Case Study: Hua Li Da Packaging

How one packaging printing company implemented a cost-effective proofing solution to remain competitive and innovative in China’s burgeoning cosmetics market.

Hua Li Da Packaging Co Ltd (HLD) is a Shanghai-based packaging printing company which focuses on the cosmetics industry. Over the years, the company’s key values of speed, innovation and safety, has allowed it to become an established name within the luxury packaging printing space. Today, HLD has a staff of 280, and its list of clientele includes a number of domestic and international cosmetics brands.

A report by Research and Markets projected that the global digital printing market for packaging to grow at a CAGR of 10.58% over a period of 2017 to 2021. According to the study, one of the prolific key drivers for this growth is an increased demand for premium packaging. In 2016, the premium packaging market was approximately worth $15 billion, with cosmetics holding a market share by revenue of 40%. Perfectly positioned to enjoy this wave of demand for premium packaging is HLD.

In 2016, the company’s reported turnover was RMB 115 million. HLD’s stand-out feature to remain competitive in this highly saturated market is its ongoing cooperation with brand owners to constantly innovate and fabricate new packaging designs.

“We’re able to form healthy relationships with cosmetics brands by focusing on researching and developing packaging for fast-moving and luxurious products such as makeup and perfume,” said Luo Ming Hua, general manager, HLD.

As business for HLD grew on a steady incline, it began facing production issues particularly at the prepress stage. Traditionally, the company has been using its fleet of Heidelberg presses to also produce proofs. However, this method soon proved inefficient as the company struggled to meet increasing customer orders and demands.

“Most often, the sales department has very short notice, especially so during the proofing approval stage. This puts high pressure on the production department to work on very short turnaround times to run the requested proof, and consequently having to reschedule mass production,” said Luo. “An off-the-press proofing job would occupy the press for a full working day. This meant the productivity of the machine during that time was completely wasted and mass production had to give way and wait.”

The Digital Proofing Solution

To solve this issue, the company installed the ORIS Flex Pack // Web system in early 2016, a unique digital printing solution that can produce highly accurate packaging proofs and mock-up reproductions.

“When HLD approached us in mid-2015, we were asked what solution CGS had for proofing specially for packaging, which would hold similar benefits and values as digital proofing in the commercial printing space,” said Arthur Kwok, sales director for the Greater China area, CGS.

“HLD was looking for a packaging-use digital proofing solution that is not just able to dramatically alleviate the need for off-the-press proofing, but is also flexible and responsive enough to create value to upstream players in terms of package design and development. The Flex Pack // Web is a game-changer that can exactly match proofs and prototypes to press output, at a fraction of the costs of legacy proofing systems, making it the perfect solution for HLD,” Kwok continued.

The system consists of the Roland VersaCAMM VS-300i printer, powered by ORIS Flex Pack // Web software. Utilising CGS’ patented four-dimensional iterative colour management software, the solution, combined with a specially-designed custom interface for the Roland digital press, can provide web-based hard copy and soft proofing in one package.

HLD took six months in their decision-making process. Due to the high quality required of luxury packaging, it was essential that the proof is the most accurate to the final printed packaging.

“We had to conduct various testing to make sure that the colour from the proof can be achieved from the press, which is a primary concern. A lot of UV printers that we looked at simply can’t produce the colour quality and visual appearance that we would get from the press. Until we came across the Flex Pack // Web solution,” Luo explained.

The Competitive Edge

Upon installing the system, HLD was able to present customers with high quality proofs that is accurate to the colour and appearance of the final packaging. The solution leverages on CGS’ specially developed XG inks, which are formulated for proofing applications. The CMYK set is completely redefined with the addition of orange and green, to significantly expand the colour gamut and making spot colour accuracy easy. The Flex Pack // Web system has a broad media portfolio and is able to print on almost any printing substrate, to produce even the most demanding packaging proofing needs.

The Flex Pack // Web system further facilitates HLD’s active participation in innovating and creating special packaging by working directly with designers of brand owners. Not only does this foster a creative environment between the companies, it also brings in additional revenue streams for HLD.

In addition, HLD experienced the benefits immediately as approval times improved. Since HLD no longer needed to halt mass production to create proofs, they were also able to report lowered overall costs.

“Flex Pack // Web is able to produce accurate colour proof swiftly. Due to the quick turnaround times, communication and comments with our client is in parallel to the production run,” said Luo. “As a result, we’re able to meet with our client demands a lot more effectively, as our response time has been shortened. In addition, we found that the overall production cost has decreased.”

The Flex Pack // Web is a solution that is able to cover all aspects of packaging printing, from flexible, rigid to even labels. The ORIS transfer film is a key feature to allow the physical transfer of contract-proof quality print to literally any substrate common in packaging, even specialty stock like IML film or metal. The system has varnishing and embossing options, and can produce proofs at a fraction compared to conventional proofing methods.

“The Flex Pack // Web is a unique solution in today’s market offering high definition and the closest simulation of the final packaging. Our company is using it as a weapon to provide added value to brand owners. At the same time, we’re able to benefit from lowered production costs, especially the hidden ones,” Luo concluded.

Christoph Thommessen, sales director for Asia Pacific, CGS, commented: “Cosmetics packaging is a growth area that is gaining the most traction in Asia Pacific. This is the segment in which a lot of analog printers and converters are turning to digital solutions to be more productive. We’re glad to partner a company that is as revolutionary and forward-looking as Hua Li Da, so that we can also continuously innovate to better serve the evolving market.”

For a full version of this article and more print news, read the latest issue of Print Innovation Asia.

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