Customers, suppliers and Smurfit Kappa Group executives recently attended a key event at the packaging major’s Czech operation in Olomouc – the production start of a new large-format KBA Rapida 162a with five printing units plus coater.
The 13,000sph Rapida 162a at the six-year-old plant in Olomouc, one of the country’s traditional printing and packaging centres, replaces another brand of press. Its 1,200 x 1,620mm (47.24 x 63.77in) sheet format is the biggest in the Czech Republic, offering Smurfit Kappa new dimensions in print production. Concentric screening in pre-press substantially enhances quality and stability while cutting ink consumption.
The Rapida 162a incorporates KBA QualiTronic and KBA DensiTronic Professional measuring and control systems – two key features for maintaining quality excellence and stability during packaging production. A camera between the coater and delivery monitors every sheet and uses the data for closed-loop remote adjustment. The press can also deliver high-quality matt/gloss effects inline with drip-off coatings. The visual impact closely approaches UV quality.
The Rapida 162a is run in three shifts, with two operators per shift. Training was provided at KBA’s sheetfed offset plant in Radebeul, and KBA instructors were present during press installation and handover.
Smurfit Kappa Group’s expansion in the Czech Republic
Smurfit Kappa is a global player in paper-based packaging (solid and corrugated board), laminating, folding carton production and other specialities. The group’s European operations embrace 292 plants in 21 countries. Six of these are in the Czech Republic, where a total of 490 employees process 60,000 tonnes (660,000 US tons) of solid board and 170 million square metres (1.8bn square feet) of corrugated per year.
The Olomouc plant was built on a greenfield site and specialises in producing offset-printed and laminated cartons as well as sales displays. The equipment used for designing and producing packaging is the same as at the group’s other plants, allowing production to be globally controlled and shifted easily among the various locations as required.
Smurfit Kappa Group CEO Gary McGann flew over from Ireland especially for the inauguration of the Rapida 162a in Olomouc. Comparing the two countries’ economies he said: “There are many links between Ireland and the Czech Republic, and Ireland being a small nation dependent on trade, has always sought to strengthen these links. The Olomouc plant is involved in specialty operations … and supplies not only the Czech market but also Austria, Poland and Hungary. The initial challenge is to grow by 30 per cent in volume. I have total confidence that this young Olomouc team will achieve its goals. We invest behind people not plants. We support our best management teams and workforces.”
Georg-Dieter Fischer, Smurfit Kappa Group CEO Corrugated Central Europe, said: “The seed of this big investment was sown in 2008 [with] the transfer of an older second-hand printing machine. The former management team swiftly seized this opportunity for SK Olomouc and decided to build up an own printing department. A fast and successful learning curve of the printer team, coupled with very good growth, led to the decision to invest in a new printing machine at the end of last year. Thanks to our printer supplier, KBA, for accurate and reliable planning, installation and successful start-up. I expect a high service level and support in our long-term collaboration.”
The new Rapida 162a has boosted capacity at Smurfit Kappa in Olomouc and enhanced the group’s flexibility in central and eastern Europe. In the words of Petr Kubenka, director of Smurfit Kappa in Olomouc, “the press is our obligation to the future. Management has already launched new projects which will be implemented in stages.”