With more than 100 machines already in operation, this is an alliance that’s clearly going from strength to strength; and Kolbus VP, Wilfried Kroeger, recently visited South Africa underline his support for the Ipex team and to impart information on global market trends.
‘Despite a slow global economic recovery, our southern African business continues to expand,’ he reports happily. ‘Kolbus equipment is utilised by a broad range of companies, from large and well-established printing groups to up-and-coming independent enterprises,’ he adds.
‘The Ipex Machinery team and Kolbus area sales manager, Henning Meier, have taken the time to understand the finishing needs of each customer and, as a result, have established close business relationships. With our ongoing international support, I’m confident that Ipex Machinery will uphold our leading position in the southern African book binding market.’
Besides a glowing African sales report, Wilfried reports positive changes in the European and US printing industries.
‘After several difficult years, we’re beginning to see encouraging sales results in our more mature sales regions,’ he relates. ‘Since the middle of 2013, several orders have come from US-based printing firms, indicating a healthy graphics industry. There are also positive signs from the UK, Italy, Spain and Greece.’
He points, too, to changing market trends as print business adjust to economic shifts.
‘Print runs are getting shorter and competition is rife,’ he remarks. ‘And, as digital printing comes to the fore, we’ve moved with these changes to remain competitive. We’re currently involved in various projects combining conventional (offset) and digital printing with an in-line perfect binding system.’
Another key growth area he identifies for Kolbus is perfect binding for photo book production. Although in its infancy in South Africa, it’s a market that has taken off in Europe, with many progressive printers investing heavily in machinery and aggressive consumer marketing. ‘Between October and December, printers are working flat out, producing books for Christmas presents. On demand printing for science books, novels, and more, is also on the up,’ he explains. ‘A fully-integrated production line, including a digital printer and Kolbus book binding line is perfect for small runs and just-in-time delivery. I can see a big opportunity in this field in South Africa.’
A significant new business for Kolbus is luxury packaging. ‘We have a wealth of knowledge in terms of handling grey board and cloth materials, utilised extensively in luxury liquor, wine, jewellery and wristwatch packaging,’ Wilfried continues. ‘Our advantage is our technology. With our high-precision machines, we transform laminated cover materials and high-quality print into flawless box packaging in a cost-effective manner. Our technology is also suitable for digital printing, so it’s possible for the manufacturer to react to market trends in the current season,’ he adds. ‘Certain packaging lines have already been successfully installed in Asia and I’m confident we’re going to generate positive feedback from our other international partners.’
As a result of consistent growth in niche market packaging, Kolbus is attending interpack this year to show an innovative, automatic packaging line.
Adapting to change
As Wilfried points out, R&D at Kolbus is focused on systems that are flexible and easy to handle. ‘Advanced software development and computer-operated, automated access systems are the future,’ he insists. ‘Of course, these new models don’t come cheap, but in terms of quality and versatility, the return on investment is ten-fold.’
Furthermore, printers’ changing marketing tactics are also influencing new machine design.
‘In Europe, business consolidation is rife. Old company names are disappearing and new players are emerging with fresh sales strategies, such as selling print through the internet, allowing consumers to choose products quickly and easily,’ Wilfried relates. ‘As a result, we need to provide perfect binding and packaging systems that match consumer expectations; and our new-generation automatic hybrid machines are developed with efficiency and simplicity in mind.’
Overall, Wilfried firmly believes that as the global economy improves utilisation of paper and printing will increase. ‘Change is a constant, and we’re ready to assist printers in turning challenges into sound business opportunities,’ he sums up.
Zünd raises the bar in digital cutting
An advanced set of tools to increase efficiency in the print environment is the focus of Zünd’s presence at Ipex 2014. A leading manufacturer of multifunctional digital cutting systems, the company is displaying one of its most successful products, the S3 digital cutter, supported by new functionalities.
The S3 is a modular cutting system designed for 24/7 operation, offering high productivity and enabling processing of an extensive range of materials up to 25 mm thick. Print service providers can choose different levels of material-handling automation to meet their specific needs, and a variety of tools to deliver precise cutting and accurate jobs.
At Ipex 2014 Zünd is showing an automatic sheet feeder to further enhance the S3’s performance. Increased productivity and a fully automated workflow are the main benefits that this new device will bring to the production environment. The automated loading system for sheeted materials is ideal for high-volume production. Loading, advancing and off-loading are perfectly synchronised to deliver high precision and efficiency, allowing printers to quickly manage larger orders and stay competitive.
