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FLEXO Magazine : December 2013
Grow.” “ Increase.” “Rise. ” “Surge. ” “Expand.” “Boom.” There are only so many ways to say it, and looking back on 2013, every one is appropriate. In layman’s terms, the past 12 months were good for flexography. Specifically, businesses are reporting continued growth, decreased turnaround times, an understanding of problems and the knowledge to solve them, and an awareness of the concerns of customers and strategies to meet and exceed their expectations. Sentiments like these were heard in FTA’s own membership survey, the forecasts and reports of numerous analysts, countless articles in the past 11 issues of FLEXO, chatter at Forum, INFO*FLEX and Fall Conference and elsewhere. If 2012 was flexo’s bulking up, 2013 was its chance to flex. DEMOGRAPHICS & DYNAMICS • Global demand for corrugated boxes is projected to grow by 4.2 percent annually through 2017 and reach 234 billion square meters, so says Freedonia Group’s World Corrugated Boxes report. Food and beverages, the perennial market leader, will continue to command the largest portion of demand, at 43 percent • Nearly 20 percent of the U.S . packaging market is of the flexible variety, according to FPA, valued at approximate- ly $27 billion. The next four years are forecasted to bring growth of 20 percent after worldwide demand has risen 5 percent annually since 2006, reports PCI Films Consult- ing Ltd. The sector employs roughly 79,000 people. The U.S. takes a quarter of all flexible packaging production and demand. Per Smithers Pira’s findings, tonnage will grow from 18.1 million to 22.5 million by 2016 • Growth in the folding carton market will continue at 5.1 percent each year through 2018. With 2012 growth of 1.3 percent, this is promising news. By the end of the five year stretch, worldwide sales will reach $184 billion. “ Industry Indicators Alive ‘N Kickin’ the state-of-the-industry in 2013 By tom Jacques Flexible packaging converters todayface a myriad of challenges: eco-friendly designs, raw materials price swings, new flexographic printing and process tech- nologies,labor shortages, demanding customers, ferocious competitors,bothdomestic and foreign...enoughtomakethe squeamish sit on thesidelines. I always tell peoplethat, if theyare still in business in2013: “Congratulations!” Many companies did notmakeit, either due to buyouts, mergers,losing major customersorsuccession issues.Now, the challengeisdesigning thecompanytobemore nimble and agile, running at alowercost, being more responsive and morecompetitiveinits chosen market segments. Fortunately,inflexographic printing presstechnology alone, numerous new developments haveallowedflexoto continue its growthinto markets traditionally servedby offset or rotogravure printing,albeit at a price. Becauseof theseimprovements,thefocus oncontinuous improvement intheflexoplanthasbecomecritically important to survival, and prosperity, in this challenging market space. CONTINUOUS IMPROVEMENT It is no longer a nicethingtohave an active continuous improvement process in place; it is a must for survival and the ability to continue to compete. Every day, new business is wonand lostonthethinnestofmargins,and converters have to takeadvantageof every opportunitytoproduceconsistent, repeatable and reliableresults fortheircustomers. Continuousimprovement, including5Sand Six Sigma programs,isall about never being satisfied with the status quo,whichis fleeting anyway. Rather, it focuses onhoningthe sharp competitiveedge that any company needstostay on top of its game. PROCESS SPECIFICATIONS – FIRST Someconvertersstruggle with where to start onthese programs.FTA’sFlexographic ImageReproductionSpecifica- tionsand Tolerances(FIRST) program is a goodstart.It has targets and guidelines forflexo’s key metrics. For any activity that your companydoes,youhave to ask: “How doesthataddvaluetomy customers?”Then, you need to focuson improving and tighteningthosespecifications which driveyour business tobemoreconsistent. Sometimes, this will requireconsistent monitoringand occasionalreplenishmentofitems like plates, doctor blades, end seals,sleeves, andaniloxes, as well as ink pumps, bear- ings, etc. However, it has beenproven time andagain that proactive periodic maintenanceprograms cost a fraction of thedowntimethat “emergency” repairs take. Statistical Process Control (orSPC) focuses on metrics for continuous processes, with theaim of making them more consistent and repeatable. Ina job shop environment, where a job can be amere 5,000 lineal feet orless—whatused to be considered start-up waste – SPC canbemorechalleng- ing toimplement. However, the variables going into a specific job can be memorized on press,soat least themetrics are captured forfuture runsofthe same job. NIMBLE, AGILE, RESPONSIVE • Thefocus on continuous improvement in theflexo plant has become critically important to survival, and prosperity • Converters have totakeadvantage of every oppor- tunity to produceconsistent, repeatable and reliable results for their customers • Proactive periodic maintenanceprograms cost a fraction of the downtimethat “emergency” repairs take • Flexography can now print high quality graphics efficiently at speeds up to 2000 FPM with the proper deck design and electronic accuracy provided by the world’s top-class printing presses • Thechallengeis designing the company tobe more nimbleand agile, running at a lower