The price of ink: just the tip of the cost iceberg…

The price of ink: just the tip of the cost iceberg…

The iceberg is a useful metaphor for describing the total cost of ownership (TCO) – the full costs of purchasing and operating a technology, product or service over its useful life.

This is especially true of ink for packaging and labels.

Just as only a small proportion of the ice is visible above the waterline, the total cost is far greater than the visible price per kilo.   

The hidden, indirect costs of managing, processing, production, shipping and – for some sectors – batch tracing can be far more significant, and may only be revealed by failures in your system.

Total ink cost Iceberg with Ink price

The Ink Cost Iceberg provides perspective for converters, with the costs becoming ever more substantial – and more complex to identify in TCO calculations – the deeper below the waterline you dive.

However, all these costs in the lower layers of the iceberg can be controlled and minimized by introducing an ink management system, including an ink dispenser, a proofer and ink management software.

Cost Type
Ink price / kg
TransportationThe cost of shipping from the ink manufacturer to the print house
Duties/premiumsTariffs incurred for importing goods into the country
Ink room capital costCosts of purchasing, installing and decommissioning equipment such as an ink dispenser, proofer, and software
Ink room operational costEnergy, labour, maintenance and service costs incurred to run the equipment
Ink disposed of as wasteUnused ink consigned to waste, such as excess ink returned after production that have expired
Substrate wasteCost of substrates purchased that customer will not pay for: material scrapped by the supplier because of production errors, damage or attempts to achieve correct colour / registration at the start of a job
Press downtimeThe cost of lost production time, e.g. because of remakes or excessive time for colour matching
Excessive ink consumptionMore ink printed on the substrate than is necessary to achieve the correct colour - because of problems with viscosity or ink metering, low colour strength, excess ink film, or high paper absorption
Planning, purchasing, internal qualityResources, especially labour costs, used for forecasting consumption requirements; administration costs of purchasing stocks; resources used to assure colour quality of packaging / labels supplied to customer
WarehousingResources used for monitoring, organizing and moving ink stocks; obsolescence of expired unused stocks
Inventory costResources need, including space, for storing base colours, blended inks, press-return inks
Field failuresCost of a product recall e.g. because of a product safety concern relating to a batch of ink used on the packaging
ServiceCost of support from the ink supplier
General administrationResources, notably management labour costs incurred to monitor and control ink-related processes and solve problems

In forthcoming blogs, we will explain how each of these logistics solutions contributes to a system for managing inks and achieving repeatable colour quality, while using greatly reduced resources.

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