Forum 2018 Session to Focus on Press Innovations for Better Business

Forum 2018 logoAs expectations continue to increase and technologies continue to improve in the direct print market, business is becoming more competitive and customers are expecting more. A key to staying in the game, and even gaining a competitive advantage, is to understand how evolving press technologies can improve business practices, manage purchase decisions and increase productivity.

This is the focus of the Forum 2018 session “Advanced Corrugated Technologies: A Business Case,” which will center on the advantages of current press innovations to the direct print market and how to properly utilize them based on a printer’s needs. Here, Printron’s Jack Fulton, one of the session’s co-chairs, discusses with FLEXO Magazine what attendees can expect to learn as well as the future of the corrugated printing industry.

FLEXO Magazine: The corrugated session at Forum 2017—“Corrugated Direct Print – The Future Is Now!”—was well attended and well received. How will this year’s session build on last year’s?

Jack Fulton

Jack Fulton: We are hoping to use the momentum gained from the 2017 session along with the great Indianapolis location to attract a larger group of corrugated printers to Forum and INFOFLEX. FTA has a great deal to offer printers, and I hope they will come and experience some of that.

In 2017, we talked about the pros and cons of new anilox cell technology, learned how to go about printing award-winning work with existing equipment and had a great overview of where digital print technology is going in the direct print market.

This year, we are riffing on a popular theme from a graphic seminar I was involved in several years ago. One of the features of that seminar was the speakers from leading OEM press companies reviewing their latest technologies with the attendees. It gave the audience an opportunity to hear how the latest technology could give them an edge in their market.

There is one key difference: Then, each speaker would sit down with business owners and present this information. At Forum 2018, that information will be available to all attendees. Nothing quite like this has ever been done before, so we’re hoping for a great turnout!

FLEXO: What are corrugated customer expectations like in 2018? Based on what they are looking for, how necessary is it for a corrugated manufacturer to invest in and research new technologies in order to stay relevant and compete for business?

Fulton: Everyone I talked to about this question said today’s customer is looking for a more unique shipping experience. This means better and easier designs for the retail shelf and more shelf-ready packaging, so there is less reliance on the store worker to set up displays. This will more than likely mean more smaller packages and more individual products or SKUs.

All this relates to more graphics, as it is a proven fact that graphics on packages do make a difference in how products move off the shelves. Box makers need to be able to provide the best possible solutions for their customers. They need to market themselves in the best way possible. Having the most high-tech, modern and efficient equipment is becoming a necessity for survival in the future.

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FLEXO: What are some challenges brought on by rapidly changing press technologies?

Fulton: The challenge is in trying to decide which new technology is the one that will help each printer solve its customers’ requirements. For one, it might be digital, and for another, it might be a specific flexo technology. The goal will be to make the right decision!

One thing to keep in mind is that new equipment will not automatically be the answer to your customers’ demands. Having a clear understanding of your level of sales and production training, preventive maintenance and many essential processes will be the key to making that new press be the miracle worker you want it to be.

FLEXO: The session will also focus on capital equipment purchases. How is the recently passed tax reform affecting businesses’ plans for purchasing new machinery or upgrading old machinery?

Fulton: It should encourage people to invest in new equipment because the payback is quicker. However, most people I talked to didn’t think it would be enough to bring people into this market if they weren’t dedicated to it before.

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FLEXO: What do you think the next few years will bring for the corrugated industry as a whole? Are trends in other packaging segments also hitting the corrugated market?

Fulton: This is, of course, a topic of great interest to all of us. The consistent answer I received was that business has been good for several years and assuming the economy will continue in an upward direction, it should remain good for the foreseeable future.

e-Commerce business will continue to grow, and there will be lots of competition for Amazon. This business will be controlled by the integrated box companies due to economies of scale, while the high-graphics business will more than likely remain primarily with the independent corrugated manufacturers as it is today.

Box makers need to be able to provide the best possible solutions for their customers. They need to market themselves in the best way possible. Having the most high-tech, modern and efficient equipment is becoming a necessity for survival in the future.

Most felt corrugated is really its own beast and really not affected by other segments of the packaging market. Some graphics are affected, as in the craft beer business where corrugated boxes need to match folding cartons as closely as possible.

Expanded gamut (EG) printing, which is very popular in the flexible packaging segment, has never been used extensively in corrugated. It has been used as an image enhancer, but not in the same way it’s used to run different flexible packages throughout the work day.

The new corrugated registration technology that will be discussed in our session will certainly help make that possible, but a manufacturer would have to dedicate seven print stations with similar anilox rolls and have an additional two stations for a spot color and varnish to cover all the bases. That would be a tall order for most printers.

Customers want to be unique, so anything is possible!

FLEXO: What do you hope attendees take away from “Advanced Corrugated Technologies: A Business Case”?

Fulton: We hope they will be excited about the future of the direct print market. Everywhere they go, they hear and read about how digital print will take away the high-graphics segment from the market and how flexo can’t compete from a quality standpoint. Our lineup of speakers will show how the technology available today improves registration capability and allows printers to print higher linescreens than ever before. They will see the direct print flexo market is alive and well, and will be for years to come!

Session Details, Presenters, Discussion Topics

“Advanced Corrugated Technologies: A Business Case” takes place at 1:30 p.m. on Tuesday, May 8 in room 140 of the Indiana Convention Center. The session’s co-chairs are Jack Fulton of Printron and Geoff Roznak of Great Northern Corp. The complete roster of presentations and speakers includes:

“CorruCut RDC & CorruFlex Printer”Martin Corall headshot square

Presented by Martin Corall, KBA-Flexotecnica

Learn about the benefits of the new Koenig & Bauer high board line CorruCut/CorruFlex direct print flexo press and die cutter, and how it can help improve direct print capabilities in the corrugated market. Highlights include its flexibility, high print quality, user-friendliness and ease of maintenance. The machine also has the optional capability of printing on both sides of the substrate. CNC plate skewing of the complete print cylinder and a maximum speed of 12,000 sheets per hour make the CorruCut/CorruFlex a very unique fixed frame architecture, servo-driven press.

“Flexo Postprint Meets Litho Print”Andre Goepfert headshot square

Presented by Andre Goepfert, Goepfert Maschinen GmbH

While defining high graphics in the corrugated direct print market, learn how that market has changed over the past 10 years. Understand the factors influencing the high-graphic market and how Goepfert technology will help printers find success meeting those requirements.

“Press Technology Update”Tom Phillips headshot square

Presented by Tom Phillips, Bobst North America