Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Staying Lean


       Kevin Wilken

     As we continue our ever-evolving journey as an industry and a company, I’ve had the privilege to learn quite a bit over the past year. Our industry continues to see consolidation, from the expanding reach of multi-national corporations to vibrant activity at the local and regional levels as niche brands and ‘boutique’ products emerge from the increasingly popular ‘farm to table’ and ‘buy local’ concepts. Both ends of the spectrum offer a lot of opportunity for printing and converting shops to carve out their own approach to supporting these market spaces. 

     To meet these ever-changing printed label and package demands, converters are more eager to invest in their operations while keeping workflows streamlined and Lean. They are looking for partners who understand their unique needs and will work closely with them to meet those needs. This means much more than advanced equipment. It includes a demand for access to knowledgeable, experienced people, able to help solve unique problems or work alongside the converter to optimize not only their equipment but develop sustainable, profitable operations.
     At Mark Andy, we continue to evolve as well, organizing ourselves to be a partner to printers and converters, fully supporting their productivity and profitability needs. This goes beyond our renowned and on-going commitment to designing and building the most relevant equipment for our industry.  Today, we are cultivating an organization able to support any aspect of print and pressroom workflows. Our goal is to be accessible and available every day to:
     • Educate converters with the best printing practices and maintenance training — Mark Andy University.
     • Share knowledge and expertise in response to day-to-day challenges from applications to automation — Mark Andy and Rotoflex’s vast engineering proficiency.
     • Provide the right supplies and consumables to keep your daily workflow running smooth — Mark Andy Print Products.

     Our Performance Series in-line flexo presses continue to set the pace with a high quality print platform that delivers productivity, reduced waste and enhanced profitability. These are proven deliverables as this quarter we close in on our 450th Performance Series installation. As we continue to develop this popular technology, an enhanced P3 S model will launch this year, which will grant an even wider range of converters access to the key benefits others have already discovered with the P Series platform.
      Advancing technology comes in our Rotoflex line of offline finishing as well. From new features including RMS, a Report Management System, which collects all data related to the inspection and drive system and consolidates it for analysis and future planning, to biometric recognition, which allows users different levels of machine access based on their organizational role (operator, supervisor, maintenance), Rotoflex technology is focused on automation and production tools to enhance pressroom productivity.
     Digital printing continues to evolve, and Mark Andy is vigorously committed to building equipment that drives serious, measurable success for the converter. New digital platforms must be smart, flexible and most importantly, adaptable and expandable to navigate the rapidly changing label and packaging landscape. Mark Andy’s Digital Series delivers the needed integration of multiple technologies, seamlessly combining the best of digital inkjet printing and key value-added features. The Digital Series enables flexibility and custom solutions to meet the unique needs of the varying business models we see in our industry today. It is a logical equipment strategy that embraces the on-going needs of the converter.
     As Mark Andy looks to the future, it is our aim to ‘be the supplier of choice throughout the product life cycle, offering high quality, innovative solutions that drive customer profitability.’ We are working very hard to be a Total Solutions Partner.
     We look forward to seeing where we can help guide the industry next.

Friday, October 30, 2015

Staying On Trend


      by Greg Kishbaugh

     The ability of converters to anticipate trends in retail is key to their long-term success and survival. The demographics of consumers are rapidly changing and will heavily influence the ways in which converters and their CPG partners position their products and packaging.
     A new report from Packaged Facts called Food and Beverage Packaging Innovation in the U.S.: Consumer Perspectives,  concludes that changes in demographics, lifestyles and eating patterns are creating new opportunities for food and beverage packaging.
     According to the report, changing population distribution, fewer married couples, more people living alone, smaller household size and multi-generational households are all demographic mega-trends that will influence package development.

     The report focuses on five key trends currently shaping food and beverage packaging.
     Targeting Millennials. Despite representing a wide range of consumers, Millennials definitely share in some important traits. One is that they are much more environmentally conscious than past generations and these beliefs are demonstrated in the brands they support and the packaging they buy. Additionally, Millennials prefer fresher, less processed foods and they spend much more time on the perimeter of grocery stores where the fresh and non-packaged foods are found.
     Smaller Packages. One- or two-person households now represent more than 60 percent of U.S. households, so packaging sizes that serve smaller portions are trending. Single-serve and resealable packaging are being spurred on by this demographic shift.
     Convenient Packaging. Food and beverage packaging relies heavily on convenience as a major selling point. Ease of opening, resealability, portability, lighter weight (which also plays into the sustainability issue) and no-mess dispensing are packaging benefits that drive consumer purchasing decisions.
     See-Through Packaging. Because consumers desire transparency concerning how food and beverages are produced, see-through packaging or packaging that contains see-through windows is rising in popularity.
     Eco-Friendly Packaging. Perhaps the biggest trend over the course of the past few years has been sustainability. And seeing as the younger generation just now entering the workforce demands it in ever-increasing ways, this is one trend that is key to future viability for CPGs and converters. The report speculates that recyclability and sustainability will become even more important in the single-cup brew market, which is facing backlash as has the single-serve bottled water market.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Trending Upward


