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Leading-edge technology in George

Label Leaders’ latest investment has been in a Rotocon Ecoline RDF-330, specifically enhancing throughput and quality of embossing and hot-foiling.

Label Leaders’ latest investment has been in a
Rotocon Ecoline RDF-330, specifically enhancing throughput and quality of embossing and hot-foiling, reports Gill Loubser.

The sixth oldest town in South Africa, George is the epicentre of the Western Cape’s Garden Route. More importantly, it’s home to Label Leaders, a thriving label printing operation that’s one of the few (arguably, the only) narrow-web flexographic printer between Cape Town and Port Elizabeth!

In 1995, when Ben Raubenheimer founded the company, it was with the aid of a single three-colour press, mainly supplying labels to supermarkets in the Southern Cape. During the intervening 23 years, it has grown exponentially into a nationally-recognised company, boasting the most up-to-date printing and converting equipment, employing some 38 people and servicing customers nationwide and as far afield as Namibia, in various industries such as wine, food and beverages.

Since last year’s retirement of MD, Callie de Wet, day-to-day operational management is now in the capable hands of Theo Raubenheimer and Rene Koen, son and daughter of the founding members – both now directors and shareholders. However, Ben and his wife Jeanette continue to take a keen interest and are often to be found on the premises sharing their deep business knowledge with Theo and Rene.

Generally speaking, business is brisk, Theo reports. But when it comes to wine labels, the story is quite dramatic. ‘Wine labels have now reached almost 50% of our total business,’ he confides.

‘We have invested much time, energy and cash resources to grow this segment of our market and we employ full-time staff members to focus on the development of business in the Cape winelands.’

Now managing the 23-year-old family-owned business are Theo Raubenheimer (centre) and Rene Koen (left), son and daughter of founders Ben and Jeannette Raubenheimer. With them is Rotocon's Pascal Aengenvoort, who spearheaded the sale and commissioning of a new Ecoline RDF-330 machine, to meet increasing demand for top-quality wine labels.

Key investments

Backtracking through some of the key investments over the years, 2010 saw the installation of a Mark Andy 2200XL eight-colour narrow-web press that joined an earlier line up of Mark Andy presses. The 2200 particularly suits wine label production as it features both hot and cold inline foiling, silkscreen printing, UV varnishing and embossing. That same year saw the purchase of a RotoControl EDM200 flexo overprinter, alongside the line-up of Mark Andy presses.

In 2012, further significant capex went into a Mark Andy Performance Series P5. Able to print on substrates as thin as 12µm, the P5 also features ultra-high-power UV curing on all print stations, and inline UV laminating.

Label Leaders also operates its own in-house DTP department, where talented and well-qualified staff members cater for customers’ prepress requirements. From the supply of artwork on disc or by email, this department takes care of all the necessary steps to deliver high-quality labels in the shortest possible time.

Last year, these prepress capabilities were further enhanced by the installation of a Cron HDI-900S platesetter.

And now, adding to this imposing armoury of leading-edge presses and ancillary equipment, Label Leaders has taken yet another brave investment decision – this time in a Rotocon Ecoline RDF-330, specifically for enhancing the company’s capacity for embossing and offline hot foiling.

But, as Theo explains, it’s not just capacity that has improved, it’s also quality and speed.

‘We pride ourselves on providing top quality products and service; and the quality of offline finishing is much better than inline,’ he remarks. ‘I can now run the 2200 press at a faster speed to get more jobs printed, and then finish offline,’ he adds. ‘The Ecoline can foil up to 24 000 labels/hour (depending on label layout) and also features a servo-driven foil-saving mechanism.’

The new machine was recently delivered and installed by the team from Rotocon, led by sales director, Pascal Aengenvoort.

Equipped with a flat hot stamping module and a 90° rotatable stamping head, it handles substrate thicknesses from 40 to 250g/m2 and features one, two or three foil feeds either across the web or in the web direction. The hot stamping speed and tolerance are impressive – at 60m/min and +/- 0.3mm respectively.

‘It’s also upgradeable to handle holographic stamping and embossing in register, and to take a flat screen printing module,’ Pascal notes.

In fact, as Pascal also points out, this isn’t the first time that Rotocon has been involved in an upgrade at Label Leaders, citing the 2010 installation of the RotoControl EDM200 flexo overprinter as a prime example.

Theo Raubenheimer also remarks that Rotocon and Label Leaders have been doing business together for many years and that, as both companies are owner/family-run, they have a great deal in common.

‘Thanks to the prompt assistance we receive from Rotocon, our service and quality levels are never compromised,’ he adds.

Like his father before him, Theo maintains that Label Leaders’ reputation has been built on the supply of top-quality products and customer service, and he’s determined to see this ethos continue. ‘We already count among South Africa’s foremost label printers and believe we have what it takes to continue being a leader in the narrow-web flexographic printing industry,’ he concludes.