Printing SA and its member, labelling and packaging specialist Ren Flex, hosted a tour of Ren Flex’s plant in Johannesburg, where guests could gain insight into the size of the industry, levels of employment, processes involved, size and cost of the machinery and equipment, and innovations taking place within the industry.
The tour aimed to assist attendees in their preparations for the panel discussions at the Printing SA Sixth Annual Africa Conference. The event will take place on 11 and 12 September at the Gallagher Convention Centre, Midrand, Gauteng, in conjunction with the Sign Africa, Africa Print, FESPA Africa, Africa LED and Modern Marketing Expos.
Printing SA CEO Dr Abdool Majid Mahomed kicked off proceedings to describe the state of the industry from the association’s point of view, which reflects a turbulent but hopeful time.
In light of President Cyril Ramaphosa’s recent remarks that laptops will soon replace schoolbooks, Mahomed recounted his time at the University of Hong Kong, where although students were typically using technology to study in such a highly first-world context, books were still very much favoured, which illustrates that print is not in danger of being totally replaced by digital.
SATU General Secretary Edward de Klerk was also present, reiterating that despite the economic challenges that the industry faces, all members need to remain positive about the future, taking into account the National Development Plan 2030.
Some of the challenges include increased taxes seen in the industry, exports from the Far East, as well understanding the fourth industrial revolution better (for example, is a 3D printed heart a medical or print-based initiative?) He also expanded on the need for stakeholders to collaborate and work together.
Ren Flex marketing manager Erika Hearnshaw provided a brief breakdown regarding the company’s history, which spans some 30 years. While power, logistics and skill shortages remain challenges to the industry, Hearnshaw emphasised that the local production of labels at Ren Flex in turn produce jobs – positively contributing to the economy. The company is also focused on reducing plastic waste and converting plastic into paper, thereby creating even more jobs and industry applications.
Other challenges include counterfeit printing. Ren Flex has tools, like new software, to combat this and is abreast of international standards. Foreign competition (particularly from Greece and Belgium) also remains a challenge, particularly with regards to South Africa being charged heavy duties, which is all the more reason to produce and buy products that are made in South Africa. Hearnshaw concluded that educating people and creating excitement about the industry, as well as an even international playing field in terms of exporting and importing, are imperative for the industry’s sustainability.
Following a briefing on health, safety, sanitation and hygiene, guests were shown around the vast, climate-controlled facility, which in addition to the HP Indigo 20000, incorporates offset and digital printing technologies, plus Schober die-cutting machines, all creating a seamless workflow, from raw material receiving to finished product dispatch.
Printing SA Africa Conference
Some of the topics to be addressed at the conference include:
• Digitisation fear or fight? What role will digitisation play in the sustainability of print media and education during the Fourth Industrial Revolution?
• What is the future of the print, silkscreen and packaging value chain operating in the Fourth Industrial Revolution?
• How will the use of intelligent machinery like robots influence our job opportunities and training of operators and staff?
• How can we utilise new technology and still be innovative to sustain and grow?
• What collaboration can be developed between designers, print, packaging, publishing houses and journalists to grow our industry?
• Leal Wright – Printing SA, President.
• Dr Abdool Majid Mohamed – Printing SA, CEO.
• Felleng Yende – FP&M Seta, CEO.
• Edward De Klerk – South African Typographical Union (SATU), General Secretary.
• Maggie Maluleke – South African Typographical Union (SATU), President.
• Sean Holt – FESPA, Executive Director.
• Dana Braithwaite – BMi Research South Africa, Lead Researcher.
• Dr Morne Mostert – Institute for Futures Research, Director.
To see the full programme and book your seat, click here.