The economic outlook for the label printing sector is good: the market for digitally printed labels has grown by an average of 7.7 per cent since 2017, while the order volume has increased by an average of 10.8 per cent, according to market research from analysts Smithers. By 2032, digital label printing is expected to grow to almost 20 billion US dollars. The boom in e-commerce is still proving to be a growth opportunity for the packaging industry. Current trends such as strong personalisation, changing demands from brand owners and just-in-time production are leading to shorter runs. To produce packaging more sustainably, more sophisticated designs with thinner materials and more advanced substrates are being developed. The aim is to work with the same productivity and more flexibility - while maintaining the same costs.
Complex requirements make the search for synergies difficult
In high-quality, on-demand label and packaging printing, it is important to deliver individual, customised orders in large quantities on time and at a reasonable price. Size, material, colour and other production information vary from order to order: identifying synergies here is often difficult and costs valuable time. Manually defining specific parts lists and work schedules and re-setting up the machines are time-consuming and error-prone processes.
The role of structured data
In order to work more productively, printers are deciding in favour of implementing a centrally accessible data structure and cloud-based software. It is the basis for the digital integration of prepress, press and postpress processes. A web-based ERP system based on well-structured data enables a comprehensive search for orders and products and the creation of new projects. Saving time and minimising the risk of transmission errors can even reduce costs. This results in more stable pricing and adjusted delivery times, ensuring optimised business processes and greater customer satisfaction.
With structured data, you can optimise the production process in the following ways:
1. Standardised product information
Structured product data content can be used to develop standardised processes for frequently recurring orders, significantly reducing the time and effort required to create new parts lists and work schedules. At the same time, this structured data facilitates efficient and direct communication with end customers, for example via a web portal.
2. Predefined print settings
If print settings are saved in a database, recurring jobs can be reused quickly and accurately: Machines are set up faster, material consumption is reduced and printing processes become more efficient and cost-effective.
3. Automated material selection
If structured data on customer requirements is available, materials can be selected automatically. This not only ensures that the right material is used for the job in question, but also prevents waste and errors.
4. Optimum machine utilisation
Structured data enables better resource planning with less downtime. Information on the duration of makeready processes and consumption figures can be clearly prepared and future jobs can be combined or even merged to achieve optimum machine utilisation. For greater cost transparency, print shops can pre-calculate and post-calculate their products more accurately and make target/actual comparisons. This gives them a firm grip on their makeready times and all costs incurred.
5. Real-time monitoring
Sensors and IoT technologies collect information along the supply chain and supplement the structured database: customers can track the progress of their orders in real time. This makes it possible to react quickly to any problems and ensure that delivery deadlines are met.
The introduction of structured data content in the label and packaging printing industry is certainly a challenge for many printing companies: investments in technology, staff training and the creation of new processes are required. However, the effort is worth it in the long term, as production optimised with structured data is more efficient, less prone to errors and strengthens competitiveness in the highly competitive label and packaging printing market. By relying on databases, standardisation and automation, manufacturers in this sector can react flexibly to printer requirements and reduce their own operating costs at the same time. In a world where time and cost are increasingly critical, structured data and efficient software are is the key to the successful future of label and packaging printing.