       Paul Teachout
       Vice President of Sales and Marketing

     Nilpeter is the leading supplier of innovative equipment and solutions to the global label and packaging market. Founded in 1919 in Denmark, Nilpeter remains a family-owned business. Nilpeter specializes in a combination of offset, flexo, gravure, screen foiling and digital printing all inline. With manufacturing facilities in Denmark, Cincinnati, Ohio, USA, and India, Nilpeter offers sales and customer care services on a global scale. With innovative technology, creative solutions and excellent customer support, we strive to be the most attractive business partner and supplier of printing presses in the global narrow web market for self-adhesive labels and flexible packaging.
As we endeavor into the next century, our innovation will continue to lead us through new packaging trends and converter requirements. Nilpeter continues to look forward and stay close to our converter partners to determine what their needs will be five years from now and offer the most sophisticated and technologically advanced offerings that create converter growth and opportunities.
     Disruptive technologies will continue to influence packaging design and printing trends. We must embrace these technologies and manage them into our machine designs and production workflows. Nilpeter’s new developments in machine design will embrace the new generation of machine operators and converter needs. With the majority of our workforce being generation X, we must appeal to the millenniums and Gen Z to maintain a fluid and balanced workforce. Presses with the fastest change overs and minimal waste are to be expected, future machine innovations need to be clean hand technology for a generation who has been raised on disruptive technologies. CPG and retail trends are indicating more and more smart and interactive packaging designs. Smart packaging requires smart presses that appeal to a younger generation of machine operators. E-tail and retail packaging trends will continue to influence new packaging design. The sooner we prepare for these trends the sooner converters will capitalize on CPG compliance concerns, workforce stability and capturing new market opportunities. As CPG companies continue to look for converters who are embracing these emerging trends, as well as sustainability compliance requirements, these new innovations will provide the solutions our partners need to advance into the next generation of packaging design and production.
     These trends come at a good time; with the current economic climate there is no better time to invest in the future. Unemployment is down, stocks are up and the GDP hit a record high last year of 4.6%. These key indicators all drive e-tail and retail consumer spending and packaging requirements. The EU economy remains sluggish and all trends indicate that the third and fourth quarter and into 2016 will show continued growth in the U.S. economy. All these indicators have shown a renewed interest in all Nilpeter offerings and have now brought great opportunity for investing in the highest levels of machine automation, innovation and new packaging design and production. The state of the union is strong, alive and well!
     Nilpeter is very proud to continue to lead our partners into this new century with the most sophisticated and innovative packaging solutions available in the market. We look forward to the next hundred years of global stability and growth for our team and more importantly for our partners.

Friday, October 9, 2015

What's In A Name


      by Greg Kishbaugh

     Packaging markets continue to evolve and shift as do the ways in which consumers interact with the packaging of their favorite brands. One major change that CPGs and converters are beginning to address in a much more aggressive manner is consumers’ increasing demand for a more personalized approach to packaging. Consumers, particularly millennials, enjoy a much more customized experience. Companies that tap into this need benefit from millennials’ enthusiasm for spreading pleasant consumer interactions through social media.
     Because younger generations embrace individuality, the increasing use of personalized packaging speaks to them in ways that traditional packaging does not. “It makes people feel like the brand is more about them than about the brand,” said Brian Rafferty, Global Director of Research Insights for branding firm Siegel+Gale.
     Coca-Cola’s ubiquitous “Share a Coke” campaign, which featured more than 1,000 popular names on bottles, was a huge success for the company. After a decades-long slide in sales, Coca-Cola saw a 2.5 percent increase in sales, with the campaign generating more than 1.14 billion impressions across social media!

 Other major CPGs have recently announced attempts to tap into this same packaging trend. Bud Light is introducing cans designed for each individual NFL team and Snickers is rolling out packaging that replaces the candy bars name with terms such as “Cranky” and “Sleepy” in the brand’s same recognizable logo.
     The Admap Prize, which annually encourages and rewards excellence in strategic thinking in brand communications, is acknowledging this powerful new trend with its 2016 competition. The company is offering a $5,000 cash prize to the best essay addressing the subject, “How should marketing adapt to the era of personalization.”
     Clearly this is a trend that will gain steam in coming years, opening up a host of challenges — and opportunities — for converters.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Rapid Change


