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FLEXO Magazine : July 2010
Industry Indicators been fully implemented. The speed-to-market of a new line of products can be directly affected by this delay of interaction. ” “It’s a lack of education,” explained Allen Marquardt, graphics production manager at Kimberly-Clark. “CPCs don’t know what they don’t know. ” He revealed that his company has been bringing printers into design meetings for more than a decade. “ We call them preproduction meetings and we move all the way back to the design agency, and get them, the printer and the customer together to discuss the design and press capabilities.” EvErybody Wins According to Marquardt, the goal of his preproduction meetings is to “eliminate rework loops for the artwork.” He added, “If the designer develops something that can’t be printed due to limitations of color gamut or number of press decks, it requires extra work. A lot of times, a CPC does not know the value of bringing a printer into these kinds of meetings and what doing so can do for them. It increases the efficiencies, cuts down the timeline required, reduces anxiety or frustration that a CPC may encounter if the design does not work, and leads to increased productivity.” CPCs who work closely with printers can only serve to gain, Fulcoly noted. “ T he situation to avoid would be to have a packaging product targeted to launch in July and then in June having to inform marketing it cannot be executed because it won’t support consistent printing. So, getting things out that can be executed capably and consistently is one value. From a cycle-time standpoint, if you have a hard time getting it printable, then you can’t get it to market fast. Avoiding delays in launch timing is paramount!” Amsbury further stated, “There is printability, but there is also a realistic expectation of cost. A lot of the time what people are trying to create look-wise and structure-wise could be done differently and at a much lower cost. We look at that when we get into redesigns, particularly as it pertains to options like hot foil stamping. It adds a lot of cost. We look at alternatives like metallic inks to create a similar effect at a lower cost. Those ideas could come out closer to the concept stage. ” The value to printers is much more obvious. “ T hey can plan ahead,” stated Amsbury. “Most printers will have preproduc- tion meetings to plan what will be necessary and collaborate with ink and substrate suppliers as well as specialty tooling vendors when needed. If the package requires a unique process the printer will have time to work the bugs out prior to production. “ When a package launch is set, there is also a timeline set, and printing gets a chunk of that time. If the first several steps take longer than expected, which often happens, the launch date does not usually change. Guess what happens to the printer’s chunk of time—it gets tighter and tighter. That’s just part of the business. But getting involved early on can help that situation by establishing how much time is needed for file preparation, plate production, artwork modifications, etc. ” Fulcoly proclaimed that prepress providers have an impor- tant role to play. “I expect the prepress provider to be repre- senting the printers’ capabilities. They are further upstream in the graphic development world. ” All three men agreed that designers can and should be educated on the benefits of working with printers up front. “Just ask any designer if they ’ve ever had a design that, in the final product, was less than they desired,” said Marquardt. “Since almost any one of them has, you can then talk about reducing and eliminating those frustrations, because that’s what this process would do.” “ You need to have an openness and participation with marketing to do that, though,” cautioned Fulcoly. “ You need to have a relationship where the procurement and supply chain team can be interfacing with the designer. You also have to have an educated procurement team. It takes some work to get there.” Amsbury spoke undaunted, saying designers could expect, “ fewer surprises on press.” He added, “The more you know about the printer’s capabilities, the less you are going to be disappointed that something doesn’t look the way you hoped it would. I come from a design background, and I know from experience that it is necessary to be part of a plant trial early on. We had a label that was designed to fit on a contoured bottle. The label itself had an hourglass shape. It was a great label and easy to apply to the bottle, but when we die cut it on the liner and tried to rewind it, the rolls would not hold their shape. This was a production issue that would have been realized in a plant trial and possibly corrected.” but Why? The question then becomes: Why are we not collaborating more? Marquardt insisted that the answer was not universal. “A ll CPCs are structured differently.” Still, he and Amsbury claimed it has mostly to do with printers simply being out of sight and out of mind. “A fair number of designers do not think about the print process in their daily workflow,” said Marquardt. Amsbury added, “It’s because marketing and art departments don’t always think of printers as part of the process. Sometimes the idea of how a concept will be reproduced is an afterthought. We print a lot of specialty graphics cartons, and many times we don’t establish the look of the carton until we are on press. This is unique and forces more interaction than you might see in other segments of the industry. We strive to get a plant trial as early in the process as possible. And outside of here, I am seeing more and more people realizing that doing this typically results in a more realistic and reproducible design.” But Fulcoly spoke differently, pointing to simple organiza- tional structure. “ T he workflows aren’t set up to support that relationship. You have to educate the marketing leadership team to the notion that the speed-to-market advantages and consistent quality advantages are worth them allowing the printing community to get further upstream in the process.” solutions for PrintErs Fulcoly went on to say that the only viable option for frus- trated flexographers was to “sell those same advantages— the quality outcome, capability outcome, etc. by designing for success.” Marquardt echoed these thoughts, saying “A printer can develop a checklist of the positives, the most obvious of which are known—predictable results, less recycling of the design, managing expectations from the get-go, etc. The printer can then take this list and ask to work with the design team or agency in order to support the advantages on this list.” Amsbury recommended requesting an invitation to get in- volved early. “ The approach is that you are trying to help stem off potential issues on press. Offer yourself as a resource in the development process. This will add value and I think most CPCs would embrace that concept.” n 22 FLEXO july 2010 www.flexography.org SeSSion TopicS: • The Great Flexo Digital Plate Debate • Sustainability from the Customer’s Perspective • Impacting an Industry – The Flexo Quality Consortium • Industry Trends – The Best of FLEXO Magazine 2010 • Process Improvement – Best Practices FIRST • Color Consistency for Packaging – FIRST and Worldwide Standards RaTeS: Consumer Product Company FTA Member: $95 | Non-member: $190 Printer/Converter & Design Firm FTA Member: $295 | Non-member: $590 General Attendee (non-exhibiting company) FTA Member: $595 | Non-member: $1,190 General Attendee (exhibiting company) FTA Member: $395 | Non-member: $790 www.flexography.org | www.ftastore.com November 8-10 | Hyatt Regency | Louisville, Kentucky chaiR: CAyLEigh NiChOLs, PrAiriE sTATE grOuP | co-chaiR: riChArd BLACk, ALL PriNTiNg rEsOurCEs, iNC. FFTA’s 2010 FAll ConFerenCe & TAbleTop exhibiTion A rate idea: The future of flexo & process improvement FallCon10_FLEXOJuly_v4b.indd 1 7/15/10 10:36 AM FLXO_July10_v2.indd 22 7/16/10 9:36 AM
Sustainable Summer 2010