Q: You have added a new 2,600 sqm plant in Warsaw which houses your R&D team and a demo centre, plus a second factory/demo centre (800 sqm) in Chicago USA. You have had a fantastic couple of years?
A: Yes. Grafotronic had a fantastic Labelexpo in 2017 and our company has accelerated its growth and we are today more than double amount of employees, double in factory floor space and more than double in turnover compared to last Labelexpo. Our financial results have been great and we are today financially stronger than ever before. We now have plans to do something similar in Asia for the Asian market.
Q: In early 2016 you launched the all-new Grafotronic machines built-in modules...
A: These are the new generation of machines, designed for Industry 4.0 and with the ambition to be sold and serviced worldwide. Since then we have developed and delivered hundreds of complex machines for digital and conventional converting.
Today we have Grafotronic modules for virtually all applications such as rotary and flatbed screen, hotfoil, cold foil, laminating in register, laser die-cutting, flexo printing, die-cutting, and many more. Each module can be added to an existing machine in the field within 8 hours of installation. This is what we mean with ‘future-safe’. Our standard web widths are today 350, 450, 550 and 670 mm and we have plans also for wider machines based on the same modules.
Q: You have 10 new machines on your stand…
A: Our vision is Grafotronic – we are the innovators and we deliver on our vision in Brussels.
We have showcased the Grafotronic exclusive new Pantec Rhino E hot foil/embossing unit for digital finishing; a new high-speed flatbed screen printing unit; Orthatec hotfoil / embossing unit; a new Lasx laser die-cutting unit with upgradable double speed kit among others.
Q: How do you see the market where everyone seems to be fighting for the same space?
A: The printer and flexo press manufacturers are more and more fighting for the same business and the same goes for press manufacturers and finishing machine manufacturers in some aspects. We saw some of this in 2017 and at the Labelexpo 2019, and this is a fact.
Q: What next… perhaps in 2021?
A: If we look ahead to 2021, we believe there will be some structural changes among the manufacturers and not everyone will be a winner. Customers are asking for flexibility, quality and support to achieve maximum uptime. New technologies are offered constantly and as a label printer, you cannot be investing in old technology.
Q: It’s now become a world of digital?
A: We believe, at this Labelexpo show, those machine manufacturers who are innovative enough to be competing in a more digital world will survive.
Automation 4.0, AI and other features are now used by the progressive customers but only a few suppliers have the knowhow, machines and systems ready to take advantage of this great potential in savings and efficiency for our customers.
Here, Grafotronic has a leading position.
Q: And inkjet?
A: Inkjet is growing and a number of new systems are on the market. Prices are lower and running costs are less and there is a variety of solutions for the entire workflow from order to finished labels.
No technology is fantastic for all applications and you need different solutions for different market segments in order to stay competitive.
Q: Which solution is best for the next years for your market segment?
A: The only good answer to us is to be as flexible as possible so that you can adapt your investment to the chaining market. We believe that the only thing we can take as a fact is that the market and technologies will continue to change and change even faster.
Q: You spoke about Industry 4.0. Is the label industry ready?
A: Industry 4.0 makes the finishing machines easier to run and reduce waste is a minimum. Grafotronic machines have today automatic set up for new jobs and based on history our databases know the best tensions and speeds for different applications in different sections of the machines.
All our machines are 4.0 ready and we ask all our customers to keep their Grafotronic machines online all the time. We monitor each servo motor, sensor and controller in the machines and our service engineers can set up, fine-tune and run a Grafotronic machine to 100% remotely.
This is for daily monitoring, preventive maintenance and upgrades to latest versions of the software. We connect deep to our system partners (CERM, GEW, Nikka, and AVT among others, and digital printers) in order for our customers to be more effective and make life easy for operators. One integrated screen with all systems involved is always better.
High production speed is a given but short set up time is the key for digital finishing and with Automation 4.0 this is possible.