I am very impressed by the printing skill of Indian printers - Ivan Bonev

On the sidelines of Drupa, Ivan Bonev, general manager at Nikka talks to Noel D’Cunha about his company’s two new products, and why labelers need to become competitive.

24 Jun 2016 | By Noel D'Cunha

PrintWeek India: What’s is Nikka showing at Drupa?
Ivan Bonev (IB): We are showing our complete product line – consumables, inspection system, workflow, and data processing technology.

PWI: What about consumables?
IB: Yes, in the consumables we have the Nikka non-GMO (non-gene manipulated origins) anti-offset powder used for food applications. This is particularly good for markets like Europe where the regulation on food packaging is stringent. The powder can be utilised on other laminating lines too, which run bag or food packagings, with complicated structures. The powder facilitates easy handling of material for complex packaging.

PWI: And on the inspection side?
IB: On the inspection side, we have focussed on labels and packaging. We have launched the M1, the basic inspection line for narrow-web presses. It has support for web width of 330mm, 420mm, 520mm and 670mm. There is a trend towards wider machines.

PWI: Interesting but non-traditional?
IB: Typically, some inspection systems are packed with features that are hardly put to use, sometimes making it complicated and expensive. We analysed the way customers are using the machines and developed an inspection solution that fulfils nearly 80% the daily needs of the users.

PWI: Wasn’t this machine shown during the Labelexpo Europe last year?
IB: Yes, but it was supporting a rewinding system where most of the inspection happens. The reaction of the customers was very positive, which drove us to design this press package.

PWI: What’s different here?
IB: In a rewinder system you give a chance to the operator to stop the machine and repair the error. But on the printing press, you can’t stop. You need tools that will help analyse what is going on, what is the trend, is it getting better or worse. We fitted the M1 with a press analysis tool that will show hotspots of the errors, for example, a doctor line defect, and other repeating defects. The system will give you a warning so that the operator can fix it.

PWI: How different is this inspection system from others in the market?
IB: We made two important things, one, focus on the features that are crucial, which meant removing procedures and functions, which are either difficult to use or are not used on a daily basis. So you have these features and functions which you have paid, but don’t use them.

PWI: The second?
IB: The second was focusing on the usability of the features and make it easily accessible. For example, we concentrated on the automatic set-up – like introducing the one-touch module, where the operator touches one button and the application software automatically configures the inspection.

PWI: So you have combined the simplicity of the M1 with the statistical data processing power, in order to produce this press package?
IB: Yes, operators have become the limiting factor on many lines across the world. And there is a deficit of technically competent workers, and to find technically trained people who can operate the machine correctly will become even more challenging. That is why we are moving in the direction of full automation.

We have concentrated on collecting information from the inspection system and sharing it between the processes.

PWI: What are the other industry challenges?
IB: The jobs are getting shorter and shorter. Printers must become competitive. And to become profitable, they must avoid unnecessary waste of time and material.

PWI: How is that done?
IB: Because of the short-runs, the jobs have to be run one after the other. You have to be completely sure that the completed jobs are 100% perfect before you set up the next job. For example, if you have three jobs of 1,000 metres, you usually spend 1,000 metres in setting up and 1,000 metres of the actual job. Hence, you need to be sure that the prints are perfect, or you stand to lose valuable time on mounting the new plates as well as set-up material that you used to print the job.

PWI: What is the reason for this?
IB: We feel that our mission is to collect this information and show it in an understandable way to the operator and also to enable the operator to be in control of the quality.

So, the management, integration and reaction time in a short-run environment is a very important topic to us.

PWI: What is the visitors response at Drupa?
IB: It’s been good. Nikka has been exhibiting at Drupa since 1995 because of the global nature of our company group, and our involvement in multiple segments of the printing, starting from offset to flexo. Inspection, of course, is applicable in all these printing areas. Previously, we were here because of our customers in the offset consumables segment and less because of our inspection system. But in the last two Drupa shows, we have observed a trend that the show is becoming more general. Drupa is becoming a show where you come to see the new things.

PWI: You visited India a few months ago. What was your mission?
IB: We see the Indian market as a challenging one - attractive in terms of growth, and at the same time, technically demanding. Pricing and return on investment play a major role here. We understand that we cannot use the same scale as in Germany, Western Europe or Japan, where our technology originated. Our mission is to provide the necessary technology and educate the market on how to benefit from improved quality and traceability. We are also learning how to use an “Indian Meter” for our skills and products.

PWI: A healthy installation base in India?
IB: We have multiple installations in India – Ajanta, Barcom, Letra Graphics, Pragati Pack, Sel Jegat Printers, Unipack, Webtech, Zircon Technologies, few of them with multiple installations.

PWI: Can quality issues occur even in digital print production?
IB: Digital printing is a sophisticated technology with high requirements for materials and environment. Depending on the printing technology used, various quality issues may occur – adhesion in liquid toner systems, plugged nozzles in inkjets, colour differences and not to forget the human factor.

