Label Tec Scotland has installed the first Konica Minolta AccurioLabel 230 press in the UK to increase capacity in its digital department. Running at the company’s Airdrie facility in North Lanarkshire, the AL230 replaces another ‘UK first’ Konica Minolta label machine, the bizhub PRESS C71cf, which has been printing four-color labels for Label Tec’s customers since 2015.
The label printing company has been using Konica Minolta’s technology for many years. In 2004, it brought in the first VP8020 laser colour printer; a sprocket-fed machine which offered 25 impressions per minute. Powered by a Konica Minolta print engine, this was the company’s entry into digital at a time when this technology was still very new in labels.
“We found that as soon as customers heard the word ‘digital’, they got very excited about it, but it was very much in its infancy when we moved into it,” explains managing director Paul Dunne, who is one of Label Tec’s founding partners.
When the first dedicated label press, the bizhub PRESS C71cf, was introduced by Konica some 10 years later, Label Tec was again front of the queue and quick to invest in the new machine. “The C71cf had a stable web path, which was important to us, because up until then that had been a constant problem, taking digitally-printed stock and then re-registering offline on our foiling machines,” says Paul.
“We worked closely with Konica on this project and the press produced very nice work for us over the years,” says Paul, explaining that the cooperation continued from then on, with feedback from Label Tec help shape the development of the AccurioLabel 230. “We are very happy with the AL230, because it has everything we wanted: web guides, higher speed and even the ability to slit. And the toner works incredibly well with our foiling, which has been a nice added bonus, so it was an easy choice to invest.”
The AccurioLabel 230 has been vital in keeping Label Tec’s customers supplied with labels during the COVID-19 crisis, despite a large part of the company’s 20 staff being furloughed while most others are working from home to comply with social distancing. Paul says, “The AL230 is so easy to run, and with no plates to worry about our pre-press guy can work from home and just transfer the print files via Dropbox.
“We are now putting a lot of specialist jobs on the press that we wouldn’t necessarily have printed digitally before, and it is coping well with it all. The print is even resistant to alcohol – I tested some polypropylene by rubbing it with hand sanitiser and it’s bulletproof!”
“As well as the upsurge in demand for durable labels for hand sanitisers, ventilators and diagnostic equipment, we are also seeing new customers coming to us for other reasons related to the crisis. Some are spreading the risk and ordering from several label printers rather than putting all their eggs in one basket, while others are ordering extra stock in so they can hit the ground running when production starts to ramp up again,” adds Paul.
“With supply chains disrupted due to the pandemic, there have been many changes in the market. We are seeing jobs coming back from places like China, as buyers are forced to find more reliable ways of supplying labels,” comments Steve Lakin, Label Press Sales Consultant at Konica Minolta Business Solutions (UK). “With the AccurioLabel 230 well-established in Airdrie, Label Tec Scotland can support all types of customers with high-quality labels, with just minimum staff on site. And with their long history with Konica Minolta, Paul knows this technology better than anyone else and he’s not afraid to push the boundaries.”