While we were celebrating our 70th anniversary last year, MPS was enjoying its 25th. The events were significant milestones for the two companies and provided an opportunity to renew the commitment to cooperation that has brought commercial success for both.
When MPS was established by Eric Hoendervangers and Bert van den Brink in 1996, they set out with one principal aim in mind – to bring offset quality to narrow web flexo. Key to their strategy was designing and manufacturing a press with servo drive that would combine faster running speeds with smooth operation and high-quality print. Their patented Crisp.Dot technology, which featured a non-driven impression roller to provide perfectly round dots was, they believed, the key to quality in the flexo process.
A quarter of a century later, the company, which is owned by a private equity party is managed by Atze Bosma (CEO) and Michiel Borst (CFO) and has become renowned for the robustness of its technology and its ability to deliver top quality work by engaging with the people who run the presses. “We knew that technology alone was not the answer – we had to design a machine that was easy to understand and operate, while capable of producing the very best quality work – it was a challenge, but by combining operator skills with automation, we have created a range of presses that are reliable and profitable for their users,” commented van den Brink, who is now in an advisory and ambassadorial role for the company.
In more recent times, MPS has aligned its focus more to connectivity and performance, and the services around the press. By looking beyond the technology to all that goes into successful and profitable production, the company has become a solution provider for some of the more complex narrow web work being produced. Today, MPS is fully engaged with the label and flexible packaging sectors on a worldwide basis, with installations that are as varied as they are numerous. “We believe that offering the total package of technology, service and support, and essentially unbiased advice and knowledge is what sets us apart and allows our customers to grow their businesses,” he added.
This has never been truer than in today’s competitive and changing market, where run lengths are shortening, skilled operators are hard to find, and digital print technology is having an impact on traditional flexo processes. “There is growing pressure on connectivity and performance improvement, and all manufacturers need to keep up to date with what new technology can offer,” he said.
One significant change in the package printing market over the years has been the growth in demand for filmic labels and the production of flexible packaging on inline presses – both areas that have been part of MPS’ business from the beginning. Knowing from the outset that the company needed surface treatment for all its presses, MPS turned to corona pioneers Vetaphone for assistance.
“We wanted to come up with a fully integrated solution for corona treatment on our presses and needed a manufacturer that would design and develop a system for the high end of the market. It needed to be capable of running label stock and flexible packaging films with equal ease in a combination of UV-flexo and UV-screen. We knew Vetaphone was the market leader in surface treatment technology so worked closely with them to create a system that could be integrated across our range of presses,” said van den Brink. The proof of the viability of this approach is that one of MPS’ early presses fitted with an integrated Vetaphone corona system is still in commercial production in Canada 25 years after it was installed.
Functionality and ease of operation are themes that resonate with Vetaphone’s CEO Frank Eisby. “Surface treatment might be an ancillary process, but it is vital to the successful production of high-quality printed packaging with non-absorbent substrates. MPS knew this from the start, so it was a rewarding experience for us to be involved with a manufacturer that not only appreciated what Vetaphone does but was also keen to integrate our technology with theirs to ensure maximum operational efficiency – I’d say that was an example of great synergy!”
As production processes become ever more challenging, with demand for added-value on shorter runs showing no signs of decreasing – and with the environmental lobby pressing for the use of ‘greener’ substrates with all that this entails in terms of complex chemistry, close cooperation of the type exhibited by MPS and Vetaphone is the only way forward. If data-based connectivity is the key to optimising the production process, the R&D teams from both companies look set to see more of each other in the years to come!