With its new Bobst Masterflex-L seven-colour flexo press, Mondipak Corrugated may find the pot of gold at the rainbow’s end, reports KAREN STRETCH.

THERE’S a new star attraction at Mondipak Corrugated, Springs. Red as a fire engine and as large as the Gautrain, the Bobst Masterflex-L is the first of its kind in South Africa.

Supplied by Bobst, Switzerland, with the support of local representative, Beswick Machinery, the fully-automated seven-colour Masterflex-L flexo press is designed to produce top-quality print on corrugated board and is capable of running up to 8 000 sheets/hour with print register and clarity second to none.

This installation is the result of a three-year project to provide Mondipak customers with a superior printed product and quicker service. ‘Our workload was increasing and we realised there was growing demand for top-quality multicolour print on a variety of board grades,’ explains Darrel Westerveld, printing supervisor. ‘Our five-colour Deritend flexo press, which had been our primary printing press for the last eight years, simply couldn’t cope with growing customer demands.’

The project started ‘growing legs’ last year and by November, after much research and planning, the Masterflex-L was purchased. Within seven months it was shipped and commissioned, and commenced its first print runs on June 22 – the same day as the Gautrain’s inaugural trip from Sandton to OR Tambo International Airport.

During the six-week commissioning period, Bobst technicians provided training on the new press, and a specalised team at Mondipak is now responsible for its operation and maintenance. A real sense of ownership and pride has blossomed among the team.

Automated accuracy

Since June 22, the Masterflex-L has already increased the plant’s printing capacity by 75% and is operating daily with two shifts. ‘There are so many benefits to the Masterflex-L,’ confirms Colin Pearce, production manager. ‘Previously we had to run jobs twice through the Deritend to achieve a seven-colour result, now we can print seven-colours, or six-colours plus varnish, on one pass, which has definitely improved our efficiencies.’

Other key features of the Masterflex-L include automatic setting of all press elements, which ensures fast changeovers and allows just-in-time production of even the shortest runs; a high-speed belt feeder coupled with an in-feed sheet positioning system, which ensures correct sheet position and perfect print placement on the sheet; a single roller ‘nip free’ board in-feed system that eliminates board crush; an inking system with entirely automatic wash-up, providing both ink and water savings; and a semi-automatic quick-change anilox roll system.

The Masterflex-L now prints up to 54 000 sheets/day (equivalent to 216 000 individual cartons). Automated processing ensures quick throughput and the Bobst Registron system, a powerful process visualisation tool, secures superior print quality and register.

The Masterflex-L automatically sorts pre-set board quantities after printing and stacks on to pallets, ready for the next process.

Minimising labour costs, it requires only three operators/shift, while its user-friendly modular stationary print unit offers easy access to all print stations and prompt, low waste changeovers.

Beswick Machinery employs Bobst-trained mechanical and electrical technicians to attend to any machine faults. In addition, any problem can be viewed directly by Bobst technicians in Switzerland via the ‘Highway View’ monitoring system.

Potential markets

Thanks to the efficiency and accuracy of the Masterflex-L, the Mondipak sales team now has the leverage and confidence to investigate high-volume, full-colour opportunities for any corrugated producrs – from bag-in-a-box to beverage cartons – and to be more aggressive with tender applications.

Alan Caldwell, sales & marketing manager at Mondipak Springs, is excited about these new prospects.

‘Marketers are pushing towards multicolour prints, especially in the wine and liquor sector, and for export products. Having pioneered flexo three- and four-colour work in the past, we’re now the first to offer the equivalent to litho-quality print on corrugated board. We’re already producing superior print on the Masterflex-L for many existing customers including Westfalia, Woodlands and Southern Fruit Packers, and response has been overwhelmingly positive,’ Alan says.

He also believes that Mondipak’s in-house repro, platemaking, production and printing capabilities are a major strength in today’s market. ‘Through inter-department collaboration, the whole production process is closely controlled. Producing perfect products, first time, builds customer confidence and trust and maximises production efficiencies,’ he concludes.


Photography: Clive Glover

Mondi Packaging SA
T +27 011 9945400

Ed’s note: Significant investments have also been made in Mondipak Springs’ finishing department, with another two Bobst technology ‘firsts’! All will be revealed in the next issue.

Catpion: On the bridge of the new Bobst Masterflex-L at Mondipak Corrugated, Springs, are Alan Caldwell (sales & marketing manager), Ozzie Sampson (operator), Walther Nkabinde (operator), Darrel Westerveld (printing supervisor) and Colin Pearce (production manager).

Caption: Mondipak is producing superior colour prints on the Masterflex-L for existing customers, including Woodlands, Westfalia, and Southern Fruit Packers.

Caption: Among key features of the Bobst Masterflex-L is a high-speed belt feeder coupled with an in-feed sheet positioning system to ensure correct sheet position and perfect print placement.

Caption: PACKAGiNG & PRINT MEDIA’s Karen Stretch gets a ‘guided tour’ of the ‘big red beast’ from Darrel Westerveld, printing supervisor.

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