Supply Chain Tips, Remote Support, and the Latest from New York
Now that we’re all about five weeks in to our new normal, the initial shock of the COVID-19 pandemic appears to be waning, as printers and converters adjust to the changes and challenges that this situation has provided.
But while we’re all starting to get acclimated to the realities of our new professional lives, it’s always good to pause and take in some advice and best practices from our colleagues and peers. This week, I came across a video webinar produced by digital print solutions provider S-One Labels & Packaging, that offered some great insights.
The video featured VP Ralph Giammarco, Global Sales Director Tom Hauenstein, and Senior Content Marketing Manager Shellie Terry, and covered a variety of topics pertaining to how printers and converters can best handle this unprecedented situation.
While there’s no question that the coronavirus has made for an influx of new challenges to contend with, Giammarco explained that it has also brought some significant opportunities to the industry. For example, demand is up, particularly for flexible packaging, which offers added durability and increased shelf life.
With a high demand however, Giammarco said that package printers need to be vigilant in monitoring their various supply chains to ensure that they’ll be able to receive the materials needed to produce their products. Additionally, he said that the value of digital printing has become pronounced in the midst of the pandemic with its ability to provide fast turnarounds of short runs.
Regarding supply chains, Hauenstein advised that printers and converters call their suppliers for updates on whether they have been impacted. Depending on the impact, he said that it may make sense to stock up on supplies where necessary, but not too much to the point where flexibility is impacted. For example, he said the demand for film is increasing and with long lead times for film already in place, it might make sense to factor that in. Another supply chain aspect to be aware of, Hauenstein said, is the potential for delays in shipping. Even if a supplier has not been impacted, elements outside of their control could result in delays in printers and converters receiving the supplies.
On the communications front, Terry recommended printers and converters utilize social media and email to get the word out to customers about the status of their businesses. Additionally, she explained that while the industry is caught up in the hectic environment of these strained circumstances, making sure compassionate conversations are taking place with customers and employees can go a long way.
“Just take a second even if you’re busy to take a breath and ask how the person is that you’re reaching out to,” she said.
While printing and packaging companies have largely been deemed to be essential businesses and presses can remain up and running during the pandemic, there are certain precautions that are taking place to ensure safety. In many cases, this includes restricting any non-employee from entering a package printing facility.
This of course has led to questions surrounding equipment support and maintenance. With technicians unable to physically provide repairs, companies such as PCMC have offered remote assistance. In a recent blog post on PCMC’s website, the company explains how its Accelerate Live program can provide a virtual audit with audio and video capabilities that allow a technician to get an up close look at a press. At the end of the audit, the printer receives a full report complete with suggestions and recommendations, ranked by severity. While the post states that a virtual audit can’t quite replicate an in-person audit, it is a serviceable option considering the current circumstances.
The Latest from NAPCO Media, SGIA, and PIA
Here at NAPCO Media, we’re consistently updating the COVID-19 Resource Channel — along with our partners at SGIA, PIA, and the PIA Affiliates — with information printers and converters can use to stay on top of the latest happenings surrounding the pandemic. Here are some recent highlights:
Senior Editor Patrick Henry reports from New York — the epicenter of coronavirus cases in the U.S. — on how printers in the region are faring with the SBA Paycheck Protection Program.
Denise Gustavson, editorial director for NAPCO Media’s print group, provides a very useful and comprehensive roundup of resources printers and converters can use to provide help to those in need. Helpful signage and protective equipment is in high demand, and the print industry is uniquely positioned to help get these products where they’re needed most.
Meanwhile, the experts at SGIA are providing helpful tips on a daily basis. Check out this roundup of unemployment and sick leave information from Heather Nortz, SGIA’s sustainability programs coordinator. Additionally, Gary Jones, the association’s director of environmental, health, and safety affairs, has provided a helpful outline of OSHA requirements and how they have become even more important in the age of the coronavirus.