The evolving role of ‘protective repro’ following paper shortages

Creation Reprographics has shared its insight into how the role of reprographics is changing in the context of recently well-publicised paper shortages.

As the market continues to settle back into regular supply of paper and pulp, Creation notes that the art of packaging reprographics is taking on a new ‘protective’ role for printers. The business believes that market volatility showcases a changing role for repro, which has been slowly coming to the forefront in recent years.

Matt Francklow, Managing Director, Creation, explains, “Over the last several months, we have all seen major issues surrounding the supply of paper and these shortages often hit printers the hardest. Substrate doesn’t just become harder to source reliably, the cost skyrockets and eats away at margins. We saw similar issues with inks and solvents in 2020 and 2021 as ethanol was diverted to sanitsation – but how much have we really learned from that? Is it just a matter of time until the next supply chain disruption?

“For printers in packaging, speed is king. With brand customers, it can often make the difference between winning contracts, orders and sales or losing out to a competitor. So naturally, when shortages impact the supply chain, it throws a lot of the market into disarray. Under tougher conditions, we saw a real shift in how printers were viewing their repro partners, ourselves included.

“Printers use their reprographics team to support origination and create outstanding on-shelf appeal, and those are certainly two talents of the repro sector, but we are also taking up a more protective role. Printers are now treating repro as a protective business element, which is fantastic to see. Great repro provides stability, reduces the risk of errors and waste, and makes precious resources work harder. Prepress businesses, like our team at Creation, have unmatched knowledge of inks, substrates, and their behaviours. Naturally, when it comes to making best possible use of them, they deliver significant added value.”

Francklow adds, “From the print factory floor to the boardroom, we’re all thinking optimisation. Materials and consumables need to work harder, and there’s no room for waste. We have seen our print partners viewing reprographics through a new lens, and this fresh perspective is very welcome. There’s no doubt that we’re in a more volatile market, and shortages have shown up how vulnerable the print supply chain can be. There is opportunity for real change; we encourage all printers to challenge their repro partners – whether that’s Creation or not – to help secure their operations above and beyond graphic support.”

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