The corrugated packaging sector will go from web offset to digital “very quickly”, according to HP EMEA’s most senior Graphics Solutions Business executive, who plans to start a switch-to-digital domino effect.
EMEA vice-president and general manager for HP's Graphics Solutions Business Gido Van Praag, said 2016 will be a key year in HP’s thrust into the packaging market.
He said packaging was no doubt the biggest category in terms of print volume and the company was well suited to cater to it with its Scitex flatbed machines, web presses, Indigo 20000 for flexible packaging and Indigo 30000 for folding cartons.
“Packaging is by far the biggest growth engine for HP and, I would argue, for the industry in the years to come. Our market reach is more limited by our growth market resources today than by the market opportunity,” he told PrintWeek.
“My priority is to ensure that we ramp up our goal to market to capitalise on this amazing portfolio that we bring to market spearheading the transformation from analogue to digital in the packaging market at large.”
Last year, HP secured a significant milestone with the announcement that packaging group DS Smith is due to install the world's first HP PageWide Web Press T1100S at its Featherstone, West Yorkshire site in May, with commissioning due to be completed by August.
The corrugated market is a focus point for HP.
Van Praag, who moved from the top role in charge of Japan and Asia Pacific to the EMEA position, based in Barcelona, Spain, in August last year, said the corrugated market is highly consolidated, with just a few global players.
HP is working with “lighthouse accounts” in the UK. While he will not reveal how many, he said they can be counted on one hand.
“A very important player is a company like DS Smith," he explained. "We educate them to work well with them and to build the best models, and look at what we can bring to their business,” he said.
“They see that they need shorter turnaround times than they can deliver now. They see they need to have shorter print runs than they have now. They see that more customisation and security printing. They are embracing the opportunity and we are in active dialogue with them.
“I believe that when the technology is maturing that we can together drive a big transformation of play immediately with our platforms.”
Van Praag said there were likely to be more additions to HP's T400 Simplex and T1100 S presses in the pipeline.
“We can really make this a big transformation project from analogue to digital. I believe this is one of those opportunities in the digital world, I believe everything will become digital very quickly.
“If you compare that to general commercial, I believe there will still be a lot of offset printing in the next couple of years.
“In the corrugated market, I believe we have a transformation at hand, which can completely switch off flexo presses and offset presses.”
Van Praag said discussions are ongoing with “thought leaders” to create what he termed as “a domino effect” in the UK corrugated market, and across Europe.
“It’s an easy-to-target group but complex as every group has its own set of plans. There’s no one-size-fits-all.”
According to Van Praag, the only challenge HP foresees in this transformation is to build a compelling business case in a market that is conservative and that has lacked innovation for decades.
This lack of innovation has made people more conservative, he said.
“The biggest challenge is to say ‘hey guys there is really something coming to you and you can change it’. This is the biggest challenge and the biggest opportunity.”
Van Praag said HP also wanted to gain further ground in other markets.
He said that despite HP already being “very successful” in several areas such as the mature sign and digital market, it still had “insufficient headcount” and aimed to capitalise on market opportunities.