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Wide-web printers are facing a transforming marketplace. The changes, however, are in many ways advantageous for printers. To gain perspective on the evolving wide-web printing industry, packagePRINTING recently asked suppliers about the marketplace and how they are responding to demands for enhanced equipment.
pP: What is your business climate like in terms of customer interest and sales?
Johannes Stickling, vice president, BHS Printing Machinery—BHS has enjoyed continuous and sustainable sales growth over the past decade. The packaging industry has viewed BHS as a preeminent leader in terms of technology, print performance, and system capability specific to the inline production of packaging products. The packaging community views BHS as a manufacturer that meets and exceeds their expectations—print fidelity, quality, consistency in changeovers, overall throughput, and the highest print quality. BHS believes in slow and controlled growth, a practice that ensures that our customers receive well researched enhancements, cutting edge technology, and the knowledge that BHS’ future is secure.
Randy Wolf, product development manager, Comexi North America—I believe that the short-term outlook for the converting industry is very positive. There will be some issues associated with higher prices for energy and raw materials, however, overall the flexible packaging market is still growing. The interest level is up dramatically for all Comexi products from last year. Our sales have greatly increased and we at Comexi feel that we are just at the tip of the iceberg in North America when it comes to activity associated with our product lines.
Kurt Flathmann, vice president, Fischer & Krecke—Currently, interest is about the same as last year, which was a very good year for us. We have had quite a bit of interest, actually, and look forward to the rest of the year maintaining that interest level. Generally speaking, interest in new equipment tends to be in two different areas. The first I’ll call the standard flexible packaging machine, which is a roll-to-roll CI press, usually 8 or 10 color. The second is a more exotic variety of equipment including in-line or downstream stations and, typically, there is a great deal of interest in wider widths or higher speeds.
Tom Jacques, area sales manager, North American Cerutti Corp.—The flexographic press market is seeing a rebound, as more converters have strengthened their balance sheets, among myriad challenges, such as resin pricing and supply issues, intense competition, relentless cost cutting, and higher quality demands. Converters who have invested and are investing are winning in the market because they are getting the required technology needed to compete at the “new normal” level—with high performance and productivity, and consistency, repeatability, and reliability.
Michael Reinhardt, sales manager - printing presses, Windmoeller & Hoelscher Corp.—Our flexographic printing press business has never been better. Recent advances in control and vision systems technology have significantly improved production throughput and print quality, allowing our customers to replace up to two older presses with each new installed machine. In most cases, our customers can only be competitive by employing the latest in press technology.