Archive for the ‘Pre-media Packaging’ Category

A Global Pre-media Village??

September 13, 2009

iStock_000006175136MediumI recently posted a comment on the Tunicca Pre-media Lounge questioning the differences between ‘US Pre-media‘ and the ‘Rest of the World Pre-media‘. As I said in the discussion, this was not an effort to invoke WW III and was not intended to get everyone saying “well our Pre-media is better than your Pre-media”! It was more a point for discussion and to help to highlight the different levels of service and innovation around the World. During my Corporate Account role at EskoArtwork the employee of a certain packaging organisation used to return home from technical meetings in the US and say that his American colleagues were years behind what was being done in the Pre-media field in Europe.

Now this is a subjective and emotive topic and it may have been that his American colleagues were saying similar things about their European counterparts. However, it got me thinking as to how such disparity should appear in an industry where the technology is clearly global as system vendors now sell their products worldwide whether that be direct or through distributors and resellers. However, in my experience there seems to be many differences in the deployment and operation of these technologies all over the world.

BRIC Markets

In recent years we have seen a massive rise in the access to emerging countries (such as the BRIC markets, see left) and whether a global supplier utilises skills that were previously unavailable to them, or they need to supply pre-media technologies on a more local basis, there seems to be a brand new set of challenges emerging from this scenario. We have seen the globalisation of many facets of our industry and I often meet with large global companies who have expanded through either organic growth or acquisition or both. It is these companies I believe that face the most complex challenges in Pre-media in as they attempt to deliver standardised products with disparate systems, operations and processes.

Global Packaging Supply Chain Challenge

The Global Supply Chain Challenge

Imagine if you will a fictitious global supplier who utilises pre-media technology as part of its supply chain services to its customers. This company is based and driven from the US (for example) and has grown from being a US domestic supplier to a global player by opening new operations worldwide as well as acquiring a number of companies and groups to ensure that its footprint is truly global – they need to do this to satisfy their global brand customers who are growing into new emerging markets. This supplier has always been good at what they do and has built a fine business reputation based upon quality and service. Now they are being pushed even further not just by their suppliers, but internally as they realise that their global operating costs are high. On the one hand customers demand standardised products worldwide but those products must remain innovative and provide value for money. On the other hand, it’s a tough market so internally operational processes need to be streamlined in order reduce costs and remain competitive. The issues that this company faces are as follows:

  • Due to the nature of their growth, their Global footprint now includes a host of operations who are functioning with wholly disparate legacy systems.
  • The processes around these pre-media are completely different within each facility and in some cases are out of control.
  • The skill levels of their global staff vary drastically as the local social demographics and educational levels of each country vary greatly.
Tunicca - International, Independant, Premium Pre-media Consulting Services

Tunicca - International, Independent, Premium Pre-media Consulting Services

These are three vital areas of concern and provide the global operation with a massive challenge; how to align all three of these aspects within a global corporation. This undertaking, whilst huge, is not impossible and involves determining business processes that can be migrated around the world as well as training programs to align and raise skills on a global basis. All of these need of course to be based on standardised technology – technology that suits the global footprint and short term and long term objectives of the company. As I said – a huge task, but not impossible – and it’s just another one of the consequences of globalisation.

And as a footnote I must add that these kinds of problems are completely matched to the services of Tunicca because we are an organisation that is set up to help in all of these areas. Being an International concern, entirely Independent, focussed on Pre-media and providing a Premium and Professional service these are the kinds of challenges that we relish!

Author: Sean Runchman

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Tents, Processes & Pre-media

September 5, 2009

Tents, processes and Pre-media – not obviously linked, but stick with me, It’ll all make sense in the end.

Those of you who follow me on Twitter will know that I recently had the pleasure of sleeping in a tent in a windy field in Kent during the UK’s recent long weekend. The five nights that I spent sat in my field were eased somewhat by the presence of good friends Paddy McNulty (owner of Print Company MCNG Ltd) and his wife Mary McNulty who has recently re-joined Epson as their European Marketing Manager. So our camp fire discussions tended towards subjects based around business strategy and the future of print and Pre-media. That was until our fellow campers got bored with all that business chat and asked us to change the subject – some people have no taste!

A Tent in a Field

A Tent in a Field

There seems to be a trend here in the UK to go back to nature and so the field that we were in was soon to be awash with trendy new tents bought straight from the new camping stores that seem to have popped up all over the country. As we arrived early we were able to erect our tent (for the first time in public) without too much of an audience. We managed to get the structure up in the specified 40 minutes, but by the time we had completely finished the process (pegging down guy ropes, flattening groundsheets, etc.) it must have been a good 2 hours later. This of course made me determined to improve the ‘tent erection process’ during our next outing!

