Papierwerk Landshut Mittler (plm), whose high-quality packagings are found the world over, can be summed up in three words: quality, reliability, and passion. Targeting further growth, the company was the first folding carton printer last year to invest in a Speedmaster XL 75-7+L from the new 2020 generation. A new Diana Smart 115 folder gluer from the partner MK Masterwork completed the investment in the latest packaging solutions from Heidelberger Druckmaschinen AG (Heidelberg). Using state-of-the-art and innovative technologies makes it possible to combine top quality and high productivity.
“To enable us to produce the best folding cartons for our customers, we’re constantly on the lookout for the most innovative equipment,” explains Günther Berninghaus, the third generation of the family to manage plm. “Our slogan “Beyond the box,” says so too, and we’re proud that we’re still independent.” The trained letterpress printer and printing engineer has worked in the company for 40 years, and says he has “always invested in the right machines.” plm has been in existence since 1914, with medium-sized pharmaceutical companies and contract manufacturers in Germany, Austria, and Switzerland accounting for 80 percent of its production. The remaining 20 percent is split between folding cartons for cosmetics and general consumer goods. plm also works with an internationally renowned pharmaceutical manufacturer to develop and produce complex colour guides to guarantee globally harmonized production.
Since 1996, the company has been based in Wörth an der Isar – where it has enough space for both a structured production process and further growth. “We have always focused on one site, where we maintain a high level of productivity. What’s more, we invest heavily in our own training and are proud of our rate of ten percent,” says Günther Berninghaus in explaining his recipe for success. And there is one other special thing about plm: almost half of the 134 employees are women.
Partnership with Heidelberg as a win-win situation
The partnership between Heidelberg and plm goes back decades and has benefited both sides. For example, plm was one of the first concept customers in 1992. As a field test customer, plm has been involved in several major projects with Heidelberg – whether the expansion of the substrate range and the first coating unit in the Speedmaster SM 52 or the Prinect Inpress Control inline colour and quality measurement system on the Speedmaster CD 74. Other field tests were conducted on the Prinect Press Center XL 3 and its LED daylight lamp, which Günther Berninghaus says makes it easier to approve sheets by simply switching from D50 (5000K daylight) to D65 (6500K daylight). plm has focused on the medium-size format 50 x 70 for many years. In the press room you will now find a Speedmaster XL 75-6+L from 2008 as well as a Speedmaster XL 75-5+L that was added three years ago and most recently the Speedmaster XL 75-7+L from the 2020 generation one year ago. All three presses run at a speed of 18,000 sheets per hour and have a sheet format of 605 x 750 millimeter (23.82 x 29.53 inch), which is perfect for packaging companies.
Prior to its most recent investment, plm had scoured the printing press market and was also considering a change to the next bigger format. It soon turned out, however, that another Speedmaster XL 75 was the best solution. What clinched it were the innovative solutions in the new 2020 generation – the clear operating concept with the new Heidelberg User Experience (UX), the good accessibility, and the high print quality thanks to the perfectly optimized inking unit for this press series. The large diameters of the cylinders ensure that the cardboard is transported smoothly through the press.
“We consider ourselves in a good position with the three almost identical presses from Heidelberg. The printers can work on all the presses, we operate a standardized printing process, and can offer our customers fast production with zero defects,” says Günther Berninghaus in summary. “The medium-size format is the perfect fit for us as well at the moment. This is confirmed by our profitability calculations. We have faster setup times, greater colour stability, and uniformity of colours over the entire sheet, which helps us with the many gang runs we have.”
All of the presses have a service agreement in place and the Heidelberg technicians are held in high regard at plm. The washing fluids and aids are from the Saphira range.
Production operates on a three-shift schedule on all but the oldest Speedmaster XL 75, in some cases also at weekends. An active sales force and the additional demand from the pharmaceutical industry as a result of the Coronavirus pandemic resulted in growth of twelve percent last year. Turnover in 2020 was EUR 20 million. Further growth came from the increasing substitution of plastic packagings and from monoblock cartons.
Modern workstation and increased productivity
Print shop manager Günter Zöttl keeps an eye on the productivity gains offered by the three presses. The new Speedmaster XL 75 is 30 percent more efficient than the 2008 press. The new press is also five percent more efficient than the 2018 one. All in all, what sets the new 2020 generation press apart is its reliability, stability, quality, and good accessibility. “When I ask my printers what their favorite press to work on is, it’s always the new Speedmaster,” confirms Günter Zöttl. “They’re big fans of the new operator guidance system, and the new 24-inch touchscreen makes their work more direct and straightforward.” The company is also taking advantage of the navigated printing: Intellistart 3 compares two jobs and suggests the best production approach to the printer. Intelliline, the system of optical guidance by means of LED strips on the printing units, provides outstanding navigation and support for the assistance system.
Spot colours account for 80 percent of the inks used at plm and the colorfulness of the jobs is on the increase, which means frequent colours changes. This is now much easier with the new Wash Assistant and its artificial intelligence. The Wash Assistant selects the right washup program for the inking unit and dampening system, blanket, and impression cylinder based on corresponding job and press parameters. When washing ink rollers, it can, for example, identify when switching from a dark color to a light one, and initiates the optimal washup program. If necessary it can even automatically initiate deep cleaning. Apart from saving time, this also saves washing fluid and washup cloths. Any inking units not needed are continuously supplied with roller protection liquid by the new “Auto Protect” function. Once the ink is added again, the roller protection is removed fully automatically in the Intellistart 3 workflow without any input from the operator.
The average run length is just under 8,000 sheets. The main material processed is primary fiber cardboard with grammages from 220 to 500 gram per square meter.
The production also runs on a three-shift schedule in post press, with four die cutters and four folder gluers from the Diana series. The latest – a Diana Smart 115 – is a replacement investment and is expanding the product portfolio by adding new gluing options for the folding cartons. The new Diana also made it possible to further increase the quality and productivity.
Team spirit and good collaboration
Looking forward, plm wants to improve and expand the integration between the data provided by the Heidelberg presses and the packaging workflow. These are then also projects for the next generation. Günther Berninghaus’ son Daniel has a degree in business administration and has been working in the company as Operational Excellence manager for three years. “We’re a company with a strong team spirit, open exchange, and great collaboration – fast, flexible, and agile,” he sums up. These attributes are fundamental in achieving the objectives set – to continue as an independent medium-sized company with a profitable business that offers the customers the best-possible quality.