As digital printing becomes widely used in the industry, what process issues are converters seeing, and what solutions have OEMs offered?

Fuller: Our research and discussions with converters confirm that digital printing offers substantial new opportunities for pouch manufacturers. With digital printing, web efficiency at start-up is critical to profitability, so reducing the web path is a good fit for the needs of converters. But converters tell us they did not want to limit the versatility and flexibility of their systems and processes in order to gain web efficiency. 

CMD Corporation has developed a new, reduced-footprint 760-SUP Stand-Up Pouch Converting System that significantly reduces web length without sacrificing the key attributes of size and style versatility or the quick-changeover agility that converters appreciate. The resulting machine will be demonstrated at Pack-Expo 2020, Booth LU8118, in Chicago, November 8-11.

COVID-19 has impacted the way the world does business for the foreseeable future. What have you seen change in the flexible packaging industry so far, and what do you see changing in the future?

Fuller: Reshoring is a common theme we’ve been hearing throughout the industry, whether it be in terms of the packaging itself or the machines on which it is made or filled. We have been approached by converters who have seen a spike in demand due to their customers’ wishes to bring production back to the U.S., and we’ve been approached by brand owners seeking to bring pouch production in-house. For customers already using our machines, the concern has been about parts supply capacity. They want to be sure their parts are sourced domestically and that supply lines remain open.

The pandemic has impacted the way everyone looks at their supply chain. It is an advantage that CMD machinery is 100% designed and built at our facilities in Appleton, Wisconsin. We are in control of the entire process and in close communication with our supplier network, which remains strong. Availability and delivery of replacement parts has not been negatively impacted. CMD’s business is running at full capacity. Quick modifications to ensure employee safety, including remote workers, videoconferencing and social distancing adherence have been put into place. Service for customers is still available via remote troubleshooting, phone, email and in-person if precautions are taken.

Is there a need in the market for anything different in terms of OEM support?

Fuller: Converters we speak with emphasize that in today’s competitive marketplace more is expected from OEMs in terms of support — a level that goes far beyond equipment repair and maintenance. CMD believes in developing partner relationships with customers. Because we are invested in our partner’s success, we share technical and process knowledge while working toward objectives that deliver greater value to the converter’s customer —

including price, delivery, flexibility and quality metric considerations.

In this era of social-distancing measures, top-level support can become a challenge. CMD can, and will, continue to deliver the extensive support customers require. That said, the company has made a nearly seamless transition to the new reality of virtual service and sales calls, and has effectively connected all remote staff so workflows are uninterrupted. While we do virtual service calls whenever possible, there are situations when an in-person visit is unavoidable. When service requires on-site repairs, CMD is insistent that strict social-distancing rules and hygiene practices are meticulously maintained.