It's Fall, So It Must Be Show Time

We're back at that time of year when kids prepare for Halloween; leaves turn color and fall; we struggle over the perennial question of whether to buy a fresh or frozen turkey for Thanksgiving…and when my feet get their annual workout coursing up and down exhibition aisles to visit suppliers with product introductions for printers and converters.

Don't let the tone of my last statement confuse you. The kick-off show for this year was Labelexpo, held September 11-14 at the Donald E. Stephens Convention Ctr. in Rosemont, IL. Some may have differing opinions, but on the whole, I thought the show was pretty good! As a visitor/converter, you would have heard lots of humming and ka-chunk, ka-chunking going on at this show. While that's not the sole reason to judge a show a success, it's still a good sign — for several reasons.

For attendees, it means there's something to see that's actually running! For exhibitors, it takes an enormous amount of courage and technical confidence in their products to absorb the even-more-enormous expense of bringing working equipment to a show like Labelexpo.

There were a number of companies, however, that A: maybe didn't have confidence in their products (what's a converter to think?); B: didn't want to spend the money to bring the equipment (like I said, it's almost prohibitively expensive); or C: the show just didn't represent a direct fit for their products.

For any of these reasons, I'd venture to say this show perhaps wasn't quite so successful, although a bad location in such a disjointed exhibit hall floor plan certainly will not help the situation. Then there were the high barrier walls some exhibitors chose to build, obstructing line of sight for attendees walking the show floor. But I digress…

Another reason exhibitors bring working equipment to a show is that they have something new to show off! And there was plenty that was new at Labelexpo. To name only a few that contributed to the ka-chunking at the show: Aquaflex, Mark Andy, Gallus, Omet, Nilpeter, Codimag, and many more.

Servo drives, once considered an expensive option on new presses, have come into their own now. The ease with which changeovers have been facilitated by this technology is simply incredible, keeping downtime to a minimum…minutes, not hours.

The sound of working machinery at a show also symbolizes something else for me. It means there's movement, life, and vitality in the industry. Now if they can reduce the show from four days (okay, three and a half) down to three, all of the people I spoke with would be happier — and they weren't all editors.

The conference program this year was once again a major success, due in large part to the planning involvement of the Tag and Label Mfrs. Inst. And on its heels, the AWA Alexander Watson Assoc.'s Product Authentication & Brand Security (PABS) Conference, held September 14-15 at the Hyatt Rosemont Hotel, complemented the show for both converters and brand owners. An RFID Forum on the second day addressed opportunities for vendors and end-users, how RFID could play a role in fighting counterfeits, and the future of printed electronics from a converter's perspective.

The show frenzy isn't over. This month Chicago hosts Graph Expo/Converting Expo October 15-18 and Pack Expo/Converting & Package Printing Expo (CPP) October 29-November 2. Oh, my aching feet!

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