Over seven decades, Inland Packaging of La Crosse, Wisconsin has expanded strategically into new markets and with new products. The company first rose to prominence as a label supplier for both big name and craft beer brands and has since built a reputation for sophisticated, flexible in-mold and pressure-sensitive solutions. Through three generations of family ownership, Inland has sustained its focus on creating value for food, beverage and consumer product packaging customers.
A partnership built to fuel a culture of innovation
To continue creating best-in-class solutions, Inland Packaging needed technology that could enable them to alleviate pre-production bottlenecks while still working collaboratively with its partners.
Inland partnered with Tilia Labs to calculate and fully automate the process of creating combination forms for gang-run printing with minimal manual effort and streamlined data entry.
With tilia Phoenix, Inland Packaging was able to glean the benefits of its agility in following ways:
- Eliminated data duplication with upfront integration capabilities.
- Cut potential errors time in half in the planning department.
- Improved efficiencies in the verification system.
A solution to overcome time-consuming bottlenecks
After a demo with Tilia Labs of tilia Phoenix, Inland realized right away that it was the solution they had been looking for. “It would answer 80 percent or more of what we needed the software to do,” says Spindler. “[tilia Phoenix] has been a great investment from the get-go.”
According to Spindler, after making the decision to adopt the tilia Phoenix solution, Inland immediately started reaping the benefits of its developer’s agility.
Tilia Phoenix created efficiencies in up-front estimating and planning but also created a more streamlined workflow downstream. By outputting print-ready imposition files directly from planning, instead of rebuilding impositions in prepress, Inland was able to significantly reduce time in prepress and plating.
“The prep department is now taking a fully stepped PDF and creating plates from it — their time has been cut in half,” says Spindler.
Another downstream benefit Inland has leveraged is automating “Cover Sheets” for packing and fulfillment. Cover Sheets are barcoded, full-size replicas of a production layout that sits on top of a pallet of printed sheets.
“Cover Sheets allow us to embed product info into the barcode, making our verification systems much more effective. This means we can use them to help sort combo jobs into the right boxes and eliminate those mixed bundles that would otherwise happen when the wrong label gets into the wrong box.”
Automating these finishing touches has helped the Inland team ensure they can be as accurate as possible with their customer’s needs.
Since installation, Inland has turned its characteristic curiosity and problem-solving to exploring how the Tilia Labs technology might be implemented for other production processes. Its digital printing facility could be the next area to experience the powerful tilia Phoenix. In the meantime, both the Inland team and their customers will continue to benefit from a faster, automated software system, experiencing shorter lead times and all at better pricing. With Tilia Labs as a dedicated partner, there’s no telling where Inland — and their customers — will go next.
Notable ROI from the start with tilia Phoenix
Key to its continued development, Inland’s customized innovation process is driven by a tradition of inquiry and problem-solving. The company has always been attuned to uncovering emerging technologies and new opportunities through well-timed investment in capabilities such as smart packaging and advanced variable data printing. That’s why working collaboratively with top-tier supply chain partners to create best-in-class solutions is a critical part of the company’s innovative process. However, pre-production was notoriously a very manual process that often resulted in bottlenecks.
“Our combo and gang-run process essentially involved our planners looking at a set of demand orders and, through tribal knowledge and years of experience, picking and choosing what they thought would be best,” says Willie Spindler, Inland’s Business Analyst and Programmer. “We had some calculators built to do the math for them and if the numbers didn’t look right, they’d try something else. It was a lot of just guessing until we got to what we wanted.”
As business flourished, this trial-and-error approach created challenges for Inland’s growth. Inland was gaining new customers while also managing even faster growth in new jobs. Inland needed to take a closer look as new customers demanded shorter runs and more SKUs, putting a strain on pre-production process.
“Things that work when you’re smaller don’t work when you have double, triple, quadruple the orders. As production ramped up, the amount of manpower we would need to force jobs through was daunting,” says Spindler. “My chief concern was ensuring that, from order to production, the amount of effort required is as minimal as possible.”
Our planning department now saves a huge amount of time and for customer orders many hours are being saved. We’ve got integration built up-front that feeds tilia Phoenix these demand orders so there’s no issues with data entry,” says Spindler. “The information is accurate and it gets in there quickly.”
Tilia Phoenix’s innovative Imposition AI takes the guesswork out of print production imposition and planning. Imposition AI understands your production environment — your equipment, stocks, costs, and constraints. Using award-winning AI, tilia Phoenix quickly and automatically determines the most cost-optimized way to layout and impose your work.