Song Lam Pack's Commitment to Quality & Standards for Customer Satisfaction & Process Control

Minh Tuan Bui, who leads the press department as Printing Manager for Song Lam Trading & Packaging Production (Song Lam Pack) recently sat down with Idealliance South Asia, Japan & Korea’s Managing Director, Hye-Jeong Ahn to discuss their approach to providing the market with leading print quality to meet the ever-challenging demands of their global customers.

Since entering the printing industry under the influence of his grandfather, the founder of Vietnam's first label company, he has engaged in various research and development initiatives for efficient printing quality control. Among these efforts, internal process control methods developed last year, which facilitate easy quality control based on G7 calibration in the field. According to Bui, all colors become beautiful based on the designer's choice, arrangement, and utilization. He emphasizes that the accurate implementation of G7, the foundation of quality control, represents the most critical aspect of ensuring customer satisfaction.

Thank you for your interview with Idealliance. Could you kindly tell us about your professional printing career with Songlam?  

I work for SONG LAM PACKAGING PRODUCTION AND TRADING JOINT STOCK COMPANY (SONGLAMPACK., JSC) since December 2013, and 15 years before that I was a head of Graphic Design and Prepress Department of a Graphic Design Company based in Hanoi, Vietnam. During nearly 10 years working at Song Lam, I have worked as the head of the Technical Department for over a year,  and as a Printing manager for two years.

Mr. Minh Tuan Bui, Song Lam Packaging

What kind of roles do you do in Song Lam? Could you briefly introduce your prepress workflow?

Nowadays, I work for Song Lam Packaging as chief of the Prepress and Color Management Department. My pre-press and color management can be simplified into the following steps:

If it is a new product, first correct the artwork:

  • Step one: After receiving the artwork from the customer I will check and adjust any Pantone spot colors and apply screening to meet the artist and customers’ requirements.
  • Step two: Our pre-press team will correct the color and put the die-cutting into the artwork, check everything of the artwork following our technical ruler, and adjust the artwork if any colors or finishing is out of register.
  • Step three: Print a proof using our Epson digital printer, which is verified monthly by G7 certified software (LINK), to achieve the G7 Master Colorspace compliance.
  • Step four: Sending a Color mix requirement to Ink-Mixing Department to ask them to mix, prints sample(s), measure, and record the wet - nonlaminating CIEL*a*b* values of the Pantone(s). The sample of Pantone(s) will be printed with three Chroma levels and then bound into two sets: One set will be sent to customer to choose/confirm and one set will be kept by us.
  • Step five: We will send the proof and one set of Pantone sample(s) to our customer to ask him/her to confirm.

The artwork is then confirmed by our customer to layout.

Output: If it is a new product, an employee of the CtP department will use the curve created for each unique printer. If it is a repeat product, employee of CtP department will:

  • Step one: Use my tool called PaperMatcher that I created to compare the CIEL*a*b* of the old paper (the values that we measured when printed sample in the past) with the CIEL*a*b* of the new paper that will be used to print for new PO.
  • Step two: If the color of the papers is too different, my tool will calculate and show the results that are needed to increase/or reduce the percentage of Cyan and/or Magenta, Yellow. (That will help to make the color not be very different when printed.) CtP employees will then adjust the target curve in Harmony software following the PaperMatcher’s results and then make the output. By doing so, we actively reduce the color that the new paper is stronger than the old paper or increase the color that the new paper is weaker than the old one.
  • If the color of the two papers is not very different, the CtP employee will use the normal curve to make the output.
  • Step three: Use iC-Plate to measure the tint patch of each plate (from 10%, 20%, 30%,…. to 90%), input the measured data to the record table.
  • Step four: Compare the new measured data with the old measured data of each tint patch of each plate. If we find any patch of the new plate higher or lower than 2% then CtP employee will have to measure again to check all conditions to develop the plate and adjust them to be corrected.
  • Step five: Follow the color instructions of the prior job if it is repeat production. These instructions show the printer what image(s) are very important and need to control the color following the wet CIEL*a*b* that showed in the instructions.

Print the sample and record data: In case of print the sample of new product, when the printing sheet of the sample is signed by customer to approve at the printer, our color management employee will measure the wet color to record wet CIEL*a*b* of  Pantone and some important images of the product that need attention to control. Also, the tone value increase of each color will need to be recorded; brand of ink set to use and the color sequence. This record will be given back to the printing manager if there is any problem in the future for process or quality control.

