"Our successful mantra has always been to innovate,” says Jim Hammer, president and CEO of Hammer Packaging, headquartered in Rochester, NY. “We lead the industry, not follow. In the past five years, we’ve doubled our sales growth and we’re anticipating that we’ll grow in double-digit figures during the next five years.”
To continue this growth, Hammer installed a new 8-color 64" KBA Rapida 162 sheetfed with coater and additional key accessories, such as a roll-to-sheet feeder, KBA Densitronic Professional color control system, and lightweight paper package. Hammer is the only packaging printer in North America with this press configuration.
“We chose to partner with KBA (Booth 1255) because they are well attuned to the market and our relationship has been very good since we purchased our first large-format press from them in 2005,” says Hammer. “Our new KBA Rapida 162 will be assigned to produce cut and stack labels for our high-end national accounts and we anticipate it will be running three shifts right away.”
Its pulse on the packaging market amid leading international consumer brands as its customers, Hammer specifically targeted certain KBA features as part of the press system. The Rapida had to have eight color units, come equipped with a lightweight paper package, and feature the KBA Densitronic Professional color control system.
“Most of our competitors predominantly have 6-color presses,” explains Hammer, “and we’ve found that our customers will design their labels utilizing all eight colors. This differentiates us from our competitors. The lightweight paper package is especially important in our market because we’re seeing an increase in the use of lighter weight label stock and our press is equipped to handle it. Furthermore, we specified the spectrophotometer color control system because it allows us to easily repeat customer jobs.
Extended delivery a must
Over the past eight years, Hammer’s customers, such as Pepsico and The Coca-Cola Company, have turned to cut and stack labels printed on film. Unlike paper labels, film can be clear, giving designers the additional capability to reverse print as well as surface print. Hammer specified that the new KBA press needed to have a 12-foot extended delivery in order to dry the film substrates run on the press. “We print a fair amount of oriented polypropylene,” says Hammer, “and we need the extended delivery to cure the job at full speed.”
Another trend that supports offset printing is interactive graphics. According to Hammer, “We’re seeing more extensive target marketing focusing on different areas of locale, different groups of people, and different types of activities.” This form of micro-marketing requires a greater variation of graphics on each package, as well as changing label designs from job to job. “Consequently, we’re running shorter run lengths of labels. The key is to be flexible for the customer and be able to deliver exactly what they need in a just-in-time environment.”
Having highly automated machinery and features are key components at Hammer Packaging. This automation allows Hammer’s team to focus on quality and productivity. The 162 Rapida’s fully-automated inking system measures the exact ink amount in each unit and captures every cost involved, to the penny.
Hammer replaces its equipment every seven years, believing that technology changes enough to warrant new models. When it installed the new KBA press in early 2010, it decommissioned an 8-color press from another manufacturer to make room. Hammer will continue to use its 7-color, 64" KBA Rapida 162 press purchased in 2005 with a Grafech Engineering sheeter. This was the first installation of a sheeter for a press of this size.