British family-owned label converter Craig & Parsons has invested in a second Mark Andy digital press to increase capacity at its production facility in Kent after reporting a record trading year.
Originally set up in 1945, and now under third-generation management, Craig & Parsons has built a successful business as a trade supplier in its hometown of Folkestone on the Kent coast, UK. Specializing in short-run work with various flexo presses, the company supplies many household names through its print management contacts.
The installation of a Mark Andy Digital One press at the end of 2017 provided the impetus to grow the business to a new level.
‘We’ve always prided ourselves on the quality of our work and service from the design stage through to delivery,’ commented Nikki Gordon, co-owner of Craig & Parsons. ‘In today’s competitive marketplace, that translates into an ongoing commitment to invest in the latest technology.’
Following the acquisition of another label converter in 2015, Craig & Parsons began searching for a digital press that offered high-quality print and flexible capacity. It found it with the Mark Andy Digital One, a dry toner-based technology that offered CMYK printing with a flexo print station and in-line converting.
‘The fact that it could print a white or a varnish and offered cold-foil and laminating with a die unit that accepted the tooling from our Mark Andy flexo press made it the perfect fit for our customer portfolio,’ added Gordon.
After four years and passing the 1.2 million meter mark the company decided to add a second machine at the beginning of 2021 to boost its digital capability. The second-generation Mark Andy, now rebranded Digital Pro, is an uprated model in terms of performance and capability but retains the basic principles of the Digital One.
‘The Digital Pro is capable of printing 1200 DPI at 23m/min and has a simple and easy-to-use RIP that allows you to print a pdf at the touch of a button. It has a broad substrate range and does not require in-line priming, which saves time and money, and it has no cleanroom requirement to perform at its best,’ commented Phil Baldwin, UK sales manager at Mark Andy. ‘Depending on how it’s configured, the Digital Pro can operate on a single-phase electrical supply, but Craig & Parsons’ model has the new semi-rotary die station that needs 3-phase power. Either way, there is no click charge, so it’s economical to run.’
‘The new press has a re-register capability that allows us to offer peel and reveal labels and run pre-printed rolls to add variable data. To be able to add consecutive barcodes has been especially useful for the vast quantities of Covid test packs that are currently in demand,’ said Gordon. ‘The company now has six flexo presses along with the two Mark Andy digital lines, which constitute around 20 percent of total business by value.
Now BRC 6 registered and AA rated since 2019, Craig & Parsons is optimistic about its future. Plans are well-founded for a new press for label sheets, an upgrade program for its existing narrow web flexo stable and a new materials store to free-up space in the tightly packed production area.
‘We now employ 27, five of whom have joined us this year and we will generate around 3.5m GBP sales in 2021. This is a 40 percent growth year on year – and all on single-shift working,’ concluded Gordon.