- August 31, 2004, edited by Claudia Hine, Managing Editor
Converters in Italy use BST's print process management system to gain a competitive edge.
There's little doubt about the worldwide influence of Italian press manufacturers. But what about Italian converters? What strategies do they use to compete globally? Five converters in Italy reveal tactics that help them remain leaders in their fields.
Pay Attention to Detail
BOVO Srl, Mirano, converts high-end shopping bags for department stores. BOVO makes 100 million bags a year, an average seven colors each, and can deliver large orders in less than two weeks. BOVO has two Uteco central impression (CI) presses, one Comexi CI, one Uteco stack press, and eight bag machines. In business for 50 years, the company is owned by second-generation brothers.
Albert Bovo, owner/production manager of the €14 million business, says the company delivers quality and service with keen attention to every detail. “We measure everything. We print by the numbers, using a recipe for every job.” Recipes track impression pressure, ink densities and viscosities, stickyback…virtually every detail. BOVO, he says, is one of very few European flexo bag converters that prints color bars on every job and uses them effectively as a print process management tool.
Albert says BOVO invested heavily to strengthen its leadership position. He cites the 1.4-m Comexi CI flexo press (installed in 2001) and the BST Genius Digital system the company uses to manage print quality.
According to Bovo, the Genius improves quality and reduces waste. “We are saving a lot of money and have seen a very real financial impact. The average speed we run on the Comexi is 240 meters per minute, so we are not throwing away reels.”
Cliché (plate) lift is traditionally a source of waste on press. “When you have cliché lift, you have to throw out all the bad bags,” says Bovo. Defect detection capabilities of the Genius system are designed to identify plate lift quickly, so the problem can be corrected, he adds.
Color control is another challenge. BOVO uses the automatic color monitoring function of Genius Digital, which tells the operator whenever color has changed and is credited by Bovo as a valuable pressroom tool. He also uses the system as a marketing tool to attract clients and says customers love it “when they see we have such a system and how effective it is.” Should he ever have a problem, his system has remote modem maintenance, which allows for faster correction.
Invest in Quality
Started in 1968, Centroplast SpA, Forli, today has 120 employees, €26 million annual turnover, and converts film and bags for frozen foods, vacuum-packed processed meats, rice, pasta, cheese, and baked goods. Key customers are Nestlé and Danone. It primarily serves the Italian market, but about one-third of its production is shipped elsewhere in Europe.
Centroplast has an equipment base of two flexo CI presses, two laminators, six bag machines, and four slitters. Maurizio Rossi, general executive manager, says the competitive strategy has been to invest in pressroom capabilities to “optimize quality and productivity,” as they focus on shortening makeready and job start-up time.
A 1.12-m Schiavi eight-color, gearless, CI flexo press, in operation since 2002, and a new 1.42-m Flexotecnica eight-color, gearless, CI flexo press both have Genius Digital systems with defect detection, register pre-setting, automatic color monitoring, and automatic bar code verification. The Flexotecnica also is outfitted with BST web guides.
According to Rossi, the first goal — to improve start-up time using the Genius register pre-setting function — has been achieved. He says the company uses significantly less material on startup and is done in much less time than on the presses without this capability.
Rossi says the system has changed the printing operation in a more profound way. Because it's so effective at identifying a range of print process defects, “we have raised our standards of what we now consider acceptable quality.”
Adapt to Change
Simplast Srl., Civitella del Tronto-TE, founded in 1967, is a fully integrated extruder and converter of PE films and flexible products. The company has 42 employees and a €25 million annual turnover. In 1998 a fire destroyed the flexible packaging operation, so Simplast rebuilt the operation using the latest equipment and technology.
With eight extruders, three CI flexo presses, two laminators, seven bag machines, and one recycling extruder, Simplast produces 250 tons of film a month.