Song Lam is well known for its excellent printing quality and customer services. Could you briefly discuss your company’s history and background, main business, and major customers?  

Founded in 2003, our company has been a beacon of excellence in the printing industry, driven by a deep-rooted commitment to quality and unparalleled customer service. Our President, Phan Van Minh, earned his degree in printing in Germany, a nation renowned for its printing industry expertise. With this knowledge, we've become pioneers in producing exquisite paper packaging boxes. Our products boast an array of stunning effects, from foil pressing to embossing and spot UV, all tailored to meet the unique needs of our valued customers. Our key partnerships are with prominent domestic companies, along with the global e-commerce giant Amazon. We take immense pride in our rich history and unwavering dedication to delivering outstanding printing solutions.

Song Lam Pack Facility

Song Lam Pack has been certified as a G7 Master for many years. What pushed you to become certified and how has your company benefitted from achieving G7 Master Certification?     

Achieving G7 Master certification has been a crucial milestone for our company in the printing industry, driven by several motivations and resulting in a range of significant benefits:

  • Consistency and Accuracy: The primary motivation for pursuing G7 Master certification is to ensure consistent and accurate color reproduction across all our printing processes and devices. This level of consistency is vital for meeting and exceeding customer expectations for quality.
  • Customer Satisfaction: G7 Master certification has enabled us to consistently deliver high-quality print materials to our customers. This has significantly enhanced customer satisfaction and loyalty, as they can rely on us to produce their materials with precise color matching every time.
  • Reduced Waste: G7's color management methodology helps us reduce waste in terms of time, materials, and resources. By achieving color accuracy faster and with fewer adjustments, we minimize the need for costly reprints and reduce our environmental footprint.
  • Improved Efficiency: The G7 process streamlines our workflow, making it more efficient and cost-effective. This efficiency translates into faster turnaround times for our clients and, ultimately, a competitive edge in the market.
  • Competitive Advantage: Being G7 Master certified sets us apart from competitors who may not have achieved this level of color consistency. It's a valuable selling point when marketing our services to potential clients and partners.
  • Global Recognition: G7 Master certification is globally recognized as a standard for color consistency and quality in the printing industry. This recognition has opened doors to partnerships and collaborations with organizations that value precise color management.
  • Continuous Improvement: G7 certification is not a one-time achievement but an ongoing commitment to maintaining high color standards. It encourages us to continuously improve our processes and stay at the forefront of printing technology.

Our motivation for G7 Master Certification has been to ensure top-notch color consistency, customer satisfaction, and operational efficiency. The benefits have included enhanced customer relationships, reduced waste, improved efficiency, a competitive edge, global recognition, and a commitment to ongoing improvement in our printing processes.

What is Song Lam Pack’s business strategy and motto? How do you support your customers in Vietnam and abroad? 

Our company's business strategy revolves around a commitment to quality, innovation, and exceptional customer service. Our motto is "Precision Printing, Unmatched Service," which reflects our dedication to delivering the highest quality printed materials while providing our customers with a level of service that sets us apart in the industry.

To support our customers in Vietnam and abroad, we employ several key strategies:

  • Global Reach: Customer-Centric Approach: We prioritize understanding our customers' unique needs and requirements. Whether they are in Vietnam or abroad, we work closely with them to tailor our printing solutions to their specific demands.
  • Advanced Technology: We invest in state-of-the-art printing technology and stay abreast of industry trends to offer cutting-edge solutions to our customers. This commitment to innovation ensures that we can meet the diverse needs of our clients, whether they are local or global.
  • Logistics and Shipping Expertise: For our international customers, we have developed robust logistics and shipping capabilities to ensure that their orders are delivered on time and in pristine condition. We understand the importance of timely delivery in the global marketplace.
  • Quality Assurance: We maintain rigorous quality control processes throughout our production cycle. This ensures that our customers, whether in Vietnam or abroad, receive printed materials that meet the highest industry standards.
  • Customization: We have the flexibility to customize our printing solutions to meet the unique requirements of different markets. This adaptability allows us to serve a diverse range of clients effectively.
  • Sustainability: We are committed to sustainable printing practices and environmental responsibility. This resonates with clients globally who prioritize eco-friendly products and services.

Could you share some success stories of your customers and business partners? 

