CORNERING THE SHEETFED MARKET
Sheetfed offset press manufacturers key in on efficiency, larger formats, and specialty needs, and wave off flexo competition.
by Susan Friedman, Editor
One of the best competitive edges carton converters can develop these days is the capability to get product out the door faster than the other guys. "Our customers are focusing strictly on productivity," says Bob McKinney, director of marketing for KBA North America, Sheetfed Division. "Converters want to increase margins through efficiency."
Sheetfed offset press manufacturers are well aware of this fact, and each is ready with a game plan. "With run length continuing to drop, faster, more accurate makeready with less waste is the priority goal of every customer," states Jerry Manzi, packaging sales manager at MAN Roland. "To address this issue we not only supply presses with enhanced automation, but have installed numerous PECOM networks which introduce computer-integrated manufacturing into the pressroom. By preparing the job data prior to production, and entering operating parameters along with CIP3 data, we effectively allow every new job to run with the ease of a previously run job."
At Heidelberg, Achim Schmidt, sales/marketing manager for the packaging and label industry, reports a similiar emphasis—highlighting faster press speeds and digital tie-ins for shorter makeready and better process control.
Schmidt sees converters tying networking, controlling, and profiling functions together in a digital form, "so that everything works the way it's supposed to work." He says more business administration functions are also joining the digital workflow. Heidelberg's Prinect workflow uses an array of function-specific modules to connect and synchronize all management, prepress, press, and postpress operations.
Hot areas of activity
Carton converters with older equipment may be faced with a necessary investment in new technology in order to reach optimum levels of carton production efficiency. "There's a big gap between the capabilities of five-year-old presses and today's presses," McKinney notes. "That gap—in terms of automation and speed—can't be bridged through upgrades."