How long does it take to deliver flexible packaging for food brands? 5 tips for managing lead times
Packaging lead times are extremely diverse. From a matter of days for a label or mockup, or from 2 weeks to 3 months for printed packaging films and pouches. These differences can cause difficulty in supply chain management. The potential for delays turns a lean operation into something more clunky.
Within our flexible packaging business, we offer digital, flexo and gravure print which all have different lead times (although none have been longer than 6 weeks at the time of writing), so we also have to manage this carefully for our food brands.
Flexible packaging does have additional offline processes which means the lead time will often be longer than other packaging formats.
So what can be done to help? We have thought of 5 tips to help you manage:
1) Understand your print processes and use this basic rule of thumb:
Digital Print = Low volume, no setup costs, highest unit cost, fastest delivery (2-5 weeks) Flexo Print= Medium-High volume, setup costs per colour, lowest unit cost per volume, slower delivery (5-6 weeks) Gravure Print = Medium-High volume, setup costs per colour, intermediate unit cost per volume, slower delivery (5-8 weeks)
2) Involve your packaging supplier throughout your whole project so they understand timescales and can offer you the best deal for what you need, rather than what they want. For example using a higher unit cost 2 week digital print turnaround time to enable you to launch a product and start selling immediately whilst a lower cost flexo or gravure run is being produced and delivered to support margin moving forward.
3) Consider how you brand will evolve over time and whether your designs will frequently be amended. The lower unit cost flexo option will end up more expensive overall than digital if you are changing your design every time you go to print – one small design change can impact a number of colours of which you’ll be charged for again.
4) Make certain from the outset that you receive a ‘delivered’ date rather than a ‘dispatch’ date. Different suppliers have different policies when announcing lead times. Be sure to avoid disappointment. Here at Digimock we offer delivered dates unless otherwise advised.
5) Perhaps a cheeky one, but asking for a discount to extend a lead time is sometimes met with a positive response, particularly when a supplier is at full capacity with a high volume of urgent jobs. You may be surprised at the outcome! And if you have planned well in advance, you can use this to your advantage.
At Digimock we understand the increasing pressures on lead times and work tirelessly to optimize processes to try and meet these demands. These have culminated in our #Project2 initiative where on specific products (certain film and pouch structures) we are working towards a 2 week lead time, from artwork approval to delivered product. Currently we are delivering these products inside 3 weeks as we continue to pursue speed. A full, official launch will follow in due course.
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