Malaysia’s Marathon Press talks about successful decade with Bobst

Its recent installation from Bobst is Novacut 106 ER flatbed diecutter

Malaysia’s Marathon Press reflects on a successful decade with Bobst
From left to right - Alvin Teoh, operations manager, Rachel Teoh, executive director, and Naruj Rattanaurachai, sales manager Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore standing in front of Bobst Novacut 106 ER flatbed diecutter.

Breaking into the Malaysian packaging industry is traditionally difficult. The industry remains largely fragmented, with the country’s printing and finishing resources typically focused on commercial printing or publishing. In this context, the success of the Malaysian printer Marathon Press is incredibly impressive.

Founded in 1989 in Melaka (Malacca City), the company has enjoyed significant growth since then, with a plant situated in an 80,000-square-foot site on the banks of the famous Melaka river. While its continued presence in a difficult sector was impressive, its rapid growth over the last decade is even more so.

Marathon Press is now turning over RM22m a year, making it one of the successful Malaysian-owned printing companies operating in the country. According to operations manager Alvin Teoh, their decision to partner with Bobst in 2012 is a key part of that growth.

“We knew Bobst was and still is reputable for being the market leader in packaging machinery,” he explains. “They offered realistic solutions to our needs in terms of their equipment and training and maintenance support.”

This line of thinking led to Marathon’s investment in an Ambition 106 folder-gluer. This machine’s ease of setting and quick changeover delivered excellent results with the quality and consistency required. “It improved our overall process lead time,” added Teoh.

Marathon Press is ready to serve food and pharma industry

Following such strong results, it was only a matter of time before Ambition 106 was joined by other Bobst solutions. As Marathon’s inventory grew with the addition of a Novacut 106 flatbed diecutter, an Expertfold 110 folder-gluer with the Accucheck quality control system, and most recently – a Novacut 106 ER flatbed diecutter, Marathon was able to expand its market offering.

“We now have the capacity to work with pharmaceutical packaging, retail supermarket boxes, offset printed paper or corrugate boxes, and more,” Teoh explains. “We can now serve more sectors than ever, mainly pharmaceuticals, food and beverage, and retail, but recently we have seen a lot of demand in the rubber glove industry specifically.”

The need to serve all these sectors with greater throughput and product quality during the pandemic meant that, in 2021, Marathon required additional high-end diecutting capability. “Customers are demanding shorter delivery lead times and zero-fault packaging,” Teoh says, reflecting the views of many in the global packaging industry.

He was in no doubt about where to look for a solution. “We knew the Expertfold 110 with Accucheck was working well for us, so it made sense to invest in the Novacut 106 ER as it had perfect synergy with our existing processes to help us achieve our goals.

“With the inline stripping and blanking system, we can eliminate manual stripping and improve the overall blank quality of our folding cartons. It operates at an average speed of 7,000 sheets per hour and has more advanced automation features than anything else on the market.

“The machine is easy to operate thanks to its simple make-ready system and HMI interface. Both new and existing operators can cope with the new machine easily. All of this has translated into a 36% increase in our productivity.”

Marathon has grown rapidly but still has plenty of headroom to grow further by its existence in the Malaysian packaging market. It is clear that having trusted Bobst to deliver its growth so far, the company will continue to do so in future.

“Bobst machines are precise and durable. Bobst also provides excellent training and after-sales support on all its equipment,” Teoh adds. “It is always innovating and upgrading its technology to stay ahead in the packaging business, and this means we’re well-placed to venture into the corrugated carton industry to respond to the growing demand for sustainable packaging.”

The Covid-19 pandemic led to the country-wide lockdown on 25 March 2020. It will be two years tomorrow as I write this. What have we learned in this time? Maybe the meaning of resilience since small companies like us have had to rely on our resources and the forbearance of our employees as we have struggled to produce our trade platforms.

The print and packaging industries have been fortunate, although the commercial printing industry is still to recover. We have learned more about the digital transformation that affects commercial printing and packaging. Ultimately digital will help print grow in a country where we are still far behind in our paper and print consumption and where digital is a leapfrog technology that will only increase the demand for print in the foreseeable future.

Web analytics show that we now have readership in North America and Europe amongst the 90 countries where our five platforms reach. Our traffic which more than doubled in 2020, has at times gone up by another 50% in 2021. And advertising which had fallen to pieces in 2020 and 2021, has started its return since January 2022.

As the economy approaches real growth with unevenness and shortages a given, we are looking forward to the PrintPack India exhibition in Greater Noida. We are again appointed to produce the Show Daily on all five days of the show from 26 to 30 May 2022.

It is the right time to support our high-impact reporting and authoritative and technical information with some of the best correspondents in the industry. Readers can power Packaging South Asia’s balanced industry journalism and help sustain us by subscribing.

– Naresh Khanna

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