       Aldo Peretti

     The world in which we live is rapidly changing and flexible packaging is no different. Flexible packaging has been brought to a whole new level through globalization. Uteco has listened to what marketers and end-users are asking — and demanding — from the flexible packaging industry. Some of these demands include eco friendliness, reduction of carbon footprint and reduction of energy consumption, recyclable materials, increased safety in food packaging and manufacturing plants and lastly, efficiency for short print runs. Our focus this year is on promoting the EB flexo press, which is a more Eco Friendly printing process. Uteco will also continue to work toward increasing productivity, decreasing running costs and presenting more innovative technology opportunities that will enhance the future of printing.  Uteco has and will continue to meet consumers’ demands and expectations by offering them products that will optimize their growth in this industry.
Flexo EB has a multitude of advantages over traditional flexo solvent inks. Advantages such as:
     • Excellent resistance to abrasion, aging, chemical agents, humidity and light.
     • No element will migrate through the substrate and/or by contact setoff.
     • Flexo EB will not alter the characteristics of the food packed, gives no smells in cured inks and does not release volatile organic compounds or other aerial pollutants, thus presenting itself as eco-friendly.
     It has been forecasted the installation base will grow larger, due to the pressure of environmental constraints for pollution and energy reduction. Therefore, Uteco’s Flexo EB press is the right move for environmentally aware consumers.
     Another area consumers should be aware of is our continuous commitment building presses to increase productivity and to decrease waste. A growing demand has been placed on companies to produce more diverse packaging with higher quality standards. We can make this possible with our Kiss & Go and SmartMatch printing presses. 

     Automatic Impression setup
     The Kiss & Go performs automatic impression settings at the start-up of every new job. It works by directly reading the printed color on the substrate. This allows the end-user to use any type of printing sleeve and anilox sleeve, and without the need of printed marks, which can considerably reduce material wastes. The sophisticated software of the Kiss & Go then scans the print of all the colors and sends the collected data to calculate the optimal printed dot.

     Automatic Color Matching
     At the start of every new job, it’s necessary to find the correspondence between the reference color and the printed color, within given tolerances. In order to cut cost-time and generate less waste, we have created an idyllic and faster solution. The SmartMatch is an automatic color matching system that will reduce the time for on-press color corrections and simultaneously set the right color from the portable kitchen, the SmartKitch.

     Global Imaging Management
     Uteco is committed to the concept of integrating the production process with the transfer of data through using the G.I.M. The end result of incorporating the G.I.M. is optimization of ink usage, the selection of sleeves and anilox rolls, and a correct guideline for the operator to prepare jobs. 
     Uteco stands by several goals to offer our customers. Among them are reducing changeover times, decreasing  wastes, increasing productivity and most importantly, investing in future technologies to enhance the printing industry.

Friday, August 28, 2015

Anything But Typical


      by Greg Kishbaugh

     Packaging is often the first line of direct advertising to consumers. One of the many methods employed by converters to make their packaging stand out on shelves is the use of atypical designs. Recent research has shown that unusual packaging designs make consumers analyze product claims more closely. This is both good news and bad.
     Certainly, having consumers look more closely at a product is exactly what converters, and CPGs, most desire. But the added attention comes with a downside. The some research also suggests that in addition to the increased consumer engagement, atypical packages also made consumers more critical of the claims made on the packaging.

     The research broke claims into two areas: weak and strong. Strong claims included statements about flavor or quality control while weak claims included “new formula” and alternative product sizes. In atypical packaging, consumers responded well to strong claims but were pessimistic concerning weak claims.
     “We found that the persuasiveness of weak and strong product claims on the package was affected by whether the package design was typical or atypical,” wrote researchers from the Amsterdam School of Communication and VU University were the research was performed.
     “When packaging was atypical,” continued the researchers, “strong claims resulted in a higher quality judgment, but weak claims resulted in a lower willingness to pay — compared to when packaging was typical.”
     The researchers presented design variants of packaging to consumers as part of the research test. The atypical designs, it was found, caused participants to spend a much greater amount of time looking at the product, which improved their recall of product claims.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Paper's Bright Future


      by Greg Kishbaugh

     Despite the maturity of the marketplace, it appears that paper-based packaging is still poised for further growth in the future. There are “significant growth opportunities” for paper-based packaging as changing lifestyles, environmental concerns and improving techniques continue to have an impact, according to a new industry report from Smithers Pira called Paper-Based Packaging Trends To 2019.
     The key drivers for paper-based packaging growth, according to the report, are growing GDP, changing demographics, sustainability and recycling concerns, technological advances, security and the ongoing drive for added value, which is driving innovation in luxury packaging.

     Paper and board represented 35 percent of the world’s packaging sales in 2013, a value of $280 billion, with cartonboard and containerboard 31 percent of the packaging market.
     One of the main contributors toward the continued growth of paper-based packaging is its environmental advantages over other forms of packaging. As increasing numbers of consumers state that sustainable options are important to them when shopping, paper-based packaging is seen as an increasingly attractive choice.
     In luxury packaging, paper and board has the biggest share of the market by value and is growing by an average of 4.4 percent a year.
     A Smithers Pira spokesperson said that packaging could best be described as “a bright spot for paper and board.”