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FLEXO Magazine : July 2007
4 4 F L E X O J U LY 2 0 0 7 w w w . f l e x o g r a p h y . o r g gLObaL markets FLEXO’s September issue will showcase a multi-article feature offering label market reports from various regional FTAs across the globe as a complement to our preview to Labelexpo Europe 2007. This story is offered as a precursor to that feature, as well as follow-up to the recent presentation that was given as part of the Flexo Global Session at FFTA’s 2007 Annual Forum in Montréal, QC, Canada. It attempts to highlight some of the technical challenges that our indus- try faces and place them into the context of the rapidly changing com- mercial global packaging market. Globalization Pressures It is clear to everyone involved in the packaging supply chain that the “one world” marketing philosophy is being driven by brand owners who are now regularly sourcing their packaging on a global basis. Speed to market and rapid response rates to market changes are vital elements of their specific packaging require- ments, and the retail business’ competitiveness combined with brand owners’ purchasing power are forcing packaging pricing down. At the same time, the “one world” global marketing approach demands consistent quality, which is a major concern for brand owners. In an attempt to reduce errors and improve print consis- tency, they are restricting the number of companies they contract with to produce packaging elements. And, in an effort to add value to products and achieve shelf standout, buyers are insisting on the increasing use of photographs, vignettes, and exotic sub- strates for their products’ packaging. To cope with increased buyers’ demands, the flexographic in- dustry has made significant technology developments that have empowered the packaging sector to improve flexo print quality to the extent that the process now competes with offset litho and gravure. But many buyers still have concerns regarding the consistency of the decoration of their product on sale around the world. We Can see the Future EFTA Reports On Trends and Concerns By David Galton Some of the larger brand owners have started to monitor the inconsistency on a global basis and are insisting that steps be taken to improve the current situation. A number of them are actively encouraging printers to adopt the simple concept of mea- suring, controlling, and improving on a continual basis, and many perceive that the prepress houses also have a vital role to play in this process of continual improvement. One of the benefits of the continual improvement process is that it requires measure- ment and control. Measurement generates data, and if data is used wisely, it can reduce subjectivity and increase control of the production process. With printers being asked to adopt standards by the leading brand owners, it is perceived that trade associations such as the FTAs around the globe can take a leading part in encouraging the implementation of standards. For several years now, the EFTA has provided education and training in process-control techniques in an attempt to help UK members remain competitive in the con- text of the globalization of the packaging market. lean-thinkinG ProCesses Lean Manufacturing principles are well known in the auto- motive industry where the methodology is well established and understood. The philosophy is focused on waste management, but printers often think of waste as simply materials used in the printing process that are not part of the final product that is in- voiced to the client. This is an over simplification. Lean thinking defines waste as processes that do not add value to the product. The simple philosophy is based on the fact that the total cost of the packaging is made up of three parts—the cost of: 1) Value-adding activities essential to the packaging process. 2) Essential non-adding-value activities. 3) Activities that in the eyes of the customer do not make the product more valuable. The key requirement in Lean thinking is to eliminate all forms of waste from the production process in a systematic manner. This particularly applies to focusing on waste as defined in the last category (point three). EFTA has a specific education program that is targeted toward senior management and production management to help them better understand the concepts and how best to implement the Lean Manufacturing ethos into daily production. To be able to control the process and set standards of repeatability and con- sistency, quantitative measurements of the normal production performance must be taken. OEE (overall equipment effectiveness) methodology takes three key production factors into consideration in the final calculation equation: • Availability of the press (available running hours). • Productivity of the press (output vs. theoretical speed). • Quality of the product being produced (good vs. reject). Once the Lean Manufacturing ethos is successfully imple- mented, the OEE will improve. Recent experience suggests that once this milestone has been passed, the cost of production can be controlled more effectively, and consistency will generally
Golden Anniversary Commemorative Journal