Xeikon, an innovator in digital color printing technology, is proud to announce that leading UK label producer Abbey Labels has chosen the Xeikon CX3 digital label press to expand its digital production services and reduce pressure on capacity. The Xeikon CX3, based on Xeikon Cheetah digital print technology and officially launched for worldwide availability at Labelexpo Europe, is the fastest five-color digital label press in its class.
As for the choice to invest in the Xeikon CX3, Tom Allum, Chairman of Abbey Labels is clear, “We acknowledged that with our existing digital equipment, we were getting to over-capacity and our lead times were drifting because of the great success of our digital department. We aim to turn jobs around in four days, but it was stretching to a week. The Xeikon CX3 is adding exactly the digital printing capability we need. It will help up to stay one step ahead and keep up to speed with market requirements.”
Digital gives more options
“We specialize in trade work for print management and procurement businesses, which makes for about 75% of our work. In addition we serve various other direct clients in the food, beverage, retail, cosmetic, chemical and pharmaceutical industries” explains Allum. “Part of the decision to serve clients directly was an investment program in digital printing technology that began with a Xeikon 3300 in January 2013. Due to the great success of our digital department, we installed a second Xeikon press earlier this year. The Xeikon CX3, scheduled for installation end this year, was chosen to help us address the continuously increased demand for digital and achieve a 30% year-on-year growth.” The digital service is complementary to Abbey’s flexo production on four presses.
The way Abbey Labels operates has dramatically evolved during this investment program from one of a supplier to a more integrated part of the natural supply chain. Allum comments, “We are now talking to customers earlier in the process because they know we can help them achieve the results and the quality they are looking for – even in the most challenging situations” The need to maintain high quality has always been one the main drivers for the investment in Xeikon technology. “Our Xeikon presses have helped us to reduce production times and therefore enable us to meet tighter deadlines with the quality we demand. We understand technology and software, and it was that understanding that led us to invest in Xeikon,” says Allum.
Press productivity at high speed
As for the last investment in the Xeikon CX3, one key attraction for Abbey Labels was the speed of the press – 30 meters per minute, which is 56% faster than the current presses. This speed will enable Abbey Labels to create a highly flexible approach to print production, help expand its portfolio and win new business. Another deciding factor was the ability to print on a variety of heat-sensitive substrates, which is made possible by Xeikon’s unique toner technology, the specifically-designed Cheetah toner which requires a much lower fusing temperature than typical toner-based presses. In addition, it meets FDA regulations for food contact and offers the ability to print opaque white toner in one pass.
“The Xeikon CX3 will help us to extend our product line. We will be able to work with thermal labels and thinner films thanks to the Cheetah toner. We are well-known for our ability to run complex jobs on a wide range of substrates, and the Xeikon CX3 will allow us to continue and expand that service” states Allum. “We like the fact it will help us be more cost effective with both speed and lower cost of toners. The fact we can run white toner and that the inks are food safe was also a big selling point. Since we work a lot with trade customers, we don’t always know what we are quoting for, and being BRC and ISO14001 accredited, we need the reassurance that however we run it, we can meet those standards. Having Xeikon technology, we are certain.”
Installation of the Xeikon CX3 is expected to go smooth according to Allum: “Our operators are used to work on the Xeikon’s systems, and thanks to the Xeikon Color Services also everything to ensure predictable and repeatable color control is in place. We are confident that when the press comes in, we can be up and running straight away. We are currently running two shifts per day and are looking at running three. It’s a busy shop and the shorter the learning curve for our operators, the better.” Xeikon Color Services is a color management and certification program that comprises several modules including audits, cloud-based services, standardization and custom services. These are part of a broad offering of services Xeikon offers its clients ranging from installation, setup and maintenance support to a range of Premium Services like training and education, color services and business development training & advice
Allum also adds that the investment was well-thought-out and other vendor solutions were carefully reviewed before the final decision was made. “That approach has held us in good stead over the years so we looked at solutions from other toner and inkjet suppliers. We ran tests, visited installations and did a lot of research to be sure we made the right choice. Xeikon was the only one that had the solution we felt were most suitable, and that fitted the bill entirely,” he says.
Riding the growth wave
As for where the growth is coming from, Allum states, “There is momentum, and we are on the crest of a wave. We are not taking work from our flexo presses. The work we are gaining in digital is new work for us from current customers and we are also dramatically increasing our customer base. One process complements the other, and we can offer our customers the most cost-effective solution for every job. And the most important thing is that, whatever technology the customer chooses, there is no degradation in quality! The mix of flexo and digital printing positions us well for the future. We can produce one label or many millions. We have to be a jack of all trades in this business, and the Xeikon CX3 will help us do just that.”