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FLEXO Magazine : June 2014
Ground = Broken FTA’s 2014 Forum & INFO*FLEX Raise The Bar, Shatter Records, Showcase Technologies, Equip Flexographers to Succeed By Brad Pareso F TA’s 2014 Annual Forum and INFO*FLEX Exhibition was one for the record books. Numerous records were shattered. Atten- dance swelled to an all time high. Traffic was constant and heavy. Those who made it to Balti- more, MD—some by car, some by train, some by plane—brought a genuine enthusiasm to the Hilton Baltimore and Baltimore Convention Center. That enthusiasm manifested in a desire to learn from the various presentations, pinpoint emerging markets, examine new technologies, absorb advice and insight, network with representatives from a wide spectrum of the industry and become stronger members of the flexographic community. When Flexographic Technical Association members met in Baltimore from April 27 to 30, turnout topped 1,800. Always a central tenant of the industry, Forum kicked off with talks on standards and wrapped up with a series of presentations also on standards. Over the course of four days, speaker after speaker and the printers/converters that they addressed embraced statistical process control and issued call after call to “print to the numbers.” Other sessions brought new concepts and best practices to the masses, as those in attendance were able to catch first wind of technologies waiting to be tapped. Trimming every ounce of excess fat from operations was hammered home in presentations on efficiency and minimizing all types of waste. Emerging markets and new niches were identified and their demands were illustrated. Flexography 101 and 102 sessions reinforced the basics and essential skills. Market seg- ments were catered to, offering in depth and specialized assessments. And, of course, many of the fallacy ghosts still haunting the world of flexo were exorcized once and for all in the sure to be remembered flexo mythbusters session. “The preparation for this year’s Forum was intense,” admits Forum Co Chair Pepper Stokes of robbie fantastic flexibles. “We went about the development of the sessions and the identification of the session chairs different than we did in the past—in fact, it was the founda- tion for everything. Once we did that, it really set up Forum to be fantastic.” “Although I have not been involved in the planning process in the past, I believe that engaging a varied team of industry specialists and allowing them to take ownership of their sessions as well as requiring continuity between speakers really gave a unique, positive feel to this Forum,” added Co Chair Jessica Harkins Harrell of Anderson & Vree- land. “I was really impressed at how well Forum was attended, and the focus and number of questions created by the audience during the sessions. Many attendees talked openly about how much they enjoyed different sessions and some of the unique formats.” INFO*FLEX 2014, staged at the Baltimore Convention Center, served as the networking capital of the industry for two days—April 28 and 29, smack in the middle of Forum—and stood prominently as the epicenter of the global package print community. From package buy- ers—consumer product companies—to equipment and consumables suppliers, trade shops, designers, prepress technicians and printers/ 18 FLEXO | JUNE 2014 FTA TODAY