Upon completing our tent I thought that I would then have the pleasure of watching all of the other arrivals struggle with their new tents;  sat in a chair, glass of wine in hand and relaxed in the knowledge that my work was done. However, instead my time was spent struggling, sweating and swearing as I was roped in to helping my friends put up their tents – so three tents later (including one broken tent, thank you Halfords!) I was able to sit back and relax and survey the scene – a field packed full of shiny tents and smoky BBQ’s.

One Broken Tent

One Broken Tent

And here is the tentative link to pre-media. By the time I had erected and then disassembled 4 separate tents I was, although I say it myself, quite good at it – I had a system going and I had the process well under control. Next time I will be quicker, more efficient, the tent will be more strudy, etc. Now, obviously camping is nowhere near as complex as Pre-media, but there are clearly processes and sub-processes involved in the managment manipulation and delivery of Pre-media data. And it’s these processes, much like my tent building, that can always be improved – speed, efficiency, quality, etc.

I recently met a chap at a packaging company who had run their pre-media department for quite some years. I asked him what challenges he felt that he faced and he said none – everything was under control and there were no problems or bottlenecks. Of course I found this very difficult to accept and some further digging found that they still received their work from customers on CD’s. Even more investigation revealed that they were actually in the dark ages with their whole department which had been clearly neglected for some time. Not only their technology, but their processes were way behind the modern age and in need of a complete overhaul. Whilst this suited the old timer who was happy to see it all out to his retirement date it in no way suited the company that he worked for – in turn, they had trusted him to operate a system and process that had remained their standard for many years.

And here is my point – no matter how many times I put up and take down my tent I will never get it perfected – there will always be room to improve. And this is true of Pre-media – there are always areas for improvement and the process can never be perfect!

Business Process Lifecycle Model

Business Process Lifecycle Model

As business process analysts we know this more than anyone and the Business Process Lifecycle model shows that the systems and processes should always be monitored and improved in some way – it is a constantly moving cycle. There should always be an ongoing course of process improvement and if you take your eye off this it is so easy to fall behind, especially in a technology driven industry such as Pre-media.

I have to say thanks for bearing with me. I told you the link was tentative. By the way, does anyone know if there is a tent available with an integrated beer chiller?

Author: Sean Runchman

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Esko’s Domination of Packaging Pre-media

August 14, 2009


Being an ex-Esko person I feel compelled to make mention of my old compatriots – something that I have resisted in this blog since leaving the company just over a year ago.

Purup1Now, first of all I should point out that I still have many friends in Esko with whom I talk regularly and I thoroughly enjoyed my 8 1/2 years with the ‘green machine’. I started there as a Purup Eskofot regional sales manager selling CtP and workflow into commercial print (remember PlateDriver??). My biggest daily challenge at that time was getting secretaries at the other end of the phone to understand the name Purup Eskofot (oh, how life would have been simpler if I had been with Creo, Agfa or Screen!) – “Purup Esofot, let me spell it out to you P… U… R… U…”

By the end of my tenure at Esko, the company had morphed into an almost entirely packaging oriented business and I was the European Corporate Account Manager taking care of sales to a number of European and Global packaging corporations. Quite a big change, but a challenge that I both relished and enjoyed. I still admire the company but most especially the vision and drive of some of the people within their business – I could mention a few of those people but one who always springs to mind (and in my opinion epitomises the company) is Frank Adegeest. I always enjoyed working with Frank and I was always amazed by his vision and drive. (more…)

Tunicca Announces Clever Cost Savings Package

August 10, 2009

Aug 10, 2009 – Tunicca, the Business Process Analysis company has announced a new initiative – a constructive and manageable package to help companies in the present economic downturn.

Read the full press release here.

The Real World of Outsourcing – Pre-media

July 22, 2009

Below a look at the outsourcing process as explained by Rajesh Bhat working as a production manager in an Indian outsourcing company. We thank Rajesh for spending the time to submit his views:

Has anyone who is involved in the day to day outsourcing process and is working on files ever thought about the reason behind their companies outsourcing activities. Why do companies outsource their jobs? Is it just because of the cost? To save money?! Is it to get rid of the pain of hiring people, investments in the resources required? What is the logic behind this outsourcing business?

For our discussion purpose from here on let me call an outsourcing company as an “Outsourcer” and the receiver company as an “Outsourcee”– (Employer and Employee concept). Nowadays, the outsourcing has turned out to be a business partnership. So the companies rather search for their partners who can really add up values to the services the Outsourcer provides. The Outsourcee should be able to provide a Quality product at a lower cost so that the Outsourcee can add to their profits.

