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New opp to take foodbev labelling in-house

Konica Minolta is creating amazing labels with copier (electrophotographic) technology you’d find hard to believe. Time to bring your label printing in-house?

I walked quickly past the Konica Minolta stand at Propak Africa earlier this year. What, after all, was an office copier company doing at a show targeted at the manufacturing, packaging and processing sectors? Nothing to see here…. but then I turned back…

“I was curious about a sleek, navy blue-grey “copier” that was the centrepiece of the stand,” reports FBR editor, Bruce Cohen. “And I’m glad I did, because it opened a doorway to the future of label printing.”

Is flexo dead? Not yet. But I saw a digital steamroller picking up speed, set to radically transform the label “last mile” of the foodbev supply chain.

A few weeks later, I was at Konica Minolta’s demo centre near Gold Reef City chatting to Leon Minnie, Konica Minolta South Africa’s (KMSA’s) manager of Production Print.

He’s on a mission to drive the digital label revolution through the front door of the foodbev industry. Literally.

In a nutshell: So smart, so clean, so sharp, silent and easy-to-use is the company’s AccurioLabel 190 narrow web digital printer that foodbev businesses can now seriously consider bringing their label printing in-house with zero compromise in quality.

What I saw coming off the printer would meet even the most exacting graphic standards. With few exceptions, the AccurioLabel will equal – and even outclass – flexo.

Minnie says his initial strategy was to target the flexo print industry, offering a logical, cost-effective road map for it to move into the digital age and help meet growing customer demand for shorter runs, faster turnaround and increased flexibility.

But the sector seemed hesitant to join the digital age. “They’re in a wait-and-see mode about what’s coming their way,” says Minnie, undeterred.

“In the same way that high-volume litho printers now have digital units operating side by side, this will eventually happen with flexo because it now has a true competitor that is viable at small runs of 500-5 000 labels and still offers a good margin.”

So Minnie and his sales team are turning their attention to manufacturers, especially in the chemical and foodbev sectors, showing them that it’s entirely feasible, and advantageous, to create their own in-house “print rooms” for small-volume label production.

“Flexo has cut us no slack and it’s been a big learning curve. But we now understand the market and we have the answers,” says Minnie.

At the KMSA demo centre, Minnie put the printer through its paces, showing me how simple this remarkable piece of technology is to operate.

The unit runs virtually silently. There’s no mess, no set up, no waste. It’s a dry print solution and the toner, made from sunflower oil extract, is 100% bio-degradable and food safe, so it’s easy to integrate into any food environment.

A big benefit of short-run, in-house label printing is that companies don’t have to tie up cash in label stocks, which are often wasted when legislation changes or new branding is introduced. Minnie says one of his customers recently dumped millions of rands of worthless labels – before switching to digital.

Watching the labels glide across the web, I told Minnie it was hard to believe that copier technology (dry electrophotographic printing) could produce such stunning results…..

Food & Beverage Reporter: Read the full article here

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