Flexo Label Advantage Group (FLAG) is an annual meeting for label printers across the country. This year, the event was held from June 11 to 13 in Buffalo, NY. The conference featured a diverse lineup of industry experts, thought leaders, and panel discussions covering various topics relevant to the label industry as a whole.

Century Printing and Packaging had the opportunity to engage in in-depth conversations about emerging trends, innovative technologies, sustainability practices, and best business strategies in the label printing sector. As members for the past three years, Ben and Neil value the opportunity to participate in this event, which provides a platform for uncovering new best practices, networking with peers and vendors, and gaining insights into the industry’s future.

One of the most valuable aspects of being a member of FLAG is the peer group that Ben and Neil belong to. They meet virtually once a month to discuss business challenges and opportunities, but the annual meeting allows them to engage in person. This year, the collective group spent over four hours sharing insights on industry trends, sales strategies, vendor relationships, and long-term goals. These discussions are crucial for staying competitive and responsive to the shifting market.

Though a smaller conference compared to others, FLAG hosted 114 attendees from various parts of the United States, providing a diverse and comprehensive networking opportunity. Meeting vendors and peers from different regions help CP&P expand its resource base and supply chain, ensuring a wide network to support all operations. As part of the event, Ben and Neil also toured a local label printer’s facility, learning about their best practices and engaging with their team. This hands-on experience provided practical insights and real-life applications.

Another impactful takeaway from FLAG was the numerous opportunities for Ben and Neil to speak with other label companies that use digital presses. Century Printing and Packaging is working on adding an additional digital press to its lineup, so being able to ask questions and weigh options was invaluable for making informed decisions in the future. As CP&P evaluates the digital printing options available, their primary goal is to identify the most efficient solutions that will allow the team to deliver top-quality products to customers at the most competitive prices.

A highlight of the meeting was a talk by David Arvin, a distinguished Customer Experience and Business speaker who recently published a book on delivering world-class customer service—no matter the company’s size. His insights into what customers in today’s market expect were enlightening, which has already sparked and inspired internal conversations around how to further deepen and improve current processes around customer experience from beginning to end.

After returning from FLAG, some evident trends in the label manufacturing industry were worth mentioning—from flexible packaging to digital printing to automation and AI. The demand for flexible packaging is rapidly increasing due to its versatility and convenience. This packaging style offers numerous benefits, including the ability to conform to different shapes and sizes, lightweight nature, ease of storage, and low environmental footprint. Flexible packaging is also known for extending product shelf life and reducing transportation costs, making it a popular choice.

As digital printing’s growth continues to rise, staying modern and relevant will be pivotal. While flexographic printing remains crucial for high-volume, high-quality labels, digital printing offers indispensable versatility that has become hard to replace.

Automation is also a key focus in 2024, with advancements in front-end customer service and back-end production processes. Integrating software for order tracking, utilizing cobots and robots, and streamlining operations are all steps toward enhancing productivity without eliminating jobs. Lastly, integrating AI into manufacturing is no longer a distant concept. It is becoming increasingly relevant, offering ways to innovate and improve operational efficiency.

Attending the FLAG annual meeting reinforces Century Printing and Packaging’s commitment to excellence in labeling. By exchanging best practices, networking, and staying ahead of industry trends, CP&P is better equipped to serve clients in the current competitive landscape.