“Digital technology can be leveraged for distinctive short runs”

David Ellen (DE), Divisional Director - Digital Printing Business, Domino and Ajay Raorane (AR), AVP - Sales and Digital, Domino India discuss about the printers move towards packaging and advantages of digital technology in India.
“Digital technology can be leveraged for distinctive short runs”
David Ellen (DE), Divisional Director - Digital Printing Business, Domino and Ajay Raorane (AR), AVP - Sales and Digital, Domino India discuss about the printers move towards packaging and advantages of digital technology in India.
Labellers in the printing industry are concerned about how to maintain margins. Your comments on the same.
DE: The brand owners want more, but they are hesitant to pay more. They want to spend less. It's a competitive market, and therefore margins are on the stress. The squeeze is on the label manufacturers. And consequently, they have to find a way to improve those margins or bring them back to earlier levels. It's a simple business. You want to make money out of what you're providing. But if you offer the same thing as everybody else, then it's all about price. If you differentiate yourself from your competition, then it's less about price, because you're bringing real value to the brand owner, or the customer. Real value means that you can improve your margins.
How does digital print equipment help deliverbetter margins? 
DE: If you're using a flexo press, and you're printing thousands or millions of labels, and your competitor has the same flexo presses, there's going to be a price war. If you have a digital press and the brand owner wants to reduce his inventory and aim to quickly deliver the product, he should try and differentiate his product on the shelf. Additionally, he may provide some security in that label, to be able to track it, and also to use the digital technology to target different parts of the populace, gender, or which demographic does he want to go to, then digital gives you that advantage over a regular analogue press.
AR: The digital technology can be easily leveraged for distinctive short runs whereas others tend to fail on features like quick changeovers, high but distinctive volumes grades and substrates and others
How are your products better against the competition?
AR: With Domino N610i, one can run seven-colour upwards of 160 feet a minute, and with white. And if you're not running white but a white substrate, you can run up a speed of up to around about 245 feet a minute. That's a big difference, a completely different business model.
How have you managed to carve out your own market against your competitors? 
DE: There are 80 Domino presses in the US, and many of those customers have HP presses. So, why did they buy Domino presses, is the question?
If the label manufacturers have to run their jobs on a flexo press that takes long makeready time than it makes the process viable. And these are jobs that are too big to run on an HP because of the speed. You can't get the capacity through. The Domino N610i fits in between both of those technologies. There are jobs you can take off the flexo press, and put it on the N610i because of the speed and the capacity. As for someone who wouldn't be able to finish it on their HP press, can be produced on our press. So it fits very nicely and gives a different business model.
Can Domino presses handle label printing with decoration, foiling and prints with metallic or low migration inks?
AR: Our machines can print on metallic substrates and things. I think we can print on a wider range of substrates without priming. This is not a luxury with some of our competitors.
What are your product options for the Indian market? 
DE: If you want to do embellishment, then you've got two options. The first option is to use this digital asset and print roll-to-roll and then take it offline and embellish on the finishing line. Or you can have a hybrid press, like an embellishment inline.
AR: We also offer a standalone digital press, N610i as well as the hybrid press, MPS EF SYMJET flexo press, a 17-inch press, built with the standard MPS EF platform and an integrated Domino digital N610i inkjet printer. But it’s not for Domino, to tell the customer what they should buy. Some people do that because they only have one choice, we have three choices.
How do you see move of labellers towards flexible packaging? What are your observations over issueslike migration?
DE: Inkjet technology is not the ultimate solution for everything. So if you look at electrophotography, they have an advantage over using the jet, which has migration issues. 
AR: In the recently concluded Label Expo 2019, we demonstrated Nestle compliant ink, which means if you have a specific substrate, and you use specific ink, you don't have migration issues. So that's how UV inkjet is moving closer to flexible packaging.
Tell us about your digital presses performance recently.
AR: The width is not a problem. We already have wider presses.We have just not brought them to certain marketplaces, but we have sold probably 20-25 wider presses worldwide.
How would you compare adding value to the product vs adding value to your business?
DE: I am a big believer of adding value, and it is doable. If a labeller has a conventional press and is doing the same job as his competitor, it's a race to the bottom. So my pitch to our customers is to have a different press from the competitor, and ensure you can sell isolated product types and deliverables. We can reduce our customer's inventory cost. We can deliver value which he can sell value to his customer and get a better price. One can sell personalisation, consistency of colour, and speed to market. These are different things. The value to the pocket can come from savings on plate cost and minimal makeready times.
How will your press meet requirements of labelling industry for better uptime?
AR: If you are not running a press for 95 per cent of the time, then it's not a happy situation. When a customer opens up our machine, he asks what am I paying for, there's a lot of air inside. The most important part is the printheads. So I would say, the more manual intervention you have in the printhead, the worse it is. All our competitors have manual cleaning, which takes about 30 minutes. We have an automatic feature that cleans the heads every morning at the press of a button. Nobody has to do it with rags. Just add to the capacity against other inkjet users in that area. The more times you manually clean these heads, the more issues you have. Therefore, we have much 
more uptime. And that's why people buy Domino instead of the rest of the inkjet.
How do you plan to penetrate in the Indian market?
AR: In the United States, digital UV inkjet was not accepted five years ago, now it is the norm. Digital UV Inkjet is a new concept in the market. We have entered into digital printing in India about 18 months ago. By providing the steps that we are taking, we are committed to this market. We have built a team which will support the customers. Even without a local business, we had customers like Manipal and Pragati running our monochrome system, which runs at higher speeds.
What does Domino do for new entrants in the industry?
DE: Domino has a programme titled as Digital Solutions. It is a comprehensive programme that helps the customer understand the technology. We train their sales force and help them understand the difference in selling labels produced on flexo and labels produced digitally. Our colour management training programme aimed at operators imparts training to get the consistency of the product all the time. Thus, our program covers all the aspects. We don't want to sell one press instead we want to sell 20. I would say soon.
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