Nick Coombes spoke to some of the UK’s leading carton converters to find out how technology helps them to help their customers
‘The packaging market has changed enormously over the past five years. With customer expectations much higher, we have to do all we can to ensure we meet them,’ explains Mark Jeavons, print manager of Offset Productions, Aylesford, an independent packaging, print and greetings card specialist.
Edward Mould, managing director of fourth generation family-run packaging specialist Leyprint, agrees: ‘There has been a dramatic shift in the market, and we need to be very responsive to the demand for shorter runs and faster turnaround times.’
The pressure to meet these daily requirements resulted in both operations investing in KBA technology to help them retain their competitive edge. Leyprint is targeting 10.5 percent year-on-year growth with investment in a KBA Rapida 105 combination press, while Offset Productions chose KBA’s DensiTronic to help underpin its provision of high-quality, reliable and consistent services.
‘For us, the most important factor has to be reduced make-ready times and the associated reduced cost,’ said Mould.
‘That said, the press will also open up new markets that we couldn’t operate in with our old presses; primarily these are printing on plastics, and direct litho onto E-flute corrugated board. There really isn’t a great deal of money to be made in cartons these days, so we have to exploit the niche markets to increase profitability. When we first started talking to all the press manufacturers, we were looking at large format presses, but KBA highlighted the flexibility that B1 could offer considering our needs today.’
The press is equipped with an extended delivery, CX package for thicker substrates, semi-automatic plate changing, and runs both UV and conventional inks, which enables the operation to handle a wider mix of jobs. Mould added: ‘We need UV for our worldwide telecoms accounts but not always for other jobs. We also have to be able to run low-migration inks, and the ability to swap easily is very important to us.'
But, it is not just hardware that can make a difference. Offset Productions, a family-run operation in Kent, with an established core business of blue chip and household names, chose DensiTronic for its six-color KBA Rapida 142 and seven-color KBA Rapida 105 to help it achieve ISO 12647-2. DensiTronic offers fully automatic measurement quality control and documentation, and allows new or customer-specific color bars to be added to the standard catalogue.
Operations director Vince Brearey explained: ‘We plan to grow our business in all areas, but in particular we want to expand our presence in the packaging and fine art sectors.’ DensiTronic will also help Offset Productions to attain ISO 12647-2.
Brearey explained: ‘We installed the Rapida 142 five years ago, and when we came to investigate how further investment could help us achieve our goals, DensiTronic turned out to be the ideal solution. It will be a vital tool in helping us achieve that accreditation, and also help reduce ink and paper waste by producing saleable sheets faster. This will save money by allowing us to get more jobs on and off the press per shift, and ultimately, that will help us be more productive.’
KBA claims each of its presses is designed and built to meet the unique operational demands of the specifying company, which was one of the reasons Chesapeake Pharmaceutical and Healthcare Packaging, the world’s leading manufacturer in this sector, added a second KBA Rapida 106 in less than two years.
Chosen for pharmaceutical leaflet production at the Group’s Tewkesbury site, the two-color perfector followed the installation of a Rapida 106 six-color machine, two back four perfector, at the Greenford operation. Both presses are equipped with KBA’s lightweight stock option, which reduces minimum substrate specification to 0.04mm, ColorTronic off-press ink and register control system, and DriveTronic for smooth sheet delivery.
‘Among our client base, we count many, if not all of the world’s leading pharmaceutical companies,’ stated Mark Wilson, general manager for leaflets at Chesapeake in the UK and Ireland. ‘We need the most advanced technology available to offer them the high level of service they demand, and we believe KBA offers that capability. We are committed to strengthening and growing the business, and the latest press addresses both of these priorities.’
Speaking for KBA UK, executive sales director Mark Nixon comments: ‘The current economic environment is driving an interesting move towards greater versatility on all press formats. With such a wide press range we are able to give unbiased advice, which is how we were able to work closely with Leyprint to ensure it chose the right press to meet its exact requirements. Highly automated printing presses give packaging printers more options when it comes to run length, product types and niche markets, and this is crucial at a time when there is so much uncertainty out there.’