February 6, 2007 – Full digital workflow solutions for printed packaging are becoming absolutely mandatory and a critical element in supply chain management (SCM) during a decade when both speed to market and cost pressures have influenced decisions of both CPG companies and retailers. But understanding the many technical production options available and, more importantly, discerning the barriers and opportunities of digital workflow can be an overly demanding process.
A new study, Digital Package Production Workflow: Trends, Tools, & Resources for the Production and Graphic Development of Consumer Packaging, answers these concerns and offers greater insights into the future of this emerging area of packaging and one where knowledge of workflow trends can significantly influence bottom-line profits. Authors Jonathan Agger and Kevin Karstedt of Karstedt Associates Ltd. have provided a comprehensive study on digital workflow that includes in-depth interviews with more than 30 supply-chain participants, vendor companies, and key associations. The 197-page report, edited and published by Packaging Strategies, also includes detailed descriptions of 33 vendor companies.
“With a low level of saturation and emerging trends favoring an emphasis on smaller, tightly defined niche markets, packaging has become the new opportunity for digital workflow and printing technology,” stated Agger and Karstedt. “Packaging can benefit from its long history with vendors to provide the tools necessary to automate the digital workflow process and, hence, cut costs and enhance speed-to-delivery.”
The report chronicles many of those efforts to update and improve existing technology, offering both a detailed history of developments to date and a penetrating look at where digital production technology will head during the formative years of this century. The authors delve into both barriers and opportunities for a variety of technical processes, including digital prepress workflow, computer to plate (CtP), flexographic platemaking, and gravure printing tools and processes. The study also probes many of the newer industry developments in workflow tool standardization, color management, and variable data printing on packaging.
The second half of this wide-ranging report goes beyond a discussion of essential technology to consider market conditions and their influence on future trends in digital workflow production. Such areas as globalization, labor contracts, environmental concerns, government regulations, and competitive pressures will have a direct and lasting impact on how retailers and CPG companies greet digital solutions in the near future.
With both margin pressures and competitive needs to get new products to market faster and with value-added quality, the pace of strategic change will affect the development of new workflow tools that can meet the challenges of a more demanding marketplace. The packaging supply chain will be pressed to find solutions that fit retailer and end-user niche markets and provide products that offer shorter delivery cycles while reducing waste and total system costs. The authors note that an inability to communicate with supply-chain members and streamline existing processes have hampered workflow efforts and must be resolved.
“Many added elements have worked into the equation for the use of digital workflow tools and raised questions from the packaging community about how these will figure into those emerging digital production trends,” said Packaging Strategies director David Luttenberger, CPP. “Those include the emergence of private labeling in the retail supply channel, a lucrative market to be served through digital production, and also the question of whether print production should go in-house or be outsourced to a trade shop. The answers depend on how packaging professionals decide to tackle issues of declining margins, tighter deadlines, and the ability to communicate effectively throughout the supply chain.”
A critical linchpin of this report is its analysis of top North American vendor companies providing workflow tools. The authors use their extensive interviewing skills to highlight key developments at each company and provide a simplified but precise rundown of the expertise offered by each firm and the strategic direction of those key vendors as digital processes become more prevalent in a changing packaging market.
For a full prospectus or to order a copy of
Digital Package Production Workflow: Trends, Tools, & Resources for the
Production and Graphic Development of Consumer Packaging
call Packaging Strategies at 1-610-436-4220 (ext. 8511)
or e-mail at: [email protected]