By Magdi Bichay
In the printing industry, automatic and self-standing banding machines are often utilized by cut-and-stack label printers, binderies and commercial printers to bundle flat or folded printed material for packaging and transport.
Unfortunately, the consumables used on this equipment – the film or paper banding material itself – are often available only from single domestic or overseas sources that hold a virtual monopoly on the pricing. This not only adds to the cost of the consumable, but can put the printer at the effect of delays in delivery.
As a result, many cut-and-stack label printers, binderies and commercial printers are looking to wean themselves off a single source supplier in favor of a U.S. second source supplier to reduce costs, freight and delivery time.
With a qualified domestic supplier, printers and binderies can get the same quality of banding film or paper at a lower price without being locked into a single source. Since this is an item that must be continually ordered, the savings go directly to the bottom line.
Companies that manufacture self-standing and automatic banding machines, such as Wexler and Felins ATS U.S. 2000, Blumer Bandall, PB 110, Akebono, Adolf Mohr, Polar and Heidelberg and others, are almost exclusively located overseas in places like Austria, Germany and Switzerland. Related U.S. entities typically have the rights to sell the equipment domestically. When the equipment is first purchased, it will arrive with the first shipment of the banding material and re-ordering information.
There’s frequently been just one choice provided by the manufacturer for these supplies, which has ensured little price competition. Because of limitations in choice, manufacturers are positioned to dictate recommendations for the required product and who to deal with.
Since most OEMs of banding film and paper supplies produce these materials overseas, this has increased required lead-time for commercial printers and binderies. It can also put label production schedules at risk, should the manufacturer-controlled supplies ever be delayed or disrupted.
Complicating matters, most traditional packaging material distributors don’t have the knowledge or converting capabilities to provide these films or paper so they don’t offer them. Only a rare combination of a paper and film distributor and converter is qualified to enter this market, otherwise little to no marketing or promotion reaches the eyes and ears of finishing or production managers.
The result is little to no true competition, which can mean that alternative sources that could reduce cost are not even sought out. Opening the market to qualified competition in the U.S. has many benefits for cut-and-stack label printers, binderies and commercial printers.
Unlike overseas suppliers, which can take weeks of lead-time to restock banding supplies including production and shipping, a domestic source can ship standard stock the same day and most special stock within a few days. Savings on domestic vs. international freight is also considerable.
Magdi Bichay is general manager of Specialty Sales and Marketing at Pacific Packaging Products Inc., a film and paper manufacturer, distributor and converter based in Wilmington, MA. Contact him at 800-777-0300, ext. 2350 or firstname.lastname@example.org.