06 February 2019 Digital Printing Technologies

UDS with first EFI Nozomi C18000 inkjet press in Central Europe

Inkjet is spreading into new areas, geographically and in terms of industry sector. Among the most promising applications, for suppliers at least, is printing on corrugated boards in point of sale and packaging.

One of Poland’s leading POS producers is about to become the first printer using EFI’s Nozomi C18000 single-pass inkjet machine for corrugated board printing in Central Europe.

This system now being commissioned at UDS will provide a solution to the changing needs of its customers. These include solving the warehousing problem for customers expecting just-in-time deliveries and will allow UDS to extend the product offering to include low-volume corrugated cardboard packaging, among other things.

UDS is a family owned company with 45 years of tradition. Since the mid-1990s it has specialised in the production of innovative display systems for retail. It has a sales office in Warsaw and a 20,000m2 production plant near Skierniewice, conveniently located close to one of the main Polish motorways. The company currently employs more than 500 and during production peaks is supported by an additional 200 temporary employees. Around 95% of UDS production is corrugated POS products, manufactured on behalf of retail chains and FMCG producers.

The company runs two large guillotines, two litho printing machines from Koenig & Bauer (five and six-colour, Rapida 162a and Rapida 164), two laminators for corrugated board, a 185cm wide folder-gluer for packaging and a full finishing department and three platens It also offers co-packing services to its customers.

The key factor for the success and growth of UDS was a right call by owner, Andrzej Baczkowski, at the right time. He focused the business on the most dynamically developing branch of the Polish economy – retail. The opening up of the retail market at the beginning of the 90s resulted in an extremely rapid development of shopping chains. The decision to focus on the production of modern display systems (POS) underpinned the long-term development of UDS at growth rates of 20% and above per year. This growth has meant changes in how UDS is organised and operates.

“Currently, in the face of political, demographic and economic changes, as well as a result of the fact that further development of retail chains continuing at the pace we had to deal with in the 1990s, it has become necessary to undertake actions aimed at building an organisation operating in a strategic, innovative way and achieving organisational excellence,” says Baczkowski, president of UDS. “The current scale of operations is very large, we process over 20 million square metres of corrugated annually.

“That is why we came up with the UDS 2020 strategy in 2017, which assumes, among other things, doubling the value of sales by achieving an ongoing average annual growth of at least 20%. It also includes the development of the management structure, corporate culture and technology platform so that a 100% increase in sales in the next strategic perspective of 2021-2024 is possible.”

The aims it has set out including being the partner of choice for international brands; to offer the fastest response rates and through training of staff with appropriate rates of pay, “to become the coolest employer in the region”.

UDS wants to offer its customers the fastest project implementation on the market by reducing the current delivery time by 50%, while at the same time ensuring absolute efficiency, measured in terms of timeliness and quality of service.

“The life cycle of our customers’ products is shortening, and the pressure on promotions at the point of sale is increasing to sell as much as possible in the shortest possible time,” explains Daniel Dzbanski, head of R&D at UDS.

“Our customers operate under time pressure because the effectiveness of their operations depends not only on their own marketing activities, but also on the actions of their competitors, hence our focus on shortening the lead time by half. This gives us the opportunity to become the preferred supplier that supports customers in responding quickly to market needs and competitors’ actions. In addition, shortening the lead time means automatic, cost-free release of production capacity, enabling further growth in sales.”

UDS aims to differentiate itself from the competition not by offering lowest prices, but by focusing on the shortest lead times as well as innovations in the technological, product and logistics areas. The latest investment in EFI Nozomi C18000 system, because, thanks to its innovation and significant increase in production and operational efficiency, perfectly fits into the UDS 2020 strategy.

“Nozomi ideally responds to current market trends, which – as we know – aim at customisation, frequent change of promotional campaigns, just-in-time deliveries and flexible response to the market requirements,” says Baczkowski. “Large retailers still order several thousand items of POS, but smaller ones only need a few hundred.

