When Durban-based VR Print decided to venture into the digital label printing market with the purchase of a SCREEN Truepress Jet L350UV+ and ROTOCON ECOLINE RDF 330 digital printed label converting and finishing system, they got more than what they bargained for. In ROTOCON, they found not only a press supplier, but a reliable service provider and trusted business partner.
Founded in 1997 by brothers Paul (Sales Director) Justin (Production Director) and Managing Director Hilton Janse van Rensburg, VR Print is a wholly-owned South African and family-run business that specialises in self-adhesive labels and flexible packaging.
While VR Print has an extensive label and packaging offering with a range of embellishment options such as high-build varnish, cold foiling, embossing and debossing, the company’s bread and butter lies in the production of multi-page labels for the Agrochem, Pharmaceutical, Animal Health and FMCG industries of South Africa. VR Print’s innovative Attach-A-Leaflet® multi-page label solutions include multiple panel fold out leaflet labels, 3-to-5 page peel & read labels and 4-to-32-page booklet labels.
Hilton and his team are also able to add variable data like QR codes, random and sequential numbering, microtext and integrate RFID and NFC tags. ‘Our Attach-A-Leaflet® multi-page labels have enabled our customers to utilise their on-pack product space to communicate additional information to the consumer and our world-class production facility and state-of-the-art equipment ensure that we are always able to provide our customers with innovative label solutions.’ With a 17-inch, eight colour multi-substrate flexo press, VR Print also does flexible packaging for small to medium runs.
In recent years, the market has seen the popularity of booklet labels explode due to their ability to contain extensive information in the space of a standard label. ‘Stringent legislation and a generation of consumers more mindful of what goes into each product and where it’s sourced from, has accelerated the growth of multi-page and ECL labels,’ comments Hilton. ‘Are the products sustainably sourced? What else does the company do? Do they adhere to ethical and sustainable practices? Attach-A-Leaflet® booklet labels allow manufacturers to include multiple pages of user information in a single label.’
He also believes that VR Print’s mission is to create an environment where the business is self-sustainable and self sufficient regarding their label and packaging requirements. ‘While we do FMCG products, it’s really only a small percentage of our business. The majority of the labels we supply are basically for essential goods and services.’
Hilton and his team have recently taken on another 400m2 of factory floorspace at its premises in Queen Nandi Drive in Durban. ‘It’s all part of our expansion into flexographic printing,’ Hilton remarks. ‘Our objective is to add value, and to look beyond who is buying labels and packaging right now, but rather who will be buying labels and packaging over the next five to 10 years.
A trusted investment
VR Print first ventured into the digital printing market back in 2019 when the company invested in a Screen Truepress Jet L350UV+ and a ECOLINE RDF 330 digital printed label converting and finishing machine, both purchased through ROTOCON.
VR Print’s digital press purchase with ROTOCON came during a time when everyone was still a bit tentative with digital printing. ‘But with ROTOCON, there was immediate trust, and business was done on their word and a handshake. Having established a sound reputation, we were receptive to what ROTOCON was selling. Furthermore, SCREEN has also enjoyed a good reputation locally with their digital to plate (DTP) units. So, in the end, it was a no-brainer for us.’
With a rising demand for short runs, the SCREEN Truepress Jet L350UV+ was a clear choice for Hilton and the VR Print team. The SCREEN is a highly productive press, and hasn’t let us down whatsoever. Hilton also feels that the SCREEN and the ECOLINE RDF 330 are well integrated, and the perfect digital combination. The servo-driven ECOLINE RDF 330 complements the digital press, handling substrate thickness from 40 to 250g/m2 and the UV ink curing system supports printing on any media.
Hilton says ROTOCON’s intricate knowledge, understanding and insights into the South African print and packaging market gives them a competitive edge in the market. ‘ROTOCON understands that not everyone can afford a Rolls Royce or a European press, and not everyone wants to buy a refurbished machine. They clearly saw a gap in the market for a press and finishing machine that’s equally capable and reliable, but with a more cost-effective price tag. We’ve been running the RDF 330 for four years without a hitch. It’s done a phenomenal job for us, and has enabled us to get into the digital label printing market at a fairly low capex,’ he explains.
Four years later and the SCREEN and ECOLINE RDF 330 are still running strong at VR Print’s premises. ‘We’re sitting with a 90% uptime on the press at the moment, which is simply phenomenal.’
Hilton says it’s becoming increasingly difficult for VR Print to justify paying exorbitant prices for the European equivalent, when the ECOLINE range of equipment does exactly the same job. ‘We haven’t noticed any degradation or deterioration in the press at all. It still takes the same amount of time to set up jobs and we’re still running them at the same speeds, and there’s been hardly anything to replace besides the odd wear and tear items.’ He says a structured maintenance contract with ROTOCON has saved the company up to 30% on the company’s repair and maintenance bill.
A ROTOCON relationship
The company’s relationship with ROTOCON started several years ago when they supplied VR Print mainly with tooling. ‘They were just so efficient and reliable, and today they supply all of our rotary and flexible dies, some of it produced locally and some of it from their international partners.’ The last four years have allowed Hilton and his team a sufficient window period to look back and evaluate VR Print’s progress with their digital printing projects. According to him, the project’s been a resounding success. ‘It was a full turn-key operation done by ROTOCON, all the way from the sale to the installation. This validates ROTOCON’s ability as a service provider, not only to VR Print as a whole, but also specifically as a digital printing project and installation liaison,’ states Hilton. ‘They’ve literally held our hand every step of the way.’
What also makes the relationship great, he says, is that ROTOCON has such a strong European connection that gives VR Print access to a wealth of international experience. Hilton is equally impressed with ROTOCON’s substantial investment in the South African market, whether it’s improving logistics processes or having their own flexible and rotary die manufacturing plant. ‘I think they’ve displayed a long-term commitment to the print and packaging market in South Africa.’
He mentions that ROTOCON has, without fail, responded and tended to every issue or mechanical difficulty that VR Print has experienced. ‘Within a couple of hours – never more than 24 hours – we’re back up and running. Their responsiveness to our problems is just incredible. ROTOCON understands that if we’re not printing, we’re not making money, and their focus is very much on customer service, whether it’s getting technicians out to customers as soon as possible to making sure they stocked with the necessary spare parts and consumables.’
He adds that even if you don’t experience any breakdown or technical issues, ROTOCON technicians frequently check in, talk to operators, provide advanced training and just generally advise on machine best practices – all at no additional charge. Hilton believes it’s ROTOCON’s experience with supplying tooling in the narrow web market that had put them in such good stead when it comes to the intricate understanding of any technical or mechanical issues.
With their field technicians receiving extensive training on-site at SCREEN’s headquarters in the Netherlands, ROTOCON is well-positioned to serve local customers with superior technical support on the Truepress Jet L350UV+ digital press series.
‘Whatever you ask of them, it’s never a problem. They come around, they get stuck in and involved,’ Hilton mentions. ‘It’s one thing to have a top-of-the-line digital press and finishing machine, but to have this level of service and support is simply unrivalled. In ROTOCON, we not only found a machine supplier, but a reliable service provider and business partner,’ he concludes.
VR Print’s MD Hilton Janse van Rensburg next to the SCREEN Truepress Jet L350UV+ purchased through ROTOCON. Pictured with him is ROTOCON Sales Director Pascal Aengenvoort
Hilton Janse van Rensburg (VR Print) and Michael Aengenvoort (ROTOCON Group CEO) with the servo-driven ECOLINE RDF 330
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