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MPS aids Milkpack’s modernization

Milkpack’s deputy general director for production, Pavel Pronin, (left) and Sergei Kochetov, commercial director

Milkpack, based near Tula in Russia, installed an MPS EF 520 flexo press last year – its second machine from the Dutch manufacturer – as part of a five-year program to modernize 80 percent of its printing equipment. In operation for 16 years, the company is a leading producer of sealing lids and sealing roll foil, serving multinational clients such as Campina, Ehrmann, Danone, Valio and Pepsico.

The MPS EF 520 flexo press is installed in Milkpack’s GMP-certified clean room for manufacturing primary pharma packaging, a sector where the company is increasing its focus. Milkpack intends to replicate its success in sealing lid production in the pharma sector through a large-scale technical modernization of its factory, including construction of a new blister foil production facility, which is being fitted with modern equipment.

Built in 2017 in accordance with GMP standards, the Milkpack clean room is unique in Russia. It can be entered only through a gateway system: while one door is open, it is impossible to open the next. Only authorized staff can access it after changing into dressing gowns, caps and shoe covers. Operators must wash their hands for two minutes with a special soap, and then with a disinfecting agent. Their work wear is washed in a special laundry. 

This is the facility for blister foil to be printed and packaged in an environment with reduced microbiological and physical contamination risks. The clean room complies with All Union State standard qualifications in design (DQ), installation (IQ), operation (OQ), and performance (PQ).

‘Under the 2020 Program, subsidiaries of some of the largest global pharmaceutical concerns were established in Russia,’ says Pavel Pronin, deputy general director for production. ‘Having inspected our facility and being convinced that we work according to international standards, many of them transferred their orders for blister foil from Europe to us.’

Innovation 
Milkpack installed an MPS EF 430 flexo press in 2017, and the two MPS presses have played a key role in the converter’s product development. ‘The strategy of our company is discovering new types of packaging materials and new products appearing in Europe and implementing them in Russia,’ says Sergey Kochetov, commercial director at Milkpack. ‘We are very proud of our 2017 innovation: our specialists succeeded in developing a smooth sealing lid with a thermal varnish application on it. No one else makes similar lids in Russia.’ The next stage of development is using thermal varnish to print company’s logo onto the backside of the lid. 

‘Based on our positive experience with the operation of the MPS EF 430 press and our good relationship with the supplier, we didn’t hesitate to choose this new narrow web flexo press for printing sealing lids. We absolutely knew the MPS EF 520 was the right choice,’ recalls Pavel Pronin, deputy director general for production. ‘Modern flexographic machines are catching up with offset in quality. That’s why we needed a machine that is able to cope with the complex design required by our customers – to reproduce fine details and smooth color transitions at high speeds. The MPS EF 520 satisfied us completely.’

The company also needed high productivity and waste minimization, since printing is done on an expensive aluminum foil. The printing width of 510mm – not standard for narrow web flexo presses – was important. ‘The high speed and enhanced printing width gave us a significant output increase,’ says Pronin. 

The press is equipped with corona web treatment equipment for foil, as well as special shafts enabling correction of foil edge irregularities at the machine input area and a foil dust cleaner. It also features high capacity UV curing and a series of GEW nitrogen chambers that facilitate high-speed operation.

According to Pronin, the innovation and increase in efficiency that the new press has brought has been positively received by press operators. ‘Our press operators consider the move to operating this new press as a recognition of their skills and as an improvement in working conditions. This modern press also allows us to look more modern and attractive in customers’ eyes.’

‘The bulk of our orders is made up of dairy lids,’ he continues. ‘To engage buyers, manufacturers are expanding the range of products they offer. It means that we are required to ensure successful printing of small print runs on a larger variety of lids.’

The high degree of EF 520 automation facilitates fast changeover, making small-run production cost-efficient. The EF product line is backed by the APC software package, providing for additional printing automation opportunities. 

Milkpack is actively growing. Over the past year, its exported production increased from 10 percent to 25 percent. While the company primarily works with customers in developing countries, it believes that the high quality of the new flexo press will enable expansion to at least three customers from European countries. 

James Quirk

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James Quirk is group managing editor of Labels & Labeling.

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