Incoming chief executive of Contiweb Rutger Jansen has one piece of advice for heatset web printers: Get into offset packaging.
"With further consolidation in commercial printing, it's a good time to be in packaging," he says. "The market is experiencing continuous growth, rising at a steady 2.9 per cent year-on-year."
He says the segment holds huge business potential for print providers, particularly within the flexible packaging sector which has an annual forecast of 4.3 per cent growth. Both labels and packaging are set to grow, with offset expected increase its market share due to its flexibility for short runs.
"As with any industry, differentiating your business, offering and identifying opportunities within the market will put you in good stead against the competition."
He cites Contiweb's own experience, "thinking outside the box" and growing from a splicer manufacturer to apply its core knowledge to expand into dryers in the 1990s, chillers and remoistening systems in the 2000s, inline finishing in 2011, digital solutions in 2014, and web-offset for packaging in 2016 with the acquisition of the IP of Thallo by owner American Industrial Partners. The sale of sister company Goss International to manroland web has led to Contiweb regaining its independence on its 40th anniversary year.
Jansen says Thallo was developed in response to the growing demand for small print runs, bringing the inherent benefits of web-offset technology to the packaging market. Contiweb's CFA fluid applicator was another example of out-of-the-box thinking combined with technical expertise as the cost of silicone soared. Combining silicone applicator and remoistening system in one allowed printers to significantly reduce consumable and storage costs.
Demands for more environmentally-friendly solutions have driven heatset dryers with integrated pollution control, and he expects similar trends in packaging production. "New, greener substrates that are more widely recyclable, will make in-roads into the market, and our focus will be to ensure that our solutions maintain premium output while keeping carbon footprints to a minimum."
For heatset printers, heat generated by the afterburner is reused to maintain temperatures, while excess solvent vapour is recycled as fuel, leading to reductions in gas consumption.
Jansen has recently taken over as chief executive from Bert Schoonderbeek, who he praised for "passionate leadership and innovative thinking", integral in establishing Contiweb's position in heatset and paving the route into digital and packaging.