A Look Back at 2023
In 2023, we faced challenges such as higher energy costs, rising wages, increasing interest rates, inflation, and extended delivery times, making it a challenging year. These effects were particularly felt during the summer, as order intake decreased more than in previous years. Fortunately, this negative trend did not continue strongly. Thanks to our team, innovation, and dealer network, we closed the year well. Despite constant revenue and rising costs, we have a positive outlook and optimism for 2024, which we enter with high expectations, real innovations, and a commitment to simplicity. We're improving efficiency, market focus, and innovation by thinking more modularly about our range of machines and accessories.
New Products and Innovations
Firstly, I would like to mention the Speedpack 300 Tabletop with Thermo Transfer Printer. This is a machine configuration that was not previously offered by Audion, but for which there was significant market demand. Previously available with a labeler, it was suitable for the Order fulfillment target market, but less appealing for the industry (parts) sector. This strategic market requires the ability to print directly on the packaging film (white strip). In 2023, we therefore developed our own Thermo Transfer Printer to meet this need.
The Speedpack 300 Tabletop with Thermo Transfer Printer, which will soon also be suitable for paper packaging, is a product I have high expectations for and see great advantages for in the industrial market. Another benefit is Audion's ability to supply custom-made bags in various sizes, film materials, and customer-specific printing. Offering the Speedpack 300 Tabletop with Thermo Transfer Printer and the packaging material ensures fewer suppliers, more service, and optimal alignment between machine and packaging material. We are increasingly becoming a supplier of total packaging solutions.
Another innovation we are introducing in 2024 is a floor model validatable continuous sealer, particularly relevant for the Life Science/Healthcare sector. Seal quality validation is critical here, and this model offers a solution for packaging larger volumes, such as complete packages for surgical supplies (like clothing).
Next Steps in Sustainable Packaging
Therefore, we are investing not only in foil but also in paper for certain strategic target markets. In 2024, I anticipate that we will take the next step with our foils as well. We are already at 80% recycled foil material in the Parts and E-commerce target markets, and I expect that we can reach 100% in 2024. However, for sectors like Life Science/Healthcare and Food, achieving this will not yet be feasible due to specific requirements for packaging in terms of cleanliness and food safety.
Our Audion Power Sealers are now remotely accessible, a feature we'll expand in 2024. This will enable us to support customers with predictive services and remote assistance, including updates and troubleshooting. It will also allow centralized software management for clients with multiple machines across locations.
I've noticed, along with many other entrepreneurs, that it's reassuring to see that uncertain factors such as inflation, parts availability, and energy prices appear to be stabilizing. This provides peace of mind and a degree of certainty for a successful 2024. The start of this year has shown a return to normal levels in our order books, yet there is more to achieve. The forecasted economic growth in our relevant geographic markets is modest. We remain vigilant and look forward to making it a great year together with our customers, dealers, and colleagues. Our approach will be to keep it simple!