Another need for inspection arises from the short runs on both digital and flexo machines. For example, take the Mark Andy P Series. The printer must be sure that the job is printed correctly before moving to the next one. This is where inspection becomes valuable.

In summary, inspection is needed because machines and materials are not perfect, and people make mistakes. Inspection helps you know what is inside the roll before you ship it.

PWI: How should the printers approach these particular aspects of inspection security, when it comes to their investment? Are they expensive?
IB: As a result of the intensive development and proliferation of the technology, the cost of inspection has come down significantly. Today entry level systems are comparable in terms of cost with traditional stroboscope and missing labels systems.

It is vital to choose the right technology for finishing based on the customer requirements. The printer should analyse the needs and then choose the appropriate rewinder and camera. Not all applications require secure inspection and finishing. This is a must for high-value pharmaceutical products, but not obligatory for other types of labels. It adds to the cost of the label because inspection, repair and re-inspection take more time.

PWI: Being competitive mean you either enhance your capabilities or your finance. As you have launched an inspection system that supports presses, but having one in the finishing is as important?
IB: Finishing is the last step of the production process. From the rewinder, the labels are packed and sent to the customer. If you print labels and then make slitting and counting mistakes, you have no product to ship. Inspection in finishing gives you the confidence that you have a quality product, which immediately affects your bottom line.

PWI: You have been around the world, and you have seen the label and packaging companies. Have you observed any deficiencies, which the Indian printers can overcome to improve their operations?
IB: Indian printers are doing a remarkable job, and I am amazed by their production. There is little in the factories that are very different from the rest of the world. The printer’s community should demand improvement of the general infrastructure, for example, stable and constant power supply, and asphalted roads among others. The printers are doing an impressive job despite the pollution. I am impressed by their skill of printing.

Rotoflex installed India's first highly configured Rotoflex-Nikka inspection kit at Barcom Industries. Manohar Dhugga, Rotoflex director of engineering and service and Gourav Roy, managing director at Flexo Image Graphics discuss Rotoflex importance of quality finishing of labels


Manohar Dhugga with Ivan Bonev

PrintWeek India (PWI): For Rotoflex, you are not participating, but there are other manufacturers at the show?
Manohar Dhugga (MD): We are supplying a VSI machine to Nikka to support their 100% inspection system demonstration with a real-world application setting. We expect a significant amount of visitors to see us in the Nikka stand. We have done this in the past with success.

Gourav Roy (GR): I feel in the due course of time; that is going to change. When we look at labels as a separate industry, now we clearly see that if you need more opportunities to come in so, there has to be an amalgamation.

PWI: What’s your mission for India?
MD: Our mission here is the same as our global mission - to provide the market with responsive business technologies that help our customers meet and exceed their goals of activities with profitable production capability.

PWI: You installed a new Rotoflex Security System at Barcom. Can you explain the stop function?
MD: For 100% security inspection it is critical that the repaired or replaced labels are also checked. Without stopping, the operator would be time restricted in managing the repair based on the amount of accumulation added to the machine which would increase human errors and initiate extra stoppage. Also, excessive accumulation means more waste and set-up time. The Rotoflex Security Series is a fully integrated on our high-speed machine platforms equipped with the exclusive eDrive 2.0 web transport system, a system which offers high acceleration, deceleration and maximum speed which translates into high throughput even with inspection stops.

PWI: Is this the first of its kind in India?
GR: There is one Rotoflex we had installed in Sivakasi, many years ago. But with these features, this would be the first Rotoflex in India.

Prasanna Sahu from Barcom expressed the need to have 100% inspection to comply with pharma requirements last year. We took their needs and specifications in mind during our Security Series design effort which was already under way. Here in India, it’s the first machine, but we have produced the machines worldwide. Rotoflex has a long history with security machines, even before it was acquired by Mark Andy. So we bring a vast amount of real world experience into the design of this generation.

PWI: Post the launch of the new series, how many are there worldwide?
MD: Over 20 globally.

PWI: Can existing Rotoflex users upgrade to this system?
MD: The Rotoflex Security Series is designed to complement our standard machines in new and existing installations. Customers with existing Rotoflex VSI and VLI machines may have the option of upgrading to this state of the art technology as they move into more advanced security applications.

PWI: There are 45 Rotoflex systems in India. Considering that security is an important factor, how critical is inspection system in the overall print production set-up?
MD: It is critical. 100% inspection with re-inspection is not necessarily restricted to the pharma industry and the converters who currently serve them. Food, nutraceuticals, and other products are becoming more demanding in their inspection specifications so converters need to be aware of the improved inspection capabilities available in the market, and understand the options available. The flexible design of the Security Series and its compatibility with various Rotoflex slitter/rewinder models make it a unique solution that can grow along with the converters’ business.

PWI: Does the new security system provide a complete compliance report?
MD: This is an important part of certain validation protocols required in the pharmaceutical industry. Systems that don’t provide this risk non-compliance.

PWI: Do you have inline machines for the digital?
GR: Yes. That’s the recently launched product called Vericut3 specially designed for digital printing machines. The Vericut3 is offered as an inline or offline solution in a semi-rotary functionality.