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FLEXO Magazine : August 2010
Plants & Processes Thinking Thermal? You Have Choices. MacDermid Printing Solutions is a leading supplier of thermal plates and processing tecnology. Our digital photopolymer sheet plates are unique in that they can be dual processed either in traditional solvents or using MacDermid’s LAVA thermal processing equipment, you choose. MacDermid also offers the only digital capped plate in the world, which can be dual processed. So before you take the next step in your plate processing work flow, take a look at what MacDermid has to offer. When you’re looking for the most flexible range of options in taking your operation thermal, count on the company that says “Yes We Can” . MacDermid. NotSoFastNotSoFast Think You Only Have ONE Choice? Photopolymer Plates Equipment 5210 Phillip Lee Drive, Atlanta, GA 30336, USA Telephone: +1 800.348.7201 www.macdermid.com/printing © 2010 MacDermid, Inc. All rights reserved Tips and Advice on Competing Globally By Michael r. nowak American manufacturing is an iconic industry. From the implementation of the production line, to new materials and processes that allow for the creation of products that improve our lives, American manufacturing has always set an admirable benchmark. After a period of largely unchallenged growth, the past few decades have given us intense competition from abroad. In our industry, there is never a time for complacency; rest on your existing technology and processes, and watch your current contracts move abroad, it’s happened time and time again. An example of this can be seen in the Sweet’N Low story; that iconic pink packet which sits on tables in diners and restaurants across the country. Sweet’N Low is made by Cumber- land Packing Corp. , a more than 60-year-old company located in Brooklyn, NY. For de- cades, Cumberland relied on domestic suppliers to print its iconic pink packet. However, in 2000, with costs rising, it looked abroad, to the Far East, specifically, for a supplier to print and provide more than a billion packets a month to meet consum- er demand. So how can our indus- try best compete with foreign competition that is typically able to offer alleged savings through labor costs? For the answer, we simply need to look toward a vastly American trait—when faced with a challenge, use our grit and guile to overcome it. In the flexo-printing industry, meeting challenges from abroad means investing in technology, and reducing costs through automation. In 2005, Coating Excellence International (CEI) was able to bring back the manufacturing contract of Sweet’N Low to the Midwest. We achieved this through our investment in Ameri- can technology; specifically, robotics and advancements in flexography. CEI is now home to eight flexo presses, and we have the ability to achieve 10-color print jobs, utilizing only water-based inks. Our mission statement at CEI has always been the same. “Give the customer what they want.” It sounds simple, but our current machines have limits, so while in the majority of cases our machines have the capability to give the customer the end result they ’re looking for, sometimes they don’t, and in those cases, we look at it as an opportunity to expand the business. Because if we’re expanding and implementing new technology, we’re continually raising the bar, making it more difficult for our foreign competitors to keep up. While getting it right will always be most important, getting it cheap has become a closer and closer second. Domestic businesses that are looking at suppliers both in America and abroad should be reminded of the potential surprise costs when using a foreign supplier, especially if plans change mid-project. Even with the allure of potential costs savings, domestic companies have a desire to use American suppliers. It’s our industry ’s responsibility and challenge to aggressively invest and innovate, and give those companies every reason to wave the American flag high. ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Michael R. Nowak is the co-founder and president of Coating Excellence International (CEI), a Wisconsin-based rapid-growth, market-leading flexible pack- aging company specializing in extrusion coating and laminating, printing, and woven bags. • Use automation and technology to reduce labor cost per unit and combat the allure of labor savings foreign competition can present. • Highlight strengths of domestic production, such as short lead times and quick changeover required. • Watch out for the freight costs, long lead times and potential tariffs if using foreign suppliers 102 FLEXO august 2010 www.flexography.org August2010_mech.indd 102 8/13/10 7:47 AM
Sustainable Summer 2010