Rotometrics Open Day 2018 – An exploration of print

More than 30 manufacturers supported the event with table top displays (Source: Rotometrics)

UK • The place to have been on the 3/4th July 2018 was the 4th biannual Rotometric’s print and packaging event held at their Aldridge UK Plant, now a definite must attend addition to the label and flexible packaging calendar.

Written by Tony White


Masterminded by Neil Lilley, Rotometric’s Sales Director and a cast of hundreds (or so it seemed) the two days were packed with information and ground breaking presentations. Great support and additional information was provided by more than 30 globally recognised suppliers to the industry who also generously donated prizes to the raffle and auction which raised GPB 2000 for the Promise Dreams charity (which helps seriously or terminally ill children). To satisfy the inner man (and woman) a very tasty hog roast lunch was provided along with a continuous supply of chilled water (it was a hot day).

An added bonus for those of us interested in the Wold Cup football was a room in the hotel which Neil had booked exclusively for Rotometrics visitors on the day England played Columbia and won by penalties 4:3.

“Exploration of Print”

The title Exploration of Print was very appropriate and maybe had something to do with the fact that Sir Ranulph Fiennes, the famous polar explorer was the keynote speaker on both days. This article is based on the second day’s programme.

Colin Phillips from Herma and Antony Cotton from Focus enjoying the networking opportunities with Neil Lilly from Rotometrics (Source: Rotometrics)


The day started well with Neil welcoming a record number of attendees and confirming that the event was designed to bring the print and packaging industries together. He explained a new Rotometrics concept for die cutting cylinders, Rotorepel which entails coating the die cutting cylinder with a non-stick coating to aid the effective die cutting of labels. The coating means that the press can run faster as the dies run more cleanly and are much easier to clean which reduces down time between runs.

Talking about packaging

The first speaker Sanjay Patel a founding partner of The Packaging Collective is obviously passionate about the packaging industry. With many years’ experience with big brand names behind him he identified five fundamental principles of packaging to protect the brand through its life cycle. Number 1 To protect people from waste, 2 Presenting the current brand successfully, 3 Promoting the branded products against competition, 4 Positioning of the brand, 5 providing information about recycling. He emphasised that the packaging must be relevant to the consumer so that they feel involved. Membership of the Packaging Collective is free and the aim is to achieve a membership of 50,000 by the end of 2019. The Collective has so many objectives that a visit to their website is strongly recommended.

The following speaker Nick Gilmore CEO of IC3D explained in some detail the advantages of being able to visualise a new product in 3D mode early in the design stage. He demonstrated very effectively how applying the patented “Smart Mesh” to a label design can bring a completely different perspective to the way the designer “sees” the final labelling of a product. The software can be used with a simple Illustrator or PDF file and the results viewed in under a minute. This design tool enables brands to get to market more quickly with fewer “redesigns” due to incorrect visualising. The advantages of seeing the product packaging mock up in 3D are manifold and enable all parties in the design process to be involved in the final design. No more than a couple of days are needed to learn this new software.

More than 30 manufacturers supported the event with table top displays (Source: Rotometrics)


Circular Econonmy discussed by M&S

A perspective from a famous retailer, M&S, was presented by Ken Vyse, Senior Packaging Technologist who discussed the Circular Economy in great detail. He outlined how M&S is becoming a neutral carbon retailer and present awards to suppliers for introducing neutral carbon projects. He believes that the packaging market is changing with an emphasis on digital representation. They are tackling the plastics “explosion” by treating all plastics the same with the aim eventually of using only one plastic to meet all needs.

He advised the audience that the total supply chain for food supplies is only 3 days that the suppliers of food packaging need to work faster to find a solution. Now that the shipping of waste to China has stopped the UK must urgently decide how to deal with waste! The Circular Economy demands that all companies producing packaging must ensure that at least 64% of it must be capable of recycling by 2025. Currently there are 400 different systems for waste recovery in Europe. He considers that there are three scenarios, a hard loop where all packaging is recycled, a soft loop which includes kerbside collection and no loop where nothing is recycled. In his opinion biodegradable plastics are not a viable option.

Word of the Year: Plastic

The final presentation of the morning was given by Susan Wright, Editorial Director and Publisher of Earth Island publications. She believes that the future success of labels and packaging depends on Innovation, Creativity and Environmental Care. She considers that we are living in disruptive market place requiring short runs and quick job turn rounds underlying the need to get the products to market more quickly. As an aside she commented that the Word of the Year 2018 is “Plastic” according to the Oxford Children’s Dictionary. School children (The next generation) were asked to write 500 words about their vision of plastic and all were negative about the use of plastic yet all mentioned recycling as being important, indicating how they are viewing the use of plastic in the world.

She stated that even if we were to stop using plastic today there would be no change to the current situation for many years. Susan named three trends which might help: a move more towards digital printing; increasing the use of smart labels and promote “green” printing. She comments that the UK government has pledged to eliminate plastic from the packaging industry by 2042!

On the first day presentation were given by Jules Lejeune on the role that FINAT plays in the label and packaging industry and Joanna Stephenson who discussed Women in Packaging in great depth.

The morning’s presentations were followed by a tasty hog roast lunch with optional factory tours on offer.

After delivering his speech, Sir Ranulph Fiennes signed copies of his latest book (Source: Rotometrics)


The challenge is everywhere

The afternoon keynote speech was given over to Sir Ranulph Fiennes the world’s greatest living Polar Explorer who kept the audience spellbound by recounting his various expeditions to the South and North Poles and other adventures. He likened the preparation for an expedition to a business environment where careful short and long term planning and attention to detail are paramount requirements for survival especially in the rather cold, polar regions. He gave his overriding reasons for taking on nature was because the challenge is there and he wanted to be the first to achieve records, for instance walking across the Antarctic land mass with no support from aircraft. To get the full flavour of what he achieved with his late wife and companions one needs to read at least one of his books. I can recommend “Colder” which is semi biographical.

The last action of the day was to hold an auction of various donated items and a raffle of items donated by several of the event sponsors. The amount raised, as mentioned at the beginning of this article was GBP 2000 for the Promise Dreams children’s charity. Finally Neil signed off the day with thanks to everyone attending, including the sponsors, staff and attendees. The next Rotometrics open day will take place in two years.

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