cost, being more responsiveand more competitivein its chosen market segments 10-color high speedpress (2000 FPM) 20 FL EXO January 2013 www.flexography.org “A discussion topic, may very well become our collective reality.” “Attendance has been getting stronger over the past few years.” FORECAST FOR FORUM QUANTIFY, COMMUNICATE & CONTROL Bob Mullen, FTA 2013 Forum Chair, Promises Practical Applications, Viable Solutions, MaximizedValue Propositions RIGHT HERE, RIGHT NOW ...”RightHere, RightNow” is a great way todescribe theparticipant’s abilityto learn aboutthe newestdevel- opments in the industry, to network withfriends and col- leagues, to open and close some business deals and to doit all in thebeautiful venue ofSan Diego. We—Co-chair Pepper Stokes, Robbie Fantastic Flexibles; andtheentire Forum Committee(Session Chairs)—felt it was the perfect confluence of time, place and event sothat, on April 28-May 1 in San Diego, it will all be happening “RightHere, RightNow.” Itseems thatthequality oftheForum experience, as well as the attendance, has been getting stronger over thepastfew years. Creditprograms, such as Flexo- graphic ImageReproduction Specifications and Toler- ances (FIRST)certification and the Phoenix Challenge, as well as the overall quality ofthe sessions and strong showings atINFO*FLEXfor continuing to raise thebar of expectations. This year is no different. People are keen to continue thediscussions from San Antonio, learn new things, meet with old friends, work theINFO*FLEXhard for new opportunities and ideas and have some fun. Safely betthatSan Diego will besunny withthe temperature in the 70s. It’s a guaranteethatthe session chairs and co-chairs worked diligently topresent an interesting set of speakers focusing on a common ses- sion theme. Presenters will address topics that are of concern to the flexographic community. Alevel of excite- ment should be present to make everyone’s tripboth worthwhile and enjoyable. EXPAND THE DIALOG ...T he Forum Committee and the session chairs, co-chairs and speakers are a combination of those FTA veterans who can always be counted on to support the organization, as well as a group of newer members and participants eager to share their knowledgeand present a potentially different perspective. The common denominator always seems tobetheparticipant’s love of the organization, as well as his/her desire to expand thedialogue concerning thegrowth and advancement of flexography. In order to assemblethis year ’s agenda, we usedthe feedbackforms from lastyear’s Forum sessions in San Antonio and wepolled a number of members of the FTAcurrently serving on itsleadershipgroups. With this input, we were ableto get a feel for some of thetopics thatthe membership was interested in and began to set some structure totheproceedings—beginning with the pre-conference Flexo Quality Consortium assembly. FQCrepresents the “T” in FTA, as it isthe steady source of continued technical research into flexo- graphicproblems, opportunities and processes. Asone example, a lot ofthe information relating toExpanded Gamut Printing was the result of FQC projects. The same can be saidfor our knowledgeof improved use ofplates, ink spit- ting on press, etc. Members should become active in FQC andpropose future abstracts toJean Engelke of Eastman KodakCompany and Sam Ingram ofClemson University. Thisyear, lookforward toa comparison of a 4-color pressrun with ECG, a discussion of Delta E tolerances andpresenta- tions on mount- ing tapes, new platetechnolo- gies and the platemak- ing pro- cess as it relates to plate dura- bility. SESSIONS & STRUCTURE ... EM E RGING TRENDS—Malcolm Keiffrom California Polytechnic State University and JohnCrammer from Best Label Company, Inc. have puttogether a panel of pre- senters speaking tothosetrends andtechnologiesthat are either “justhere” or “right around thecorner.” What is itthat will change and improve our processes and whatdoestheflexo industry need todotoprepare? This session has been a model in thepastfewyears for its ability to educate, as well as entertain, and it should notbe missed. EXCELLENCE INFLEXOGRAPHY—“Winner, Winner Chicken Dinner”—We want attendees toget a “peek behindthecurtain” as it relatestothe process ofjudging the FTAExcellence in Flexography Awards, particularly “Best ofShow.” Ever y year, there is interest in either entering the awards competition or improving the individual pre- sentations, so as to improve theparticipant’s chances of success. Wehopeto not only show whythe winners won, but also topoint out the criteria used by thejudges to determine success. Judging vets SteveMullins—theAwards Committee chair—from Exopack and MarkCoffman—Awards Committee member— from Dixie Graphics will take usthrough thispresentation. WORKFLOW AUTOMATION— Randy Butler from MacDermid Printing Solu- tions and Rory Marsoun from Esko will ask theaudi- e nce “Are yougetting the most out ofyour automated workflow solutions?”Their panel ofpresenters andtheir agenda ofbothteaching the membership about new workflow methods, as well as examples ofpractical applications, will educatethe membership as tohowtheir own workflow automation solutions can be maximized for greater results. EXPANDED GAMUTPRINTING—2012’s roundtable session in San Antonio generated more interest and follow upquestions than any session in recent history. Expanded gamut printing continues togrow but what is the actual state oftheprocess in 2013? BradTaylor