The Exciting & Exhilarating Environment

The Exciting & Exhilarating Environment

U.S. based flexographic printers and their supporting suppliers are focused on driving improvements. Efficiency rules! Waste reduction is imperative. Sharing this assessment are the Flexographic Technical Association and the Foundation of FTA Board Chairmen, Johnny Dye and Alex James. The duo contends that, cost control, color management, reduced setup and makeready times, short runs, quick turns and sustainable business practices are positioned to be prime targets for action.   

Presently, globalization is a major force in the packaging sector, and consumer product companies are setting aggressive goals which are built on specific demands. Print providers continue to respond to and forge formative approaches in order to meet the expectations which have been set Developments, such as these, are leading to the qualification of enhancements, prompting Dye and James to observe that, “collectively, such trends make for an exciting and exhilarating operating environment.  

Action Plan 

Among FTA members, the two say, “it’s no secret that improved in-plant productivity is ever-present on every package printer’s strategic agenda. Whether it’s consistent color, superior reliance on process control, or faster reaction and response time, print practitioners are steadfast in declaring that ‘Improving performance will always be at the top of the list regarding strategic objectives.”  

James and Dye cite SKU proliferation, customization, multi-process print, and personalization as frequent demands. They report that jobs are up; run lengths are down, and customization, along with compliance, are critical.  The two voice additional points to note. “given the advent of automated workflows and their impact on asset management, FTA members have universally embraced the idea of interconnectivity.  

Process control is stepping into the role of being a survival tool,” they stressIn order to stay ahead of ever-changing requirements, and to deliver predictable, consistent and repeatable results, continuous improvements require a solid understanding of the best print practices. One strategy, which the FTA champions at every opportunity is “print to the numbers!” 

According to the board chairmen, “converters currently identify downtime as the enemy, and pledge to automate, integrate, boost productivity, control variables and enhance the quality of product put out. Actions initiated in pursuit of the objective, hone in on resource allocation, training and education, ongoing investment, customer demand and competitive pressure. The mission can be condensed into a single statement: “identify and deliver value.” 

Staying Power 

Dye, the Director of Printing Technology for Accredo Packaging Inc, located in Sugarland, TX, believes “ink technology has significantly advanced during this decade.” He observes that “specialty inks and coatings are increasingly in demand. Specialty effects and textures are often being considered for the same package. In regard to his opinion, “print quality enhancements are being significantly driven by plating and screening technologies.”  

James, the Sales Manager for Eastern Canada and the Strategic Accounts Manager of the Flexographic Packaging Division for Miraclon Corpis in agreementToday’s imaging and plating technology advancements continue to contribute to improvements required on a plant level regarding makeready times, color matching, and reducing waste. 

He continues by echoing some of Dye’s other observations and adds a few of his own. “Printed product quality, across the board, continues to improve. As an example, we’re seeing the incorporation of white ink on direct corrugate, which results in better laydown of ink with crisper halftones and striking solids.” James also acknowledges the seemingly ever-accelerating pace of merger and acquisition activity within all the packaging market segments. 

Commenting on recent developments in the marketplace, Dye notes that some marketing and sustainability groups are finding it difficult to obtain a balance between recyclability and producing a premium appearanceConsumer product companies (CPCs) are forming extremely aggressive goals, such as requiring that a particular brand be 100-percent recyclable as early as the calendar year 2021. 

James elaborates on that point. “A definite trend picking up steam is the commitment to sustainability. Nèstle, P&G and Unilever, are among CPCs that have made concrete commitments to manufacture products made from recycled materials. Countries such as France, Germany, Italy and the United Kingdom have committed to requiring that all plastics produced in their countries be recycled, reused or incinerated to produce energy by 2040. Canada recently announced its commitment to ban single-use plastics as early as 2021.” 

James forecasts that such trends will continue to change our industry, spearheading improvements in efficiency and waste reduction.” To conclude, he decrees that “it’s quite exciting to see such positive trends taking shapedirectly across the board, in our industry. 


Johnny Dye and Alex James 

Chair FTA Board of Directors and chair FTA Board of Trustees

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