(more…)

Profitable Growth Plan? Do You Have One?

July 22, 2009

Today all companies, not just in our industry are having to tighten their belts to ride out the financial tornado that is currently gobbling up the globe, but what are businesses doing to get through?

The immediate reaction is always to cut overheads, I myself have been with 2 corporates who have slashed staff as if they were letting out bath water and seen managers protect their own position at the sacrfice of others, but at the top of the ladder are these cuts made with enough understanding of the long term damage? Do they come with cost reduction & survival or growth & survival in mind?

For all companies out there it may well be necessary to have staff reductions. It’s only natural that in good times jobs are created to lighten the burden on others and when times are tough these positions have to go. But how many of you or the companies you work for are communicating what you are doing to ensure growth in a declining market? How many of you have communicated your strategy in a clear and concise manner to ensure complete understanding and the support of your staff?

  • Create a growth plan and ensure targets are generated that are realistic.
  • Remember that companies are social networks and if the communication isn’t coming from the top to everyone then it will be filtered and diluted.
  • Be sure you have the right people that are supporting your business for growth in your management positions.
  • Remember that growth ideas can come from anyone in the organization, don’t always expect it from your managers.
  • Be sure you understand your market service offering and the people selling for you know what they are selling!

Don’t just back off into the corner, get that plan together and communicate it then ACTION IT!

Author: Gary George

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Virtual Prototyping within the Consumer Packaged Goods Industry

July 17, 2009

Here I am, fully back to operational state, pretty much got the automation of baby feeding down to a tee now so finally after 6 days I’m getting a good nights sleep.

I spoke the other day about sustainability and provided a little insight into what it was all about. With this post I want to look at part of the supply chain of packaging that we don’t think about and how it affects what happens in pre-media and when pre-media companies could really be getting involved.

Fibretec Crush Devices

Fibretec Crush Devices

(more…)

RFID & Packaging – what’s the future got in store?

July 16, 2009

You may have heard of RFID in passing but never really taken much notice of it when it has been bought up, but the future is full of them affecting our every day lives…. but it may come at a cost.

Lets first remind you all about what it is:

Radio-frequency identification (RFID) is the use of an object (typically referred to as an RFID tag) applied to or incorporated into a product, animal, or person for the purpose of identification and tracking using radio waves. Some tags can be read from several meters away and beyond the line of sight of the reader.

You may have heard about how WalMart is using it with their suppliers, or how the US army track their supplies around the globe, so we we can see that there is some mega bucks being ploughed into the technology, and with all new(ish) technology the more people that use it the cost of using it reduces and opens the doors for more or further reaching possibilities….

There’s a prediction from the an Ericsson executive stating that all mobile phones will have RFID readers and transmitters by 2010, this would open the doors (so to speak) of a million and one possibilities to what you can use your mobile phone for, for instance, credit card companies could track their users to combat credit card fraud, or lets say it could also open up a new revenue stream for the fruadsters out there with potentially devastating affects.

There are so many privacy concerns over this technology, I have to ask whether it still needs to mature some more until it is really let loose on the consumer…. But where could it be used with the consumer, well lets say that the prediction about mobile phones is true, could the technology then be embedded into consumer packaging? Could you be navigating your supermarket  from your phone? Getting product information that would you would usually pick up the product for and be able to see alternatives…. Or what about tapping in ‘eggs’ into your phone and having a store map with the exact shelf in the store along with the stock level.

So it does open up all sorts of possibilities for the consumers as well.

It’s going to be an interesting future and one I will be keeping a close eye on, maybe as one of those technologies that will creep up on your and then suddenly be a complete part of your everyday life…. But what will the reality be for the mobile phones? another one of the 95% of feature that users don’t use?

Author: Gary George

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Adobe stock takes a hike – news on the horizon?

July 16, 2009

Well we’ve seen it before and yesterday the Adobe stock prices jumped with news of Acrobat 10 and CS5 in the first two quarters of next year, although we’ve seen no official word yet from Adobe, but analyst Barbara Coffey of Kaufman Bros changed the stock to BUY from hold leading to the sharp rise.

So start working on your budgets for next year as you can rest assured that Adobe will have so cracking new features for us and maybe all the apps will be fully 64bit…. well we can hope can’t we!

Anyway read the original blog here by Eric Savitz

Author: Gary George

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Sustainable packaging – who’s thinking about it?

