PPC Forms Digital Converting Community

SPRINGFIELD, MA | The Paperboard Packaging Council (PPC) reports the formation of a digital converting community of interest. Bringing together both folding carton manufacturers and industry technology suppliers, the community will help PPC members explore new digital technologies and understand the growing trend toward low-volume orders. 

Slated to meet for the first time Oct. 4, 2017, during PPC’s Fall Meeting in Scottsdale, AZ, the digital community of interest was conceptualized by several PPC members who recognized the fast-changing nature of digital converting technologies. These industry executives and operations managers wanted a forum to discuss the latest developments, technical considerations, and the pros and cons of going digital.

Today, SKU proliferation is common and consumers are seeking personalized packaging—and these trends mean that carton converters’ customers are asking for low-volume orders. Digital printing, die-cutting, and finishing technologies may help folding carton converters, but the decision to go digital shouldn’t be taken lightly, says PPC. The PPC community of interest should help converters learn more about digital technologies, especially from peers who are early adopters.

PPC’s last formal exploration of digital converting and short-run work took place in August 2016 during a technical and production workshop in Springfield, MA. During the session, Kevin Karstedt, CEO of Karstedt Partners, and noted expert on digital printing, addressed current issues such as: the increasing quantity of short-run orders; the idea that most converters still organize their operations around traditional high-volume work; and the implications of nontraditional players like commercial printers and contact packagers beginning to use digital technology to enter the folding carton market. The workshop concluded that, at the time, digital was a complementary technology as opposed to a displacing one. Digital was helping carton converters to optimize their operations and experiment with new ways of doing things.

A survey in PPC’s 2014 white paper, “Short Run Solutions for Paperboard Packaging,” found that that 83% of converter respondents believed the demand for short-run jobs was on the rise. At the time, low-volume orders comprised approximately a quarter of annual folding carton production, and 71% of respondents would handle such orders using traditional analog presses.

“PPC members want to become more knowledgeable about digital converting technologies, and forming a community of interest around that topic is an excellent idea,” says Ben Markens, PPC president. “Converters will be able to share information and remain informed. That, after all, is the power of association.”

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