Facing up to a digital future

  

September. The leaves turn brown and our thoughts turn to winter. It might be the ninth month of the year but it is also traditionally the time of new beginnings. 

The children start school after their summer break while in business it is often the time employees contemplate a change in jobs. 

The glass industry is no different and this month we have had the launch of O-I’s new digital printing process, O-I Expressions.

It involves the use of a new digital printing machine which enables contactless direct printing. 

O-I says Expressions will enable brands to create more personal, customised glass packaging at flexible volume and rapid speeds.

The rise of the craft beverage maker - in gin, beer and a variety of other  drinks and food bottles - means there is a need for a high level of flexibility among glassmakers. 

They have become accustomed to more job changes and smaller runs to accommodate this trend from the craft sector.

O-I Expressions taps into this need and means brands can more quickly and nimbly develop packaging for short campaigns.

More importantly, the use of digital printing enables glass to be showcased like never before. 

A glance at a variety of bottles that have been digitally printed upon proves this. 

The digital theme will no doubt be prominent at this year’s glasstec, which is only weeks away. 

This issue is devoted to the event and includes a focus on Germany and some of the organisations from the nation which will play an important part in the success of the event. 

These include some of the larger companies and the association which has played a part in its organisation. 

During my discussions with the heads of these companies, the conversation often turned to digital and its future role in glass.

The responses were overwhelmingly positive: digital glassmaking would bring glassmaking into the 21st century. It means more efficient, flexible and importantly, safer glassmaking.

It will enable more communication within a glass factory and allow various equipment in a plant to ‘talk’ to each other. While digital will make glass factories more efficient it also help promote the sector as a high-tech one.  

Glassmaking is no longer analogue, or manual, it is digital, and that means the use of AI, Industry 4.0 and state of the art equipment.

If this fact is promoted enough it will help young talent join the sector. 

That’s something to toast during these longer autumn nights.

Pictured: Glassmaking is slowly becoming more digital.