Sabatino Di Serafino, purchasing manager, believes customers buy from the company because of its flexibility, the value for the price, and the customer service it provides. All members of the company — even the owner — are available to customers by cell phone 24 hours a day.
Simplast uses a Genius Digital with defect detection, register pre-setting, and automatic color monitoring on its 1.2-m Uteco gearless, CI flexo press. The company gained a 50% improvement in overall waste from the press with the Genius versus presses with only visual inspection systems. “The register pre-setting brings the job into perfect register in under a minute,” says Di Serafino. “Without it, we use 1,000 meters of film for job startup. With it, we use 75 percent less — only 250 meters. Job changeover is faster and [is] less effort for the operator.”
Simplast uses only younger operators on the new gearless press, as the company believes young people adapt more easily to new things, are very familiar with computerized devices, and are more open to using them. They feel this strategy was instrumental in how quickly the press and all its systems were fully productive.
Serve Your Customers
Morgan Spa, Vomano-TE, produces laminated and converted films for frozen foods and refrigerated snack products. Established in 1982, the company has 15 employees and €4 million annual turnover. Major customers include Nestlé, Barilla, Perfetti, Bormioli, and Diva Intl. According to Fausto Gagno, owner/managing director, part of Morgan's competitive advantage comes from forging strong relations with customers and providing service larger companies can't manage.
Morgan installed a new 1.3-m Schiavi shaftless gravure press in September 2003. The strategic plan was to equip the press with the best new technology. It has automatic register control, automatic viscosity controls, double trolleys, turret unwinds and rewinds, and BST web guiding systems.
The new press runs at three times the speed of the old press, so defect detection was deemed essential. The new press has a BST Genius Digital with defect detection, automatic color monitoring, and bar code verification.
According to Gagno, Genius finds a range of defects — missing print, ghosting, color defects, missing dots — and is particularly good at finding streaks. He says the system is “very good at finding very small doctor blade scratches in non-print areas,” which are almost impossible to see with the naked eye. He indicates the color control aspect of Genius also is useful. “The system finds color changes and advises the operator that something has changed and needs attention.”
Operators like the fact Genius is a functional viewing system, which allows them to inspect the print in great detail, and they find the graphic touchscreen interface is easy to use. Gagno says, “My operators realize the system does not do their job for them, but they rely heavily on being able to do their job best because they have this system on the press.”
Plastik SpA manufactures polyethylene materials, printed or unprinted, supplied in rolls or converted into bags, as well as laminated films and nonwovens for diaper and feminine hygiene products. It supplies Procter & Gamble, Johnson & Johnson, and Sca.
The family-owned business, founded in 1930, today has 173 employees and annual turnover of €42 million. Plastik operates its primary facility in Bergamo, with 12 extruders (nine blown film lines, three cast lines, and two for the production of breathable films) and five flexo CI printing presses.
Gianangelo Cattaneo, managing director, says companies do business with Plastik because of its leadership position and for the quality it delivers. To maintain this position and meet quality expectations, Plastik added a 1.2-m Schiavi gearless, CI flexo press with BST web guides and a BST Genius Digital.
Plastik bought the Genius Digital for defect detection, which Cattaneo says “works very well.” He cites low dot density (5%) process color areas, which he says are difficult to print cleanly on any flexo press. Genius Digital has proved effective at detecting over-pressure on the plates, resulting in dirty print.
Cattaneo finds the primary benefits from defect detection are reduced waste generated on press and the ability to reduce print runs to further reduce waste. He says this helps manage deliveries more efficiently and helps Plastik improve customer satisfaction levels.
Package buyers the world over demand high quality products, produced efficiently and sold at a price that contributes to their value proposition. Converters in Italy have embraced print process management systems and know how to get the greatest results from their investments.
BST Pro Mark —bstpromark.com
Uteco SpA —uteco.com
Schiavi SpA (a member of the Bobst Group of cos.) —bobstgroup.com
Flexotecnica/Cerutti Group —flexotecnica.it