MPS Ussel, France.
The Multi Packaging Solutions Group founded in 2005 is an established name in the packaging industry. With 9,200 employees and 59 plants worldwide, the company boasts a diverse range of competencies in the fields of healthcare, branded products (spirits, confectionery, and cosmetics), and multimedia.
Multi Packaging Solutions generates 42% of its sales in the pharmaceutical and healthcare segment at around twenty sites in Europe, including two in Ussel and La Couronne in France which specialize in the production of cardboard boxes.
In 2014, Arnaud Laborde, Head of the Cardboard Division France, decided to give a new dynamism to the Ussel site in the French department of Corrèze. What followed was a long-drawn project which, after two years and a very in-depth technical study, culminated in the installation of a new Heidelberg Speedmaster XL 106 -6+LX2 (elevated version) that replaced two older rival presses.
Productivity and reliability
“The pharmaceutical and healthcare industry is a highly competitive market with tight margins. The only way to make savings that will allow us to maintain, and indeed expand, our market position on acceptable terms is with process optimizations and impeccable production control. This was our focus in this project to replace our machinery; a project in which Mr. Vialloux, the head of our printing and die-cutting department, was heavily involved,” explains Arnaud Laborde. Comprehensive comparisons and tests clearly demonstrated the strengths of the Speedmaster presses, which are known for their ruggedness and reliability. The chosen configuration includes 6 printing units + coating unit, an extended delivery, the Preset Plus Non-Stop feeder and delivery as well as different components for folding carton production like suction brush and special sheet supports. CleanStar Compact, CoatingStar Compact, DryStar, and AirStar were additionally chosen as peripherals. These are based on the Heidelberg-specific CAN bus technology, by means of which the control cabinets are integrated into the Prinect Press Center control station.
“The production ramp-up after the installation in March 2016 went much faster than expected. Press capacity was already at 90% by May, and production was at full capacity from mid-June. This enabled us to implement a weekend shift much more quickly. The impressive performance of the new press and the increase in productivity achieved were clear to all. Production is currently running at 15,000 sheets per hour, increasing to 17,000 sheets per hour for some runs, with much shorter makeready times. With our product range we are subject to the special requirements of the pharmaceutical market, in which the GMP guidelines apply. These stipulate the use of qualified equipment and compliance with the specifications book for the industry. These criteria were complied with in full during the tests with the XL since the press meets the required standards reliably and reproducibly, with no deviations. This point was crucial for us, particularly because we do countless reprints over the course of a year and they have to meet extremely stringent requirements in terms of the colors.“
True spectral analysis as the answer
to stringent requirements
One component in the MPS specifications was essential: the Prinect Inpress Control 2 inline system for real-time color measurement and control for the L*a*b* color space as well as the automatic register control. The spectrophotometric inline measurement capability of the Inpress Control offered MPS the ideal solution for meeting the high demands of a key account unwilling to tolerate any color deviations: indisputably high color stability. “The spectral data collected are reliable, scientific measured values. This extremely accurate measurement was hugely important for this particular market; the precision and stability of Inpress Control make it a one-of-a-kind tool in this respect. It is the perfect fit with the qualitative approach of our customers, who are gradually turning away from Pantone colors and switching to four-color printing,” explains Arnaud Laborde.
With three-shift operation, six days a week, the production counter on the new press was at 19 million sheets at the end of December, which is equivalent to around 2.5 million sheets a month during the first eight months of operation. This is a remarkable achievement with 20 job changes per day on average, a reduction of around 35% in paper waste, and a 20% reduction in makeready times, despite the complexity of certain tasks. What is more, the company was also able to lower its rejection rate, which resulted in savings of around EUR 100,000 per year. “These improvements are down to the outstanding performance level of the press as well as the fast commissioning, which is chiefly due to the automatic functions of the Inpress Control 2. With delivery deadlines getting tighter and tighter there is demand for short response times and constant availability, so the efficiency of Heidelberg’s technical support plays a key role. The high responsiveness and rapid availability of the technicians give us certainty and the confidence we need to be able to do our day-to-day work in a relaxed way.
Always up to date, worldwide
“We were able to take advantage of the empirically established figures within the Multi Packaging Solutions Group for our project. Several European sites are equipped with Speedmaster presses, and the feedback is very positive. The partnership with Heidelberg means that the Group is always at the cutting edge when it comes to innovation and performance thanks to the technologically sophisticated presses, which are perfectly tailored to our needs regardless of the respective business area. For example, a Speedmaster XL 75 Anicolor UV with 8 units has just been installed at the Ghent site,” explains Arnaud Laborde. The Multi Packaging Solutions branch in Obersulm in Germany is the first company to purchase the new Primefire 106 digital press, and is serving as a test site for the industrial packaging sector.
„The only way to make savings that will allow us to maintain, and indeed expand, our market position on acceptable terms is with process optimizations and impeccable production control. “