By Chris Rogers, Solutions Marketing Manager, Esko.
In this article Esko Solution Marketing Manager, Chris Rogers looks at digital packaging management solutions for folding carton and corrugated packaging converters and, more specifically, about how packaging management systems are now accessible to companies of all sizes and not just the preserve of the bigger organizations.
Digitalization is changing the traditional landscape
You may have noticed that the continued digitalization of the packaging industry is changing the traditional landscape. This is especially true for the ways new design projects are managed and processed. More digital production means shorter run lengths and more SKUs with the knock-on effect that converters are faced with increasingly high volumes of data.
Key challenges for packaging converters
What are the key challenges facing converters in the packaging design process today? In a recent survey of its converter customers, Esko learnt that …
- Communication between stakeholders is fragmented
- The gathering of design request information is slow and the quality of incoming data is often poor
- It’s difficult to share and reuse assets with stakeholders
- There’s an overall lack of visibility, tracking and reporting
- Approval cycles are too long and a major bottleneck
If you’re involved in the packaging design process I’m sure that many, if not all, of these will be familiar to you.
However, these are challenges that ‘home grown’ solutions based on off the shelf applications like Excel, Outlook, Box, and SharePoint, cannot easily solve.
Good news: preconfigured solutions
The good news for converters is that fully CAD-integrated digital packaging management solutions are now available. They are accessible to companies who may previously have considered such technology out of reach. Companies no longer must fear the combined hurdles of high cost and lengthy scoping and deployment.
Esko has launched a series of pre-configured packaging management solutions that have been tailored to meet the needs of packaging converters. They offer upgradable, fixed cost solutions with clear deliverables and rapid deployment.
The concepts behind these solutions are:
- Digitization and standardization of design process management
- Centralization of design assets and associated information
- Increased visibility with clear dashboard reporting
- Fast 2D/3D approval cycles with online approval tools
Why digitize packaging design management?
Often converters will communicate with colleagues, customers and suppliers using combination of telephone calls and, more predominantly, email. However, this approach is not without risk, as it is largely uncontrolled, highly inefficient, and lacks accountability and traceability.
From the moment the process is digitized, fragmented communication immediately becomes highly efficient, online collaboration, with all the benefits of web accessibility; including fast online approvals.
Furthermore, digitization allows converters to centralize their design assets, making them easy to store, access, and share, from one, secure, location. This reduces the number of files created and transferred, resulting in fewer errors.
In our survey, converters told us that information relating to design requests is often ambiguous and sometimes missing altogether. This of course means that the recipient (often the structural designer or graphic designer) will waste valuable time referring back to the sender for clarification and confirmation instead of working on business winning activities, such as creating virtual 3D prototypes.
Digital packaging management also eliminates the problem of poor data quality and miscommunication. This is achieved through digitization of the design request form. This form captures all job information, always presents it in a clear and consistent way, and communicates other essential information such as key deadline dates. Required fields also ensure that the receiver always has at least the minimum amount of information necessary to move a job to the next stage.
Driven by best practice workflows
At the heart of these solutions are task driven, best practice workflows that have been designed to maximize process management efficiency. So, there’s no need to design and scope a workflow from scratch, and you can be up and running in just 5 days!
And last but not least, a clear project dashboard reinforces visibility, transparency, and reporting throughout the process. Stakeholders are able to access the dashboard from anywhere at any time. They can see the number and status of the projects they have an interest in. They can see the tasks they need to complete. And they can see if key milestone dates have been successfully met.
Do more without additional head count
So, to summarize; a digital design management workflow will enable packaging converters to …
- Capture and distribute design requests more efficiently through the digitization of forms
- Share and repurpose design assets easily through centralization
- Achieve shorter design approval cycles through improved communication and collaboration
- Improve on time delivery through increased visibility and accountability
- Increase their capacity to handle more design projects with no additional head count
In a recent call with a corrugated converter customer and early adopter of a pre-configured packaging management solution from Esko, the owner told me that “after just four months using the solution, the data shows that our three structural designers have gained close to 1.5 hours each day. Now, we believe our design department can handle at least an additional 20% capacity before we have to think about hiring another designer.”
I think you’ll agree this is a clear indication of the positive effect the introduction of a digital design management solution can have on a converter’s ability to grow its business.
About the author
Chris Rogers is a Solutions Marketing Manager at Esko with specific responsibility for the folding carton and corrugated converter segments and has been involved in the packaging supplier industry for almost 30 years.