Founded in 2010, South African flexo printer Advanced Labels today specialises in producing high quality labels and flexible packaging for a huge range of sectors, including pharmaceutical, chemical, home and personal care and FMCG.
“Our customers demand consistently high quality, rapid turnaround times and excellent service at a good price,” says Managing Director of Advanced Labels, Richard Jones. “Furthermore, environmental concerns are becoming increasingly important to them, so we’re always on the lookout for ways to reduce our environmental impact – as well as improving quality, consistency and speed of delivery.”
At LabelExpo 2017 in Brussels, the company confirmed an investment in Fujifilm’s new Illumina LED curing solution, making it the first beta site for this technology in the EMEA region. The company also invested in Fujifilm 300 Series flexo inks.
Its first Illumina unit, retro-fitted to an existing press in March 2018, proved such a success that the company has now installed three more. In June 2018 they retrofitted two Illumina units to their other existing presses and had a third fitted to a brand new Nilpeter FA press.
With all four of the company’s flexo presses now curing with Illumina LED technology, Advanced Labels has become the first flexo printer in South Africa, and one of the first in the world, to operate with 100% LED UV curing technology.
“We were well aware of the environmental benefits Fujifilm’s Illumina solution would bring, and it has well and truly met our expectations,” says Jones. “We have had the opportunity to run extensive tests for several months, comparing two identical presses, one curing with conventional UV and the other with Illumina LED. We have recorded an 87.5% power reduction in the LED curing press, which, as well as leading to substantial cost savings, brings our goal of being 100% energy self-sufficient, through solar, much more clearly into focus.
“Furthermore, waste is down, we’re creating less pollution and a huge reduction in VOCs (and in noise and heat) has made an immediate and very noticeable improvement to our workplace environment.”
But the advantages go far beyond the environmental: “We’ve slashed our typical job make-ready time in half,” Jones continues. “Make-ready set-up now requires the use of 60% less material and typical job run times have been slashed by a third, meaning that overall throughput is up by a third as well.”
Advanced Labels has noted further benefits in the previously troublesome “cold foiling” process where Illumina has vastly improved the consistency of results throughout the production process, and in lamination where LED curing has stabilised the production of finished labels, eliminating the negative effects of heat and shrinkage on the materials and adhesive. Illumina LED cured labels experience no curling, meaning that after application, the labels do not peel away from the container. With conventional UV curing, the company experienced significant rejection rates due to the curling of finished labels.
Jones also has high praise for Fujifilm’s new 300 series inks. “I’ve used Fujifilm inks at previous companies and it’s obviously something that they do very well. Since switching to the 300 Series inks, we’ve found that we can achieve the colours we need much faster than we could before, the viscosity is lower and colour matching has become a much more straight-forward process.
“Overall we’ve been delighted with the results of the investment. Fujifilm has continually impressed throughout the sales and installation process and beyond. They have been communicative, professional, and the technical support they provide is second to none. Coupled with the very high standard of the products they’ve supplied us with, we’re delighted with our investment decision and feel that we’re now in the best possible position to capitalise on the trends in the South African market towards, higher quality, faster delivery and much higher levels of environmental awareness. The reliability of Illumina LED curing units also means we are now far less likely to encounter breakdowns and lengthy delays in production, something that we experienced with our old conventional UV systems”.
Says Ian Isherwood, Business Manager, Labels and Packaging, Fujifilm EMEA: “Advanced Labels is a visionary company and their commitment to environmental sustainability is a great example, not just to flexo printers in South Africa, but around the world. We’re delighted they have selected Fujifilm to help them meet their ambitious environmental targets and to improve their quality, productivity and profitability. The benefits of switching to our Illumina LED curing and 300 Series ink system have been immediate and obvious, so we look forward to seeing the transformative effect on the business as they convert their remaining presses to this technology”