Roger Coles of Labels Plus reports
Australia has had a reputation of being successful as a nation and “living off the sheep’s back”, but the more you read about the fast-growing export figures for our wine industry, it may be a claim of Australia “succeeding on the crush of a grape”. From the 2,468 wineries across the country, Australian wine makers are selling the best of Australia’s vintage to the world. The most notable export market has been China with sales in 2016 rising to $A520 million, and a huge difference to that of a decade ago, when sales were just $A27 million.
Wine exports means more bottles and more labels and one of the most prominent of the breed of high-end label printers in Adelaide - one of Australia’s biggest wine producing states – is Studio Labels Adelaide. Managing Director of the highly-respected printer is Mr Miguel Alemao who explained that the company started back 2006 with different shareholders. “Our group, Cork Supply, bought into Studio Labels in 2007 and finalised the purchase in 2007. The logic back then when we acquired Studio, was not to be the largest label printer in Adelaide, but to be a recognised high quality printer, who could respond to our client’s needs as quickly and efficiently as possible,” he explained. “Our business is service driven and our aim is to be counted in the top three quality label printers in Australia.
“Our production is about 95% labels for the wine industry, and when you combine labels with our ability to supply all types of closures and other packaging parts of the bottling industry, it becomes a perfect fit. We offer our clients a full service at the bottling line.”
It is because of this constant drive to offer clients a better, faster, and more efficient product, that Miguel and Manufacturing Manager Timm Bradshaw saw the need for a new press that could meet the changing demands of Australian wine producers. “Our decision to upgrade was three-fold,” said Miguel. “While the presses we have been using have been very good, due to the race of new technology which has occurred in the flexo industry, they didn’t give us the latest innovations. Efficiency was one consideration, the second demand was more capacity, so we could respond quicker to customer demand. The third, was whether there was an opportunity to add something different that we couldn’t supply with our current presses.
“So after an exhaustive review of what was available in the market, we came down on the Nilpeter FA-4*. It offered us everything plus flat-bed in-line embossing and foiling, and is able to offer the kind of solutions which are generally only available in digital systems.”
Being at the coal face of production, meant Timm was keen to have a press that is easy to load, offers quick change over of aniloxes and print cylinders, and he said the Nilpeter FP-4* was certainly delivering this and in half the time of the previous machine. “We have a die in the machine and another die mounted next to it, and it is a simple task of opening the gate pushing out the die you don’t require, opening the other gate and pushing in the die you need. It’s around 15 seconds compared to say 4-5 minutes on our previous machine.”
Another feature of the new Nilpeter is the dot gain, as Timm explained. “We had the need to move one particular job from our previous press to the new Nilpeter, and we found the new Nilpeter’s dot gain was something like a third more of the older press. The label was so sharp it was like going to 200 line offset. So we not only printed a job that was 200 line on the old press, but by adjusting the file from the client in repro, we matched 200 line offset print. We didn’t expect the dot gain but how good it is, has been a pleasant revelation.”
Another plus that Studio Labels is very happy with, is the reduction in waste. “One of the major advantages we have seen since the FA-4* has been installed, is the foil saving we have been able to achieve,” said Timm. “With one job we were able to save $700 in the foil alone.”
Miguel said the trend they’ve witnessed over the past 3-4 years, like a lot of others, is the continual drift towards smaller runs with multiple changes. “Again, this move is met with technology. We’ve been able to trim make-ready time. Designers are changing their designs a lot more frequently, which means tooling costs and the cost of changing a brand has to be also looked at from the printing point of view. So, having the new tooling as a flat bed system, means we can now offer solutions to our clients, which could save them up to $2,000. This is a trend that won’t stop, so having the ability to assist customers achieve marketing plans, without a huge outlay is a real bonus.”
“Labels Plus” asked Timm what had really impressed him with the new Nilpeter. His quick response was the dot gain, plus the new opportunities the flat-bed process gave them. “To date, we have only scratched the surface on what we will be able to do with it, and I am amazed at the quality that is coming off the flat bed, but the dot gain is the stand-out feature for me.”
And the future for Studio Labels was given to Miguel to comment. “We still have a learning curve and we need to adjust our processes to meet the faster production. It’s certainly our intention to make the most out of it in 2018 and beyond. We have some older machines and have a 5-year plan to replace machines that are coming to the end of their life-span. The Nilpeter FA-4* is the first plank of that plan and it’s obvious to us it’s the start to exciting times ahead.”