ROTOCON has continuously developed its economy line of finishing equipment over the past four years to meet the technology investment needs of smaller labelling operations and start-up ventures, which have to carefully balance the highest possible specifications with competitive pricing. The latest model, launched this month, enables face mask production to meet Covid-19 protective equipment needs.
Each of the five Ecoline models has a compact footprint, easy-to-use control panel and open machine design to maximise operator friendliness.
A modem for remote fault finding and maintenance allows Rotocon to respond quickly to operators’ software and drive-related queries.
Handpicked overseas machine builders produce the Ecoline range according to Rotocon’s stringent quality specifications – solid, vibration-free construction and the latest technology – plus cost-efficiency needs.
These customisable models have been commissioned beyond South Africa’s borders in Mauritius, Spain, Denmark, Germany, Australia and the US.
RSI 330/430/530 SLITTING, INSPECTION & REWINDER SYSTEM
Re-engineered as a fully servo-driven model, the RSI series features three servo motors (instead of two), increasing output from 230 to 300m/min, while a more stringent web control and management system ensures 100% accuracy. The servo upgrade has also simplified customer maintenance.
A year ago, Advanced Labels invested in an RSI 430 slitting, inspection and rewinder system to match increased production capacity.
Reports MD, Richard Jones: ‘In the first instance, I’ve always believed that having a designated technician in the area as back-up support is vital because a label converting business only makes money while all its machines are running. We can’t afford the downtime while waiting for a technician to travel from a different province.’
‘Rotocon’s two Durban-based technicians have been great,’ Richard emphasises. ‘They immediately addressed a few teething issues. Since then, the RSI 430 has been running smoothly, and we haven’t had to call them out again.’
A second deciding factor for this investment waAs the system’s cost competitiveness thanks to its assembly and production in Asia rather in Europe, using German quality parts. ‘It compares well with our other slitting, inspection and rewinder systems, and we’ve been impressed by its compact footprint, quick blade setting and make-ready times, as well as its accuracy and speed,’ Richard adds.
GTV Label Master co-owner, Ravi Pillay, also praises the RSI 430 and describes it as a value for money offering, designed for operator ease and reduced maintenance.
It’s the company’s third Ecoline investment in the past four years.
‘Our slitting and rewinding department is functioning optimally thanks to quality technology: for instance, strobe lights pick up any snags and E&L web guiding systems ensure perfect running – once they’re set, they don’t have to be recalibrated,’ Ravi comments.
GTV Label Master has built up a strong relationship and understanding with Rotocon over the past 12 years. ‘The support team provides excellent service and whenever there’s a problem, a technician is generally on our production floor within an hour,’ Ravi reports.
Earlier this year, Rotocon Europe sold an Ecoline RSI 340 to Color Labels in Denmark for finishing self-adhesive labels and other materials. According to founder, Erik Grønning, the company has an uncompromising approach to quality, both in production and delivery to customers.
‘Rotocon Europe’s reputation for building high-quality finishing machines with superior performance, backed by our good relationship with local agent, Nortech-Solutions, motivated our decision to invest in the Ecoline RSI.’
RSH 330/440 SLITTING,
INSPECTION & REWINDER SYSTEM
This horizontal alignment version of the RSI model features an ultrasonic web guide, ultrasonic roll diameter tracking, tension control on the rewind and unwind, an unwind splicing table, automatic linear count and individual label count. Additionally, there’s inverter control on the draw station.
Following the installation of the Spanish market’s most complete booklet printing machine in 2017, label printer, TEA Adhesivos Industriales, experienced increased demand for booklet inspection. MD, Alejandro Trigueros, explains that the company turned to Rotocon Europe in 2019 for its dedicated inspection machine – the RSH 440 is tailor-made for production of multilayer booklets, even over 100 pages.
At the same time, TEA entered the short-run digital label printing and finishing market by investing in a Screen Truepress Jet L350 UV+ inkjet label press and an Ecoline RDF 350 system. Alejandro reports that the RDF 350 provides fast converting and finishing of jobs from the Truepress inkjet press.
‘Both Ecoline investments provide TEA with reliable, fast job set-up equipment at an affordable price,’ he emphasises.
RSD 330/440 DIE-CUTTING & INSPECTION SYSTEM
The RSD 330 is the most efficient die-cutting system available for today’s demanding production environments. The dual-purpose platform features precision die-cutting plus advanced roll and label inspection. Easy interchange between the two functions enables convenient blank label production.
The semi-automatic turret rewinder lets operators prepare the next roll while the current one is still running, helping to speed up production times.
Rakesh Kalyan, MD of Elite Labels, cites enhanced production capacity of blank labels as the driver for his company’s investment in an RSD 330 offline die-cutting and inspection system. ‘The biggest benefit is that the semi-automatic turret rewinder helps speed up production times – enabling us to focus on meeting customers’ expectations in terms of both quality and timely delivery.’
Nathan Naidoo, owner of KS Scales & Labels, agrees that the operator’s ability to prepare the next roll while the current one is still running on the RSD 330 increases production speeds.