“We have also seen an increasing number of regional promotions, which significantly shortens production runs, as well as the multiplication of orders by our customers. Instead of ordering 1000 pieces, the customer places two orders of 500 each. Our average print run is still over 1000 pieces, but we are aware that it will decrease and we want to be well prepared as this trend increases.

“Nozomi will allow us to respond quickly to changing customers’ needs. Up to now customers often ordered more than necessary to get a lower price per unit. Now they can order exactly what they need at an acceptable price.

“Another important aspect of Nozomi is the environmental benefit. We significantly reduce waste (in case of offset technology makeready requires around 400 sheets of corrugated), and the customer no longer has the problem with the disposal of unused POS, because the exact number is supplied. Nozomi to some extent will also solve the problem of warehousing orders for customers expecting just-in-time deliveries.

“The economics of inkjet allows production in several batches, so we eliminate the risk of accidental damage to the batch during storage, and the customer receives a fresh, shiny product. Some customers have stored their orders on their own, which has also generated the same problems as with us. Nozomi eliminates them.

“The EFI Nozomi machine is ideal for POS production. It has the appropriate productivity, sheet width and prints with the quality that our customers, who are used to litho, expect. Thanks to digital printing we will skip two important production processes, sheet cutting and laminating.

“Not only do we shorten the time of preparing the sheet for printing, but also thanks to omitting the lamination process we eliminate problems related to the shrinkage of the raw material. The dimensional difference between summer and winter could be as much as 20-30mm. In order to cope with this problem, we have to strictly comply with set procedures, which means there is no possibility of further processing the sheets directly after the lamination.

“In my opinion, digital technology, thanks to single-pass solutions, has now reached the level of efficiency acceptable to manufacturers of display systems on a large scale. According to our calculations multi-pass systems are only profitable to 200 sheets, which made it unsuitable for us. EFI single-pass technology has significantly increased this break-even up to several thousand sheets in case of low ink coverage, so we decided to invest in it.”

There are already other high-performance digital solutions dedicated to manufacturers of POS and corrugated cardboard packaging, so why did UDS choose EFI Nozomi? “Our decision was based on combination of many factors. It delivers very good, offset-like quality, productivity, price per printed sheet and optimal sheet width,” Baczkowski explains.

“An interesting solution is also the primer, which while inexpensive in itself, has a very positive impact on the quality of printing and additionally protects the printed sheet. We have been watching the technology of digital printing for years; Nozomi is the first digital machine for printing on corrugated board which makes economic sense for us.

“Above all, the customer expects us to reduce production time without compromising on quality: Nozomi ensures this. The resulting prints have a high gloss; customers have not always opted for additional varnishing or laminating for enhanced look, and in case of Nozomi they get the glossy look at the same price.”

“EFI Nozomi is the only machine that has implemented colour measurement system that guarantees high quality from the very first sheet,” adds Dzbanski. “In addition, it has recently been equipped with a photo mode, which allows you to achieve up to 97% compliance with the Pantone range using six colours, which is an ideal feature for printing corrugated display materials where saturation and vivid colours are key.

“Another decisive factor was the fact that Nozomi prints are odourless, thanks to which we can produce POS intended for displaying food products in primary packaging. In the office we still have printouts from competing devices made a few months ago that still emit a distinctive smell that our customers would not accept.”

The installation of the EFI Nozomi C18000 at UDS was planned to have been completed in the second half of January. Once the machine is up and running, the company’s priority will be to expand its product portfolio. The new press will allow the production of low-volume corrugated board packaging as well as the existing product range.

There are also plans to further develop export, especially to German speaking DACH countries, and UDS has already hired three German sales representatives to further this aim.

“We believe in Nozomi and I am convinced that our current and future customers will also believe in this machine,” concludes Andrzej Baczkowski.

Gareth Ward

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EFI Nozomi C18000 at UDS

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