Sri Lanka-based ALFT Packaging Company has invested in a Kodak Flexcell NX system from Miraclon to bring the plate production process in-house and offer a faster turnaround.
For ALFT Packaging Company chairman Lakshman De Fonseka, the official opening of the new state-of-the-art flexo packaging production plant in Kotugoda in August marked a return to his technological roots. It was through flexo lamination that he first entered the printing industry 30 years ago before building ALFT into a major force in packaging products for the food industry.
‘At that time, gravure was the preferred choice of brands for quality tonal reproduction, so that was the direction we took and where we stayed for the next 25 years or so. But it’s a different story today. In terms of quality, we see no difference between gravure and flexo, thanks almost exclusively to the advances in plate imaging that Flexcel NX technology has made possible. The new production facility is a sign of our confidence in flexo’s future.’
To bring plate production in-house, ALFT has installed a Flexcel NX 4260 System at the new production facility.
‘Investing in in-house flexo platemaking and printing gives us total control of production and delivers a host of benefits that are relevant to our customers,’ says Lakshman. ‘The faster turnaround with flexo is a particular advantage, enabling packaging design changes — to color or for regional variations — to be expedited. With gravure, we’re talking about lead times of three to four weeks for cylinders, which all must be imported. And if a cylinder gets damaged during production, you wait ten to 12 days for a replacement. Compare that to the 90 minutes to make new Flexcel NX plates, and the advantages are obvious.
‘We can also guarantee brands the confidentiality that matters when they’re launching new products and designs — something that can be an issue with gravure, given the time between releasing artwork and receiving cylinders.’
‘Currently, we must go to places like Dubai for this work, which can take six weeks. Because we can now do it in Sri Lanka, we are more agile, more flexible, and faster to market. Having such a facility will make Sri Lanka a prime partner for countries in South and Southeast Asia,’ commented Hajar Alafifi, chairperson and MD of Unilever Sri Lanka
‘The Flexcel NX system is a brilliant piece of equipment,’ said De Fonseka. ‘Our philosophy is always to buy the best. If you choose anything other than the Number One solution, you’re compromising, and you won’t get the best out of the setup. It’s for this reason that we invested in the W&H Miraflex II press and Flexcel NX system. Recognized as some of the flexo industry’s best-in-class equipment, they work beautifully together, ensure fast changeovers and enable faster turnaround times.’
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