Over the course of four days, April 23-26, press maker Mark Andy hosted more than 150 print industry professionals at its newlyrefurbished Demonstration and Training Center in Macclesfield, UK, just outside of Manchester. Attendees included label converters – both current and prospective Mark Andy customers, Mark Andy partners, as well as members of the media.
Billed as an Open House, the event was just that. “Refreshing,” and “informative” were among the adjectives used to describe the experience. While there was a loose agenda featuring speakers, presentations and machinery demonstrations, the program was informal, allowing attendees to mingle with one another to discuss the equipment on display, as well as the industry in general. In addition, key Mark Andy personnel from both North America and Europe was on hand to meet with customers individually to discuss Mark Andy and Rotoflex equipment capabilities.
Tom Cavalco, Mark Andy’s European sales director, said the four-day event was an outstanding success. The event commemorated 21 years on the same site and signified the transfer of the company’s European headquarters from Switzerland back to the UK. Attended by people from 60 companies, the Open House proved to be a truly international affair, drawing visitors from as far away as India, Russia, Turkey and Lebanon, as well as from 10 of the European Union countries.
“We have taken orders worth more than $3.2 million this week, including sales of three Performance Series presses and a Rotoflex inspection/rewinder,” Cavalco said. “Most important, is that they were all from companies that are not existing customers. We see this as a sign that Mark Andy is now considered to be a technology leader, with a range of products to suit all types of narrow web applications. And, with the new facilities here, and the new appointments we have made in both sales and technical support, I am very optimistic about our future in Europe.”
The program, which repeated each day, included a mix of presentations and machine demonstrations. These included combination and high-end flexo printing on a 17" P5 press, fitted with the new, award-winning Quick Change Die Cassette (QCDC) system. There have been more than 230 Performance Series presses sold since launching back in 2009. Easy and quick to makeready, the Performance Series, which has the shortest web path in the narrow web press market, has significantly lowered the crossover point where flexo becomes more economical than digital printing.
The daily demonstration of the QCDC unit, fitted as an alternative to the traditional die station on the P5 press, marks what Mark Andy refers to as the final part of the promise it made when the Performance Series was initially launched – to bring makeready and job changeover times down to the level where conventional flexo technology could compete on equal grounds with digital in the cost effective production of short run work.
With QCDC, instead of lifting the heavy die cylinder up and over the machine frame, and then lowering it into the die station, the operator simply opens a door in the press side frame, wheels a trolley into position, aligns the guide rails, and slides out the old die cylinder. The die cylinder for the next job is then wheeled into place on another trolley, the rails aligned, and the new cylinder slid into place. The door is then closed and the operator can register the new die in position from a comfortable working height. There is no heavy lifting or leaning over the press involved, so no risk to operator or the magnetic die.
The QCDC reduces set up time and waste, and increases production speed and die life. Changeover time, from when the press stops to when it produces its next saleable label, drops from the typical 10 – 15 minutes to less than 1 minute. Mark Andy calculates that on a two-shift operation of a 13" press, the QCDC can produce up to 29% more jobs per year, and increase profitability by up to 36%.
Mark Andy recently launched its SRL 4.0 toner-based entry-level digital press, and gave it a European debut at the Open House. Designed specifically for ultra-short run work, the unit is designed to be a cost effective, low-risk introduction to digital technology for converters currently using flexo and other conventional print methods. Capable of printing a 320mm web at 9 meters/minute, and matched with its own SRC converting line, the SRL offers an attractive option for converters who currently struggle with costs on very low volume jobs.
With Rotoflex looking to re-establish itself as the market leader in inspection and rewinding technology, the Open House gave the opportunity to showcase two of the company’s current machines: the VLI and the VSI. The VLI’s latest URC 2.0 control system allows it to handle virtually all types of film at high speed, and has multiple slitting, multi-lane counting, dual rewind, multiple web guiding, and missing label or matrix detection. The VSI is a high-speed machine with the latest integrated web transport that includes eDrive, web inspection, and finishing technology designed to improve machine performance and enhance product quality.
Each day concluded with a demonstration of the technology thatMark Andy predicts will change the face of curing. The new ProLED system, which has been jointly developed by Mark Andy, Flint Group, and Phoseon, offers cost savings with its reduced power requirement, and all round lower production costs because of its simplicity and associated reliability, and the durability and performance of its lamps. The system, which was shown fitted to a six-color P3 Performance Series press, uses medium wave rays that produce neither ozone nor heat, and will be available as both an OEM and retrofit option.
At the end of the week’s activities, International Sales Director Mike Russell commented: “The success we have enjoyed this week will provide a powerful springboard for Mark Andy’s new European Sales and Service Teams. We have demonstrated that we are now at the forefront of commercial technology in our industry, and leading the fight back of conventional against digital printing by redefining short run cost effectiveness. We are now in a great position to grow our business in Europe and the global market, and are looking forward to doing so at Labelexpo Brussels later in the year.” – Steve Katz