CS Labels Blog: CS Labels News

CS Labels is still growing, innovatively!

Posted in CS Labels News by Digital Labels and Packaging Magazine on 14:47 March 19th, 2014
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To see CS Labels' augmented reality, download the app from the Apple Store or Google Play and scan the logo.



Willenhall-based CS Labels has transformed itself over the past few years from a flexo and screen label converter into a fast growing digital powerhouse (with some flatbed screen). It is Xeikon's largest label production site with three installed presses, two 3300 and a wider 3500 press in operation. By Sean Smyth.

A major investment programme has helped the company grow by 20% annually since 2010 and a new 3300 press will be coming on stream early in 2014. This will be the fourth Xeikon press at the site, and the first UK user of the new ICE toner with CS successfully testing PE stocks. The company has gained regional development grants to support the investment, tied to taking on new staff. In December 2013, it received ISO14001 accreditation.

The company has upgraded several of the Xeikon machines from the installation specification. This takes advantage of the modular design of the 3000 series presses which enables speed and width upgrades from the entry level 3030 configuration. With four machines, the company is able to organise production, using different substrates on each machine to minimise changeovers, while the high volume allows a low unit cost for toner, which is purchased by weight, rather than a fixed click charge.



New avenues

As digital has grown, the trade work has reduced as a proportion of the sales (fewer converters are buying in digital short runs), and CS has had to develop new products. One niche is decorating children's wellington boots. The company has a long established line of decals, printing popular cartoon characters onto a clear base that are stuck onto boots. It has succeeded in producing improvements, printing CMYK on a Xeikon press onto a liner stock and then screen printing a white crosslinking base. This can be moulded onto a range of plastic materials without a clear base providing excellent adhesion and flexibility. This widens the possible applications, including plastic beach shoes, opening up significant new markets. It also prints two-sided window stickers, multi-part peel and reveal labels, personalised and variable data products including QR coded labels.

According to managing director, Simon Smith, the company needed to innovate and provide new services. While labels are the biggest market, CS is very keen on maintaining the added value. It is making a finishing investment to finish multi-part peel and reveal labels more efficiently. These are growing with the Xeikon presses able to multi-pass and print double set variable data labels.



Augmented reality

Working with Stoke-on-Trent based agency Ooh-AR Augmented Reality Solutions, CS Labels is developing new functionality with augmented reality labels, launching its own app and developing complete solutions to add value for customers. The free app is available via the Apple Store or Google Play for Android devices. Users simply download and then point the camera phone at the image. A swirling pink pattern appears when the pattern is recognised, and the content is loaded in a few seconds.

There are several examples now live. CS has its logo enabled that links to a promotional video showcasing the company capabilities and inviting a customer to make contact. One early customer is a major beverage brand that offers premium special editions sold through prestige retail outlets in rigid boxes with labels explaining the method.

Adding value

The AR development is part of the growth strategy as digital production matures. As well as new revenue, the new capability helps to promote the company as a technology leader. It has opened doors, for example allowing CS to convert the beverage company into a new customer. Importantly, it helps to move the dialogue away from a pricing negotiation, showing customers how they can provide additional functionality and engage with their customers in new ways.

The company will be showing the capability at the Packaging Innovations show at the NEC in February. The costs are not excessive. While the costs involved depend on the amount of content being provided, a starting budget is around a couple of thousand pounds. Putting the app into the Apple store is around £60 per month so developing the capability is not expensive. Working with a partner that has experience in AR provides the expertise in setting up the programmes, and Ooh AR is able to produce professional quality video content to back up as required. In some cases there already is content available that can be used.

As more converters adopt digital print technology suppliers have to develop far beyond offering low prices for short runs. CS Labels is a great example of finding ways to add value for customers, helping to move the focus away from purely pricing.



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