Home' Asia Pacific Packaging Magazine : December 2013 Contents 29
ture of packaging
leads to a more sustainable production
solution; he says, “With sustainability
high on the agenda of all brand owners
the need to eliminate waste at all points
in the product lifecycle is increasingly
important. The ability of the Vpak
to cost-effectively print shorter run
lengths means there is less requirement
for 'just in case' stock, which so
commonly ends up as waste due to
“Innovative wide-web Sunday press
technology has changed commercial
printing over the past two decades by
improving the overall cost model of web
offset. With the Sunday Vpak presses we
are presenting a similar game-changing
path forward for the packaging sector."
PACK AGING converters will be well-
aware of the downsides of being in a
prolonged period of economic challenge;
Walczak says, “While packaging has not
been directly threatened by electronic
alternatives and remains a growing
print sector, the pressures on packaging
producers mirror those found in other
“Margins are being squeezed
throughout the supply chain, and
changes in marketing are further
aggravating the situation.
“Brand owners and marketers are
demanding higher print quality while
run lengths and turn-around times are
coming down to achieve more dynamic,
targeted and personalised packaging."
Add in emerging environmental,
product safety and security issues,
and it is no wonder that current print
production methods are being analysed
so closely with an eye on improvement
According to Goss, while many
converters will have a gut-instinct for
where the key trouble-spots are, that
should not prevent a systematic look at
processes to identify ineffciencies, and
if possible measure the time lost and the
resulting costs. With that data, a twin
approach defning both short and long-
term solutions can be developed.
There are good reasons for doing
this, Walczak maintains. He says, “Even
when the market eases, the push for
faster turnarounds, later image fles,
more SKUs and the customer's desire
to keep unit prices the same regardless
of run length will continue to keep
margins under pressure.
“Relatively minor improvements
today can make a signifcant difference
to the bottom line, and the process will
help determine how to get maximum
impact from any major capital
investments in the future."
To this end, Goss has devised
a number of key questions to help
converters and potential customers
identify areas that might be improved
even in the short-term:
• Are your inventory and work in
progress levels as low as they possibly
• What is your average lead-time from
order placement to delivery? Would
you gain incremental business if you
could cut this in half?
• How long does prepress and
platemaking or cylinder imaging
take? Is there a way of improving
effciency or reducing costs?
• Are you able to run your press at
optimal speeds? If not, why not?
• Where are the bottlenecks in your
workfow? What will it take to reduce
or eliminate them?
• Can any outsourced processes be
brought in-house and carried out
• Have you analysed your product mix?
How has it changed since your last
major capital investment? Are you
losing money on some jobs in order to
retain key customers?
• If your average run lengths all
dropped by 50 per cent could you still
make an acceptable margin?
• If you were starting up a business
today would you make the same
equipment and process choices?
“A simple principle to keep in mind
while examining your workfow is: if
it isn’t moving, it is costing money.
This includes inventory and printed
materials that are being stored between
processes, on-site or off," concludes
To understand why web o set can be a
solution to many production conundrums
today, it is helpful to tackle one of the key
confusions in the market: "short-run". The
term short-run is used to mean signi cantly
di erent things by di erent segments of the
converting and general printing markets. It is
ill-de ned, problematic and potentially has
serious consequences for production and
The rise of digital presses for exible
packaging printing moved the term short-
run far below what conventional exible
packaging converters have traditionally done.
At present, the largest digital press on
the horizon has a one-metre web-width and
a four-colour printing speed of 100 metres
per minute. Flexo and web o set presses are
clearly in a separate category with speeds ve
times higher, or more, as well as wider web-
widths and more colours possible at those
It is more useful to think of digital run
lengths as "micro runs". At present the number
of these micro runs and the total percentage
of digitally printed exible packaging are
small. Even the double-digit growth forecast
for digitally printed exible packaging over
the next decade will not materially change the
Losing micro runs to digital is not what is
putting pressure on exo and gravure printers.
It is the increasing number of runs that are too
long for digital, but too short for pro tability
that is causing the real problem. But today's
web o set presses o er capabilities that can
turn marginal short-run jobs into sustainable,
pro table ones.
The traditional exible packaging sector is
under great pressure; there is no doubt about
that. Accurately identifying the factors that are
causing this pressure and addressing them is
what will separate those who preserve their
margins -- and their businesses -- from those
who remain wedded to the way things have
always been done.
At present the whole packaging market is
in a state of change driven both by brands and
consumers, but it is an exciting market with a
bright future for those able to embrace that
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