Established in the early 1990s, SOMA manufactures a comprehensive range of machines including CI flexo presses, slitter rewinders, laminators, plate mounters and die cutters. It was the inspiration and driving force of local entrepreneur Ladislav Verner that laid the foundations for the company, which manufactures and assembles all of its products in-house enabling it to oversee all aspects of production and quality control.
The company, which is still under family ownership with son Jan and daughter Pavla also working in a business, now employs 250 people and has sold machines to 60 different countries from its facility in Lanskroun, Czech Republic via its sales representative and distributor network. SOMA is committed to developing new products with added value and to providing long-term service and maintenance to ensure the longevity of its products.
SOMA has always prided itself on innovation. With success an inherent part of the company’s DNA, Ladislav Verner knows how to win: “Our customers and their profit is the basis of everything we produce. If you don’t buy a better machine than your competitor, you cannot win – so too for us, we know we must be better to succeed, especially in today’s competitive environment.”
His policies have clearly paid off on the international market, with the company now represented worldwide with a range of technology that includes laminators, slitter rewinders and plate mounters, in addition to its best-known flexo presses. Based on this global success the company moved into new headquarters in Lanskroun in 2005 that offered administration and production facilities, and in 2012 opened SOMA Globe. This modern and highly functional technology and training centre hosts seminars and conferences and allows customers to bring their own work for print trials on the machines in the well-equipped showroom.
But it was the launch of the first generation of Optima presses in 2013 that encouraged SOMA to take a closer look at what the latest surface treatment technology could offer, and contact was made with the Danish pioneers of Corona, Vetaphone. There is an obvious synergy between the two companies – both are still family owned (and coincidentally founded by a ‘Verner’), and both are renowned for the pioneering work they undertake in their respective product fields. Speaking for SOMA, Head of Purchasing, Peter Kusy said: “The launch of our new Optima presses presented a good opportunity to look around at what the market had to offer. Straightaway we realised that Vetaphone was the company to work with. Both companies commit heavily to R&D to make sure they stay ahead of the competition, and we now promote Vetaphone as one of our preferred suppliers on our Optima press, which has enjoyed more than 100 sales worldwide since its launch.”
What especially impressed Kusy was the rapid response of Vetaphone to new ideas and requests. He praised the modular design concept of its surface treatment systems and said that his own design engineers have great confidence and trust in the working partnership with their opposite numbers in Denmark. “What we are looking to do going forward is design and build-in a greater degree of integration between our technology and Vetaphone’s that will have a significant impact on the success and profitability of our customers. You can do this only if you trust each other and commit to an open relationship,” he added. Both parties know that converters today are looking to optimise their production processes for maximum profit and are demanding more in the way of performance guarantees from their suppliers. “To be successful you need to have complete trust in your own technology and that of your co-suppliers,” he said.
The latest Optima range of CI flexo presses is aimed squarely at the short run market and offers a high degree of investment flexibility. Available in four web widths from 620 to 1450mm and in 8 or 10 colours depending on the model, the Optima presses use sleeve technology to print solvent, water-based, or UV/LED cured inks on a variety of substrates including LDPE, HDPE/PP, CPP, BOPP, PET and OPA, as well as paper and laminate, at speeds up to 600m/min (model dependent).
Designed to be user-friendly and heavily engineered for durability in arduous working environments, the Optima presses come with a number of unique features that improve customers’ productivity. Examples of these include zero set-up waste using the ARUN system for register and impression settings, advanced bounce control to improve overall print quality, online press supervision, reduced ink consumption using a cartridge system, and the flexibility to add technology upstream or downstream after installation.
It was this desire to be different and offer something extra that attracted Vetaphone CEO Frank Eisby, who commented: “We are very proud of our own heritage in surface treatment and our ongoing quest for refinement and improvement that benefits our customers. We see in SOMA the same business philosophy and burning ambition to be better than the rest. We are delighted and proud to be their preferred supplier of surface treatment systems, and look forward to developing our working partnership with them to achieve an even greater integration of technology.”