BLUE PRINT LABELLING, a Pinetown-based label converter run by brothers Devlin and Wade Brodowicz, recently invested in a ROTOCON ECOLINE RFP 340 flexographic press and a complementary ECOLINE RSI 340 slitting, inspection and rewinding system.
Devlin reports that the entrepreneurial business has always been aligned with essential service types of customers and wasn’t exposed to markets that had to undertake dramatic budget cuts during the pandemic. ‘Some of our long-standing customers experienced good growth while others remained stagnant. This motivated us to quote on new work and capitalise on the fact that brand owners were shaken out of a rut to relook at long-term supplier relationship aspects such as costing, service and just-in-time ordering,’ he states. ‘We could confidently assure them of a complete service offering and attention to detail in all aspects because we offer the right combination of skilled and motivated operators alongside the appropriate equipment, aniloxes and ink measuring systems to produce high-quality labels.’
Six months ago, to instil confidence in retail buyers (who now have a much better understanding of flexo presses and the converting process) that Blue Print could meet their colour quality specifications as a smaller operation, it contracted Flint Packaging Inks to set up an on-site ink kitchen, laboratory and quality assurance system managed by a dedicated ink technician. ‘Additionally, with five flexo presses in operation, it’s important to get as much production out of them as possible. Having an ink technician ensures that we can get the colours right before first-time runs and don’t have to spend hours on making adjustments, which takes away a big headache,’ Wade asserts.
‘We didn’t anticipate ordering a second flexo press within ten months, but securing many new accounts warranted the investment in a multi-substrate, servo-driven press to suit a wide range of product types that we will be venturing into,’ Devlin adds.
He points out that Blue Print Labelling has enjoyed a good relationship with the Rotocon team over the past seven years, purchasing consumables, a six-colour pre-owned flexographic press, as well as an ECOLINE RSI 330 slitter-rewinder and RDS 330 slitter-rewinder with die cutting capabilities to produce blank labels, through director, Pascal Aengenvoort.
‘Pascal and KZN branch manager Akmuth Sayed have been supportive of our team since we started in the industry. Furthermore, the operator-friendly nature, compact design and reliable track record of the slitter-rewinders, which have been backed up by exceptional customer service and after-sales support, gave us the peace of mind and confidence to go ahead with the latest value-for-money ECOLINE investments in June,’ Wade explains.
According to Pascal, the cost-efficient RFP 340 flexo press balances registration accuracy with high running speeds and uses the latest Yaskawa servo drive and control system. Each printing unit is driven by a separate servo motor – 14 in total on this eight-colour printing press and two die cutting stations.
To prepare for the RFP 340’s installation, the team broke through the wall in the adjacent 700m2 unit in Alexander Park and adapted the workflow by moving the raw materials store to where the slitters used to be located, and its four-colour press to the other side of the facility. Devlin notes that this helped create an optimised flow from materials receiving into the stores and out for printing, converting and dispatch.
‘We experienced a serious case of nerves as the flexo press was days away from delivery when the unrest broke out in July. Although we weren’t sure if the factory would still be standing or what business was going to be like, things settled down quite quickly and Rotocon’s technicians, Shaun Scott and Oscar Mashele, did a great job of commissioning the press. Sachin Sukhlal then flew down from Johannesburg to provide a few days of necessary training, especially in terms of delam and relam functionalities, so that our operators could get used to the quirks of this particular machine.’
Wade adds that every press purchase is accompanied by an investment in complementary equipment to enhance productivity and quality, which is why Blue Print Labelling opted for the fully servo-driven RSI 430 slitting, inspection and rewinding system. ‘It enables quick blade setting and make-ready times and offers a slitting accuracy of 0.2mm and production speed of 300m/min,’ he enthuses.
Pascal notes that in the future, the RSI 430 can be upgraded with Erhardt + Leimer’s SMARTSCAN camera system, which combines quality checking, web monitoring and label counting in one operation. ‘The system ensures complete accuracy at the highest speeds and stops immediately when it detects a defect, including missing and damaged labels, unremoved matrix, printing defects or impurities, splices and flags.’
‘We appreciate the trust Blue Print Labelling has placed in ROTOCON and value Wade and Devlin’s ongoing support and the partnership that we have built up between the two businesses. We look forward to installing a Wink SmartGap system to eliminate deviations between the different substrates and backing papers, which can affect the quality of rotary die cutting,’ he adds. ‘It has been amazing to witness the company’s growth during the past seven years based on their hands-on approach and drive to acquire business and produce the best possible results for their customers.’