Goss’ web-offset focus for labels

David Muncaster, Goss’ International director of business development for packaging, discusses the growth of film and clear substrates; challenges and threats in the Indian label segment.

28 Nov 2013 | By PrintWeek India

PrintWeek India (PWI): How was Labelexpo Europe 2013?
David Muncaster(DM): This was the first time Goss has exhibited at Labelexpo Europe and it was a very positive experience. As a manufacturer we have recognised the massive potential there is for web offset in enabling packaging printers to produce shorter run lengths economically. We showcased these benefits and in particular the capability of the SundayVpak to print a range of labels and flexible packaging applications.
PWI: And business?
DM: Although it was dominated by ‘narrow web’ machines, mostly flexo based, there was a strong offset contingent at the event – not only in terms of manufacturers offering larger offset presses, but also narrow web ‘flexo’ manufacturers showing machines with offset modules. Clearly, suppliers to the market are becoming increasingly aware of the opportunities to be derived from the lower image costs of offset printing. In view of this emerging trend, Labelexpo was a valuable platform for Goss to present the unique advantages of our web offset solutions.
PWI: At the show we saw more than labels… 
DM:  ‘Labelexpo’ in itself is something of a misnomer as the applications are going far beyond those of a pure label show. It is clear that label converters are now seeing increased competition along with a shift from packaging in tins and jars to alternative carriers, such as pouches, which is reducing their traditional markets. This is making the traditional label printers look at the flexible packaging market. 
Of the many visitors we received, the majority were largely unaware of the advantages of offset over flexo and gravure for shorter runs, particularly in terms of the production costs. The samples we had on display proved to be the main talking point for visitors, as they provided the tangible evidence of our offset capabilities on which to base discussions. Having seen what our Sunday Vpak presses can do in terms of printing quality, such as fine line screens and solids, we could then take them through the overarching cost benefits of our technology in comparison with flexo and gravure production.
PWI: What are the factors driving growth of label industry in India? What are the threats?
DM: India has seen huge growth in all areas of packaging due to rapid changes in its demographics and consumer expectations. Although growth has slowed down, labels produced on film and clear substrates are maintaining better growth rates, perhaps due to their greater aesthetic appeal and ability to sell a brand. As consumer expectations become more sophisticated, web offset is in the enviable position of being able to produce unbeatable print quality with lower cost consumables and faster turnarounds.
The threats for the Indian label printing industry must surely be the fluctuating currency and the cost of the specialised consumables, which are predominantly imported from abroad. These things make it very difficult to achieve pricing stability and trade beyond the domestic market. 
PWI: There is great deal of ongoing research and development in the label manufacturing sector, so how should a prospective buyer zero-in on a certain technology? What technologies will play a major role in the near future?
DM: These are always difficult considerations in any industry: How do you assess which will be the technology that really develops to full potential, and when is the right time to invest? It takes real courage and vision to adopt a completely new technology, and usually there are many teething problems along the way.
For prospective buyers, the most useful advice I can offer is that they should really take time with their customers – not just respond to their demands, but to try and understand the drivers in their business and how they see their markets developing. Which technologies on the market are going to be able to adapt to those developments over the next five+ years?
Of course I’m going to say that for packaging printers/converters who deal in high-volume flexo or gravure and who are experiencing demand from customers for more design variants in shorter run lengths, web offset is the ideal solution. In the case of Goss web offset, not only does it provide the ability to make a viable business out of fulfilling these requirements, but it is also proven technology in use every day all over the world.
PWI: Label converters strive to reduce production operation costs while continuing to bring innovation and value to their customers. Discussions with label converters show a common need for production flexibility. Do you have machines or products that address these concerns of an average label converter?
DM: This is the very reason we are exhibiting at Labelexpo Europe this year. Production operation costs can be reduced very effectively by using lower-cost consumables and by shrinking makeready time and waste to a minimum, while maintaining repeatable high-quality standards.
The Goss Sunday Vpak is far more capable than flexo or gravure to address short lead times and run lengths. It offers the high productivity and fast, low-cost plate production and makereadies common to web offset production, as well as providing the flexibility to print solids and screens from one plate at high speeds on to a wide variety of substrates, including films as fine as nine microns.
Quite unique to the Goss Sunday Vpak series of presses builds is its innovative variable sleeve technology featuring quick-change blanket and plate cylinder sleeve adapters that make ‘infinitely’ variable repeat lengths even easier and more affordable.
With options for integrating flexo, gravure and digital stations into a Vpak press configuration to form a hybrid production line, it delivers flexibility without compromise as printers continue to benefit from a wide range of coating and finishing options. 