The old certainties about label converting, with its relatively
good growth and margins, are changing fast. At its
most extreme level, globalized trading and communication
systems are altering the nature of markets. We hear more
about major label volumes shifting to new, well equipped
label plants in developing countries in line with changed
global manufacturing patterns. But it still requires hard
work, or at least different approaches, to secure customer
loyalty and gain orders at a more local level.
This especially applies to the highly competitive trade
repro world. The Scottish firm of Lennox McKinlay thinks
it has an answer. It has allocated five of its 27 employees to
work full-time at customers’ sites, including some hundreds
of miles away in central England. Founded 10 years ago,
the firm handles flexo, gravure, litho and screen repro for
the packaging and labeling sectors. Jobs range from cartons
and corrugated to labels and flexible packaging.
It uses an ArtPro-based system, with software installed
both at its own site in Nerston, south of Glasgow and at the
clients’ premises. It recently extended the system with
three extra ArtPro seats at its plant.
“The concept of working like this is not new, but to have
so many staff working permanently at customer premises is
extremely rare for our size,” says co-founder Kenny Lennox.
“The functions they perform range from coordination of
work to actually operating the front-end system.” The package
includes Artview and Artprinter to allow Macintosh
operators to remotely view and print work created on frontends
in Nerston. Some 40 percent of the firm’s work is for
English clients, so an ability to transmit digital data quickly
and efficiently is crucial.
“Companies use us for a wide variety of functions,” adds
Lennox. “Some ask us to produce concept and creative
work, some simply want output or plate production, while
others want a complete service from design through every
element of packaging repro: image manipulation, proofing,
film and plate output. Many of our customers operate a
similar system to ourselves, so it is extremely easy to transfer
electronic files between sites for checking and output.
Automated features to aid production flexibility and output
quality include the facility to amend the magenta of a
four-color set without affecting other parts of the file. It is
also possible to control tint values on output, which is particularly
important for flexo highlights areas.
“Flexo platemaking is a more demanding science than
ever and an important commercial activity for us. We produce
solid photopolymer plates up to 50" x 80" and with a
good courier service can deliver them anywhere in the UK
within 24 hours of receiving the digital file.” Lennox
McKinlay plans to add a further six staff members, which
testifies to the success of its innovative approach.