Sound Bite: Corrugated Arrives on The Digital Scene
For the most part, the packaging industry has moved beyond the digital printing early adopter phase. However, in the corrugated segment, production-level digital printing is new on the scene, and as the first corrugated converters start to make their digital moves, the industry is buzzing about the technology's potential.
The Digital Packaging Summit, an annual event for converters and suppliers to network and learn about the latest in digital printing technology, hosted corrugated converters for the first time during its most recent edition, held from Oct. 23-25. With the emergence of single-pass, direct-to-board inkjet technology, the Summit provided an opportunity for attendees to take part in in-depth discussions about how the technology could impact their businesses.
Abbott-Action, an Attleboro, Mass.-based corrugated converter, is among the first companies in North America to adopt the latest in digital corrugated printing, having installed a Barberán Jetmaster 1890 in December 2016. Chuck Slingerland, Abbott-Action’s VP sales, digital operations, took part in a panel at the Digital Packaging Summit to share some of his company’s experiences with the technology.
Slingerland explained that when Abbott-Action made the decision to make a capital investment into its printing operation, the company considered upgrading its flexo equipment, but opted to differentiate itself by opting for digital instead.
Another new aspect of this year’s Digital Packaging Summit was that the attendees representing each packaging segment attended a “Deep Dive” educational session hosted by an expert in that specific segment. Jeff Wettersten, president of Karstedt Partners, a package printing research and consulting firm, led the corrugated deep dive and reiterated that before digital technology hits the mainstream, the early adopters will have to go through a period of growth and exploration.
He recommended that converters looking into digital place a level of trust in the suppliers as the technology comes on-line. Because many of the suppliers that either have released or will be releasing digital printing equipment for corrugated also offer digital equipment for other segments, they understand how to assist converters in the early stages of the technology and can help introduce it to their brand owner customers.
Likewise, Wettersten recommended that suppliers serve as a partner to their converter customers. Because this technology is so new to many of them, they will need as much guidance as possible to become acclimated to digital.
Having gone through the process recently, Slingerland recommended during his panel that corrugated converters adding digital get their teams involved with the process, especially during the installation stage. He explained the value in encouraging a variety of staff members to gain an understanding of all of the nuances of a new press.
With the press now up and running at Abbott-Action, Slingerland explained that the key in ensuring its customers get the most out of the technology is through education. Since they may not be aware of all of the benefits digital can provide, he said that getting out in front of customers to share how they can improve their graphics through digital printing will help get them ahead of the competition.