Flexograd: From Sausage Casing to Laminated Labels

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Smolensk printing house Flexograd is one of the main label producers in the region, encompassing practically every kind of label products. Today, they are a dynamically growing company, offering full-cycle solutions including a workshop and design studio fully equipped with modern narrow web flexo machinery. Flexograd’s customer base ranges from local meat-packaging plants to companies specializing in food, chemical, and cosmetic production. Despite the diverse nature of Flexograd clientele, they all share the need for high-quality labels and packaging.

Dmitry Mikhailovich Nozikov, Director of Flexograd recalls: “We began almost 10 years ago in 2006, with a small team of enthusiastic employees coming from the polygraphic industry. We started printing on sausage casings for a local meat-packing plant on our first flexo machine, a central impression Focus Centraflex. Today we proudly employ 35 people. While they are skilled printers, their knowledge and experience were solely offset-based due to their previous work experience at publishing houses. We had to retrain them to work with flexographic equipment.

Today, our fleet of equipment consists of three narrow-web Mark Andy UV flexographic presses, coupled with Mark Andy finishing equipment. We continue to outsource our plate-making as we do not currently see it practical to invest in a new, complex process and equipment.

Our main production consists of pressure-sensitive labels, in-mold labeling and dry labels, with our primary customer base consisting of manufacturers of food and household products. We have established long-term relationships with our clients, and we highly value our partnerships with them. We are appreciative of their business, and strive to provide an exceptional level of services to continually meet their needs.”

Since the majority of Flexograd printing presses were supplied by a single manufacturer – USA-based Mark Andy, we asked Mr. D. Nozikov to comment on this choice. 

“Early on, we needed to quickly acquire a new flexographic machine, and the model LP3000 was available by the manufacturer. After reviewing several offers from different manufacturers, we selected the Mark Andy machine. Thus, the LP3000 became the second flexographic printing machine we acquired, but our first UV flexo press. The LP3000 has been a very good machine giving us no issues, therefore Mark Andy became our brand of choice for our operation. When the Performance Series P5 was brought to our attention in 2011, we decided to be one of the first in the country to invest in this new class of flexographic machinery. We chose the P5 for its efficiency and low waste cost-saving features, as well as high quality output. The market was dictating a need for shorter runs with more product variety, so the 250mm P5 filled that need quite well. Mark Andy and its P5 were extremely successful in fulfilling our needs and demonstrating the high quality of American-made equipment, which led us to purchase a second P5 in 2013. At this time, we decided to go with a wider width ( 330mm), 8 -color machine. This investment allowed us to diversify our production and print short run, complex print jobs, using servo technology and auto-register. In the future, we see ourselves modernizing our equipment and replacing our LP3000 with another Performance Series machine.

The P5 is a true market leader, with high speed capability, fully satisfying our customer needs in terms of print quality. This press is easy to operate and maintain, and it has a sufficient degree of automation. It is a flexible machine, allowing us to run a wide variety of applications.”

In mold labels are one of the most complex products that not every printing house can produce. You are doing it successfully. What other types of labels are printed on your Mark Andy machinery?

Dmitry Mikhailovich replied “between our LP3000 and P5 we manage well all the various requests and needs of our customers. We work with cold foiling, lamination, printing various types of self-adhesive labels including multilayer, and execute orders that require sheeting. Our machines are well equipped to handle in-mold labels, and as our order numbers are growing, we are thinking about purchasing additional equipment for offline processing.

Today, many face serious productivity losses as a result of economic downturn and unstable financial situations. Is Flexograd influenced by these circumstances? 

“Of course, this economic crisis situation is real and we are affected” states Dmitry Mikhailovich “but we manage, negotiating with our customers to find mutually beneficial solutions. We obtain invaluable advice from our suppliers, and share our experience with our partners. We also are extremely appreciative of the Administration of the Smolensk region for the support and subsidizing the interest rates on our bank loans, and well as offering rebates for the purchase of new capital equipment.

Naturally, we are interested in the further development – Mr. D. Nozikov shares - We constantly think about replacing our aging equipment for the newest models, and hope to do it soon. I will share a secret with you: we are looking towards digital technology.”