Pickin’ Up Momentum at EskoWorld 2019

Ryan McAbee
Jun 24, 2019

Music City USA, or the more commonly known Nashville, TN, was the locale for the 28th EskoWorld – a gathering of brands, premedia, and producers of all things packaging. The annual event continues to grow, along with Esko and the digitization of packaging, setting a record attendance of 550 attendees with a little over 20% now representing brands. Last year’s theme of Packaging Connected was repeated this year with a slight emphasis on the desire to interconnect the supply chain through Esko’s technology.

Presentations at this year’s conference featured more than 70 guest speakers, including Esko’s new President, Mattias Byström, who spoke to the macro level challenges affecting packaging supply chains along with the company’s commitment for creating supportive tools.  In a slightly provocative way, Byström’s stated that in today’s environment “packaging is dangerous.” (Fortunately, my most dangerous experiences with packaging have been paper cuts.) The intent was to highlight external dangers and trends that are forcing rapid change in packaging due to external, and often uncontrollable, forces. In an age where everyone can be and is a designer, the packaging supply chain must adapt so that color intent and accuracy can be maintained. A survey by Esko’s sister company, Pantone/X-rite, found that 86% of designers today do not know how color is produced. This puts more pressure on packaging producers as educators, facilitators, and dare we say heroes?

Indeed, Byström commended the audience for being packaging heroes with special recognition of five individuals representing roles throughout the supply chain from brands to premedia and converters. Packaging heroes possess the unique abilities to decimate errors, defy time, conquer communication, and adapt to new components (e.g., substrates and inks). Esko’s mission, according to Byström, is to make tools that enable packaging heroes.

Design Manager Hero: Angela Clinefelter, Senior Brand Design and Packaging Manager at Kimberley Clark

Prepress Specialist Hero: Bill Lawrence, Automation Systems Manager at Southern Graphic Systems

Brand Leader Hero: Frank Goddiess, Director of Packaging Systems at Colgate

Prepress Leader Hero: Marybeth Foss, Director of Prepress for Fortis Solutions Group

Structural Packaging Designer Hero: Scott Harris, Senior Structural Design Lead at Bennett Packaging

Byström spent the rest of the presentation speaking about the importance and trail of trust required across all stakeholders involved in packaging. This starts with the importance of packaging for the consumer where Esko initiated a survey of over 4,000 shoppers found that 71% trusted the product’s packaging. This level of trust requires integrity and accuracy which are being pressured as the number of SKUs, speed to market, and number of smaller packaging runs all increase.

In several sessions attended, brands and converters were stressing the importance of process automation but not at the expense of accuracy. Many have undergone or are in the midst of digital transformation projects to connect disparate silos of information internally and with external producers. A couple of panelists mentioned the importance of having a single source of record, such as SAP or a PLM solution, that pushes any changes throughout other dependent software solutions.

These are the types of transformation projects and industry challenges that Esko is uniquely positioned to enable. From the company’s origins 101 years ago, Esko has continued to create and introduce innovations from the first Computer to Plate (CtP) device for flexo to the first electronic trapping solution as noted by Chris Miller, the Vice President for North America. The continued emphasis on research and development, along with key acquisitions like BLUE Software, have allowed Esko to build a complete ecosystem of hardware and software to carry the packaging industry forward, much like the cape of your favorite superhero.



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