Dave Kennedy, owner of Southern Carton, a Lewisburg, Tenn.-based manufacturer of a variety of corrugated packaging solutions, had his eye on expanding the capabilities of the 42-year-old company. With customer requests for retail ready and point-of-purchase (POP) displays, Southern Carton needed to grow beyond its two-color flexo capabilities to provide high-graphics production.
To take the company into these new print segments, Kennedy turned to the Inca Onset X3, distributed by Fujifilm in the U.S. This full-bed, wide-format UV inkjet flatbed printer provides a maximum throughput of nearly 10,000 sq. ft./hr. of quality work at a good overall cost.
Plan of Attack
During the process of researching a wide-format digital solution for Southern Carton, the team traveled to trade shows, visited printing companies that had entered the digital space and conversed with multiple manufacturers. However, Kennedy ultimately selected the Onset X3 due to its combination of speed, substrate flexibility and ability to print white.
Scott Fray, Southern Carton’s sales manager, explains when the company was starting out with the new equipment, it was important to gradually ramp up production and rely on customers to help with the process.
“We knew we needed to crawl before we walked,” Fray says. “We did a lot of trial runs with customers so we would be comfortable with how fast we could operate under normal business constraints.”
One of the key challenges for Southern Carton in getting acclimated to the Onset X3 was understanding the wide variety of substrates available. Fray explains that Fujifilm played an important role in helping the company understand the various types of substrates that could be used, and the company’s customers were instrumental in helping Southern Carton understand why they preferred certain substrates.
Additionally, Fray explains Southern Carton began to inventory more substrates and develop new relationships with substrate providers to help close the gap in the longer amount of time it took the company to receive quotes and delivery on substrates.
To grow its business using its new wide-format equipment, Southern Carton reached out to its existing customer base. With the Onset X3, Southern Carton is now able to provide signage, displays, test market packaging and more. Additional demand for wide-format applications has included retail-ready wood products, acrylic displays, plant signage and retail-ready packaging concepts.
Additionally, Fray explains that the wide-format machine can also provide new packaging advantages to Southern Carton’s customers. For example, he explains that the cost savings can be attractive to marketing and sales departments seeking to learn how the digital technology can benefit their organization.
“We showed them that digital has a cost advantage for both the beginning and ending of product life cycles with no plates, dies or minimum runs,” Fray says. “It is extremely flexible in the way it reaches different target audiences.”
All About Speed
With the speed and flexibility of the Onset X3, the company is able to accept many new jobs and turn them around in the same day, or within 24 hours. Additionally, Kennedy explains that it has allowed the company to access market segments it had not been able to previously.
“With regard to our close proximity to Nashville, we’re trying to get involved within the country music industry,” Kennedy says. “We’re also looking at wineries and craft breweries and distilleries. We are targeting potential clients who traditionally don’t want to order 1,000 of this and 2,000 of that; they want 50 of this and 100 of that. The Onset X3 is a game changer for us.”
The Onset X3 has also helped Southern Carton grow from its regional base.
“That has been a great selling feature for us,” Kennedy says. “A client in San Francisco asks us to run a job that might typically be done 150 to 200 miles from its plant. With the high-speed output from the Onset X3, we can ship to clients anywhere and everywhere.”
Along with the speed of the wide-format printer, its flexibility has also allowed Southern Carton to help out customers in a pinch. For example, the company recently completed a rush order consisting of 200 corrugated sheets printed within the same day.
“Our customers have come to expect a very quick turn,” Kennedy says. “It’s now a precedent. That’s the way we built our business. Our clients know what we can deliver on the box side, and they expect us to deliver on other output, too.”