As part of an ambitious plan to grow its market share in Europe, leading American manufacturer of narrow web technology, Mark Andy, has appointed two new sales agents.
Nick Coombes spoke with both companies about their appointment and plans for the future, and took an overview of the technology they will be offering.
The plan is to split Germany into two areas, and also include other German speaking countries. Frankfurt based Graphic Team, led by Peter Reiter assumes responsibility for central and northern Germany, while Print Concept Grafische Maschinen, led by Jürgen Welle and Markus Pieper, will handle southern Germany, Austria and the German speaking cantons of Switzerland from its headquarters in Kohlberg, close to Stuttgart.
Both new agents will report to Timo Donati, Mark Andy’s European Sales Manager, and I asked him what had prompted the move after so many years of direct selling. He explained: “We have long seen huge growth opportunities in the German and German speaking markets of Europe but up to now have never exploited its potential. Now, with the best-selling Performance Series of flexo presses, the new Versa Max mid-web flexible packaging press, a revived range of Rotoflex inspection rewinders and slitting machines, and the new Mark Andy Digital Series hybrid line, which is due to be unveiled at Labelexpo in Chicago later in the year, we believe the time is right to launch a major sales effort, and have appointed two companies that are well qualified to do the job.”
Graphic Team has many years of experience in sheet fed offset and UV technology, and sees the addition of Mark Andy as a prime opportunity to expand its sales. Peter Reiter commented: “It is not everyday that a brand leader comes along looking for an agent, so we were delighted to add Mark Andy and Rotoflex to our portfolio and are very excited about sales prospects in our area. There is no doubt in our mind that these machines offer the latest and best technology available on the market today.”
Commenting on his company’s appointment, Print Concept’s, Jürgen Welle said: “With the narrow web market contacts we have through our existing UV business, the comprehensive range of Mark Andy and Rotoflex products opens up many new options, and we already have a number of serious sales enquiries, especially for the range of P3, P5, and P7 presses, which has notched up more than 350 installations worldwide in the five years since launching. Those numbers speak for themselves, and we believe the Performance Series has much to offer narrow web converters in Germany, Austria and Switzerland.”
The Performance Series is not only Mark Andy’s fastest selling press of all time, it’s a multiple award winner too. In 2011, it won Innovation Awards from both the FTA (Flexographic Technical Association) for its ‘ease of use, rapid changeovers, drastic waste reduction and impeccable print quality’, while the EFIA (European Flexographic Industry Association), acknowledged its successful use of new techniques and environmental benefits, citing ‘the revolutionary load-and-lock inking system, simple drop-and-lock print cylinder set-up, open architecture and short web path’, saying that it 'set a new benchmark in narrow web flexo presses.' Two years later, in 2013, Mark Andy’s Quick Change Die Cut (QCDC) system won the FTA Innovation award again, and QCDC is available on all Performance Series presses.
Key features of the Performance Series include a wide substrate capability from 25- to 350-micron, a common web path, which removes the need to re-web the press, moveable inter-station processes, the facility to use a variety of UV, UV-LED, UV/chill and hot air curing/drying systems, and a rail system for easy configuration of ancillary functions. Add in low ink usage, intelligent auto register, consistent ink density and easy repeatable settings for shift to shift consistency, and it is easy to see why the Performance Series has found so many customers.
In use, it is liked by operators for the ease and speed with which it can be made ready, which is precisely what Mark Andy intended with the Performance Series, as a response to the claim that conventional technology and short run work do not go hand in hand. Taking less than 60 seconds to make ready a print station, Mark Andy claims it is taking on work sometimes aimed at digital presses, and has infinitely more inline capability. According to Donati: “There is a long list of optional equipment available that allows each converter to specify his/her machine for the type of work being handled, and with the open architecture design, the Performance Series can be upgraded to suit changes in market demand.”
Versa Max is Mark Andy’s new inline press for filmic label and flexible packaging applications, and is predicted to eat into the short to medium run markets where the larger CI presses are less competitive on price. Available in 560mm and 660mm web widths, the press is capable of handling monolayer films from 12-micron up to multi layer applications at speeds up to 366m/min and a repeat length of 254 – 813mm. The web transport is fully servo driven, while the plate, impression and anilox rolls all have direct drive. Versa Max, which is available with a variety of drying/curing systems, is designed for sustained high speed operation with fast changeovers and low waste levels. It can also print on the reverse of the web, making it ideal for many two-sided applications, like gaming and lottery tickets.
Moving onto to Rotoflex, Donati said: “The newly revived range is state-of-the-art inspection, slitting, rewinding and die cutting equipment – in fact the VSI model is now the most installed inspection/rewind machine in the world.” The innovative eDrive system, which is fitted to all machines in the range, offers a number of benefits including consistent performance, low maintenance, lower tension/higher speeds, easy job set up and operation.
A Rotoflex exclusive is the URC 2.0 control system, an upgrade from URC. With a simple HMI, operators can monitor all functions and clearly identify faults and issues from a single screen. “The great advantage of this is that it can be integrated into multiple machines, allowing operators to transfer from one machine to another without retraining,” explained Donati. The range is made up of VSI and VLI inspection rewinders and DSI and DLI die cutting units for blank labels. The VSI is available in web widths of 330mm and 410mm and has an operating speed up to 230m/min. The VLI is available in the same web widths, plus 500mm, 600mm, and 700mm and runs faster, at 260m/min. The two die cutting units DSI and DLI are for blank and pre-printed labels and offer different degrees of sophistication and capability.
There is no doubt that the two new agents have a formidable range of technology to offer narrow web converters, and Mark Andy’s expectation of making significant gains in market share in the regions concerned, would appear to be well founded. A comprehensive selection of Mark Andy and Rotoflex equipment is available for testing at the company’s European Technical and Demonstration Centre in the UK, and converters are invited to make contact with the following to arrange a visit.