Package printers supply the labels, wrappers, bags, folding cartons and corrugated boxes for all grocery store and other retail products. Package printing is a dynamic part of the global print market, and is expected to account for 43 percent of the $668 billion industry in 2017, according to a report released by the Economist Intelligence Unit.
But package printers face challenges when it comes to managing inventory for critical supplies, such as flexographic printing plates, adhesive systems for mounting plates on printing presses and safety gear. Many printers rely on manual counts and Microsoft Excel spreadsheets to record inventory levels, and human error can lead to their running low on inventory or out of supplies. This can force printers to pay high shipping fees to air freight supplies or shut down their presses, costing them a great deal of money.
All Printing Resources, a solution provider that distributes supplies to U.S. package printers, saw an opportunity to help its clients, including large multinational packaging converters, improve their inventory processes with RFID technology, so they could maintain a timely and accurate count of essential supplies. Other solution providers were offering traditional bar-code systems, says Dave Nieman, All Printing Resources' president and CEO, but that places a burden on employees to remember to scan incoming and outgoing items.
In 2009, All Printing Resources introduced SupplySentry, a supply chain management system that automatically monitors RFID-tagged supplies at customers' sites, in order to automate replenishment and invoicing. The beauty of using RFID, Nieman says, is that customers don't have to do anything different from what they did before. The feedback from the 17 printers currently using the solution, including some of All Printing Resources' largest customers in terms of sales revenue, has been highly positive, he reports—and, he adds, salespeople can spend their time at customer sites selling products and consulting, rather than counting stock.
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