‘This investment allows us to improve the cost effectiveness of our wraparound label production,’ Greg explains.
‘Sophisticated computer control of all print parameters reduces make-ready times, and its wider web minimises trim. The addition of a flying splice allows for a seamless transition between print rolls, thus decreasing reel-end waste,’ he adds.
The new press has provided a step change improvement in capacity, allowing the operation to cope with surges in demand for beverage labels during summer months. It’s also directed at the stretch- sleeve market for the milk and dairy blend sectors. In particular, the CI technology allows tight control over the flexible stretch films used for this type of label.
In line with European and US trends, labelling is becoming narrower and thinner, with the norm being 38µm, compared to 47µm two years ago. This obviously has a significant impact on labelling cost and the amount of material that finally enters the waste stream. However, controlling the print process on these thinner gauge films requires sophisticated machinery and plenty of expertise.
Major plant modifications
ACF Labels’ Pinetown plant underwent major modifications to accommodate the weight, footprint and power requirements of the new press. However, according to W+H, the new equipment has been manufactured with environmental sustainability measures in mind. Additionally, Greg Petzer anticipates that lower waste and faster output will lead to possible energy savings.
Sign off and training for the production teams on the press was carried out at the W+H plant in Germany and further operational support was given locally by W+H engineers. Start-up production began in mid-September, with full production rolling by the first week of October.
The combination of established narrow-web presses and this new wider-web press gives ACF Labels the capacity to compete in a market that demands variety, product depth, cost effectiveness and environmental sensitivity.
However the story doesn’t end here . . .
Significant market growth in the shrink sleeve sector has prompted ACF Labels to further increase its capacity and flexibility. Owing to the high graphic demands of shrink sleeves, UV flexographic printing is considered to be the most effective print process and, in light of this, two further steps have been taken at the Pinetown plant.
The first is the housing of the existing Mark Andy eight-colour flexo press into a climate-controlled cleanroom environment. Climate control better allows complex graphics to be produced at high print speeds with consistent quality.
Last month also saw the installation of an Edale press to provide further UV flexo capacity. The Edale’s modular design allows for multiple combinations of decorative options to be retrofitted and permits an increasingly flexible response to market demands.
Significant shrink sleeve launches on major brands are already in the pipeline. ‘Our latest equipment provides the back-up and flexibility required by these FMCG customers,’ Greg explains ‘It’s also allowing us to investigate a number of new product offerings.’
New product offerings
One such new product is Adhesleeve, a new label format that addresses bottlers’ needs to improve packaging cost effectiveness and environmental sustainability.
Supplied on a reel, the pre-printed labels feature pre-applied glue strips at their leading and trailing edges. This eliminates hot melt adhesive and the consequent fumes and environmental impact.
In addition, the technique removes the need to clean labelling equipment with solvents. The water-based acrylic adhesive is 100% recyclable and no carrier or release material is required.
Labels are reverse-printed, ensuring high gloss and scuff resistance, while HD flexo screening and a full-colour palette ensure high impact graphics.
In line with ACF Labels’ commitment to confidentiality, origination and plate making are all carried out in-house.