Gallus aims for leading role in digital future

Urbinati: let's put the problems on the table and work on the solutions together
Urbinati: let's put the problems on the table and work on the solutions together

CEO Dario Urbinati has pledged that Gallus will lead the digital transformation of the labels industry as the firm celebrated its 100th anniversary with a major customer event.

The event is taking place this week at the new Gallus Experience Center in St Gallen, Switzerland with customers from around the world in attendance.

Urbinati stated: “We have invited customers, partners, innovators and the whole industry to participate in this Center – to connect, to talk with each other, and to discuss the challenges in a most transparent way.

“To put the problems on the table and work on the solutions together.”

He said Gallus had polled its customers about their pain points, and the top priorities had emerged as: labour availability “throughout the industry on five continents”; secondly input costs including energy and materials; then sustainability, which Urbinati said “was back” on the agenda after the pandemic; and lastly industry consolidation impacting both printers and substrate suppliers.

Urbinati said the firm was committed to a leading role in digital transformation, “driving ‘smart, connected printing’ to unlock revolutionary levels of production automation and manufacturing efficiencies”.

Ferdinand Rüesch, Heidelberg CEO Dr Ludwin Monz and Dario Urbinati cut the ribbon on the new Gallus Experience Center

Future tech and trends

Thought leaders at the event provided insights into critical areas including AI and retail trends.

AI expert and author Katie King said that AI-powered printing had the potential to reduce waste, improve design efficiencies, optimise supply chains, and benefit printers through enhancement in predictive maintenance.

“You don’t go out of business because AI comes along, you go out of business if, as an industry, you can’t take advantage of AI’s role in smart, connected printing,” she stated.

“It’s about really taking advantage of the new wave of tools in an ethical way, and in an efficient way.”

King noted: “As jobs are lost [to AI], new ones will be created.”

Jack Stratten, head of trends at retail consultancy Insider Trends, spoke about the future of retail, which he described as “really complicated”.

He highlighted a number of polarised situations in the way consumers choose to purchase via online channels or stores.

While some people were planning to buy less things as spending is squeezed, at the same time “luxury is booming”.

“We’ve seen polarisation across the board – people are cost conscious but they love luxury; they’re pro-digital, but they love stores; they’re eco-conscious but also price-conscious; and they demand speed but they also demand slow experiences.

“The modern retail customer, and I can’t emphasise this enough, they want the moon on a stick.”

Stratten pointed out that labels and packaging played a crucial role in the customer experience.

“Brands understand that every single touchpoint is vital,” he noted.

New products
Gallus Group also announced a number of new product developments.

Existing users of its Gallus ECS 340 flexo press can now upgrade it with a digital printing unit (DPU) that turns it into a Gallus Labelfire 340 hybrid press “without any additional platform spend,” explained Urbinati.

Gallus Group currently has 80 installations of its Labelfire, which marries industrial inkjet printing with conventional printing and converting units.

The Gallus One pure play inkjet press, launched last year, gains a new option to become a hybrid press, too.

Gallus Group has been a wholly-owned subsidiary of Heidelberg since 2014. Heidelberg said that a third of all labels worldwide were currently printed digitally, and with inkjet growing at around 6% the manufacturer wants to expand its share of the market.

The new Heidelberg Customer Portal, which has its origins in Heidelberg Assistant and uses AI tech, was also unveiled at the event. It is now being used by more than 500 customers, with 1,000-plus individual users. It will officially launch in October.

History and future
Ferdinand Rüesch IV, the grandson of the firm’s founder, hosted a tour of the mini-museum at the Experience Center. It details the firm’s history with a fascinating timeline of its achievements and developments, including a multitude of innovations over the years.

Rüesch at the museum explaining the timeline of developments

The events of 2020-2021, when Heidelberg’s deal to sell Gallus fell through, seem to have resulted in a re-set and ultimately a strengthening of the relationship between the two firms.

Heidelberg CEO Dr Ludwin Monz said that labels and packaging now made up half of Heidelberg’s sales. “Gallus is an important pillar within the company’s growth strategy, and we’re more committed than ever to its long-term future.”