Digital printing for Folding Cartons has been in the news a lot over the past year; just look at the number of articles placed here as proof. The success seen by HP Indigo with its 30000 carton press and even by Xeikon with its 3500 series press are evidence that the industry is looking to address unmet needs in the supply chain.
Landa Corporation has done its share of news making on that front with the announcement that its first beta installs will be the S10FC folding carton press in the fall of 2014. On Friday morning, Landa announced a strategic relationship with Komori for the manufacture of the transport systems for all of Landa’s sheetfed systems, the first being the S10FC.
After receiving the press release early in the morning, I had an opportunity to speak with Benny to get a bit more information on this topic. I am not rehashing the entire press release but rather, giving a bit more depth on some of important issues Benny and I discussed:
Why the Sheetfed Systems?
Feeding large sheets of carton board or paper through a printing press at upwards of 20,000 sheets per hour is no simple task; Benny described it as “a combination of art and science.” He went on to say that reinventing the wheel made no sense, so partnering with a company who had perfected the process was the way to go. The sheetfed systems that were shown at drupa last year were based on a Komori sheet handling frame. Landa and Komori have worked together for the past five years and arrived at the drupa stage of development together. However, as the company defined its full rollout plan, Landa needed to choose the long-term partner for the sheet handling systems. Landa evaluated all of the major players, and based on selection criteria (outlined in the press release) decided on Komori. “It was a reaffirmation that we chose the right company in the first place,” said Benny. I cannot help but think that the financial stability of Komori versus some of the other prospects came into play as well. In our discussion, Benny used the throughput value of 13,000 sheets per hour for the S10FC, which is what the original (drupa era) specifications listed for CMYK printing. At Print, the number of 6,500 sph was used for the beta release version which will be for extended color gamut printing of CMYK +OVG. This referral to the 13,000 number infers to me that Landa is still looking at that number as a target for the system.
Benny described the relationship between Landa and Komori as one of development and manufacturing. The initial push for both companies will be to get the S10FC and S10C produced and accepted in the marketplace. Landa will handle service with Komori expertise brought in when needed. “Komori produces superb products,” Landa says, and his engineers will be fully trained on the Komori components.
A Consumables Business Model
The S10FC and S10C are just the first two of seven Nanographic presses planned to hit the market and all will be Landa branded presses. However the bigger picture, one that is still very fuzzy, is how will Nanography evolve over the next decade? Harkening back to drupa just 18 months ago, we saw many of the majors including Heidelberg and manroland sheetfed saying they had entered into an agreement with Landa for future use of the Nanographic process on their presses. Landa has clearly stated that his business model is that of selling consumables, in this case Nanographic Ink, the old razor and razorblade model Landa introduced with the Indigo press over a decade and a half ago. The more Nanographic presses in the marketplace the better for Landa regardless of the nameplate on them or the sales channel.
Where does this put Komori?
Looking at that very fuzzy picture again, this deeper and long-term agreement will be a significant advantage for Komori IF the Nanographic process takes off as the Landa folks are banking it will. The other analog press manufacturers will need to fund parallel development tracks (Nanography and Analog) without generating any revenue from the Nano efforts, where Komori will be generating revenue from both efforts and have an inside track with Nanography. Komori has a good packaging and commercial print installed base, a solid sales force and is among the strongest financially of the analog press manufacturers. This alliance seems to be a win-win for both companies and bodes well for the Landa release a year from now.