Xeikon announces today the upcoming arrival of its Xeikon Cheetah press at award-winning digital label printer CS Labels. The new Xeikon digital press is one the most important advancements in digital printing in the last 15 years, and UK-based CS Labels has been selected as one of the pilot sites for this ground-breaking technology, bringing CS Labels’ pressroom portfolio up to five cutting-edge Xeikon digital presses. The new addition will enable CS Labels to increase capacity by yet another third, and the company expects the Xeikon Cheetah to be a key enabler for continuing its year-on-year growth of up to 25% and taking turnover to £4m a year. As one of the fastest digital label presses on the market with printing speeds of 30 meters per minute, the Xeikon Cheetah is 56% faster than any other press in the current Xeikon portfolio, making it the most productive digital press in its class.
“I am delighted that we have been selected to pioneer this technology and integrate it into our production portfolio,” states Simon Smith, CS Labels Managing Director. “Over the past few years, we have led the way when it comes to helping companies make the switch from traditional flexo printing to digital. Adding the Xeikon Cheetah means that we can make even bigger inroads into a rapidly growing marketplace and a dynamically changing landscape. In our view, digital has not been seen as short run/high cost for some time now as brand owners gain a deeper understanding of its many advantages. We have noticed a real growth in demand for longer digital print runs, culminating with an order for 50,000 linear meters at the end of last year. Our higher end clients are up to date with what is possible and our expanded production capacity will give them even more confidence. Quite simply, the Xeikon Cheetah will enable us to cope with increased demand while continuing to deliver jobs quickly and accurately.”
Close partnership continues
CS Labels has had a mutually beneficial relationship with Xeikon for nearly a decade. “The close partnership with Xeikon has allowed both of us to grow and develop, staying ahead of the technology curve,” says Smith. “We have invested in a total of seven Xeikon presses during that time. Each year we look forward to learning about new capabilities coming our way that will allow us to increase our capacity and the breadth of our offerings. The Xeikon Cheetah is the latest advancement, and might just be the best yet!”
Filip Weymans, Xeikon’s Director Segment Marketing Labels & Packaging, adds: “Selecting CS Labels as a pilot site for the Xeikon Cheetah was an easy decision. Their thought leadership and commitment to digital printing continues to pay off. We are delighted to be their valued partner as we move into the next stage of the industry’s evolution”.
Exploring new markets
The Xeikon Cheetah will give CS Labels greater production flexibility and allow the company to explore new markets. “With this new press, we will not only be able to expand capacity but we will also have the capability to produce different types of work,” explains Smith. “Where the Xeikon Cheetah will have the biggest impact is in raising production efficiency. We will be able to have each of the presses in our fleet set up for and dedicated to a specific product type, with no change-over in substrates or settings required. Keeping the same material on the press avoids downtime, and it also means we can offer a broader portfolio leveraging an even more robust production platform and do so more cost effectively.”
Innovation drives value
Innovation is a key cornerstone in the ethos of CS Labels, and the company is always looking at how it can support customer growth. “We follow the latest market trends and are reviewing how we can be more innovative,” Smith says. “For example, we see significant growth opportunities in peel-and-reveal labels and digital wrap-around labels, and as such need more capacity to produce these. The Xeikon Cheetah will undoubtedly give us that. In addition, this press will help us to be more proactive in the conventional flexo market as we can be more competitive on the longer flexo runs by virtue of moving more work to digital.”
This increased production capability dovetails with increasing brand interest in digital according to Smith: “Big brands are taking digital seriously now, and we need to be able to cope with the growing volumes. Digital print enables us to change the nature of the dialogue we have. Customers are not just looking at the cost of production, they are looking at how to use the technology to enhance brand value.”
He expands: “The Share-a-Coke campaign in Europe changed everything. It blew away perceptions of limitations to digital. Personalization, versioning, improving the overall quality – these are all made affordable by digital. The result is more relevant labeling that generates a better ROI, market nimbleness and improved brand perception. Being able to rapidly transition to new labels based on seasonality, geography, language and special events keeps a brand fresh. Also, the ability to cost-effectively produce these shorter versioned and personalized runs creates a different mental model with respect to run lengths, giving brands better control over inventories and wastage.” The digital conversation also goes beyond the physical product Smith adds: “It is a way to incorporate other technologies such as micro text, augmented reality and other embellishments that can be added later to create a stand-out label.”
Despite growing interest in digital on the part of brand owners, Smith points out that customer education is still vital. A key element of that education is ensuring digital is considered at the design stage to take full advantage of what it can offer. “The conversation has shifted from a more defensive posture on digital to an enthusiastic pursuit of how it can change operations,” Smith says. “When we get customers into the plant and they see our Xeikon fleet for themselves, the technology literally sells itself and stimulates a lot of great new ideas.”
As for the future, Smith is understandably excited: “In the next three to five years, there is enormous opportunity. It is not just about printing self-adhesive labels anymore. There are changes in the nature of the dialogue we are having with customers. We are starting to talk to them about digital advantages that go beyond a discussion of price. It is brainstorming with customers about the possibilities that makes it really exciting!”