Excellent printing quality, fast changeover and a high degree of automation with the MPS EF 520 flexo press enable Milkpack to address any market challenge
At Milkpack, its eight-colour MPS EF 520 narrow web flexo press for sealing lids has reached its design capacity. This was the second MPS flexo press installed in the company. The first, a model EF 430, was purchased in 2017. It is the only one in Russia that operates in a GMP certified clean room for manufacturing primary pharmaceutical packaging. The project was implemented within the framework of a five-year program with a goal of renovation and modernization of 80% of the company's equipment fleet.
Milkpack has been present in the market for 16 years and is a leader in production of sealing lids and sealing roll foil. It is a European model enterprise, with a large number of structural divisions and corporate traditions, the approved supplier to transnational companies such as Campina, Ehrmann, Danone, Valio, and Pepsico. "The strategy of our company is discovering new types of packaging materials and new products appearing in Europe and implementing them in Russia. We are very proud of our 2017 innovation: our specialists succeeded in developing the technology of making a smooth sealing lid with a thermal varnish application on it. No one else makes similar lids in Russia," says Sergey Kochetov, Commercial Director at Milkpack. The next stage of development is using thermal varnish to print company's logo onto the backside of the lid. Thus, the company will start offering to its customers some additional branding that converts packaging into the premium category. Their ability to deliver this unique service is enabled by the excellent printing quality provided by the MPS EF 520 flexo press.
Pavel Pronin, Deputy Director General for Production (L) and Sergey Kochetov, Commerical Director (R)
"Based on our positive experience with the operation of the MPS EF 430 press and our good relationship with the supplier, we didn’t hesitate to choose this new narrow web flexo press for printing sealing lids. We absolutely knew the MPS EF 520 was the right choice – the top line from the Dutch manufacturer, famous for marvellous printing quality," recalls Pavel Pronin, Deputy Director General for Production. However, before making a final decision, the company's management thoroughly tested the equipment. "Modern flexographic machines are catching up with offset in quality," Pronin explains. "That's why we needed a machine that is able to cope with the complex design required by our customers – to reproduce fine details and smooth colour transitions at high speeds. The MPS EF 520 satisfied us completely."
However, quality was not the only criterion of choice. The company also needed high productivity and waste minimization, since printing is done on an expensive aluminium foil. Among other things, the printing width of 510 mm was really important – it’s non-standard for narrow web flexo presses. "Before installation of this press in our sealing lid production operation, we didn’t have such a modern high-speed press,” Pronin says. “The high speed and enhanced printing width that this press delivers, gave us a significant output increase as early as at first runs."
Taking into account Milkpack’s needs, the manufacturer has installed the corona web treatment equipment for foil on the machine, as well as special shafts enabling correction of foil edge irregularities at the machine input area and a foil dust cleaner. The press is also fitted with high capacity UV curing and a unique system of GEW nitrogen dryers that facilitate operation at very high speeds, all while maintaining the high quality of the printed product.
Compliance with market requirements
The combination of high speed and printing quality in MPS presses is ensured through the use of materials and components identical to those used in the space industry and in medicine. Despite the technical complexity of the equipment, it is easy-to-use. Operators note the convenient location of a touch control panel on each unit and a higher degree of automation compared to other printing equipment in the plant.
According to Pronin, the innovation and increase in efficiency that this new press has brought into the plant has been positively received by press operators and others in the company. "Our press operators consider the move to operating this new press as a recognition of their skills and as an improvement in working conditions. This modern press also allows us to look more modern and attractive in customers’ eyes," he says.
"The bulk of our order portfolio is made up of dairy lids," he continues. “To engage buyers, manufacturers are expanding the range of products they offer. It means that we are required to ensure successful printing of small print runs on a larger variety of lids."
The high degree of EF 520 automation facilitates a fast changeover, making small-run production cost-efficient. In addition to the standard integrated software, the EF product line is backed by the APC software package, providing for additional printing automation opportunities. The software automates press settings, providing performance at the highest possible capacity.
Objectives and policies
Milkpack is actively growing. Over the past year, the export share of its products increased from 10% to 25%. While the company primarily works with customers in developing countries, it believes that the high quality of the new flexo press will enable expansion to at least three customers from European countries. "Compared to the new press, the rest of our printing shop equipment seems obsolete," Pronin says. "We intend to constantly upgrade and modernize our production facilities to maintain the high level of quality and performance expected by our customers."
Clean room technology
Built in 2017 in accordance with GMP standards, the MilkPack clean room is unique for Russia. It can be entered only through a gateway system: while one door is open, it is impossible to open the next one. Only authorized staff can access it after changing into dressing gowns, caps and shoe covers. Operators must wash their hands for two minutes with a special soap, and then with a disinfecting agent. Their work wear is washed in a special laundry.
This is the facility for blister foil to be printed and packaged in an environment with reduced microbiological and physical contamination risks. The clean room complies with All Union State standard qualifications in design (DQ), installation (IQ), operation (OQ), and performance (PQ).
"Under the 2020 Program, subsidiaries of some of the largest global pharmaceutical concerns were established in Russia," Pavel Pronin says. "Having inspected our facility and being convinced that we work according to international standards, many of them transferred their orders for blister foil from Europe to us."
MilkPack is a leader in the Russian market for printing sealing lids, and it intends to achieve a similar success in the pharmaceutical sector. A large-scale program of technical modernization of the factory includes construction of a new blister foil printing production facility, which is being fitted with modern equipment.
Read more about MilkPack here.
Anton Zhukov is Area Sales Manager at MPS since 2015 and responsible for CEE and CIS countries.