HP also plans to run seminars and small conferences at its stand about brand engagement, which Appadurai says is for a convertor similar to doing an MBA course in a couple of hours. According to Appadurai, the show is primarily about brand engagement beyond getting to see just the technology part and also about educating the convertor about the various possibilities that they can find with HP technology.

Talking about the machines that HP will have on display during the show, Apparurai says, “The market does not understand the models but the speeds. So we will be showcasing a 30 meter machine as well our 80 meter machine. We will also be showing the most productive narrow-web press HP Indigo 8000 digital press printing at 262 ft (80 m) per minute in-line with the ABG Fast Track die; the mid-web HP Indigo 20000 digital press, which opens new opportunities for flexible packaging and high productivity of label and sleeve applications; and the HP Indigo 6900, the latest addition to the world’s bestselling digital press for L&P with over 1500 installations. These presses will be printing a wide range of applications including pharma, brand protection and food-safe packaging labels as well as sustainable digital flexible packaging and shrink sleeves. There will be live demos of all the machines all through the day for all the days of the show.”

Another highlight at the HP Indigo stand will be the HP Indigo Digital Pouch Factory, where HP and Karlville will unveil a turnkey solution for digitally printed, flexible packaging – a one-day pouch production process optimized for the HP Indigo 20000 digital press printing.
HP experts will share best practices on how converters can diversify their businesses to address the growing opportunities of on-demand shrink sleeves and pouches using HP Indigo digital printing and partner finishing solutions. Live demonstrations of digital pouch making will take place at the stand.

HP expects at least 120 Indian convertors to attend the show which, according to Appadurai, is a great number.

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.

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– Naresh Khanna

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