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Transforming Your Business One Byte at a Time

By AICC Staff

April 2, 2018

Since the earliest days of the packaging industry, as in most any enterprise, progress was incremental and evolutionary. Radical change was not on anyone’s cathode-ray radar screen.

In the world of packaging, the plant of 50 years ago is not too far removed from the plant of today. Printers have become more sophisticated, and quality is far superior to that of older machines, but at the end of the day, you are still using a print plate to position and deposit ink on a sheet of paper. Box No. 1 off the machine looks no different from box No. 1,000. Gutenberg would understand the process, though the magic of electricity would likely be beyond his comprehension.

The plant of tomorrow will be a wildly different beast altogether. The combination of digital printing technology merged with reams of data, microflutes, and outside-the-box thinking will be game-changing—equivalent to the big asteroid that killed all the dinosaurs around 65 million years ago.

The world as we have known it will be forever changed, and these changes are as irrevocable as was the introduction of electricity more than a century ago.

Promotional items, point-of-purchase displays, and unlimited print customization will allow marketers to create eye-catching and focused solutions that can be targeted to an audience as small as one. Imagine a national campaign for a fast-food chain using local celebrities. In the past, you would need hundreds if not thousands of print plates and mountains of make-ready time to complete the job.

Now you just need a slightly larger hard drive and a software solution that seamlessly flow information back and forth to facilitate the production process.

For those who understand this transition, the opportunities are plentiful. This change is a major opportunity to rethink what you do, how you do it, and who you do it with.

For Those Who Think Young

Those of a certain age, the above subtitle could remind you of a Pepsi Cola ad campaign. At the time, Pepsi had this roster of products: Pepsi Cola.

Now, of course, Pepsi has dozens and dozens of soft drinks, and when you include the derivatives—diet, lite, cherry, etc.—there are dozens more. Traditional packaging requires expensive tooling and time-change to produce. With digital technology, with no print tooling and no make-ready time, you can literally switch from print form A to print form B in an instant, opening new avenues to experiment and explore without risking large amounts of capital, time, and resources.

Digital technology will allow companies such as Birchbox that curate and distribute monthly grooming kits to not only update the packaging on a monthly basis, but also to customize the inside of the box with grooming tips specifically for the recipient. The possibilities are endless.

The opportunity this affords the packaging industry should not be overlooked. The young and creative people in the world are going to be targeting consumers in new and exciting ways to acquire and retain clients.

The Revolution Starts Now

Production software products now become “Lego blocks” of functionality that fit together to transfer information to and from business systems with ease. Imagine having a customer on your website submit their two-sided graphical package design that flows immediately into your business system. The structure is nested and laid out on the proper substrate, while the scheduling systems then sequence this job into the schedule, then deliver the needed graphics and cutting information directly to the printer and cutting tables. Touchless order entry has now made its way directly to the machine.

The fundamental way you run your business, and how you think about your business, will have to expand as well. Long-standing conventions will be kicked aside, traditional methods of managing your business and responding to your customers will change radically, and what was once extraordinary will become commonplace.

As a final thought, I offer you this apocryphal Chinese curse: “May you live in interesting times.”

PortraitJohn Clark is director of analytics at Amtech Software. He can be reached at