The ongoing rise of the discounters and resulting demand for outstanding quality SRP (Shelf Ready Packaging), coupled with a growing focus on sustainability, are the primary factors expected to shape the corrugated sector in 2016 – according to SUN Automation Group®, a recognised leader in the global corrugated sector.
Whilst discount stores have undoubtedly dealt a blow to the big supermarkets during 2015, convenience stores have also made a mark with consumers turning to quicker, more frequent shops for more of their needs. Aldi became the UK’s sixth largest supermarket last year, overtaking Waitrose, and between 2010 and 2015 the discount retailers grew at more than twice the rate of the “big four”.
This has led to a growing demand for top quality SRP – thus helping to underpin the popularity of corrugated as a sustainable, protective and practical packaging solution.
Sustainability is also now a consideration in its own right, as European corrugated printers face higher than ever levels of environmental regulation, echoed by a genuine desire from many companies to improve their sustainability credentials – but without impacting negatively on profits.
Rob Dal Lago, SUN Automation’s General Manager EMEA, explained: “To improve sustainability box plants need to identify trends in the market and position their products and services accordingly: waste, water usage and inks are all key areas for consideration. Thanks to ongoing competition within the corrugated sector, plant margins have historically been very tight so, if all suppliers are competing more or less equally on the basis of cost and quality, a small edge such as proven focus on sustainability may be the deciding factor in winning a contract.”
In addition, as the industrial sector moves inexorably towards the adoption of Industry 4.0, where all manufacturing and related processes are interlinked and coordinated, there is an ever greater focus on minimising errors and defects that can impact the bottom line.
Daniel Bosma, SUN Automation Sales Manager, EMEA, added: “The principle behind Industry 4.0 is to connect and automate as many systems as possible in order to identify and eliminate potential for defects, thus reducing downtime and profit erosion. This is a work in progress and some distance in the future for the majority of box plants, but the principle is the same as currently – improving quality and minimising errors in order to increase profit margins.
“For those companies just starting on this journey, making the most of their current plant - perhaps by enhancing their existing equipment with retrofitted SUN Automation components - could certainly give them a head start towards the idealistic achievement of zero defects and optimal productivity.”