Guru’s wise choice

At Guru Labels, located in Tuggerah on the NSW Central Coast, a strategic move to end outsourcing of work and produce digitally printed labels for the trade has been a milestone, with the company undergoing a major upgrade to provide the speed and flexibility demanded by printer customers, with a new Xeikon 3300 and GM finishing equipment.

Guru’s sales director Nicholas Lowe tells ProPrint the trade can indeed be quite demanding, wanting it all, and yesterday. “They want the highest quality at the lowest price and shortest turnaround times, and we are now able to provide that. We began with a turnaround of ten working days, we got that down to seven at the start of this year, and the goal was to reduce it to five days from June, which we achieved.”

The family-owned label company – Lowe’s wife Karen and daughter Emilie have roles at the business –has a staff of 16. Since its inception 15 years ago, the company has been fully digital.

Last year, after researching widely, the company invested in a new Xeikon 3030 toner-based roll-to-roll label press, complete with Australia’s first installed GM laser finishing unit. The Xeikon 3030 prints CMYK-plus-white, and has variable widths up to 310mm by any length, a boon for printing repeats and banners. It features true 1200dpi at its top-rated speed of 9.6m/min, can generate up to 190sq m/hour, and offers variable printing. It works with standard substrates, providing dry-toner printing that is lightfast and water resistant.

Lowe says the GM unit’s laser and conventional cutting systems deliver all the benefits of both technologies. Laser cutting eliminates tooling costs associated with dies, while in conventional cutting mode, the unit offers high-speed operation for long runs. “It allows us to finish labels in any shape, size or design,” he says.

The new production room has enabled Guru to provide a premium service to the trade. Says Lowe: “We have a number of key markets, but the trade market is one we’re growing really aggressively. Before we put the equipment in, we had about 50 trade customers, and 14 months on, we have just under 500. Even with some of the very large runs, we’re producing them digitally in a competitive way. With the inline laser system, we keep the work here, and we get to control the consistency and quality.”

Lowe finds that overall label volumes at Guru are now spread across a lot more jobs, so the efficiencies provided by the GM line are a critical factor. “We can put different customer jobs across the web, nobody else can do that. So if it’s a certain stock that’s on for the day, and we’ve got 15 or 20 orders to go through, where we can, we gang them up across the web and the laser can handle cutting multiple shaped designs, all in the one hit.”

A web-to-print portal makes ordering quick and straightforward, which is a real attraction for trade customers, says Lowe. “Being digital, they pick any shape and size they want and get their pricing straight away. We still do quotes manually, but most of our trade customers go to the portal, that’s our lowest price, and they get their quote in about 30 seconds.

“Ten-to-15 years ago, we used to sell labels three months in advance, with lots of finished stock waiting in the warehouse, but today speed is everything. If a competitor takes a day to do a quote, the chances are that companies like us have done the quote, done the artwork, signed the order form and started printing,” he says.

More broadly, Lowe finds digital labels are now fully accepted. “Everyone’s very comfortable with it. We all understand what compromises digital has regarding the matching of PMS colours, but it’s now accepted. The truth is that if you haven’t got into digital labels, now is the time. I’m not saying it’s too late, but it’s getting there.”

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