New Research Service to Track Label Production Workflow Trends
Label printing and converting is becoming increasingly complex as job quantities, run lengths, and output volumes continue to fluctuate. With more jobs to manage throughout the production process, label printers and converters are in need of technological solutions that can ease the pain points caused by these evolving trends.
NAPCO Research, a division of Packaging Impressions’ parent company NAPCO Media, is launching an annual service initiative that will quantify the variation in job quantities that label printers are contending with. This data will be supplemented with updates on average run lengths across industry and market segments and trends in overall label output. In tracking these metrics year-over-year, this service will provide an evolving snapshot of the label workflow across the industry and offer insight into how solutions providers can best serve their customers.
It's no secret that shorter run lengths have presented a significant challenge for package printers. In fact, in 2018, Packaging Impressions and NAPCO Research conducted a study of package printers and converters across all segments that confirmed just how big of a hurdle short runs are presenting. In that report, more than half (51%) of package printers stated that keeping up with decreasing run sizes and SKU proliferation was among their top three production-based business challenges.
While shorter run lengths continue to present a challenge across label and package printing, technological solutions such as digital printing and finishing, automated workflow processes, and quick changeover conventional presses have eased the pain. But what remains an immediate concern is the increasing job quantities that printers and converters must manage amidst a pressing lack of available labor, supply chain constraints, and a materials shortage.
From the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, the label industry has been pressed into hyperdrive due to heightened demand across several market segments. The nutraceutical and pharmaceutical segments for example, saw major upticks amidst the ongoing health crisis, and converters with the capacity to meet those demands were better positioned for success. Flextec, a label printer in Colorado Springs, Colorado, reported to Packaging Impressions in 2020 that a recent investment in digital printing and finishing equipment, along with updated graphics software, was highly beneficial in contending with the influx in demand.
Meanwhile, in Packaging Impressions’ 2021 State of the Label Industry report, label printers indicated certain segments took a hit in demand. These segments included the medical device, automotive, and single-serve beverage segments. But demand skyrocketed in segments such as household cleaning products, personal care, food delivery, and e-commerce. With this fluctuation of demand and run lengths across market segments, label printers interviewed in the report identified that flexibility in production was essential to success. This has become increasingly important as external factors such as the labor and materials shortage, and supply chain constraints have made production even more challenging.
These fluctuations in job quantity, run length, and overall output have made agility in the label production process essential, and label printers and converters are in need of the proper mix of digital and conventional presses, finishing equipment, and software solutions to optimize their workflow. The data and forecasts that this NAPCO Research initiative will uncover will be essential for industry suppliers to position their products and services to ensure label converters have what they need to thrive in an evolving industry.
If you are interested in subscribing to this new research opportunity for the label segment, contact Nathan Safran, VP of NAPCO Research, at email@example.com.
Cory Francer is an analyst at NAPCO Research. He formerly served as editor-in-chief of Packaging Impressions.