Kumar Printers, known mainly for its pharmaceutical cartons at one time, has over the years become a full-fledged supplier of both monocartons and litho-laminated cartons to a broader range of FMCG and Alcobev industry segments. It now supplies monocartons, litho-laminated cartons, and various types of hard boxes for gift packaging and shelf displays.
As Sandeep Bhargava, the company’s managing director says, “There is an important place for the normal cartons that provide volumes, but it is the specially designed value-add cartons where the runs are smaller, that the margins are more interesting. However, these require a host of processes such as foil stamping, embossing, and other value-adds for which one has to have a host of ancillary equipment that may not be used every day.
The new Heidelberg CX 104 7-color plus coater UV press was recently commissioned and while some of its components are still to come and be integrated, for Kumar Printers bringing it into production is not a great challenge. The new press will have IST UV curing decks and Version 4 of the Heidelberg Image Control system. Bhargava says the company is used to adding multicolor presses in its pressroom and the process of sorting out the new press’s operational features is to some extent fairly routine, alongside the three other Heidelberg 6-color plus coater presses that are already running in the same pressroom.
However, Bhargava is excited about the Prinect Image Control 4 quality control system for scanning the printed sheet output for uniform inking over the entire sheet. Heidelberg claims that it is perhaps the only system available that spectrally scans the whole print sheet and balances out even the smallest deviations in the print image – automatically by detecting not only all measuring elements but also solid areas using the prepress data and incorporating them into the control process. CMYK images and halftone areas can be perfectly corrected using print samples and proofs.
As Bhargava explained at our recent meeting at the plant, the new Image Control 4 is able not only to measure opaque white but also to control it. “This permits much more reliable control of the chromatic colors when printing on foils or metal surfaces such as metpet (metalized polyester laminated paperboard stock),” he said.
When not only perfect color but also flawlessness on the sheet is to be achieved, the option of ‘offline Inspection’ is available for inspection at 200 dpi for PDF matching and for sheet-to-sheet inspection. The system can work at the extremely high resolution of 50 million pixels or CIEL*a*b* values. And while the standalone color measurement system can be connected to as many as four Speedmaster presses, Bhargava says that after it is commissioned with the new CX 104 7-color plus coater UV press, he plans to connect at least one more of the Speedmaster presses in the pressroom to it.
The Plus feeder and Plus delivery on the new CX 104 and the Prinect Color Control 4 should help the press operators reduce make-ready times by up to 70%. The new coating unit with the lighter weight should also reduce the change over time of easily removable and replaceable anilox rollers by up to 50%. It is clear that Kumar Printers is looking at this investment for a jump in quality and efficiencies.
Next generation challenges
In this expansion phase, Kumar Printers has extended its space by another 30,000 square feet with a building adjacent to the current plant. This already has several of the new laminating and folder-gluers recently purchased for its corrugation and litho-laminated corrugated carton operations. It is planned to move all the corrugated related postpress, laminated and converting including die-cutters and folder-gluers to this new space.
Other developments include the induction of the next generation into the business in the person of Harsh Bhargava. Although we met him briefly on our visit, he was quite absorbed in the integration of the new ERP system that Kumar Printers has acquired. His father Sandeep Bhargava says the integration of the ERP is perhaps more challenging than that of commissioning the new multicolor press.
He says, “For us installing and commissioning new presses and converting equipment is almost routine now but when we are moving further into the areas of newer management techniques, automation, advanced technology and efficiency, we are facing the human resource crunch. It seems that our educational and training institutions are not really producing the trained talent that can help us integrate our processes as easily as we had hoped. This is also going to be one of the challenges that the next generation faces. In our generation, we have taken on the technology challenge but for the next generation, the challenges are perhaps going to be more complex and laterally across knowledge domains – the human resource issues and then the further challenges of creativity and innovation.”