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Label production moves onto industrial scale with Mark Andy

The installation of a second Mark Andy P5 at Dasyl Prevot says as much about the manufacturer’s commitment to the French market as it does about its technology.  Nick Coombes reports from Marmande.

It seems a long time ago that Daniel Prevot began printing labels with a Mark Andy 2100, but in the intervening years his company has become one of the best equipped family run narrow web converters in France.  Now, approaching its 30th anniversary, the company has recently added more new technology from Mark Andy in the form of a Performance Series P5 flexo press.

The new P5 is the second installed at the company’s production facility in Marmande, some 80km from Bordeaux, and like the first, is an eight colour full UV flexo line.  But the new press, known internally as ‘P5 Plus’ by the staff is a bespoke machine that has been specified to supply multi-layer labels, which Dasyl Prevot sees as a growing market.  Daniel Prevot explained: “With EU legislation demanding more information be printed on labels, there is a limit to how much one can reduce point size and keep type legible.  And in some cases there is a need to print several languages on the same label.  The answer is to add extra layers to the label, and this requires a two-web operation.”

So successful has the first P5 been at the company since its installation in 2014 that Prevot had no hesitation in opting for another when it came to investing in additional capacity to fulfil this niche requirement.  “It’s not just getting the machine specification right, it’s about trusting the manufacturer to support you at every stage of the process.  In my opinion, Mark Andy is second to none in this regard,” he added, giving special mention to Technician Arnaud Valentin for his unwavering efforts to ensure that all runs smoothly.  “Whether it’s telephone support, Internet hook-up, or a personal visit, Mark Andy is always there for us,” he said.

The new 330mm (13”) P5 has eight UV-flexo print stations positioned to allow for a two-web operation.  Beginning with a double unwind section, the upper web is delaminated and printed on the adhesive side before being relaminated and passed through turnbars for printing on the front.  The lower web, which has been fed but held in ‘waiting’ mode, is then printed and assembled with the upper web which has been delaminated for a second time.  The twin web is then passed through Mark Andy’s QCDC (Quick Change Die Cut) unit, and the waste is fed onto the new Advanced Waste Wind Up that is designed to avoid web breaks.  The resulting label has two layers that can be peeled and resealed to offer twice as much area for information.

Each print unit has optical register control, and there are two cameras fitted, one to monitor print and the other for die cut accuracy, and these allow the combined web to be inset with an additional web for three layer labels.  According to Jean-Louis Pecarelo of Atypic France, who is responsible for Mark Andy sales, the key is the control provided by the P5’s servo drive. 

“This high level of tension control allows webs of different substrates like PP and paper to be run with great accuracy.  It makes the P5 both productive and flexible in terms of the type of work it can produce, which is essential if you are looking to tap into the more lucrative niche markets,” he said.

In charge of running the new Mark Andy at Dasyl Prevot is Olivier Stellino, who also piloted the first P5 in 2014.  Drawing high praise from his boss for his ability to maximise output from the technology, he describes the P5 as a true operator’s machine, with all the controls needed from unwind to print and rewind laid out in a logical and ergonomic way.  This makes job changes easy and quick, which is vital in today’s market for short run work.  In particular, Stellino values the QCDC unit, which is safe and easy to use and reduces the risk of damaging the dies.  He also praises Mark Andy for the training and technical support he received before, during and after installation, which he says has allowed him to develop his operating skills to maximum effect.

At present, labels produced on the new P5 are being sold to the cosmetic and industrial sectors, but Daniel Prevot sees future growth in demand coming from the food industry and from the electronics market.  Most of the company’s output is for French customers, and Prevot sees competition becoming even tougher as time passes.  “Shorter runs are just one factor – customers now demand more complex labels with added value, and we need to continue to invest in technology that will allow us to satisfy these demands,” he explained.

Suggesting that his next move would be towards digital print, he is closely evaluating Mark Andy’s Digital Series hybrid solution as well as its Digital One dry toner offering.  “We have established a mutual trust with Mark Andy and are unlikely to look elsewhere, because in our experience they offer the complete range of technology with the best support service in France,” said Prevot. 

This point was picked up by Pecarelo, who added: Selling a technologically advanced Mark Andy machine is not the most difficult task compared with the challenge of delivering dedicated customer support to ensure that training develops operator skills inline with Lean Management requirements.  This allows our customers to get the best of their production tools, because in an industrial environment, customers with industrial machines need an industrial standard of support.  Anybody can say it, but how many really deliver it?"

Typical work at Dasyl Prevot’s plant sees runs lengths of around 2000 linear metres, but the company is experiencing a growing requirement for even shorter runs than this.  “The P5 is a good short run machine, but is wasted on 500 labels.  There is little profit in a job where make ready takes more time than the print run.  So we need another solution for these ultra short runs to allow us to maximise efficiency with the Mark Andy flexo presses.  This is where the P5s special capabilities are essential because they allow us to offer something more than our competitors,” said Prevot.

Currently employing 14 staff and targeting a €3m turnover in 2017, Daniel Prevot will have early opportunities in 2017 to see Mark Andy latest digital and flexo technology in action, at an Open House taking place in the company’s Warsaw facility.