One of our most prominent business partners is Amazon, the global e-commerce giant. Over the years, our collaboration has resulted in numerous success stories. We have consistently provided Amazon with high-quality, customized paper packaging solutions for their products. By leveraging our expertise in foil pressing, embossing, and UV treatments, we've helped Amazon enhance its product presentation and branding.

Our precision printing and attention to detail have contributed to a noticeable improvement in customer satisfaction and sales for many of Amazon's product lines. This partnership exemplifies how our commitment to quality and innovation aligns with the needs of major e-commerce players in the digital age.

Could you explain your internal process control strategy?  

In reality, there are many issues maintaining print, regardless of adhering to G7. Many jobs have to print at very high density because they have to achieve the same solid color to match customer specifications which become challenging as TVI becomes very high, leading to print conformance failure, especially with gray balance. 
Maintenance can also introduce variation, especially with a digital print, where new rollers and consumable parts can cause gray imbalance.

If the printer has calibrated to achive Targeted or Colorspace complance, then we know that must re-calibrate to create a new curve set that matches gray balance while print at too high density. Meanwhile, having to recalibrate the printer is not desirable! Besides, to reduce costs, most printing companies have to save every millimeter of paper, so most printed sheets could not place G7 verify strips and therefore if you want to recalibrate the printer, you must create a new test form with P2P chart or G7 verify strip and that will require more paper, new output and more time to do.

In Vietnam and many other developing countries, only big printing companies can fully invest in equipment for color management, such as Lightbox, dedicated display for prepress and color meters such as X-Rite AutoScan, i1Pro2, i1iO at the request of their American and European customers, the small printing companies will only use handheld colorimeters such as X-Rite eXact/or Techkon used to control Density and Delta E. Many printing companies that have a G7 Master Certificate may not invest in equipment such as EIZO display, AutoScan, i1Pro2, i1iO and the G7 software like Curve 4 or PressSign, too. Without the proper tools, or more automation, job checks and ongoing process control become difficult. This had led me to a question: What is the simplest approach to determine when to recalibrate a press without using a G7 verify strip or P2P chart? And how to calculate the NPDC curve with handheld colorimeters? To answer that question, I have developed put a mini gray strip include only 3 patches of HC, HR and SC into product. We will measure this mini process control strip and calculate to adjust the target curve to match gray balance.

That will help printing companies that do not have the financial resources to fully invest in color management equipment to be able to maintain the G7 process, too. I continue to test this process control tool to finetune it and make it an easy solution for my team to use.  

Song Lam Packaging Production quality control

Which is your favorite printing job you have produced so far and why? 

I always feel happy when I remember the project we worked on for a foreign partner, which was printing an earphone box for Apple. That project was extremely difficult to print after many failed test prints. The foreign partner sent a color expert to our company, he was also a G7 expert, to print samples of the project again but unfortunately he failed. Then I was assigned to reprint the sample of this project and was lucky when I did it successfully and the company won the bid for the project to produce.

What is the message you would like to share with your other industry members?  

G7 is one of the major innovations in the printing industry. The application of G7, not only for certification, but across thorough production implementation and process control, will help printers benefit from reducing waste and increasing production efficiency, leading to reduced production costs, and printing costs that will also decrease and increase competitiveness. Working with G7-certified printers means not only will you see increased cost efficiency, but also reliable production and team members you can trust for your products. 

Lastly, what does print and color mean to you?

Not only do printing and color meant something to me, it also meant something to my father. Since the early 1970s of the last century, my father led a group of Vietnamese technical staff to Beijing, China to learn about printing technology, then he and they returned to Vietnam and built together the first label printing factory in Northern Vietnam during the war years, where he held the position of Technical Director until his retirement. I am the only one of his three sons who continued to work follow his profession.

As I have 15 years of experience as a Graphic Designer, I understand that no color is more beautiful than another and no color is uglier than another. The beauty of the colors on each print design depends on the designer's color arrangement and if he knows that what colors next to each other will enhance each other or depending on the nature of the product, the color will be different. For example, very bright and beautiful colors are appropriate in the design of a children's snack package but would not be appropriate to apply those colors to whiskey labels and whiskey boxes.

However, because my job requires me to look at colors for many hours a day, it makes my eyes tired, so after every day of work I like to look at fresh green nature photos to help relax my eyes.

To learn more about Song Lam Packaging Production, visit their website at