Much has been said about the unprecedented changes to the market experienced in 2021. Supply chains have struggled to cope with the challenges and pressures presented by the pandemic, while manufacturers at all levels had to work harder to ensure that their customers could deliver in a business climate never seen before. As 2022 approaches, there is no doubt that conditions will remain difficult with the cost of raw materials, energy and transportation set to rise further.
XSYS continues to focus on maintaining a consistently high level of product quality and service to customers during these challenging times. Under the ‘Be Brilliant’ tagline, the company supports converters to achieve the best possible result as a partner throughout the value chain, with great solutions in plate and platemaking technology, complemented by a full range of sleeves and adapters.
Reflecting on the past year and looking ahead to the next, Friedrich von Rechteren, commercial vice-president of XSYS, commented: “As we exit another challenging year, we enter 2022 with some apprehension but also with hope on the horizon. In the short term, we will all need to manage raw material shortages, soaring energy costs and supply chain issues that will invariably cause more price increases across the board, affecting the entire value chain and the end consumers alike.”
He added: “The mid-to longer term always carries some uncertainty, but we know that the packaging industry will endure and grow further. For XSYS, the mission is, as always, to enable converters to succeed in a highly competitive market even as we face a very unpredictable future. They can rely on our dedication to bring brilliance to our customers and to our industry.”
Customers are challenged on margins, efficient manufacturing and on delivering sustainability improvements, as shorter run lengths and demands for quicker turnaround call for increasing OEE and faster ROI than ever before. They need to manage increasing complexities in the process, including multiple SKUs, brand colour consistency across many different packaging types, and printing on a vast array of substrates, while remaining competitive against digital printing technology and reducing the impact on the environment.
The corrugated market has seen significant growth – a trend that is set to continue in 2022 as brands seek to further improve the consumer experience on shelf and in the home.
The customers are utilising the strengths of nyloflex plates developed specifically for this market, such as the FTC, FTL, FAC and FSC, which enable them to reduce costs and improve sustainability by printing on liners with a higher content of recycled fibers, while optimising print quality to produce brilliant colours, straighter lines and better reverses, and delivering superior fluting reduction.
The flexible packaging segment is also thriving, due to the growing need for consumer convenience. At the same time, it is extremely challenging for converters to deliver on brand owners’ requirements for high quality, lower costs and better sustainability, and also meet increasingly stringent legislation aimed at reducing plastic usage. XSYS is set to introduce an important addition to the already broad portfolio; another plate that has been fully optimised for LED exposure.
Building a future
In 2022 and beyond, higher levels of automation, full optimisation of all processes and sustainability will be key to growth for converters, who need to eliminate human errors, produce right-first-time labels and packaging, and reduce waste to satisfy the demands from brand owners.
Following the launch in 2020 of the ThermoFlexX Catena platemaking equipment, the market saw an acceleration of installations in 2021, as more and more customers chose to implement the highly automated Catena solutions for delivering best-in-class printing plates at competitive cost and with low waste.
Combined with a highly productive imager from the ThermoFlexX range, the Catena modules can be connected to form a fully automated plate processing line, the Catena+, which opens the door to the future of flexo plate production. In addition, Woodpecker surface screening technology is also helping printers to print faster and reduce costs in a more sustainable way.
“The combination of ThermoFlexX and Woodpecker technologies has had a great impact on our flexo plate production, and the quality is second to none,” said Ezequiel Fernandez, founder and owner of São Paulo-based Cliart, in Brazil. “We take our environmental responsibility very seriously, and it is important that we can demonstrate to our customers that the technology we invest in is the best-in-class, not just for quality and costs, but also less wasteful in production.”
These sentiments were echoed by Gavin Lowes, global manufacturing manager at Reproflex3 in the UK, who summed up the prepress specialist’s experience with ThermoFlexX technology, saying: “It continues to be a cornerstone for much of our own innovation and will be for years to come.”