Your browser is no longer supported. Please upgrade your browser to improve your experience.

Printing Plate Productivity


We spoke to Marc Talmon Gros at German-based design, prepress services and platemaking agency Köstlin about the impact rising cost pressures are having for them and the approach his business is taking to keep their flexography productive.

Printing platemaking in Germany

Marc Talmon Gros at prepress and platemaking services firm Köstlin in the company's offices.Köstlin works with packaging printers, brands and retailers in Europe, primarily in Germany, Austria and Switzerland. Managing Director Marc Talmon Gros looks after strategic planning for the business through to optimization, customer care and new clients. The food sector is a big focus for the business which is also seeing the private labels of retail chains displacing many brands in its order book.

“One clear trend is orders being made in a centralized way, coming to us for repro/prepress services and platemaking, then we supply print shops with print-ready plates where the print production takes place,” he said.

Rising pressures in flexography

“As the price pressure in our industry is increasing for all parties involved and the costs for energy, raw materials, and more, are rising enormously and continuously, the search for options to improve efficiency is becoming much more important,” says Talmon Gros.

He says a food industry customer had disclosed how energy price increases and fixed contracts with retail chains were threatening the future of that customer’s business:

“This customer is looking for every little opportunity for cost savings. He realized that in some areas he may not need the ‘super luxury’ packaging he has been using, but that a very good standard is sufficient, saving him costs in the double-digit percentage range, which is a type of efficiency saving.”

“We put processes to the test and consider whether and how these processes could be handled more efficiently today.”

Centralizing prepress services, digital data preparation and flexo print platemaking is another way Köstlin customers are finding efficiencies to combat high costs.

Finding productivity

Talmon Gros says that finding customers with similar needs and challenges is a good way of providing a more efficient service to clients. “Our focus is not on achieving growth at any cost,” he adds.

He says the diversity of practices in the flexography industry mean different approaches to boosting productivity are inevitable. “It can be worthwhile questioning familiar processes in all areas of a business, rather than maintaining established practices ‘because that’s the way we’ve always done it’.

“We put processes to the test and consider whether and how these processes could be handled more efficiently today.”

A key efficiency focus is optimizing production planning and execution with “the help of software solutions.”

“We’re using the plates from Miraclon to an increasing extent because they are uncomplicated, work reliably and are valued by printers.”

“Deadlines, different plate types, formats and layouts, urgent rush jobs and the number of orders have to be taken into account to produce the plates on time and with the best plate material utilization,” he says. “Currently, this planning and the necessary decisions are all still done manually. We are actively working on this topic, and we will be implementing this in a software-based way this year.”

Köstlin uses automation to wash, finish and dry solvent-based plates between shifts, using attended operation times more efficiently.

Volume and value in printing plates

“We are interested in customers who demand high quality, low-cost production and fast delivery, but in doing so we want to make the most efficient use of our investments in production,” says Talmon Gros.

With FLEXCEL NX Plates (NXH and Ultra) recently increasing in volumes to 70% at Köstlin, he says the plates are helping the company’s print customers be efficient.

“Our printers tell us that they achieve what the color proof says they need to achieve on press very quickly and get excellent print results. With other plates, it might work too, it’s just that the journey may be longer – both for us and for the printers.”

“We’re using the plates from Miraclon to an increasing extent because they are uncomplicated, work reliably and are valued by printers as an excellent all-round plate, with very high quality, that enables them to reach the target in the shortest possible time.”

Talmon Gros says the business is interested in maximizing the investment it has made in FLEXCEL NX. “We are much more interested in utilizing our production equipment and personnel to the fullest possible extent and producing with as little plate waste as possible,” he explains. “It makes a huge difference for our customers, and our business. That’s what efficiency is all about.”