Well ahead of its next expo - Sign and Graphics Imaging (SGI) Dubai 2020 - hosted a series of round-table conferences with stakeholders from the industry at Shangrila Hotel in Dubai in June and July.

The organizers of Sign and Graphics  Imaging (SGI) 2020 exhibition brought together industry leaders from various segments such as branding and labelling, metal and engraving, and, paper manufacturers and distributors. The Knowledge Series conferences allowed the panellists to share insight on the  market conditions - opportunities, demand, challenges, growth and more.
‘Short run’ labelling industry set to move towards the high demand category by 2020

Branding and labelling industries have evolved over the last two decades.  The demand within the industry has charted a different route and is growing at a significant speed in the UAE and GCC region.

“In the old school of printing, the service providers had a stockpile of printed labels and waited for those orders to materialize. However, sometimes these orders never materialized, resulting in the loss of income, time and resources,” said an official from SGI. 

 Industry experts - including Abderrazek Hakimi, sales manager, business systems,  Epson and Nayyar Ansari, business development manager, Konica Minolta- who participated in the 7th edition of the SGI Dubai Knowledge Series, felt that this is the opportune period for the service providers to value the importance of print-on-demand labelling machines which can cater to requests ranging from one to several thousands of labels to save both time and money unlike the conventional printers.

Ansari said, “Quality events such as the SGI Knowledge Series are a good platform to learn and understand the market dynamics.” He added, “The demand for short-run label is linked to packaging business, which has the highest projected growth in the print industry.”

The exhibitors at SGI Dubai 2020’s labelling section would spread awareness within the industry on the importance of short-run prints. “Traditional printers have to look at the disruptions happening around the world.

Adopting the past methods of printing large quantities and spending a lot of money without looking at the return on investments will hit the bottom-line really hard in the current business climate. The mindset of both the service providers and the consumers will have to change,” said Sharif Rahman, CEO, International Expo Consults, organizers of the SGI Dubai 2020 show.

Print-on-demand labelling industry proves to be environmentally friendly, as it also reduces the carbon footprint. There are several promising industries where print-on-demand becomes a perfect fit and these include healthcare, food and beverages, retail, lubricants, detergents, cosmetics, events, theme parks and amusement industries, and, tags among several others.

The participants at the knowledge series also felt that the ecommerce industry has also propelled the growth of the short run labelling industry.  This is due to the personalized packaging needs of the players within the industry. Also, the print on demand concept has helped the SME sector especially startups in the food industry, as they can now create a professional personality with state-of-the-art print on demand labelling.

Metal and engraving is a catalyst for several factors within the printing and signage industries

“Metal and engraving industry is a fast-growing multibillion-dollar industry in the MENA region.  This industry continues to grow leaps and bounds due to the growing demand for their services within several vertical industries,” added the SGI official.

Delegates from ABB, Accumech, ATAD, Masonlite, Business Point and Smart Triangle actively participated in the 6th edition of the SGI Dubai Knowledge Series.

The participants felt that the sectors that are being closely monitored by this industry and perceived as the next growth generator would include schools and universities, automotive, marine, metal fabrication, signage, kitchen, switchgear, fire fighting, air conditioning, job shoppers, oil and gas and also the government sector.

Robotics is another important dimension that is making inroads into this industry and several companies across the world and the region are looking at developing robots for this sector.

J Gladston, LBU manager, ABB said, “As a provider of robotics, I have noticed that there is a huge gap between our approach to the market and the customers’ expectations. Perhaps the clients are unaware of the existing services and machineries in their region and thus tend to go abroad looking for the same.”

Nawas Ahmed of Business Point International, echoed Gladston, “We have a tough time reaching the customers. Events like the SGI Knowledge Series and perhaps locally published weekly newsletters or magazines could inform the clients of our services, and at the same time, help network solution providers in our community.” 

Rahman added, “When we started this journey (SGI show) 23 years ago, the metal and engraving industry was not evolved. However, today things have drastically changed and the end consumer requires products that adhere to absolute precision.  Our endeavour is to create such platforms to understand the pulse of the industry. The idea is to formulate strategies to support the players within this industry, address their challenges and also at the same time identify opportunities.”

Paper segment will continue to remain an integral part of the printing and packaging industry despite threats from digitalization

For centuries, paper has been an integral part of the printing industry. However, despite the digital disruption the paper industry has bounced back with a vengeance as it is the best replacement for plastic worldwide across several segments. The paper industry has also taken a giant leap due to the growing e-commerce industry that heavily relies on packaging. The 8th edition of the Knowledge Series witnessed participation from  companies such as Sona Paper, Gimpex, Orient Links and Dhara Paper.

Some of the participants felt that the players within the large format paper and specialty paper segment continue to stay bullish on the growth of this category of paper. There is a huge demand for good quality multipurpose paper here in the GCC and also in the African region.

Elias El Wadi, general manager of Gimpex, said enthusiastically, “Paper industry is going steady and it will continue to grow, if not in print then in the packaging segment.”

Sona Paper managing director  Vikrant Chhabra highlighted the importance of paper the packaging industry and how their firm, along with the end users, including students, environmentalists and health conscious people around the world, is helping replace plastic. “The strength of paper  is that it can be recycled and reused. We have been training the young generation to come up with innovative designs for paper packaging,” said Chhabra.

While others believe that the paper industry in this region is amongst the most unorganized sectors and would need an index that monitors the prices. Unscrupulous pricing mechanism adopted by some of the market players impacts the whole industry and it needs to be streamlined to protect the growth of this industry.

“Printing machinery is redundant without good quality of paper. Thus, we have given special attention to the large format paper industry at our SGI 2020 show in order to help address the challenges faced by them,” Rahman added.