As competition continues to increase in all areas of the supply chain and across all product sectors, label printing and converting today faces an ongoing challenge due to the shorter runs, faster turnarounds and more challenging designs demanded by brand owners.
Competition among consumer goods producers continues to force them to find ways of reducing inventories and managing just-in-time production more efficiently. At the same time, they are contending with increased competition on supermarket shelves, which has led to the rise in stockkeeeping units (SKUs) and 360 design treatments that make brands more eye-catching and appealing. Injection-molded and shrink labels are rapidly growing in popularity for their ability to transform the whole product into a canvas for brand promotion and maximize opportunity for differentiating product varieties.
With the rise of SKUs, print runs that are too long for digital but too short for profitability are putting pressure on flexo and gravure printers. Handling 20-plus jobs per day when your operation was initially designed to handle five or six causes time consuming, and expensive, plate-making and make-ready, as well as high levels of startup waste, unacceptable levels of downtime and, ultimately, disappearing profits.
Today’s web offset presses offer capabilities that can turn marginal short-run jobs into sustainable, profitable ones.
The relative simplicity of offset plate-making allows converters to manage the process in house rather than buying plates or engraved cylinders from external suppliers. It has the distinct advantage of delivering plate costs that are a fraction of those associated with flexo and gravure. It also ensures far greater flexibility and control, and allows converters to offer their customers later artwork deadlines. High levels of automation provide fast job changeovers and make-readies, along with quick and easy adjustments during production.
Other capabilities that reinforce the case include: print quality, greater color control and a standardized process (along with the increased use of 7-color process – expanded color printing), as does the ability to handle a wide variety of substrates, including films as fine as 9 microns, at high speeds.
Web offset printers, such as the Goss Sunday Vpak series of presses, builds on these inherent advantages through innovative variable sleeve technology featuring quick-change blanket and plate cylinder sleeve adapters that make infinitely variable repeat lengths even easier and more affordable. It is designed for packaging printers looking for an alternative technology to satisfy customer demands for shorter run lengths with shorter lead times where it’s not necessarily economically viable to do the job using the existing process.
With options for integrating flexo, gravure and digital stations into a Vpak press configuration to form a hybrid production line, it delivers flexibility without compromise as printers continue to benefit from a wide range of coating and finishing options.