Belfast-based KER Graphics Ltd became the first self-adhesive label printing company on the island of Ireland to install Konica Minolta’s first label printing press when they took delivery of the new KM C71cf from MJ Flood in April. “I had seen it a couple of years ago, at the LabelExpo exhibition in Brussels and I was very impressed with the quality of the print and the speed of the machine compared to its competitors,” says Russell Robinson, Managing Director, KER Graphics Ltd. “I knew it could fill a gap in our digital label production with ease of use and quick turnarounds. This Konica Minolta technology makes it more cost effective for us to print small and medium size runs of labels in full colour and still keep the very high quality we demand for our customers.” KER Graphics operate two six colour flexo presses, two full colour inkjet presses, and the recently-installed toner-based Konica Minolta technology.
The company produces a wide range of label types for a variety of sectors, including food and beverage. packaging, and cosmetics, as well as for the label trade in Ireland and the UK. These range from blank to full colour labels; on a wide range of materials with different varnishes and laminates. KER Graphics also bought a Digicon 3, supplied by AB Graphics, which works with the Konica Minolta press. “Essentially, the bizhub Press C71cf prints the label artwork onto rolls and the Digicon 3 converts the rolls into labels, cutting the labels into shape and varnishing or laminating them,” says Russell. “Quicker turnaround and the ability to print shorter runs more cost effectively is the big business benefit that the new press brings to KER Graphics. When the press was installed initially, we learned quickly how it worked and did a lot of testing to get all our materials, finishes and varnishes correct. KER Graphics will be bringing a lot of new work onto the machine over the next few months, which will allow us to increase our print volumes and venture into new and exciting areas as well.”
So how did the installation with KER Graphics come about? “We began speaking with Russell Robinson in late 2015,” says Phil Schueler, Production Print Manager, MJ Flood. “Danny McFaul, our Production Account Executive for Northern Ireland, had visited KER on a cold-call, initially regarding his old Xerox cut-sheet 250 model. Russell had no desire for an SRA3 machine but, as the discussions continued over the next several months, we became more and more familiar with the flexographic printing market. In 2016, much progress was made and a viable deal really began to take shape. We worked together with Konica Minolta in the UK to arrange visits and demonstrations. Our continuous feed specialists at our demonstration lab in Milton Keynes produced rolls and rolls of test labels on various materials. Our customer liked what he saw and the ease with which he could produce it and the deal was finalised in early 2017.”
What level of interest is the new label printer generating in the Irish market? “I think we have generated some genuine interest in the C71cf, but this niche within the commercial print arena will take time to build on,” says Phil. “We hope to concentrate on this unique market going forward and we know that the KM C71cf is a winner across the board! The system is very easy to use and comes with Label Impose Pro for imposing label jobs, a full colour management and calibration system, and some handy VDP tools as well. Registration is vital for short-run label production and the C71cf is a unique, reliable, and consistent performer. The overall build of the system is extremely solid, with a large capacity, reliable. un-winder and re-winder from Miyakoshi. We also offer a cost-per-linear metre all-inclusive service agreement, which makes us unique in this market, so we hope to build on the success of KER Graphics, especially in the corning year.”