July 7, 2009

Like I said yesterday, now I have 2 days before my beautiful little girl is due to arrive into this world (naturally message me if you want to donate to her child trust fund, as I will need the extra cash just to make up what the banks are losing on them!) and here I am thinking about nappies (diapers for our US friends out there!) and the volume of them that we’ll be purchasing in the next couple of years.bn1000_new_baby_nappy

So I know there’s been lots of press about nappies  ending up in land fills and not being bio-degradable blah blah blah, but I’ll be responsible and dispose of them in a way that hopefully is better for the environment. But what about the packaging?

It got me thinking; if I pop down to my local nappy  outlet and buy nappies they come either in a big printed box or in a plastic printed shrink wrap, is this packaging sustainable at all?

And look at the volume I’ll buy, they estimate a baby will use 4500 before they are out of them, with the average pack size of 56, thats 80 odd packs we’ll be buying, multiple that by the 4 million plus babies born each year and you have a heck of a lot of packaging!

What’s sustainable packaging all about then?

The Sustainable Packaging Coalition list it as 8 main points as follows:

  1. Packaging is beneficial, safe & healthy for individuals and communities throughout its life cycle;
  2. Meets market criteria for performance and cost;
  3. Is sourced, manufactured, transported, and recycled using renewable energy;
  4. Maximizes the use of renewable or recycled source materials;
  5. Is manufactured using clean production technologies and best practices;
  6. Is made from materials healthy in all probable end of life scenarios;
  7. Is physically designed to optimize materials and energy;
  8. Is effectively recovered and utilized in biological and/or industrial cradle to cradle cycles.

Not all packaging will be able to fulfil these points, but companies can make inroads into changing their manufatcturing and transportation processes to be kinder to the environment. But does the process of material selection start way before the design of the product packaging in order to fulfil some of the sustainablity requirements?

We see examples of packaging sustainability everyday in the news and in advertising. Take two examples; Apple recently made a big deal about the packaging and manufacturing material of their new MacBooks listing a number of recyclable componants and ratings they acheive with the products. This is what they list:

  • Arsenic-free display glass
  • BFR-free
  • Mercury-free LED-backlit display
  • PVC-free internal cable
  • Highly recyclable aluminum and glass enclosure
  • Reduced packaging volume
  • Meets ENERGY STAR Version 5.0 requirements
  • Rated EPEAT Gold

Another example that we have seen a lot of is the reduction of packet size. Let’s look at Fabric Conditioner; you may have seen the recent adverts for a leading brand that talks about being able to transport more units every trip due to the super concentrate? Well the impact is huge – the reduced volume of lorry trips and the reduction in fuel needs which lowers the CO2 emissions. All great stuff for the environment.

We see a lot of companies building carbon footprint calculators into their portals for their customers use, but is this too late in the design stage of the products. There are online options available and one that is immediately available is the Compass system at $750 ($500 for members fo SPC) it would appear to appeal to anyone to calculate the potential environmental impacts upfront.

COMPASSSM (Comparative Packaging Assessment) is an online software tool for packaging designers and engineers to assess the human and environmental impacts of their packaging designs

When sustainability and product presence collide.

It’s not all good news though as there are plenty of examples out there where reducing the packaging size or material would have a detramental effect to the products presence in the market. Take crisps or potato chips…. I remember when I was a kid that crisp packets seemed full of those flavoured waffer thin slices of heaven. Today you buy a packet and whilst the size of the packaging is the same, the packet only appears to be a quarter full…. Could they reduce the size to better fit the contents or would the brands then struggle for shelf awareness? But look at the impact that could have…. a box for 24 crisps is bigger than a crate of beer yet a fraction of the weight.

When printed packaging isn’t neccessary.

Looking ahead at my 3 year nappy challenge, am I worried about the brightly printed packaging? Not really – I’m more interested in the price, once I’ve made my brand selection I’d be please for a small reduction in cost to be able to buy them in bulk with no branded packaging….. And what of the online market place for electrical goods; OK I understand that you may want a pretty box as you walk out of your electrical reseller with your food mixer under arm, bounding along to your car all proud of your purchase, but when you order online your boxed product then needs to be boxed again to be delivered to you only for you to unpack the two sets of packaging and swiftly dispose of them…. what’s the sense there? Do you care about the branded packaging when it comes to virtual purchasing? Hardly helping the environment even if both sets of packaging is sustainable.

Conclusion

With the cost of packaging making a percentage of the product costs (even if it is a small fraction) the question of sustainability needs to be at the front of everyones business process requirements. There certainly are methods to quantify the environmental issues up front in the design cycle and Tunicca can readily assist in this area. We have number of exerts whose background is strongly entrenched in Packaging Pre-media and this is an area where the business impact of sustainability can and should be considered.

A hot topic and one we will no doubt address often in the coming months!

Author: Gary George

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