A Corrugated Showcase
As Roger Mills explains, the goal for SuperCorrExpo is to address all of the issues that corrugated packaging plants may face. But at SuperCorrExpo 2016, held in Oct. 17-20 in Orlando, Fla., the most buzz at the show centered on a specific technology — digital printing.
Mills, the corrugated division chairman at TAPPI, described the developments in single-pass, direct-to- board digital printing for corrugated packaging as a substantial leap forward for the corrugated industry.
“[Digital] is coming and it’s going to be the next big breakthrough in the corrugated industry,” Mills said. “In the corrugated industry, we move along and tweak things and make them better, quicker and faster, but digital will be a step change.”
SuperCorrExpo takes place every four years and is produced by TAPPI and AICC, the Association for Independent Corrugated Converters. Since its inception in 1996, the event has been held in Atlanta, but moved south this year to the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Fla.
Mills explained that the move to Orlando had several benefits, including a larger floor space, a more accessible destination for international attendees, and proximity to attractions apart from the show.
“We had over 5,000 attendees and we had over 1,000 international attendees, which was quite a jump,” Mills says. “There were many more international exhibitors and many more machines on the floor — almost double since we started 20 years ago.”
While digital printing was the technology that drew the most attention, Mills said there were several educational sessions and presentations that received large crowds. One of the panels, titled “1,500 Feet Per Minute Corrugators – Why Not 2,000 Feet Per Minute?” was in particularly high demand.
The panel featured Chris Weaver of BHS, Dave Kvitek of Fosber and John Sofinowski of MarquipWardUnited. This panel, Mills said, discussed the barriers that need to be eliminated in order to make the jump to 2,000 fpm on a corrugator. The demand for this panel was so high that Mills said it will make a return this year at CorrExpo, the annual, smaller version of the show, which will be held Oct. 16-18, at the Rhode Island Convention Center in Providence, R.I.
In addition to digital printing, Mills said the show featured several other technological advancements in corrugated package printing. Mills explained that a key trend in corrugated packaging is printing on both the inside and outside of a box. This is something the industry has been successful with for years, but until now, needed multiple machines to achieve it. Mills explained that at SuperCorrExpo, a machine was on display that could print on both sides of a box.
Automation was another key element of the show, Mills said, describing how the increase of robotics in corrugated production has taken off. Throughout the show, he explained that there were multiple robotic solutions for assisting with both the feeding and removal of substrates.
Another innovation that Mills said stood out at SuperCorrExpo was a new method of ink viscosity control that maintained the consistency of the ink through temperature control by actually placing a chiller into the ink. Anilox roll cleaning was another important process that was addressed. What was once a messy procedure is now benefitting greatly from the use of
lasers and microbeads in the cleaning process, Mills says.
But it wasn’t just powerful new machinery that commanded the attention of SuperCorrExpo 2016 attendees — there was plenty of star power as well. Jonathan Kraft, president of the Kraft Group, gave the opening keynote presentation, in which he drew several parallels between the corrugated industry and the business of professional sports. Not only is the Kraft Group one of the largest entities in the corrugated industry, its holdings include the New England Patriots of the NFL, Major League Soccer’s New England Revolution and Gillette Stadium.
Ron Sasine, principal at Hudson Windsor and the former senior director of packaging procurement for Walmart, and Eduardo Posada, CEO of Grupo Gondi, provided additional keynote addresses. The event closed with a final keynote from Kevin “Kal” Kallaugher, an editorial cartoonist for The Economist and The Baltimore Sun.
Mills says that with the success of SuperCorrExpo 2016 in Orlando, the show will return to the Orange County Convention Center in 2020. He says approximately 75% of the floor space has already been bought by exhibitors. While it’s not yet known what the innovations of the next four years will bring, if 2016 is any indication, the digital printing revolution will again be the technology to keep an eye on in 2020.
“How quickly equipment manufacturers meet the market requirements of quality, speed and costs will determine how fast digital printing comes across the industry,” Mills said. “I foresee at some point that printing stations will just be digital printing stations. They won’t have anilox rolls and inks as we know today.”