Partnerships power progress for JMB Labels

JMB Labels won a Silver at the Gapp Awards in the Flexo Printing: Paper/ Board Uncoated category for the Desmondi Eggs carton sleeve printed in five colours on Dukuza 2 000g/m2 board with a UV gloss varnish finish, using an MPS 370 press supplied by ROTOCON. Seen in the slitting and rewinding department are co-owner Aslam Monia and production manager Farhad Evans with ROTOCON directors John Lomberg and Michael Aengenvoort.

JUST as the two generations before them, brothers Aslam and Ahmed Monia ascribe JMB Labels’ success to forming long-standing partnerships with customers who value a label converter that consistently provides a personal touch and high-quality products in quick delivery times.

‘Our customers tend to be either family-orientated organisations or run by hands-on owners who want to deal with someone who can update them on what’s happening with their job – not within a few hours or the next day, but when they call,’ Aslam reports. ‘I always ensure that I have access to our production schedule wherever I may be, so that I can tell them exactly when the job was started, how far along it is in the printing and finishing process or if it has been completed and when they can expect delivery.’

He emphasises that the team looks after its customer base very well and runs a just-in-time delivery system to accommodate those who don’t want to hold a lot of stock. Although the standard turnaround time is one to two weeks, there have been many occasions when the company has assisted customers with a next-day order. ‘Once they’ve called us and we’ve confirmed that we’ll do whatever it takes to assist them, they know that we’ll deliver on our promise,’ he asserts.

JMB Labels has also always applied these principles to its relationships with equipment and consumables suppliers to achieve the common goal of producing top-quality labels. Aslam recalls that his relationship with Michael Aengenvoort started long before he established ROTOCON in 2008 and that he has appreciated witnessing how Michael’s morals, values, hardworking ethic, passion and pride have been passed on to sons Patrick and Pascal, just like they were for him and Ahmed from their father Yousuf.

‘There is a 24-hour call line between me and Patrick, Rotocon’s Johannesburg-based director. Some of our best conversations take place after hours and we’ve developed such a great understanding that I even bought our third MPS press via WhatsApp in 2019 after Patrick shared the deal details and price of the EFS 430 model from LabelExpo Europe in Brussels,’ Aslam reports. ‘This press is supported by a complementary ECOLINE RSI 430 slitting, inspection and rewinding system from ROTOCON to ensure top-quality finishing requirements.’

The brothers’ admiration for MPS press technology dates back to 2001, when they saw the first press in action at LabelExpo Europe and appreciated how the technology made printing so much easier. ‘The fact that the company was built by a core group of friends and that co-founder Eric Hoendervangers came to visit our facility in Johannesburg when he was in South Africa – although we weren’t ready to buy a press yet – and started building a relationship left a lasting impression,’ Aslam recalls. ‘We are firm believers in dreaming and setting our targets and goals, and so far, we’ve reached all of them, including owning three MPS presses.’

This joint journey started in 2012 when many products traditionally bearing self-adhesive labels started being presented in wraparound or shrink sleeve labels, and JMB Labels had to change its business model to meet brand owners’ requirements.

In 2020, the MPS EC 410 was upgraded with an Atom 430 mercury lamp 160W ink curing system from UV Ray. The cassette design simplifies lamp maintenance and replacement and enables technicians to work on power packs rather than having to return them as trade-in units. Additionally, each reflector model is designed with a quick shutter, infrared filter and smaller diameter lamps to increase UV output power and reduce working temperatures.
In 2020, the MPS EC 410 was upgraded with an Atom 430 mercury lamp 160W ink curing system from UV Ray. The cassette design simplifies lamp maintenance and replacement and enables technicians to work on power packs rather than having to return them as trade-in units. Additionally, each reflector model is designed with a quick shutter, infrared filter and smaller diameter lamps to increase UV output power and reduce working temperatures.

‘Our first investment was in an MPS EC 410 multi-substrate press, which included a film package for unsupported films so that we could print on PVC and PET film for the shrink label market,’ he reports. ‘It was accompanied by a ROTOCONTROL RSC 440 slitter rewinder with a film package kit and servo drive technology to support improved slitting accuracy and faster job turnaround times for self-adhesive and shrink sleeve labels.’

It was followed by a second investment in 2015 in the first MPS EB 370 flexo press in the African market and a ROTOCONTROL RSC 560 slitter rewinder with a film package kit. ‘The RSC 560 has performed so well that the production team hasn’t needed to use the slip differential function when running filmic material,’ Aslam reveals. ‘Additionally, the small servicing issues have been dealt with very efficiently by ROTOCON’s technicians and remotely by the German-based team when required.’

Last month, ROTOCON’s technicians, Sachin Sukhal, Stefan Helberg and Domino specialist Glen van der Merwe installed a Domino K600i one-colour digital print bar into the MPS EB 370 press to transform it into a value-add hybrid press that can print variable data including text, sequential numbers, barcodes and 2D codes at a native resolution of 600dpi and operating speeds of up to 150m/min. ‘Although there hasn’t been a need to transition to a digital print shop yet because our run lengths are typically 10 000 and over, we’ve always referred to the EB as our digital press. This is because our operator can perform job changeovers so quickly that we can average 10 to 12 jobs on it daily with proper planning,’ he enthuses.

Production manager Farhad Evans adds that the Wink SmartGap adjustable anvil system installed on the die station also assists by ensuring precise, double-sided adaptation of the magnetic cylinder gap (according to the micron settings) for various facestocks and liners. ‘The advantages of SmartGap are mainly rooted in its high stability, which allows problem-free cutting through at high production speeds and eliminates waste.’

The SmartGap adjustable anvil system is also installed on the EFS 430 model. Its Wink magnetic cylinders are interchangeable with those of the EC 410 model without having to make any adjustments. ‘We also use Wink and Kocher & Beck flexible dies because of their excellent quality. Some of these dies are more than 15 years old. One, for example, has already cut over 30-million dishwashing liquid labels.’

Training paramount

To ensure that production staff can consistently get the most out of the available technology, Farhad conducts monthly refresher training courses for mounters, assistant operators, operators and rewinders. He also focuses on the importance of consumables such as how to take care of aniloxes, change doctor blades and maintain ink quality. Furthermore, all of the staff treat the equipment with respect and look after it very well because that is how the management team treats them.

Aslam adds: ‘Employees form the backbone of the business, we are nothing without them. Most of our operators have been with the company for over 20 years and our policy has always been to look after them well and provide them with skills to use their discretion in terms of the prepress, converting and finishing processes to make sure that each job meets our quality standards. With each MPS press investment, the operator went to The Netherlands for the acceptance test and training. For some, it was their first flight and international travel experience and an example of how they are valued as team members.’

‘This approach reflects our belief in creating a good company where everyone works in a nice environment, the staff can talk to one another and have a flexible attitude to ensure that we can deliver excellent customer service,’ he notes. ‘Our investments in people and partnerships with state-of-the-art consumable and machinery suppliers have enabled organic growth alongside our customers. We look forward to seeing where filmic substrate developments globally will open new flexible packaging converting opportunities for us in the future.’

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