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imageEurolabel, the Milan based specialist in self-adhesive, shrink sleeve and RFID production has installed a second package of Martin Automatic equipment on its latest 380mm Gidue Xpannd press. The new Martin MBS automatic unwind/splice and LRD rewind are identical to those fitted to Eurolabel's 410mm MPS line back in 2008, and enable continuous running of both presses that are producing high value labels on expensive substrate where wasted material adds significantly to production costs.

Founded in 1964, and still owned by husband and wife team Eugenio Brambilla and Lidia Cattaneo, Eurolabel has grown to become one of Italy's top five specialist label converters, according to General Manager, Aldo Franco. Employing 52 on a double-day shift pattern at its central Milan site, and generating an annual turnover of around €9 million, the company pursues a policy of label specialisation in markets where premium quality is taken for granted, and margins are better.

Among the pioneers of the self-adhesive label industry in Italy - Lidia Cattaneo was the first Italian member of FINAT and the inspirational co-founder of GIPEA - Eurolabel currently sells 80 per cent of its production output to the pharmaceutical, cosmetic, industrial and food markets in Italy, a situation Aldo Franco as part of the second generation of management, is looking to change. "The Italian label market has been flat since the global crisis of 2008 so we have taken the decision to invest in flexible capacity to give us opportunities for growth. We can handle short and long run work, from simple blank labels to complex RFID technology work, which strengthens our hand in what is a very competitive market place," he stated, mentioning the addition of an HP-Indigo WS6000 line as a complement to his narrow web flexo/offset/screen capability.

An important part of this efficiency drive was the addition of the first set of Martin Automatic equipment in 2008. The MBS/LRD combination package of unwind/splicer and rewind is one of Martin's best-selling in the narrow web industry, where it primarily benefits converters that have frequent roll changes, often of expensive substrates, as is the case at Eurolabel. "With certain substrates we can run only 2000 metre rolls, so have to change every 30 minutes or so. Done manually, it takes around four minutes and wastes 100 metres of material each change, besides the time taken to stop the machine and ramp it back up to commercial production. With the Martin equipment there are no stoppages and the waste is practically eliminated. So, we save at least two hours a day in time, have cut waste by about a roll and a half each day, and by running the press continuously, can maintain print quality," he added.

The MPS press is an eight-colour flexo/screen/hot foil combination line, used largely to run clear on clear 'no-label look' work on expensive substrates. In addition to reducing material waste, Mr Franco says the savings made by reducing the amount of wasted ink and foil is considerable. The Martin installation on the MPS was so successful that when Eurolabel more recently added a Gidue Xpannd offset/flexo/screen combi line, it asked the American supplier to quote 'like for like'.

The decision to stay with Martin was not a foregone conclusion, according to Mr Franco, who pointed out the new competition on the market. But, he added: "Martin equipment is simple, strong and easy to use." Alluding to the complex nature of some of the competitive machines, he commented: "Martin doesn't complicate what is essentially a simple job with needless technology. That's the beauty of a Martin - and that's what makes it more reliable," adding that the box of spare parts supplied with the first Martin machines lies unopened and gathering dust in a corner of the production area.

The Gidue, with its narrower 380mm web width, offers Eurolabel a high degree of flexible production. Fitted with five offset print stations and four flexo, the press can be converted to run with two screen units and hot foil. Dedicated to high-end labels mostly for the cosmetic and beauty product markets, it is fitted with 100 per cent inspection technology to ensure quality standards are maintained. Currently, around

30 per cent of Eurolabel's work is hot foiled, with production speeds of 70-75 metres/minute. Mr Franco explained: "It's not high speed production, but quality is critical, and we want to ensure we print the labels only once!"

The flexibility the company now enjoys, has encouraged Eurolabel to enter the market for wine label production, especially with its digital press. According to Mr Franco, the Italian market is quite fragmented with many smaller vineyards producing wine in quantities that suit short run self-adhesive labels. He is also looking to boost exports: "We are exploring markets where European print quality is appreciated and affordable. Our sales message has always been more about quality than price and we see this as the best way of generating the investment capital we need to stay ahead of the competition," he said.

Eurolabel has an eclectic mix of technology that includes Gallus R200B letterpress machines, a Comco Captain, two Arsomas, and several Gidue flexo lines, in addition to the newer combination and digital presses, and a full suite of Arpeco, Prati and ABG finishing equipment. One might say Eurolabel is capable of handling whatever a customer demands, but Aldo Franco, and his wife Elisabetta (daughter of the owners) sees the future more in lean manufacturing and a focus on niche markets where the company's expertise is valued and the margins better. "We have no intention of chasing volume - the company is in a transitional phase from first to second generation management, and the next investments we make are crucial to our continued success," he explained.

Source: Martin Automtic Inc