from DuPont Packaging Graphics and Mike McGinnis from RR Donnelley will bring together a veteran panel to speakto that issue. What isthe market share for ECG? How has it evolved over thepastfew years? Has proofing for Expanded Gamut keptpace with the growth? Agroup of subject matter experts should shed alot of light on the subject. FIRST-Are youFIRST Certified? What was once a noble notion is now a mainstay oftheflexo industry as we seek to raise thelevel of our consistent quality and quan- tify and communicatethefactthat our printing processes are in control. Rich Emmerling ofthe FlintGroup andMark Mazur from DuPont PackagingGraphics will lead apanel speaking totheFIRSTCertification Program and obtain- ing the input regarding FIRST’s benefits from both a printer and a consumer product company. FOOD SAFETY—We need only readthetrade and national news to realize that the subject and regulation of food safety is a growing concern and is destinedto become an even bigger issue in thefuture. Why is this happening? How prevalent will programs andprocesses dealing with food safety certification become? What spe- cificprocesses and mindsets must change on the part of the converter in order to align with these new develop- ments? Bruce Riddell from Spectrum Label Corporation and Dan Doherty from thePrairie StateGroup havebrought together an experienced panel to explain how the pro- cess affects all involved—a CPCspokesman, experts on certifications—such as theGlobal FoodSafety Initiative, Packaging’s Global Powerhouse Flexography & FTA Shined & Surged in 2013 By Robert Moran and Brad Pareso Plants & Processes Corrugated Packaging in High Definition a Whole new carton By Jeff Dumbach Retail establishments are constantly making additional demands of corrugatedpackaging.It must transport, protect and now with spectacular images silently con- vince the consumer totake it offtheshelf.CorrugatedSyner- giesInternational, LLC, (CSI)Renton, WA, has embraced this challengethroughdevelopment of advancedgraphicsdis- ciplines andprocesses. CSIrecognizes that global retailers nolonger view abox just as abox.Thebox is nowanimage bearing billboard, a visual communication vehicle and sales person sitting on the store shelf shouting. “Look at me. Take me home.” With itsprocess, CSIhelpsto satisfy the need of retailers to sell more product than has been soldbefore in that valuablestore space. In order to achievethis, the retailer must havethe confidence that every container is delivered to theapproved standard and of the same shelf appearance. Highdefinition printing istherealization of bringing to- gether thebest of alltheparticipating elements and deliver- ing these containers with no perceived variation from the standard. For thefirst time, quantity andqualitydemands are considered of equal value. How isthis achieved?Over the last four decades, thisprogressive project development and management company through innovation and vision, has proven what corrugated must bein the 21st century.CSIis now focusing on brining the advantages of Preprint tothebox making and retail communities through the implementation of theshort run “on demand”process utilizing itsdisciplines andtechnology suppliers. CSI’s further objective is totakethe data of audited results andpassit on tothe supply chain as a method of measuring performance. (CSIbelieves: There is no middleground. Anything other than aspiring to complete control degradesthe result – one standard over the entire run that is repeatableon demand.)Theculmination of this process willbea product which is unique, cost effectiveand environmentallyfriendlyat many levels. STEPPING BEYOND TRADITION Traditionally, corrugatedhascarried basic images and information of packaged contents such as: “Fragile, ThisEnd Up.” Whycan’t box plantsprint successfully, where quality andquantity are commensurate values? Most box plants are inherentlydustyfrom board converting operations; havelittle control over daily/seasonal temperature swings; significant variations in print substrates, inconsis- tent ink andplate managementdisciplines andtheinherent characteristics of corrugated sheets, such as washboard, warp andthelike. First andforemost, thesefacilities are box plants Corrugated SynergieS international (llC), renton, Wa • 1982–Established thefirstdedicated sheetfeeder facility in North America • 1982-2013–More than 60 sheetplants integrate raw material supply, utilizing the services ofCSI. The company developed nine highly successful sheet feeder operations, as well asthree fullline box plants, employing 14 state-of-the-art corrugators • 1990s–Embarked on an intense program of ad- vanced flexo print development, in concert with technically superior partner suppliers • 2004–Added seven-color Martin DRONT , c omp lete with inter-station IR dryers and UV curing tothe exist- ing equ ipme nt line up • 2000s–Commercially availableflexo printed corru- gated products of unparalleledquality andquantity, capture many FTA, TAPPI and AICCawards • 2013–Technical excellence is thepriority asthe com- bining of advanced inks, plates, anilox, fully inte- grated vision inspection systems, color management, registration and image verification takes place—all at extreme volume production speeds. Tw o new sheet feeder projects underway 52 FLEXO feB ruary 2013 www.flexography.org COrrugatEd SynErgiES intErnatiOnaL, LLC Fta MeMBerSHiP Portrait: 12 FLEXO DECEMBER 2013 www.flexography.org FTA TODAY