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Kimoha celebrates its 25th birthday with a Gallus ECS

The installation of a Gallus ECS 340, often known as the ‘granite press’, at Kimoha Entrepreneurs Ltd in the Jebel Ali Free Zone, south of Dubai, brings to 23 the number of Gallus narrow web label presses installed in the Middle East, where the Swiss manufacturer is represented by Heidelberg ME. It was also the first of its type in the region, according to Kimoha’s Managing Director, Vinesh Bhimani, who prides himself and his company on a development philosophy built around new technology.

Kimoha, which remains a family business, celebrates its 25th anniversary this year, and from humble beginnings has grown to become one of the Middle East’s top five label and tag converters. The majority of the company’s work is the production of self-adhesive labels on both paper and filmic substrates, and paper converting for the logistics label business. The company also produces shrink sleeves that account for around 15% of total output at the factory, but according to Mr Bhimani: “this is unlikely to grow significantly owing to our company policy of avoiding solvent based products. This is part of our ‘Green –Concept’, for which we were recognised with a Middle East Green Award for Environmental Excellence in 2012,” he proudly explained.

The new flexo line joins two other presses from the Swiss manufacturer, a eight-colour water-based Gallus EM 510 installed in 2006, with a specification that includes corona treater and web cleaning, chill drums, three die cutting stations (including the sheeter), laminating, web tension control, and automatic registration. This was followed in 2008 by a Gallus EM 280. Also an eight-colour waterbased machine, the Gallus EM 280 has a cold foil unit and two die cutting stations, and, says Bhimani: “was the ideal press to cater for falling run lengths, because it cut make ready times by half.”

The new Gallus ECS 340 offers Kimoha yet another web width, and significantly a shorter web path for reduced waste, and the use of sleeve technology, which automates make-ready and speeds up job changes. Specified with eight UV-flexo print stations (all Kimoha’s Gallus presses have full UV curing), the Gallus ECS 340 has the cold foil facility and two die stations, and runs typically at around 100 metres/minute on most work. As an early production machine, it was not without some start up issues, but as Bhimani explained: “the good personal relationship I have with Gallus in Switzerland was fundamental to resolving these issues, and the pride we felt in being the first label converter in the region to install the ‘granite press’ was worth the start up problems!”

Markets served by Kimoha include lubrication oil, garments, food, dairy, and steel manufacture, although as Bhimani conceded: “it is necessary to engage a degree of lateral thinking and accept work from a variety of sources, as long as it is profitable. Our three Gallus presses give us a broad range of capabilities, and this is proving to be a real bonus in handling the variety of work we undertake. ” The work includes tickets and tags for the airline industry, and the company now claims to have more than 50 international carriers among its client list, stretching from Argentina to Thailand. This falls in with Kimoha’s declared initiative to ‘Go Global’, and as Bhimani quipped:“Kimoha products already fly the world!”

To cater for this planned growth, the company has moved into a new 18,000 square metre factory, where a staff of 220 works a triple shift pattern seven days a week. Designed and built with environmental protection in mind, the factory makes great use of natural light, and elsewhere has movement sensors to switch off unnecessary lighting to save power. The air conditioning and water and waste systems are all geared to be as eco-friendly as possible, while in addition to using only water-based inks and varnishes, the company sources substrates only from suppliers with approved conservation policies. On the day of visiting, the latest investment, an automated waste handling system that removes, shreds, and compacts matrix and side trim from all presses, was in its final stage of commissioning. It will reduce the company’s waste disposal from one or two containers a day, to one a week!

Responding to the changing trends in market demand has prompted Kimoha to install a digital press. Seen as a complement to the narrow web flexo presses, Bhimani commented: “We were one of the first label printers in the region with a digital press and use it for ultra short runs and instant proofing. It gives us added production flexibility, and its fast turnaround has the capacity to shorten delivery times from several weeks to one day. But, it is not intended to replace our conventional print technology, and I don’t see it doing so.”

Even Dubai went through a downturn in 2007 and 2008, but unlike many other parts of the world, it has rallied and is back on a path of rapid growth. Vinesh Bhimani is in no doubt that fundamental to the Emirate’s success, and the success of companies like Kimoha, is the infra-structure that exists and is made available, from the Banks and transport opportunities offered by a major international airport, to the local support available from the machinery manufacturers like Gallus and Heidelberg. Twenty five years of success at Kimoha would seem to prove him right!