UK IN DANGER OF RUNNING OUT OF INK
UK IN DANGER OF RUNNING OUT OF INK
2007-03-20 at 9:34:00 am #17535
Danger of cutting off ink supplies
Moira McMillan, CEO of the British Coatings Federation (BCF), shares some thoughts on the imminent and very serious potential threat to the ink supplies of UK printers. ‘If the printing industry has advanced in leaps and bounds over the last decade or so, then ink may be its unsung hero’. ‘The demands of end-users have become increasingly complex, with companies looking for eye-catching printed literature and packaging that can withstand extremes of treatment, such as food containers that can be microwaved and still retain their good looks’.'Ink companies are at the forefront of printing technology, addressing complicated technical issues, tackling new regulatory requirements and providing high levels of customer service’.'However, if ink has become the critical component of the printing industry – perhaps it could even be said to be its lifeblood – its role is not always appreciated’.The high levels of customer service offered by ink companies, often at no extra charge, are now almost taken for granted by customers’.'The packaging sector is a good example of the pressures facing the printing industry as the demand for advanced products collides head-on with the end-users’ determination to keep prices low’.'Printers and converters are increasingly relying on ink producers, both in terms of technical know-how and physical support’.
But financial pressures caused by the rising price of raw materials, energy and other costs, together with increased service expectations, mean that it is becoming difficult to maintain this level of support without passing on some costs to customers’.'Ink producers are looking into the future to predict new packaging trends and technical requirements so that they can develop coatings to meet the needs of their customers in five or ten years’ time’.'Ink solutions are becoming increasingly complex, yet the producers feel their products and services are still viewed as mere commodities, with customers unwilling to pay more than commodity prices’.'The UK print industry is facing competition from printers and packaging companies in low-cost countries, but companies choosing to source packaging materials from abroad face major issues in terms of quality, reliability and legislative demands’.'If end users go overseas they will find that foreign companies are not governed by the same tough legislation as British firms’.'This means that foreign inks and print might not comply with EU rules on Health and Safety and food packaging’.'Without a local source of ink expertise, printers could struggle to obtain the print quality they seek, converters could find that their packaging concepts fail, and end-users may discover that their products suffer due to poor standard packaging’.'It is time that UK ink users began to value the excellent products and services provided by their ink manufacturers, because, ultimately, if the industry is unprofitable, it will not be sustainable.’ Mark Sutton, UK and Ireland Sales and Marketing Director, Packaging Inks Division, Flint Ink UK., commented; ‘The industry cannot continue to support the kinds of services we are providing, without getting some kind of return’.'The UK printing ink industry has to recover more of its costs, otherwise it will not survive.’ Tony Palmer, General Manager of the UK Packaging Division for Sun Chemical, agrees; ‘It is now taken as given that a full ink management service is provided to support the highly pressurised UK packaging converters’.'These services range from supplying precise JIT deliveries provided by mini ink colour kitchens installed at the customer’s site, through to innovative development initiatives resourced fully at the ink maker’s facilities’.'It is uncertain that this can continue in the future.’