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Will digital drive a new direction?

“Now is clearly an appropriate time for converters to be asking themselves a number of significant strategic questions about their business,” writes Pira International’s John Birkenshaw in his article ‘Digital technology catalyst for change’ this month.

He takes us on an almost virtual reality tour of what he sees to be a food factory in the not too distant future. Packaging is being printed on the fly overseen by a representative of his imagined ‘Inplant Converters’. Vision will become reality, he believes, through the development of digital print technology.

The day will come when the converter may well manage all the digital assets for customers and download any information for print at the drop of a hat by the food line in question.

John Eulich (president of Mark Andy) – despite the development of the company’s combination DT 2200 digital printing and converting system (see Digital presses feature) – believes that flexo will continue to be the process of choice in packaging worldwide. He sees digital as adding value to the supply chain, not replacing existing printing methods. And even though he believes it may replace some existing technology in the future, he does not see it as becoming the major process.

Whoever is right – and maybe their views are not so divergent – one thing is sure. We are certainly facing some big changes in how converters serve their customers and how they maintain a competitive position.