- Now entering its fourth-generation of family ownership at its 125,000 sq ft facility in Sinking Spring, PA, the firm is aiming to grow its packaging volume exponentially
- One of the most fully-loaded automated custom mid-size Rapida presses in the world
- Hiring “print technologists” who are experts using various press technology as tools to help them be productive
At its 125,000 sq ft facility in Sinking Spring, PA, Grafika Print is led by its visionary third generation leader, Bernie Elzer III, president and CEO, who considers each equipment purchase with an eye toward effectively competing at the highest level within the volume industrialized print market. To that end, this award-winning provider of innovative consumer paperboard packaging and labelling recently added a new Koenig & Bauer Rapida 106 X, one of the most advanced presses in the country.
“My vision is to optimize our facility using automation, robotics, and digitalization,” says Elzer. “My aim is to grow our packaging volume exponentially by correctly choosing the right equipment without increasing our current employee count of 125. The addition of the new Rapida press is a cornerstone of that vision.”
His decision-making process took shape as an in-depth conversation with Koenig & Bauer of just not putting an asset on the pressroom floor but partnering with them to achieve all of the intended technologies built into its equipment to provide a competitive advantage in the marketplace and to Elzer’s customers. “My relationship with Koenig & Bauer is extremely analytical,” he says. “They intensely listen and structure an equipment purchase on the individual needs of their customers. I enjoyed working with their engineers and developers to exploit the true capabilities of the press. In the end, I have a uniquely fashioned press with software, such as PDF Check that inspects each sheet as it is being printed for defects and identifies those defects. My customers demand a zero-defect product. This is a tool that we didn’t have before and now it helps us serve our customer’s request.”
Likewise, Elzer sought out futuristic technology for his Rapida 106 X such as Instrument Flight Color Control, an advanced color control technology that processes color readings from color measurement devices and issues automated color adjustments back to the printing machine. It features an AI-powered autopilot for color and consistency in print production. Not only does it measure densities and spectral data but it is able to collect all of this data and control the “dot”, such as G7 gray balance and expanded gamut. It also provides closed loop feedback on how well the process is achieving this task and allows the user to consistently monitor its print production and maintain optimum printing conditions.
“This is very important to me, as our industry evolves and as craftsmen retire, to purchase equipment using AI to make human-like interpretation of the printed result,” says Elzer. “It’s been a challenge to find traditional operators. Here at Grafika, we’re seeking out ‘print technologists of the future’, younger professionals who are comfortable using various press technology as tools to help them be productive and maintain the quality required by customers.”
To ramp up production and increase capacity, the new Rapida 106 X is equipped with the Koenig & Bauer DriveTronic simultaneous roller wash (SRW) system, which washes up PMS colors while the press is in operation. This, says Elzer, will save so much time and increase their capacity.
Until its recent purchase of a Koenig & Bauer press, Grafika had operated presses from a different press manufacturer. “As a volume industrialized printer for the food market, you have to consider a large format press as part of your future,” says Elzer. “Everyone knows that Koenig & Bauer is the worldwide market leader of large format presses. It makes perfect sense to buy a mid-size press from them as we look toward purchasing a large format from the same manufacturer.”
Elzer reports that the support he and his company have received from Koenig & Bauer has been unprecedented. “Measurement is crucial to understanding performance and evaluating an investment,” he says. “Both of our companies see major opportunities that we can explore with this press. Currently, we’ve received concrete data from Koenig & Bauer measuring our production levels. It is off the charts. We are producing at levels that we’ve never produced before. Both of our firms share the same passion and vision for excellence.”