Digital print now accounts for some 45% of output at Berkshire Labels and Roscoe believes an approximate 50:50 balance between digital and flexo is desirable going forward. What he has set about achieving is a blueprint for the future of flexo at his plant, and by investing in a high specification press, has laid a firm foundation. Add to this, the company’s knowhow in Lean Manufacturing, and one can see how the plan will unfold.
The new Mark Andy is fully servo-driven with a 17 inch (430mm) web width, eight UV-flexo print units, a full rail system for screen and hot foil capability, double-sided corona treatment, delam/relam, turn bars, QCDC, and Mark Andy’s new advanced waste wind up. The press also has the "film pack" that includes chill drums for handling lightweight filmic materials from 15 up to 400-micron.
The P7 was chosen after what Roscoe describes as a brilliant print trial at Mark Andy’s showroom and demo facility in Warsaw, Poland. “We took three very tricky jobs that pushed the boundaries of shrink sleeve, unsupported film, and self adhesive labels, and ran them all without a hitch at 150m/min,” he comments. The new press was set tough production targets at installation, including a reduction in average make-ready times from 60 to 15 minutes, and a minimum of 100m/min on all jobs.
“We ran our first commercial job after one week; were running work through the press at 150m/min by week two, and had changeovers down to 10 minutes at the end of the first month. In fact we now have an F1 type pit stop system in operation and our productivity has soared,” he adds.
Key to success is the ability to make-ready offline and then load jobs onto the press when it stops, without any further adjustment. The new P7 joins three earlier Mark Andy 2200/LP3000 models at the plant and is the company’s first press with a 17 inch (430mm) web width.
This increase in width prompted investment in a new Esko Full HD CDI, and as part of the drive to quantify quality, Roscoe installed GMG profiling and proofing technology. This allows Berkshire Labels to send out certified contract proofs to customers that meet the appropriate FOGRA standards. With X-Rite spectrophotometers and IQC software allowing the company to meet a maximum Delta E tolerance of 1.5, Berkshire Labels now sees fewer of its jobs being passed on-press.
“We have fingerprinted all of our presses so can choose which to use by job size rather than quality required. Our closed-loop system was expensive to install, but the payback has been excellent, and our aim is full ISO color certification before the year end,” explains Roscoe. Part of the new strategy has been the switch to Pulse single pigment inks, which allow finer grade Apex anilox rolls to be used. This has improved quality and allowed Berkshire Labels to substantially reduce its anilox inventory.
Four months after installation Roscoe says the new technology is working well. “We have ramped up production speeds on the Mark Andy P7 to the point where we are now putting pressure on our Studio, which is a good sign,” he says. Currently, around 65% of the company’s output is from paper-based substrates, which Roscoe believes will change as the new Mark Andy’s filmic capabilities are fully realized. Sales topped £10 million in 2015, with labels accounting for 80%, but Berkshire is keen to grow its non-label side and has also invested in a Karlville sleeving machine to add capacity.
“You need to innovate to stay competitive in today’s market, where small differences mark success or failure. The technology is available to everyone – so it’s how you use it in the total production environment that’s important,” he concluded.