Written by John DiVincenzo
Vice President, Digital Packaging Business
When it comes to solutions for packaging with digitally printing folding cartons, no one has more installations than….
Robert Leahey, InfoTrends’ analyst for Color Digital Label and Packaging, tracks the market closely. “With more than 50 global installations today,” Leahey says, “Xerox likely has more color digital presses dedicated to folding carton printing than any other digital press vendor.”
We achieved that leadership with our Xerox Automated Packaging Solution (XAPS), released in 2010, to capitalize on the productivity advantages of our iGen presses and automated workflow solutions. This solution is supported with the help of our partners, which include EPIC and Tresu for ultra-violet and aqueous coating; KAMA for die cutting; and workflow suites from Esko and Chillipublish, to complement our own Xerox FreeFlow and XMPie software.
Editor’s Note: Mr. Leahey recently visited two Xerox Automated Packaging Solution user open-houses in Europe, sharing insights in his article: ‘Xerox iGen4 Folding Cartons: An Update from Europe‘. Please note that you will need a WhatTheyThink Premium Content Pass to view the article.
Of course folding cartons represents only a portion of the overall digitally printed packaging market, which also includes labels; marking and coding; and flexible, corrugated and on-product/direct-to-shape packaging. But building on our XAPS initiative, we have strong capabilities that can be applied across these various segments. These assets include our wide array of printing technologies (inkjet and toner, cut-sheet and web-fed, narrow and wider-format); skills in system integration; and great partnerships in workflow and finishing that help us deliver a complete solution.
Digital packaging is a compelling growth opportunity both for Xerox and for our customers. According to InfoTrends, the retail value of digital packaging will achieve a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of roughly 19 percent between 2013 and 2018. Folding cartons will show a particularly healthy growth rate, with a CAGR over 50%.
Indeed, overall packaged goods production is growing, and the associated printing jobs are trending towards shorter runs. That’s because today’s brand owners seek to gain an edge not only with innovative new products but with countless variations to serve every conceivable preference. Some 57 varieties of toothpaste were listed recently on Crest’s web site. With more distinct products for sale, more packaging print runs are within digital printing’s short-run sweet spot.
Other reasons brand owners embrace digital printing for packaging include just-in-time delivery that reduces warehousing and obsolescence costs; developing prototypes cost effectively in small quantities; and adding value with variable data printing. Variable data can support packaging with multiple versions based upon region or language; marketing offers and messages tailored to individuals or groups; and serialization for tracking individual packages. All are Xerox sweet spots.
Used strategically, short-run and variable printing strengths can help brand owners respond more rapidly in competitive markets. And they give print providers an opportunity to offer end-to-end printing support for marketing campaigns, fulfilling both the packaging and the printed collateral.
Growing Opportunities in Pharma
One specific market we’re looking at closely is pharmaceuticals packaging. Not long ago we attended the Pharma Packaging and Labeling USA Conference in Philadelphia to share an overview of XAPS, and spend some time talking with key brand owners about the challenges they are facing, One challenge, for example, is the fight against counterfeiting, which causes potentially hundreds of billions in annual worldwide losses for pharmaceutical companies, according to the US National Association of Boards of Pharmacy, while putting consumer health at risk.
Some of the brand owners we spoke to were keenly interested in how XAPS can integrate brand protection and serialization solutions together. For example with Xerox® Specialty Image Text converters could add gloss to text areas (Xerox® GlossMark®), create tiny serialized text that is only visible through a magnifying glass (MicroText Mark), or add unique serialized text that is visible only under an ultra-violet or black light (Xerox® FluorescentMark® Test), among other effects that can help to suppress counterfeiting.
A number of these brand owners—who began our meetings expressing surprise that Xerox was in packaging—left eager and excited. We’re confident that with our increased focus on digital packaging, we’ll be turning many more heads moving forward.
Are there opportunities you’re interested in capturing with digital packaging?