Converting Suppliers Meet Short-run Needs
Converters and suppliers of paper and film materials are responding to customer-driven needs for short-run printing.April 2013 By Tom Polischuk
The overarching trend for short-run printing has been driving change throughout the package printing supplying chain for a good number of years now. Much has been written in the pages of packagePRINTING concerning the great strides in press technology that have been driven by the need to reduce makeready times and waste—in all processes (flexo, offset, gravure). These include servo drives, sleeves, digital plates, super-fast changeovers, and even workflow automation—all geared toward maximizing press productivity. And the advantages inherent in digital printing technologies are driving much of this technology's growth.
The impact of shorter production runs, combined with the established practices at lean, productive companies to minimize inventories at all stages of production, has resulted in many supply chain changes, including those at converters that supply materials to package printers. Companies such as acpo, Acucote, Avery Dennison, FLEXcon, MACtac, Multi-Plastics, Technicote, and UPM Raflatac are making changes to the products and services they offer to meet the ever-changing short-run needs of their customers. packagePRINTING asked several of these converters how they are responding to the changing landscape. Their responses are below.
pP: How has the continuing trend for shorter run printing impacted your business? Are you holding inventory for your customers? Supplying smaller order quantities?
Allison Braham, marketing manager, MACtac® Roll Label—Digital printing is all about shorter runs, which is one of its main advantages. In the marketplace today, there are several color inkjet and laser printers that require non-standard lengths—these are lengths below 2,500 feet. At MACtac, we offer Precise programs on the majority of our digital product lines, so the customer can buy just one roll to help lower minimum purchases. We have introduced a new offering MACcopy® JR. to help meet these needs. As the latest Precise program, this product is available in rolls at 1,250 feet.
Kim Hensley, product manager, MACtac® Roll Label—An impact of short-run printing is to offer more service programs such as our Precise program. MACtac's Precise program allows customers to purchase smaller amounts of the products they need, when they need it, for each job. We offer our entire durable films product line Precise by 2,500 feet. This convenience offers converters and customers fast entry into the durable goods labeling market without the expense of having to inventory material.