Companies are changing now more than ever. With restrictions on travel, events, social gatherings and phased openings of businesses, the world has to adjust to the ‘next normal’ and it has to be done quickly. But what does that mean for your outsourced decorating and labeling?
Business had to change. For apparel companies, they switched processes from creating shirts, pants, and other pieces to developing new PPE that every hospital desperately needed. For promotional product sellers, they needed to sell or giveaway their stock of hand sanitizer to the general public. Even distilleries were jumping in to utilize their alcohol production to make hand sanitizer. All industries had to adjust to answer the calls of the community.
For those businesses who did not rely on outsourced printed labels or even the printing itself, the picture was painted in a much different way. Those apparel companies that needed to switch up production and had printing machines in-house, did not need to wait for additional heat transfer labels from an outside source. The promotional products companies that had inkjet machines in-house were able to adjust their promotional labels and get product out the door without an additional step.
In a time where supply chains were delayed, derailed or completely cut off, those that had majority control of their production were able to efficiently modify their business practices to fulfill the needs of their customers.
What does this mean for the next normal? While no one can appropriately define what the next normal is, one thing is for sure is that people and businesses alike will be more cautious. According to a recent study by ThomasNet, a whopping 61% of manufacturers said they are looking to reshore their supply chain. Meaning, they are looking to bring production and manufacturing back to the company’s country of origin.
But this is just as of recent. Bringing printing in-house, in “normal” times has just as many benefits as in this “next normal.”
Bringing printing in-house will give you complete control of your production. During times of distress or increase in demand, companies who are able to print in-house have a greater competitive advantage because they do not rely on outsourcing.
While this is an obvious benefit, the background around lead times is that everyone has them. Anytime you are purchasing product from another source, there will be lead times. These can be longer or shorter depending on where the product is coming from.
In most cases, minimum order quantities are quite high. This, in turn, leads to turning away business if your order from a vendor is much more than a customer is requesting.
One of the most important benefits is being able to keep up with rapidly shifting trends. Companies who are able to jump on a trend and sell product with a popular meme or character (think the Tiger King), will be ahead of its competitors. Additionally, this is true for big sporting events. Companies typically need to create enough product well ahead of a big sporting event to ensure they will have the proper products for whichever team wins.
Taking control of your supply chain requires analyzing your business practices to see where the bottlenecks are. During this time of crisis, which processes held up the business from proceeding? In the case of many companies, this was labeling and product decorating. Many apparel companies rely on heat transfer labels from other countries as much as drinkware companies rely on printed products from other countries. By bringing these processes in-house, companies can eliminate uncertainty in a crisis, improve speed to market and print as many or as little product as needed without the worry of minimum order quantities.
Pad printing is a great solution for those companies who only need to print one to six colors. This number also changes with the product you are printing on. For example, tagless apparel labeling typically only requires 1- or 2-color labels, whereas hard hats may require up to four. It all depends on the product you are printing; however, pad printing is perfect for those who need a fast and durable process. On top of the obvious production improvements pad printing brings to the market, it is much more sustainable than competing processes. Screen printing utilizes a lot of waste ink and chemicals. Heat transfer labels leave plastic and paper waste. Pad printing uses a small amount of ink to make an impression last forever.
See our line-up of pad printing machines
Although a somewhat larger investment, digital printing allows for quick changeover, short-runs and mass customization. Print full-color artwork on a number of hard goods; from drinkware to plastic containers to coolers. Unlike pad printing, digital printing is best for companies who are looking to recreate multi-colored graphics and images. It takes an image file and prints it directly onto the 3D object. This process is also more sustainable because it skips the step of printing on paper or plastic. Dye sublimation, on the other hand, requires printing onto a polyester coated paper which can then only be adhered to a polyester coated substrate.
See our line-up of UV printers