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FLEXO Magazine : Sustainable Fall 2010
with the installation of equipment and establishing its proper operation. When equipment breaks down or needs some kind of servicing, the vast majority of customers want service within 24 hours; many want it even faster. Many respondents, although they did not have service plans with their machines, said that they wanted local service technicians to be available in case of emergencies and to minimize having to pay any travel expenses for technicians. Flexibility. Flexibility was the most desired trait in packag- ing equipment machinery. With the ever-increasing variety of packaging types and sizes coming into the marketplace, cus- tomers want equipment manufacturers to develop machines with ever more flexibility to handle this packaging variety. Machines with greater flexibility are also seen as providing a means to reduce costs and capitalize on opportunity in the following ways: 1. To consolidate manufacturing lines and produce more products on fewer machines. 2. To replace the labor force that is currently handling the more complex or small product containers manually with automation. 3. To manufacture a wide variety of package types in a single day by using equipment that can quickly and easily be changed over or adjusted. Innovation. Many respondents are slow to trust ideas promoted as innovations within the personal care product packaging industry. Buyers shared that they are reticent to buy new equipment or embrace new packaging concepts be- cause they may feel they have been "burned" by trendy ideas or by being guinea pigs in using new technologies in the past or they may have seen others in the industry get burned. Many buyers want true innovation that makes equipment safer to use by being automated, user-friendly, and adaptable for a less-educated or foreign-born workforce. Other buyers want machinery that is significantly simplified and smaller in size, as these buyers believe innovation has either made the equipment unnecessarily complex and/or cumbersome. Regulatory and Standards Issues. Regulatory concerns were not a significant or pressing issue with many respon- dents; most simply wanted their equipment suppliers to be aware of any upcoming regulatory changes and offer suitable solutions for complying with new regulatory requirements. However, there were some specific areas of concern men- tioned by a select few. 1. Some respondents with older equipment reported that it is sometimes a challenge to adapt and upgrade their older equipment to keep it compliant with current regulations. 2. Cosmetics and skin care product respondents re- ported that they would like to have cleaning validation (the methodology that removes residues to ensure the quality of the next product manufactured is not com- promised by waste from the previous product) on their packaging equipment. STEPS TO IMPROVEMENT Sustainability/Eco-Friendliness. Manufacturers are starting to look at all the materials and resources that go into producing their goods and are interested in reducing power consumption, waste, and the overall carbon footprint of their businesses. This interest offers an opportunity to differentiate your products. To capitalize on the sustainability trend, PMMI recommends the following actions. 1. Explore ways to make future products with a reduced to- tal carbon footprint, compared to the footprint of current products, for each unit produced. 2. Present packaging machinery features and benefits from a sustainability standpoint in whitepaper formats. 3. As large institutions like the government, Walmart, and consumer groups propel the sustainability trend, help manufacturers see the financial savings and increased sales potentials of investing in eco-friendly packaging systems that can help products gain a "green" halo. Service. A high level of customer support is crucial to at- tracting and retaining customers. The majority of respondents said they were looking for stronger relationships with their packaging equipment suppliers. To improve follow-up service and enhance relationship management, PMMI suggests tak- ing the following steps: 1. Train the sales force to view each customer as a poten- tial partner for a long-term relationship rather than as a one-time sales opportunity. 2. Develop compensation structures designed to reward sales people at a higher level when they sell additional equipment or service to previous (that is, existing) cus- tomers. 3. Provide a range of custom customer service options. 4. Consider out-of-the-box thinking with respect to cus- tomer service. 5. When selling packaging machinery, highlight not only the throughput of the equipment, but also the expected annual utilization and/or uptime. Flexibility. Respondents look for flexible machinery to increase output, capitalize on new opportunities and handle an increasingly wider range of needs and demands. PMMI has the following recommendations to packaging equipment suppliers to help their customers accomplish these goals: 1. Better communicate the capabilities, opportunity for and ROI of existing flexible packaging equipment solutions. 2. Develop solutions that provide for fast turnaround on replacement part and change part requests. 3. Drive to deliver increasingly faster changeover processes and systems for personal care product manufacturers. Innovation. Lack of trust in innovation was a key issue for a number of respondents. While most were upbeat about the ongoing innovation in the industry, there seemed to be an un- derlying skepticism about the value of implementing new in- novations quickly. Therefore, PMMI recommends considering the following to restore customers' trust and help persuade them to try to capitalize on new innovations: • Provide more testing, start-up support, documentation, and stronger commitments when introducing new equipment. • Remember that innovation is also about doing something in a simplified, safer or possibly less expensive way. Many organizations focus on both implementing new technology and improving existing manufacturing lines. Regulatory and Standards Issues. There may be oppor- tunities to provide support, upgrades, or service packages to help companies comply with changing regulatory require- ments. PMMI urges packaging equipment manufacturers to identify customers with older equipment and customers that are in need of assistance in complying with regulatory re- quirements. Offer consulting services designed to help those companies meet the currently applicable regulatory and safety standards as well as advise them on future trends. www.flexomag.com FALL 2010 Sustainable FLEXO