Amazing Astron does it againAstron Packaging orders South Asia’s first 6-color Bobst FFG 1228Ahmedabad-based Astron Packaging has ordered a 6-color FFG 1228 NT RS flexo printer, folder-gluer line from Bobst. Expected to be commissioned in December 2015, the installation will make Astron the first company to have a 6-color FFG 1228 folder-gluer line in South Asia. Astron is a fast growing company almost totally focused on the pharmaceutical industry in its label and digital carton business. And in its high quality multicolor corrugated carton business, it is focused on fruit and vegetable trays that are used by Indian produce exporters and also exported to fresh produce companies in Africa. Both the produce and the trays are most often sent to Europe and thus need to be able to withstand the stringent requirements of the supply chain and possible refrigeration.Astron’s amazing corrugated fruit boxesThe Bobst FFG 1228 NT RS is capable of printing, slitting, scoring, folding, gluing and rotary diecutting in-line. The 2.8 metre wide machine equipped with the Bobst Rapidset system, is capable of fast flexo makereadies while the machine is running. The rotary diecutting facility enables it to produce custom designed boxes apart from regular slotted container (RSC) boxes. The 60-metre long FFG 1228 is one of the fastest in the Bobst’s FFG series with a speed of 15,000 sheets an hour.
At present, Astron has two 4-color Nantai flexo, cutter slotter and rotary diecutting machines. The company will deploy the new Bobst folder-gluer to produce premium corrugated boxes with heavy graphics on coated or glossy liners for the export market.
Astron Packaging is an exceptional company in every way. Its label business began in 2009 with a Mark Andy 2200 press. By end-December 2009, an HP4500 digital label and carton press was installed. In 2011 the Mark Andy 2200 was replaced by an 8-color Mark Andy P5 Performance Series press, the first to be installed in India although it was not the first to be ordered. Another P5 8-color label press with booklet production capability came in during 2013. While 80% of Astron’s labels are for the pharmaceutical industry, other segments include the FMCG cosmetic segment. Label finishing and inspection is done on Digicon inspection slitter-rewinders and Rotoflex inspection machines.
Although everything about Astron is amazing, it is the corrugated vegetable tray production that is most impressive for their analytical understanding of the problem and its alignment of the appropriate raw materials from diverse suppliers. These materials are then combined in a painstaking way that has been developed into a standard manufacturing process and supplied to farmers as flat multicolor printed corrugated tray blanks. These are folded up and glued into trays by a special machine that Astron sources and supplies from Spain to its large customers such as fruit orchard owners – at a nominal price or even on lease. The fruit orchard owner or farmer glues the blank into a tray, fills it with produce and ships the stackable trays directly to the European supermarket. The trays must last from 45 to 60 days and withstand freight, handling and moisture.
In six years, Astron packaging has experienced astronomical growth. In its label business, it has combined top level narrow web flexo and digital processes by being the first mover in inducting new technology. In the corrugated carton industry too, Astron has been able to come up with a fascinating combination of specialized high quality output by concentrating on fruit and vegetable trays that are meant to withstand both the long distance shipping of fresh produce and its final delivery in air-conditioned and refrigerated environments. With the new Bobst FFG it is taking on new product segments where the high quality print on shipping cartons can speak for the brand.