Moniko today – with the latest Edale FL5 fitted with Martin Automatic MBS unwind/splicer

© Martin Automatic

Martin Automatic – Ramping up production in Macedonia

Macedonia’s leading label converter, Moniko, has fitted a Martin Automatic MBS non-stop unwind/splicer to its newly installed Edale FL5 flexo press to improve productivity and reduce waste. The company, which is based in the country’s capital city Skopje, was established in 1991 by the current CEO Vladimir Kjurchiev, who has been buying and selling labels since he was at school. Nick Coombes reports from Skopje.

Today, Moniko employs 33 people and has a sales turnover of €6.5m but it was all so very different at the beginning with a second-hand Lonsdale (now Edale) stack press. Like so many of the eastern European countries that emerged from communist domination after the USSR broke up, the then Yugoslavia split into six independent nations each with its own clutch of entrepreneurs looking to exploit the new-found business opportunities.

Macedonia, or to be more correct, The Republic of North Macedonia (there is no South) was no exception. In Vladimir Kjurchiev, it had a well-educated and qualified engineer capable of embracing the narrow web technology that was in use at the time. “I started buying and selling labels as a teenager.  While I was still at school, my parents bought me a 386 computer with a Corel Draw graphics package, rare back in 1993, and I was hooked,” he explains.

Casino ticket production

In 2012 Moniko was approached by a casino to supply tickets on lightweight cartonboard. The tickets are used to record the funds of each gambler as he or she moves around the casino, without the need to carry cash. “It’s a high-volume low-margin business so you have to specialise to make it work. We started small with a local casino but as our reputation grew, we quickly established an international business and today our casino tickets are in use all over the world,” he says.

In 2019, Moniko moved all its ticket production into a new purpose-built 3,000m² factory, at that time being produced on the Gallus EM280 presses. But Mr Kjurchiev knew that to maximise potential in this market sector he needed to invest in new technology. The result was the installation of an Edale FL5 six-colour flexo press that would allow him to develop a new range of products that had previously been beyond its capability, and consequently tap into large new export markets.

In addition to requiring a new press to fully develop his company’s potential, Mr Kjurchiev knew that automated roll changing would be a key element, and was in contact with Bernd Schopferer, European Sales Manager for Martin Automatic regarding improving the performance of his Gallus presses. The first real opportunity to put this into practice came with the installation of the new Edale, which is fitted with a Martin MBS unwind/splice unit to allow continuous operation.

Material savings

Capable of matching the Edale’s top production speed of 200m/min, the Martin can handle rolls at web widths up to 660mm, 1270mm in diameter, and 590kg in weight. According to Mr Kjurchiev, using the Martin saves around 60m of material per roll change and by allowing the press to run continuously there is no drop in quality as it slows to a halt and then ramps up again when changing the rolls manually – so, more saleable product per shift. In fact, production at Moniko will double with the Edale/Martin combination and grow sales beyond €10m by 2026.

The MBS unwind/splicer is fitted with Martin’s ‘Enhanced Operator Productivity Package’. Mr Schopferer says: “It includes a festoon dancer brake system that holds the roller carriage in position, even if air and power are cut off unintentionally. The system also guides the operator through the splice preparation and monitors the status of the components required for safe operation. It has a laser assist system for the second-side tape roller, which makes precise positioning of the tape on the second side easy and helps straighten the new web into the splice unit. It’s a really useful added-value package.”

Caption: Moniko today – with the latest Edale FL5 fitted with Martin Automatic MBS unwind/splicer

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