Packaging Connected at EskoWorld 2018

Ryan McAbee
Jun 11, 2018

EskoWorld, the yearly gathering of Esko users and partners, kicked off this week with a big “yeehaw” in San Antonio, Texas. More than 500 packaging enthusiasts, from brand owners to converters, packed the event to learn about trends and challenges affecting the packaging industry with additional opportunities to network, engage with supporting vendors, and get hands-on learning. More striking was that 39% of attendees were there for the first time.

Jan De Roeck kicking off EskoWorld 2018
An excited Jan De Roeck, Marketing Director, kicking off the opening day.

Udo Panenka, president of Esko, delivered the company’s vision and theme of “packaging connected” where stakeholders and systems in the packaging value chain are more tightly integrated to improve time and responsiveness to market changes and increase consumer engagement. Panenka pointed out that the industry still has a lot of challenges to conquer to reach this goal. Large consumer product goods (CPG) brands growth has stagnated at 0.7% growth from 2012-2017 while smaller CPG companies, that operate in a digital first mindset, have flourished. Decreasing the lead times (e.g., 198 days on average for a label change), creating compelling omni-channel campaigns, and responding faster to trends and changes in consumer behavior are critical for future growth, according to Panenka.

Source: Esko

Esko positions their expansive product portfolio as the platform for packaging that will drive connected packaging in three distinct ways:

  1. Connect brand owners with premedia and converters to flatten processes and speed time to market.
  2. Connect packaging with e-commerce where content, shape, and color consistency are key to consumer expectations and trust when ordering online. For example, Panenka shared that 79% of consumers expect the packaging to be the same in-store as it is online.
  3. Connect the tech ecosystem, both hardware and software, for seamless integration between the stakeholders in the packaging value chain. Esko drove this point home by showing the integration across five equipment vendors to automate processes, in some cases creating a closed loop system.

The sessions I attended reinforced Esko’s efforts to be the connecting force in each of these initiatives. The Brand Track of sessions featured thought leadership on how to spot a brands’ digital packaging maturity level and climb up to more sophisticated and intelligent ways of operating, internally and with their premedia and converting partners. The session was led by Danielle Sauve who reinforced that brands, particularly consumer product goods companies, must mature as growth from 2012-2017 decreased to 0.7% from 7.7% the preceding five years.

Source: Danaher

Connecting those brands to retailers in an e-commerce world is the goal of Digital Shelf Relay (DSR). DSR is essentially a tool that brands can use to ingest, manage, and distribute their product content (copy, images, 3D rendering) to their retail channels with the added capability of monitoring for use and conformance across e-commerce sites such as Amazon, Jet, and Walmart.

Finally, Esko demonstrated recent efforts to further connect and integrate its own products, as well as with partners. During the keynote the company showed its workflow, Automation Engine, feeding information to AVT inspection systems, HP digital presses, and KBA conventional presses – saving production time and improving accuracy for converters.

EskoWorld continues to be a sought-after educational and networking event within the packaging, and increasingly brand, communities. From my perspective, this year’s event reinforced Esko’s commitment to connect and empower the entire packaging value chain from brands to premedia and converters.

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