By Cassandra Balentine
Successful businesses adapt to the evolving needs of those they serve. For print and packaging providers, brand owners are looking for flexibility in ordering and the ability to cost-effectively obtain quick samples, shorter runs, and fast turnaround times.
Digital printing technologies provide an excellent complement to many traditional environments, enabling these businesses to provide sample making, quick turnarounds, shorter runs, and versioned customization.
Above: The SUN Automation CorrStream Series 66 produces custom corrugated box runs for customers of HSG.
Driven to Digital
HSG is a packaging printer located in Bradford, U.K. With 46 employees and one 45,000 square foot facility, the company has continuously evolved since its start in 1978.
It originally focused on wooden packing cases. Soon after, it expanded into heavy corrugated production to diversify its product offerings. In the 1990s it invested in a large format case maker and a second small format case making machine. In 2000, the company started offering color sample making and added an in-house design department.
“Our old business model operated around the principles of flexographic printed corrugated work and lithographic laminate corrugated work, in both the volume markets and point of sale markets,” explains Ben Ginesi, managing director, HSG.
The company acted when it realized there was a change in customer requirements. The packaging provider noticed a need for more flexibility within the print process, which would enable several downstream benefits, including personalization, better customer stock management, and versioned prints.
It decided to invest in a digital corrugated solution to address these needs in January 2016. HSG partnered with SUN Automation Group to serve as a beta site for its CorrStream Series 66 digital inkjet printer.
“SUN Automation understands what is required to bring all the constituents parts together for the delivery of a single-pass, water-based digital corrugated printer,” says Ginesi. “It seems to have a clear development path for what is required today and what is required tomorrow from the technology.”
At press time, Ginesi shares that the system is moving through the beta phase and is the only one of its type in the world.
The digital corrugated printing press is a self-contained solution that offers a conventional machine setup with continuous lead-edge feeding, printing, and delivery to box converters. The printer does not need plates or makeready, which helps reduce the amount of time needed to produce a finished box. It utilizes water-based ink.
A CMYK color digital printer for corrugated output, the CorrStream outputs production runs at speeds of up to 8,000 sheets per hour. Available in three models—Series, 20, 40, or 66—each provides High Quality Post Print quality. It features drop on demand, aqueous, industrial inkjet printheads. Maximum color and ink cost control are monitored with CorrStream Dynamic Color Range technology.
The core applications for the technology center around short- to medium-run length work, with multiple print variants of consistent sheet sizes, shares Ginesi.
To accommodate the press, the package printer completely redesigned its workflow from its existing processes to the initial point of customer contact. “It is a completely different process to maximize the customer experience,” says Ginesi.
HSG relies on the SUN Automation CorrStream for digitally printed corrugated packaging. “100 percent of what we manufacture on the machine is corrugated,” says Ginesi. The company produces everything from self-ready packaging kits for major retailers to two-color industrial packs with print variants.
The installation enabled the company to expand into markets that weren’t possible a little over a year ago. “We are also involved in many different routes to those markets. The technology changed how we interact with our customer and the end user brands,” comments Ginesi.
To maximize the full potential of the press, HSG designs its artwork in house.
The company creates custom corrugated box runs for a range of clients. Such as a recent run of 48,500 245x345x85 millimeter corrugated boxes, which fit within the specifications suited for production on the SUN Automation CorrStream press. Additionally, the press’ digital capabilities ensured accurate registration, which would be difficult or impossible to achieve with traditional printing methods.
The company is now able to produce a variety of shapes and sizes of corrugated packaging, while offering full-color digital and personalization or versioning to its clients.
HSG utilizes the SUN Automation CorrStream Series 66 press as a complement to its existing business. However, it is predicted to become increasingly important to the company’s operation.
Ginesi estimates that about 15 percent of its business is currently digital, and forecasts customer demand that could lead to a growth rate of 23 percent on an annual basis.
While the company is still managing the adjustment of implementing the technology, it is optimistic about digital’s place in the organization. “The biggest challenge is the sheer amount of change required to allow the technology to flourish,” admits Ginesi.
“We currently see digital as complementary to everything that we have in our business today. However, over the next seven years, we believe that it will be the only print technology used,” states Ginesi. “The reason is that we see a shift in the market for customer requirements that are aligned with digital benefits.”
The biggest advantage is that the technology allows HSG to offer customers more choices, something the corrugated industry is unfamiliar with.
HSG continues its work with SUN Automation through its beta program. In the meantime it plans on developing the business to business marketplace for the industrialization of corrugated inkjet.
Nov2017, Industrial Print Magazine