Visitors can also see the tandem vacuum system that enables efficient loading/unloading of materials on one side of the cutter while production continues on the other one. This type of ‘pendulum’ production workflow allows for concurrent unloading/reloading and cutting/processing. While the material is loaded/unloaded on one side, the machine continues cutting/processing the material on the other. This saves time and maximises productivity by minimising idle time.
The Electric Oscillating Tool EOT 250 is another valuable device for print service providers who handle sandwich board/honeycomb materials and board. With an extended 2.5 mm stroke and high oscillating frequency, the robust and air-cooled EOT-250 is capable of managing these demanding materials at very high speeds. On its stand at Ipex, Zünd is processing sandwich board materials such as X-Board and Reboard up to 22mm thick to demonstrate the powerful features of this tool.
Demonstrating that finishing starts before a job is printed, the company is showcasing the functionalities of Zünd Design Center, an Adobe Illustrator plug-in to create three-dimensional designs for packaging and displays. Zünd Design Center provides a comprehensive library of ready-to-use designs in folding carton and corrugated board, from which printers can choose. 3D preview simplifies the selection of the right design for the job and helps to verify how the layout changes once the operator has modified the relevant measurements, added logos, patterns and other graphic elements.
Local enquiries to Beswick Machinery.
Change of sales channel for MBO
Following last year’s announcement of an international distribution partnership between KBA and MBO, it’s not entirely surprising to learn that the MBO agency in South Africa has moved from Ferrostaal into the Thunderbolt Solutions stable.
In terms of the partnership, KBA is exclusive distributer of MBO machines in Europe, Asia, South America and Africa. And in South Africa, Thunderbolt has been KBA’s distributor for 12 years. And, of course, Thunderbolt is no stranger to the world of finishing technology, having represented Müller Martini for many years, too.
According to Thunderbolt MD, Peter van der Walt, this latest development is particularly exciting, as the company has been keen to add folding solutions to its finishing line-up. ‘But we wanted the best system,’ he insists, ‘and you don’t get better than MBO.’
Collaboration between KBA and MBO is already evident at KBA’s facility in Radebeul, Germany, where MBO’s M80 folding machine is on display for live customer demonstrations and hands-on training. MBO experts have provided extensive training to KBA sales personnel and this, in turn, has been passed on to Thunderbolt’s team of specialists, explains Dane van der Walt, product manager for MBO equipment in South Africa.
‘Many of South Africa’s major printers already operate MBO folding lines – companies such as CTP, Paarl Media, and a number of trade finishers,’ Dane adds. ‘But we see great opportunities for growth in other printing sectors – not least speciality mailing and packaging applications.’
The addition of MBO folders to Thunderbolt’s portfolio allows the company to offer end-to-end finishing solutions. Indeed, MBO and Müller Martini have collaborated on numerous projects around the world, where the seamless link between folding machines and saddle stitchers allows jobs to be transferred and handled in one pass.
‘This range of folding machines – especially the M80 folder – will put us at the forefront of the folding technology revolution,’ says Dane.
On show at Ipex
MBO has been a reliable partner for bookbinders and print finishers for more than 40 years; and technical innovation and high quality have given the company a global leadership position in sheet folding and thread sealing machine manufacture.
At Ipex, MBO’s UK distributor is showing an automated M80 machine for the first time. The four-plate machine on display is equipped with a cross-fold and three-fold unit, plus a continuous feeder. The fold plates and fold rollers are automated for quick job changeovers.
The most notable feature of the M80 is its adaptability. With the M80 comes the ability to retrofit add-on components or modules, even after initial purchase. This gives printers the freedom to adapt to changing market demands and to seize new opportunities. For example, a four-plate M80 with a standard slitter shaft can easily be upgraded to a six-plate machine with a slitter shaft cassette to expand job capabilities and improve make-ready times.
Billed as ‘the world’s most adaptable folding machine’, the M80 is the folding machine of the future, as it adapts perfectly to the ever-changing printing environment with its rugged design, high standards of reliability and precision, an infeed width of 830mm and production speeds up to 230m/min. Capping it all, it’s user friendly and, thanks to an intuitive touchscreen, easy to operate.