For over half a century, Flexothene Plastics has been a trusted manufacturing company in the extrusion, printing, laminating and conversion of flexible plastic packaging material in South Africa. Founded in 1971, the business has grown consistently over the years and in 1985, the company settled into modern premises in Phoenix Industrial Park, a factory space that now comprises more than 18 000m2.
The company has homed in on the development of sophisticated materials for automatic packaging lines and achieving high-quality printing. To keep abreast with the latest industry innovations and technology, new equipment and machinery has been added on a regular basis. Managing director Mohamed Bhabha says there’s strong emphasis on technical support and service. ‘Over the years, we’ve managed to purchase the latest equipment on a regular basis, which has enabled us to remain at the forefront of technology in the plastic packaging industry.’
Another focus area for Flexothene is hands-on equipment maintenance to limit the risk of downtime and improve overall efficiencies. For this, the company turned to Beswick Machinery at the end of last year to install and commission a Bobst VISION CI flexo press. Supported by Beswick’s competent team of technicians and engineering department, the press was fully installed and has gone into production very successfully.
Riaan Hopley, Beswick Machinery’s web fed product manager, says the press’s ergonomic design enhancements make it less strenuous and more user-friendly for operators. He reports this ultimately persuaded the Flexothene team of the investment potential of the Bobst VISION CI. ‘It not only offers world-class printing quality and great local support, but the press is fast to set up and change over thanks to its automated and patented SmartKEY and SmartSET features.’ This combination of automated features reduces consumable and substrate waste to less than two web lengths to achieve saleable products on job start up.
According to Riaan, the SmartKEY perfectly aligns the printing sleeves to ensure pin-point accuracy for the best preregister results. Fully automatic bearing blocks open and close all eight sleeve shafts simultaneously for the quickest possible sleeve changeover and maximum rigidity. In addition, the SmartSET includes the SmartVIEW inline inspection system that provides optimal web visibility at the CI directly after printing. It includes easy access print deck controls for making minor adjustments during start-up.
The Bobst VISION CI press’s automated features provide greater control over the machine’s performance for all production lengths on a wide range of substrates. ‘Investing in state-of-the-art and intuitive technology like this not only helps improve operator safety, but provides new learning opportunities for staff, which ultimately adds value for our customers,’ comments Mohamed.
Bruce Beswick emphasises that to design and manufacture the VISION CI, Bobst assembled the best R&D teams from Italy and Germany to bring this product to life. ‘The goal was to create a flexo press for converters looking to add a powerful and reliable production tool to their arsenal. With today’s brand owners growing ever-increasingly uncertain of demand levels, trends are shifting towards much shorter run lengths, making the VISION CI an ideal investment choice. The Smart automatic features ensure repeatable process consistently, minimal waste and ease of operation with maximum production speeds of 400m/min.’
Riaan provides further insights into the design improvements of the press. ‘The doctor blade chambers are lightweight and feature quick locking for rapid changing. The inter-colour dryers are equally light, making them easy to remove for cleaning. The bridge dryer features impingement and floating dryers to achieve the maximum printing speed of 400m/min.’
Both Mohamed and Riaan agree that the print quality from the Bobst VISION CI is one of the best they’ve seen in the market. ‘We’re confident that the VISION CI will set the benchmark in terms of print and dot quality at maximum speed, a prospect that once seemed almost unlikely,’ states Riaan.
The team at Flexothene is very pleased with the print quality, performance and reliability of the press thus far and is looking forward to building on the long-standing supplier/customer relationships that have been formed. ‘The press has met our expectations to date, and we are satisfied that with a local technical presence in Durban, Beswick Machinery will fulfil our after-sales support needs well into the future,’ Mohamed remarks.