Jacky’s Business Solutions brought together some of the industry pioneers - such as HP’s large format printing regional business manager Ernest Azzam, Xische founder Danish Farhan and WFP product manager at Canon Wael Ahmed among others - for sharing insights and tips to help businessowners harness innovative new technologies to help them future proof their business and tap into some of the opportunities that Expo 2020 would bring.  

At the two-day event, ‘Innovators & Creators Expo’ that took place at Jumeirah Creekside Hotel on 17 and 18 September, participants discussed a wide range of topics from printing trends that explore new mediums like textiles to the importance of developing environment friendly print solutions. The 25 speakers, 15 vendors as well as the visitors represented various segments including printers, cutters, educators, software providers and 3D developers.

PrintWeek caught up with Jacky’s COO Ashish Panjabi on the sidelines of the expo for a quick chat:

Discussing the future of the print industry, Panjabi said, “First of all, we should look at what is being done in analog printing methods and if the same can be imported in the digital aspect. Be in the fashion or wallpaper segments, it is possible to do it here (Middle East). Even if we look at it from an environmental aspect or talk about sustainability, the more that is produced locally, the better it is for us. It also allows us to be more creative and decide how we want to do things. Thus, its one major aspect in which the print industry will continue to grow.”

He added, “Even from the materials point of view, a lot of innovations are possible. For example, in retail graphics, more and more variations of fabrics are being used. That means it’s easier to transport, you might not even need an installer to go as the retail staffers themselves can fix it.”

Ahmed from Canon presented on creative retail signs. A simple ‘sale’ sign gets people in the store, said Panjabi, adding, “There has been a shift towards signage-related applications. But digital signage isn’t the answer to everything. The basic fundamentals don’t change. Digital signage typically works best when there is a moving image and a static person. When we have a moving image and a moving person, the impact fails. That’s where a printed image has a lot more impact.”

According to Panjabi, distributed printing has become easier because everything is going digital. “This is one of the major highlights at this expo. We are presenting various solutions on the printing side along with the finishing products. The bottleneck doesn’t arise while printing but when it comes to finishing. Having manpower for finishing can be expensive, lead to inaccuracies and be time consuming. If we can automate that process, we can save costs.”

He continued, “In the long term, personalization is going to be a big driver for continuation of print. Personalization means that someone has to develop a platform or work on an existing one and take that to consumer. That’s what Farhan spoke about ‘Businesses are no longer B2B. There is a C (consumer) and how you connect to that C, as the consumer eventually drives the value’.”

When asked about the packaging industry in the region, Panjabi commented, “Currently, packaging here is more about volume. For example, few years ago digital technology allowed Coca-Cola in Europe to personalize each can with consumer’s name on it. While Coca-Cola can afford to do it, the same isn’t possible with other products. In this region, packaging is way behind. It’s a huge sector that could be tapped into and we are hoping to have more solutions for that.”

Regarding the upcoming Expo 2020, Panjabi said, “A lot of tenders are closing currently. We will start to see those in the next few months. But again it comes down to innovation. The expo wants innovation. If you have something out-of-the-box, there is definitely a scope. Simply waiting till next year hoping they’ll find you will not work if you don’t have anything creative.”

“An innovator is someone who is willing to take that step forward and do something a little different. We forget how fortunate we are. We have a lot of assets with us and it’s not oil. It is the young population, geography and the location. It’s a matter of taking advantage of all these and making the most of it,” Panjabi concluded.

HP’s Ernest Azzam comments on the print industry’s responsibility to promote sustainability:

Almost everything we do in life affects the environment and it’s important to minimize that impact as much as possible. In large format printing signage specifically, solvent and low-solvent inks have emissions into the air that could be harmful for both the environment as well as the operators and end users. UV inks are less harmful, but not 100% safe either.

There are several ways to ensure environment sustainability as well as protect the users of printers:
  • Use technologies that are not harmful to the environment and the users. HP Latex has been awarded several certifications in that regard and the only one to receive the UL ECOLOGO certification.
  • Ensure user safety by selecting the right technology for the right application.
  • Consider recyclability of all the elements of the production (ink cartridges, printed material after usage by using recyclable substrates, etc.)
  • Safe disposal of all discarded material depending on the technology.