Rotatek: Swinging it higher

Spanish label equipment manufacturer, Rotatek is celebrating its 45th anniversary, with a new logo and an upgrade to its kit. Jordi Quera, vice president for sales and marketing at Rotatek tells Noel D’Cunha that his company’s game has been to offer the best solutions

01 Oct 2015 | By Noel D'Cunha

PrintWeek India (PWI): How have the previous two years, since the last Labelexpo Europe 2013 been for your company? And how was your growth?
Jordi Quera (JQ): Labelexpo was held just after a very difficult period. But after the Labelexpo Europe 2013, we have experienced a very big increase in sales and a challenging future with new products development. 
New launches are the Universal 680 for flexible packaging, flatbed finishing solutions in line (screening, embossing, hot foil), a semi-rotary cold foil, new features in all machines, etc.  We have also added features like the inline finishing flatbed systems to the Brava 350 for the first time. Embossing, die-cutting and hot stamping is now becoming a possibility.
PWI: How does label printing sector looked like in 2015? What are you hearing from your customers, who have invested in your equipment in the last two years?
JQ: We’ve seen an increase in offset solutions, mainly in semi-rotary machines. A lot of customers understand the savings of offset technology and the advantages of the semi-rotary technology for medium and short runs. The Brava machine in the show goes to Canada, but recently we’ve installed machines like this in a lot of countries: France, Holland, Spain, Italy, Austria, and Mexico, among others.
PWI: In terms of functionality, has the role of labels enhanced or it still is a piece of decoration? How does your press help enhance the functionality of labels?
JQ: I think every market need is different and innovations to add information on the label are required with multiple purposes. Our game is to offer the best solutions. We have different machines and different technologies to really offer the best qualified and reliable solution.
PWI: New guidelines for product security and ingredients disclosures are being introduced on a regular basis. Do you see labels donning a bigger role here?
JQ: We cannot say this happens in all the market but mainly labels are doing and will have a bigger role to play.
PWI: There are new substrates, linerless to name one, plus processes. Which are the ones that are especially challenging when printing on your presses and what should the labellers do to address these challenges?
JQ: This is why we have different technologies and multiple finishing solutions. We recommend our customers, depending on their needs.  
PWI: Do we see smart labels becoming mainstream (temperature sensitive/colour changing)? These would require special inputs in terms of inks and substrates. The question is: are your presses capable of meeting these requirements?
JQ: Yes. We have multiple solutions and we have customers working with UV inks, wet and dry offset, flexo, gravure, EB (electron beam), hot drying systems. And applying special inks, even for a special production. As an example, a customer printed wine labels with the wine! (with a secret procedure).
PWI: Can one print above 133lpi without the converter changing the anilox or the ink system?
JQ: In our flexo presses or flexo units we can do easily, but we can go to higher lineature in offset.
PWI: At a press, 1,200lpi is used for a job with screen of 40%, and 500lpi Anilox is used for a patch job. An 80lpi Anilox is used for UV varnishes. However, this varies from press to press. Since Anilox is considered as the heart of the flexographic printing process, are there specific standards for selection of Anilox that can run on your presses?
JQ: We have presses working with different kinds of Anilox, always depending on the job requirements. We’ve 1,800 machines installed worldwide and most of them are combined presses. Only 10% are full flexo, but a big part of combined presses use flexo units for many different applications. With only two Anilox today it is possible to cover a wide range of solutions.
PWI: Rising SKU, short print runs are putting pressure on flexo presses, which were designed to handle fewer jobs because of their time-consuming and expensive makeready processes. What improvements are we seeing in the capabilities of flexo presses that can turn marginal short-run jobs into sustainable, profitable ones?
JQ: The main problem of flexo presses is the plate cost, when compared to offset. For short runs, we’ve improved the waste savings, the quick set-up, and easy changes, among others.
PWI: One of the ways of becoming profitable is by reducing cost. Do you believe it is? Does your new flexo press help the labellers achieve that? Can you give an example?
JQ: Profitability can be achieved not just by reducing cost. A good investment with the right solution justifies the real profitability – the right technology, the correct service, the reliability of the machine and the engagement of the manufacturer, special applications for each job demand.
Our ‘kiss printing system’ applies just the right quantity of ink, saving ink and increasing the quality. Our shortest paper pass reduces waste. But some customers are very happy with us because we recommended the best solution for his needs. As an example, one offset plate cost 15 times less than a flexo plate. A customer who did only short runs told us that the decision to go for a Brava offset machine helped save up to 20% cost.
PWI: New technologies in pre-press and finishing, substrate and inks, are enhancing the functionality of labels. In future, what improvements can we expect from flexo presses?
JQ: Cost is a very important issue and this has to be in line with the improvements. We’ve launched the flatbed finishing solutions because of the savings on plate (or transferring) materials. To be really competitive, one has to be very creative combining best solutions, with a global thinking which include digital, offset, flexo, silkscreen, finishing, pre-press, inking, drying.