Stefan Gelhaus: Price pressure and shorter time to market is something all the suppliers have to face now

Gelhaus, product manager, Böttcher says, his company react to this market change with a global network of production plants. “This reduce production time including shipment, transport costs and is also a contribution to avoiding CO2 emissions through long transport routes.”

In this conversation with PrintWeek India, Gelhaus discusses, Böttcher technology and strengths of the two printing processes, digital and flexo

25 Sep 2019 | By Noel D'Cunha

(l-r) Dr Reinhard Grassler and Stefan Gelhaus of Bottcher Systems

Q: The global label printing market is estimated to be around 65.56-bn sqm. India’s share is around 2.3%. One, how much of this is printed using flexo presses? What’s your installation numbers worldwide, and in India? Your market share globally and in India compared to analogue also with reference to your competition?
A: Asia and especial India is a very important market for us. We underlined this with our own production for roller and sleeves in New Delhi and with local sales offices across the country.

We are the global market leader for the covering of rollers and sleeves as well as for the distribution of printing blankets and cleaning products for the printing industry.

Meanwhile in 11 of our 26 production plants sleeves are produced for the flexographic industry, but also for rotogravure printing, lamination, silicon application and other technical application.

This show that flexo printing is already an important part in our product portfolio.

Q:What are the most significant changes you see compared to previous editions of label expo that you may have attended?
A: Digital printing continues to grow in the label market. Due to the special requirements of shorter jobs with more customised design, the strength of digital printing technology fits very well to these requirements. In case of mid- or large-format jobs as medium or long runs, classical flexo printing will be the technology due to increasing quality and a high level of productivity.     

Q: What critical feedbacks you are working on from your existing installations?
A: Price pressure and shorter “time to market” is something all supplier has to face now. Böttcher reacts with a global network of production plants.

This reduces production time including shipment, transport costs and is also a contribution to avoiding CO2 emissions through long transport routes.

To be close to our customer is also good for the carbon footprint. Shipping roller or sleeves from Europe around the world can be reduced or avoided due to this our Böttcher network.

This is getting more and more important for multinational printing groups.

Q: New technologies in pre-press and finishing, substrate and inks, are enhancing the functionality of labels. What significant improvements that you would like to talk about your solutions?
A: This is depending on the type of printing technology. In case of offset, our “easy-cleaning-system” based on roller coverings and special cleaning products like UV inks are very helpful for our customer to reduce the downtime of the presses. In the case of flexo printing, improvement of the ink transfer can be achieved by new elastomer compounds.

In additional, Böttcher has developed a new kind of plate mounting sleeves for photopolymer plates as well as for direct laser engraved (DLE) rubber plates.

Due to the fact that Böttcher also offers elastomer DLE plates. Combination with our plate mounting sleeves can be of interest for different narrow-web application form classical label printing to the printing of functional electronics.      

Q: What are your thoughts on the impact of modern e- retail on labels? How is your company empowering customers for that?
A: We already see that e- retail pushes the label business, starting form tags showing the address up to the printing of company logos on the tapes to close the on the packages printing and converting is involved. Along with this also roller and sleeves products are required, for example, for the silicon application to make labels removable from the printing carrier.  

Q: When you look back at the last two years, what have been the most promising trends, ideas, and even techniques you have seen?
A: Everything that reduces downtime and improves productivity. Each printing technology, including digital printing, are working towards achieving these two requirements of the market.

Q: Water-based inkjet is the future of digital in labels and packaging – is it a myth that you would like to bust or a gospel you would like to believe?
A: Using water-based ink will be more and more important. But we also see, for example, in the case of flexo printing, the plastic film become a challenging task.

The request for reduction of solvents is increasing, not only in Europe but also in Asia.

Maybe this technology is just at an early stage, but for flexography, we already consider this in our R&D to improve compounds in case of homogeneous ink transfer of water-based inks.

I guess the request in digital printing market will be similar.

Industry 4.0 and Labels

Industry 4.0 is described as a trend towards automation and data exchange in manufacturing technology and processes. It includes the Internet of things (IoT), Cloud computing, artificial intelligence and cyber-physical system (CPS) or algorithm-based system.

In short, it’s moving from a linear process to a collaborative process.

Q: What’s the current status on Industry 4.0 vis-à-vis labels manufacturing?
A: The world is going digital. Data handling for print jobs are no longer bounded to a special location.

Similar to other print technologies, also in label printing we will see more and more digitalisation.

Even a sleeve or roller covering can adopt digital technology.

A roller 4.0 or a sleeve 4.0 can collect data like heat or pressure impact to analyses the service live before replacement.

This is what we consider in our company and it will be similar in the label manufacturing industry as well.

Q: From PDF to final product, to recalling data for re-runs, how does Industry 4.0 help?
A: If more job data, colour settings and machine parameter are stored in a digital way, the preparation of re-runs will be easier and closer to the previous.  

What can be digital, will be sooner or later digital. Therefore, Industry 4.0 will affect more and more parts of our daily business.