Having invested in three of Rotocon’s slitter-rewinders over the past four years, KS Scales & Labels can print, cut, rewind and box 15 000 rolls of scale labels – the equivalent of over eight-million labels or 50 000m² of paper – within three days. Such speedy turnaround times, Nathan remarks, impress the many print brokers he deals with, creating a massive competitive advantage over similarly-sized label converters.
Blue Print Labelling owners, Devlin and Wade Brodowicz, also provide good reports of the RSD 330, which has enabled the company to enhance production capacity to keep pace with demand for its core blank labels business. Although the machine is used primarily as a slitter, it gives the duo peace of mind to know it’s able to perform both functions.
Another advantage is a similar user interface to the company’s existing RSI 330 slitting, inspection and rewinding system. This simplified training as operators were already used to Rotocon’s machinery and interface.
RDF 330/430 DIGITAL PRINTED LABEL CONVERTING & FINISHING SYSTEM
Featuring a full-rotary flexo print unit, an unwind/rewind unit and waste rewind (76mm spindle), web guide unit, slitting unit (shear/razor knives), a cold foil and lamination/delamination module, and a die-cutting station that can be used in semi- or full-rotary mode, this machine provides servo-driven digital label converting and finishing. The UV ink curing system supports printing on any media.
In 2019, Avvo Labels invested in an Ecoline RDF 330 finishing machine and a Screen Truepress Jet L350UV+ inkjet label press to further enhance the company’s digital label quality and productivity. ‘It was an important decision to help us to continue growing, increase capacity, expand our portfolio, and broaden our offering to customers in order to retain market competitiveness,’ explains GM, Ronnie Rampirith.
These sentiments are echoed by Wiaan Stemmet of LabelLink, a specialist in self-adhesive flexo-printed label printing that entered the digital label production arena with the purchase of a Screen Truepress Jet L350UV+ inkjet label press, and an Ecoline RDF 430 machine. This combo allows the finishing of any type of reel-to-reel printed stock to the highest quality.
‘Our purchase decision was based primarily on print quality and speed, machine up-time, and local after-sales service support through Rotocon’s service technicians,’ Wiaan enthuses. ‘By teaming up with a well-established company such as Rotocon we’re able to keep up with all the latest technologies.’
VR Print’s MD, Hilton van Rensburg, concurs, having invested in an Ecoline RDF 330 and a Screen Truepress Jet L350UV+ inkjet label press to add value to FMCG, personal care and pharmaceutical product labels, without compromising on quality. ‘From after-sales service to the number of technicians available, we’ve received everything we’ve needed from Rotocon over the past five years. We believe the company has the edge because it’s the only supplier completely dedicated to the narrow-web industry, offering a full basket of solutions and expertise.’
Cracking on with face mask-making machinery
THE COVID-19 outbreak has presented a number of novel opportunities for machinery suppliers to help South African manufacturers to diversify into face mask production, in the face of spiralling demand.
Rotocon has responded swiftly with the introduction of the Ecoline FM machine that’s capable of automatic production of 90 to 110 flat masks a minute.
Its design is very simple. First, three layers of material are laminated, folded and seamed. A crimping tool then ultrasonically welds the two sides to the seal; and a die-cutting tool cuts and forms the side seal. Finally, the mask is conveyed to two earlobe string welding stations and then on to the assembly line for collection.
The Ecoline FM machine, like others in the range, is produced according to Rotocon’s strict specifications by its Asian affiliate, ticking both the quality and cost-efficiency boxes.
According to Rotocon director, Pascal Aengenvoort, high global demand for face masks has resulted in the Asian OEM’s production floor being filled with stock machines.
‘At the moment, Rotocon can airfreight, land and install an Ecoline FM machine at a South African customer’s facility within four weeks,’ he reports. ‘However, this could stretch to six weeks if several customers were to place simultaneous orders,’ he adds.
Customers are able to justify the costs of airfreighting a machine as they have a short window of opportunity in which to take advantage of current high levels of demand. As Pascal points out, this could rise significantly to around 55-million masks if the South African government mandates the wearing of masks. Additionally, there are opportunities for local businesses to supply masks to the rest of the continent.
To date, Rotocon’s primary engagement has been with niche market manufacturers – for example, a manufacturer of nappies and female sanitary products that’s used to laminating different materials; a producer that plans to manufacture mask materials and the end-product; and a supplier of die-cut products to a major health care distributor.
Rotocon also invites its broader customer base and those wanting to produce masks such as the N95, typically worn by nurses and doctors, to request information about a machine with a slightly different construction from the Ecoline FM. Each model comes with a one-year warranty and lifetime maintenance support.
Both sides of the value chain covered
ROTOCON expects stock of disposable BFE 95 face masks and N95 masks to arrive in the country during the last week of April, helping to alleviate market shortages.
According to Patrick Aengenvoort, the company was motivated to draft a business plan for this line of consumables following its Ecoline factory gearing up for mask production, sending masks to support Rotocon employees as essential service providers during the national lockdown, and extending order opportunities to Rotocon’s customers.
‘We then started receiving enough enquiries from businesses as varied as The Red Cross, to form a new business venture. And invite customers to place a minimum order of 10 disposable BFE 95 face masks with us,’ he concludes.