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Compact Roll Handling Technology Key Support for JIT Operation

Bernd Schopferer (right) recommended the MBSC and STR to Jaroslav Vendl because they offer full function roll handling but have the compact dimensions needed for a smaller production environment

Czech label converter Colognia press, which now markets its products and services under the logo ‘Dreams and Work’, has installed a second set of Martin Automatic technology to increase efficiency at its plant in Kolin, some 70km east of the capital city Prague. The company, which was founded in 1996 and is still privately owned and run by Jaroslav Vendl enjoyed a €13.5m turnover in 2015, and employs more than 100 people.

Built on a diverse portfolio of customers from the automotive, food, pharmaceutical, cosmetic, wine, electro technical, chemical, sport, clothing, gardening, and culture markets, in addition to manufacturing labels, tickets and tags, Colognia has now entered the shrink sleeve arena. To provide a reliable service to such diverse markets, especially one so quality sensitive as pharmaceuticals, Vendl decided to invest in roll changing automation for his second Gallus RCS 330 press.

“We installed a Martin MBS non-stop unwind/splicer and LRD automatic transfer rewinder on our first RCS line in 2011 and noticed an immediate improvement in productivity, and reduction in waste levels. This time we had less floorspace to work with, but Martin’s compact MBSC and STR models offered the perfect solution for our latest RCS, and the benefits are already obvious,” he stated. Installed as a four-colour CMYK press, the servo driven Gallus has since been extended to a six-colour flexo/screen combi machine.

There were two main drivers for the second investment in Martin technology: the first is that all leading brand owners insist on reserve capacity to ensure on-time delivery, so an identical capability from the second press was required; and second, the quality of work produced with continuous operation is significantly higher than that with regular press stops. The new STR offers inline slitting capability that allows Colognia to produce finished rolls on the press that can be shipped straightaway. By taking this step out of the production chain, orders can be turned faster with fewer staff. Bernd Schopferer, Martin Automatic’s European Sales Manager explained: “With their compact dimensions, and having all features onboard, our MBSC (C for Compact) and STR are specially designed for smaller production environments, but still offer fully automated roll handling for continuous running. This is another example of the company’s tailor-made engineering.”

The drive for efficiency at Colognia is felt at all levels of the business. The company allows free, if limited access to its MIS so that customers can order work direct and watch its progress through the plant with confirmation of accuracy at each stage. Vendl sees this as one of his major added-value services to customers. The company is also a devotee of the ‘Plantyst’ concept, which merges technology monitoring with simple shopfloor management in one production tool. Each morning, the company holds a short production meeting to assess the statistics generated from the previous day’s production and identify problem areas. One or more members of staff is then charged with resolving the issue before the following day’s meeting.

According to Vendl: The sum is greater than the individual parts because by analysing the statistics and making minor adjustments we can achieve major improvements in production speed and consistency. It’s all about better internal communication, and allows our staff to make the most of the technology at their disposal.” Citing the continued reduction in run lengths as the reason, he commented: “Price is a less critical factor on shorter run work, and also jobs on fast turnaround, so investing in technology to serve this market trend makes perfect sense.”

Turning his attention to the latest investment in Martin Automatic equipment, he explained that his initial MBS/LRD installation had seen a payback of less than two years, which gave him the confidence to return to the same manufacturer when the time came to increase output on the latest press. “Martin Automatic has the best reputation in the market for automated roll handling – in fact we know that much of the industry thinks of Martin as the generic term for a splicer,” he said.

Crucially, what the Martin/Gallus combinations offer Colognia is the freedom to choose between digital production on its EFI Jetrion press, or flexo/screen printing on its Gallus presses for any short run job. With the impending addition of an HP-Indigo line, the facility to choose production press by type of label required rather than number of linear metres involved, adds flexibility to Colognia’s production capacity. “We focus on improving our core competence rather than pushing the boundaries of new markets,” he explained, although admitting that the move into shrink sleeves is proving to be a new learning curve. “It’s not so much the machinery side as the variability of supposedly identical substrates that we need to resolve,” he added.

With a range of products available to serve its customer base, who all require JIT delivery and minimal stockholding of short runs, Colognia sees itself more as an IT logistics provider than a straightforward printer/converter. Whether it is producing security labels with special UV inks and hot/cold foiling, or peel off labels that allow the increased volume of information that is now obligatory to be printed in the sandwich, or screen printed labels that provide added embellishment and the profile for Braille, or a wash-off label that uses a special waterproof foil to give a no-label look, Colognia has most bases covered. “We are also the only certified converter in Czech to produce labels under the DPG refund system for plastic bottles that is especially popular in Germany,” Vendl commented.

The next phase of investment will see a factory extension onsite to accommodate finished goods and allow a better management of inventory, which coupled with the recent opening of a Sales Office in Frankfurt, to serve the German speaking and other western European markets, will fill Colognia’s expanding production capacity.

Nick Coombes

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