Early Hybrid Printing Adopters Share First-Hand Experiences
Hybrid printing platforms that combine digital and conventional technologies have created a substantial buzz across the package printing industry in recent years. With several suppliers launching hybrid systems at events like Labelexpo and drupa, multiple early adopters have brought hybrid printing in house and are seeing the benefits of combining digital and conventional printing.
On Thursday, December 6, packagePRINTING hosted a webinar sponsored by Mark Andy, during which two hybrid press users took part in a panel discussion about their experiences. Debbie Gilbert, co-founder and president of PRX Print, and Brad Knoth, co-founder and CEO of Advantage Label, each detailed their experiences with various hybrid platforms and how they have helped serve their customers. PRX Print entered the world of hybrid printing with its installation of the Mark Andy Digital One, while Advantage Label brought hybrid on board in 2017 with both a Mark Andy Digital One and Mark Andy Digital Series.
Here are some of the highlights of the conversation. To access the entire webinar on-demand, please click here.
On the decision to bring hybrid printing on board:
Debbie Gilbert: There was a trend toward this new ‘digital printing thing’ that enabled people to have short runs and multiple SKUs without buying a whole boatload of plates. They wanted to maintain high quality, but come to us and get … a small quantity of labels. We were also noticing there was a real push for fast lead times. It seemed that after we started to emerge from the recession, companies and retailers in particular were less apt to have as much loyalty to our customers in terms of keeping their products on the shelf.
Brad Knoth: We had a dozen or so test items that we took around to [press manufacturers]. We took note of the time and effort, and the changeovers. The Digital Series for sure was the clear winner for our mix of business and the jobs we went down to run. We also saw there was an additional fit for the Digital One for those jobs we think of as 1,600 feet or less. We actually had a pretty significant amount of jobs that we did that were in that run length.
On how hybrid helped solve a specific customer need:
DG: One of our long time customers in the food industry called us and said, ‘I have a truckload of blueberries here and they’re not labeled. I need labels, otherwise the entire truckload will be spoiled and I can’t sell them.' In the past, I probably couldn’t have helped him because we’re looking at a few days turnaround time … We literally used our graphic designer/press operator to whip together a label in Illustrator and got it approved. We only had a couple of dies at the time and [the customer] was happy with one of them. We printed him all of the labels he needed and had them to him the next morning.
On marketing hybrid to brands:
BK: We’re very direct sales oriented. We’re not out there selling digital per se, and not really selling labels as much as we’re trying to form a relationship with the customer to help them sell their product. That’s the key — helping them sell their product and making it very easy to work with us.
DG: We take on flexo customers that we’ve had for years or people who have been buying other types of products from us and we offer them our digital capabilities that are enhanced now with shorter lead times and graphic design services. We tell them we’re well-positioned to be a one stop shop for them.
For more insight into how these early hybrid technology adopters are utilizing their various hybrid assets, be sure to check out the full webinar on demand.