July 22, 2022
Oh, to have had a dollar for every time someone uttered: “It’s just so nice to see you face to face again!” Yes, EskoWorld returned this summer as a live event, and after the previous two years’ conferences were forced online due to the pandemic, there was an over-riding sense of relief that we could meet each other again, without a screen in the way.
As the premier technology-focused user event for packaging professionals, EskoWorld has always attracted those keen to learn about the latest automation and digitization developments that can turbocharge their packaging prepress. But in the wake of the global pandemic, there was another reason people were keen to attend – the human touch.
Terminator terror, or business benefits?
One of the biggest barriers preventing businesses choosing to automate and digitize processes is the fear that they are replacing people with machines - a concern that, taken to its extreme, suggests that automating the flexo platemaking process might actually lead to a dystopian, Terminator-esque future where humans are surplus to requirements. But automation is reliant on the supervision and control of operators who ensure that accuracy, quality and consistency are delivered. Automating a process does not render the operator obsolete, rather it frees up significant time for them to undertake other value-added tasks.
Similarly, automation has the potential to turn operators into champions and heroes if they’re willing to adopt the technology. Embracing automation and digitization is not about eliminating the role of operator, but leveraging operators to super-user or hero.
The potential business benefits are easy to understand once the ease, reliability and repeatability of automation has been clearly demonstrated. And that’s why it was heartening to see more than 450 packaging and label converters and industry experts convene in Texas for this year’s EskoWorld.
Personal, specific and crucial
With continuous live demonstrations in a special interaction suite - showcasing everything from 3D technology that helps packaging designers achieve maximum on-shelf standout through to 100% inline printing inspection for narrow web and labels – EskoWorld visitors were able to see first-hand how automation and digitization would optimize their operations. Moreover, they could also speak to the experts there and then, asking specific questions about how that product could deliver the automated Variable Date Printing solution they were looking for, or how a collaboration and communication tool could help not only speed-up but improve customer service and satisfaction.
As the world embraced online meetings and the ability to ‘get together’ without the economic or environmental expense of excessive travel, it became all too easy to forget the power of meeting in person to discuss and hash out challenges and their solutions. EskoWorld served to underline the importance of this interaction.
There were more than 120 training sessions, demonstrations and hands-on workshops, with many reduced to ‘standing room only’ as visitors from across the industry and around the world took advantage of the opportunity to check out the latest developments in packaging prepress technology for themselves, and to ask questions specific to their own business and crucial to their own needs.
The importance of human interaction was also reinforced by the event’s closing speaker, Randy Pierce. Randy has been totally blind since 2000, and together with his guide dog Swirl he gave an enthralling account of how together they had successfully climbed all 48 of the 4,000-foot-high peaks in the New Hampshire White Mountains. His speech was as inspiring as it was relatable, as he cleverly drew parallels with business and how working together can help overcome the many challenges faced.
While EskoWorld successfully demonstrated the need for digital transformation to ensure businesses would not just survive but thrive in the future, it also underlined the importance of discussing challenges in person at face-to-face events.
EskoWorld will return in 2023, and just like the Terminator, I’ll be back!
Information and registration details for EskoWorld 2023 will be announced later this year.