FTA 2014 Forum: Breaking New Ground




While much of the country is still in the grips of a very long, very cold winter, it’s time to think of spring. Specifically, it’s time to get your registration in for this year’s FTA Forum.

Here are the details: From April 27 to 30, at the Hilton Baltimore in Baltimore, Maryland. There will be 220 displays, and a schedule of educational forums, topics including flexo mythbusters, tags and labels, pressroom efficiencies, and flexo 101 and 102. You can register here.

Anderson & Vreeland’s Jessica Harkins is a co-chair of this year’s conference, along with Pepper Stokes of packaging company Robbie Fantastic Flexibles.

“Co-chairing the 2014 Forum has been a great experience,” says Harkins. “I’ve had the opportunity to work with a lot of great people at the FTA, as well as supporters in the industry. It’s encouraging to see the participation levels from the whole team, and the interest in supporting our flexo industry.”


In a little pre-forum teaser, Jessica gives us an idea of what to expect in April.

Who’s on this year’s forum session team?

We have an incredibly diverse group of industry professionals who represent all facets of flexo. We have chairs representing label and packaging converters, trade shops, and suppliers. We wanted to get as many points-of-view as we could because we wanted to make sure the session topics and presentations are practical, interesting,  relevant and engaging to everyone who comes to this year’s forum, and I’m very confident that we succeeded.

What’s new for this year’s conference?

The theme “Breaking New Ground” was chosen because of the need to address changes in the industry, and how people are learning about and implementing those changes. The way that people learn is drastically changing. Sometimes, it’s more important to supercharge people with bits of information and ideas, and allow them the time to research and determine if concepts will work in their own facilities. Some of the sessions, Mythbusters, for example, give food-for-thought. Other sessions dig into more detail, but in those areas where there’s not a lot of published information. We’ve also worked really hard to ensure that all of the speakers within each segment really complement each other and build the complete concept.

What will be new with the forum topics?

We spent some serious time gathering ideas and discussing what are the hot topics in the flexo industry, and putting them into formats that we think forum attendees will find engaging and useful.

One of this year’s new topics includes OEE—Overall Equipment Effectiveness. This is a method of measuring the throughput of a manufacturing environment and determining a process’s efficiency. OEE is actually already being used in other industries, and I think it will be interesting to see that adapted and employed by those in flexo.

If you had to choose one session to attend, which would you choose?

I can’t answer that question—it’s too difficult! Whenever I think I have a favorite session, I look at the schedule again and find they all have something really special and useful. The forum attendees will find something applicable and thought-provoking in every single session.