Leading edge technology can offer any industry the means to sharpen the tools that it uses to make products that much more quickly and cost effectively. It can also replace old ways of achieving objectives. Such technology is exciting but often imposes capital costs that restrict its growth, particularly in times of consolidation.
To some extent, this is obviously happening in the packaging industry. Disciplines, including digital printing and radio frequency identification, are obvious areas that are waiting on the sidelines to be tapped into wholesale.
The trouble is that the seeds of profit need to be regularly watered by investors with vision… the vision to understand that old adage that explains the need to speculate in order to accumulate.
I am not saying that all sectors of our industry are laying to waste avenues of opportunity. I am saying some are being forced to restrict their growth in a cold climate… and, by doing so, will only serve to make the climate colder.
Digital printing was introduced to the industry with a great fanfare of trumpets, but its progress is slow, presumably because of high material costs and the necessary workload to enable users to recover their costs in a reasonable time frame. In the meantime, flexo is riding on the crest of a wave, presumably very much at digital’s expense.
Some new disciplines, of course, require the right infrastructure to flower… and RFID is just one of these disciplines. RFID offers many sectors of our industry immense advantages but, in many instances, it will affect all links of the packaging chain. It is an avenue which must be travelled down and leading retailers such as M&S are signposting the way.