Highcon on the future of packaging · Eitan Varon & Limor Elias · Highcon

Highcon is one of the many Israeli companies in the printing industry that keeps re-inventing not only the print industry but the very change in how we see the market. In this film, we talk to Executive Vice President Eitan Varon and Product Manager Limor Elias about the market in general and of course laser-die-cutting and Highcon in particular.


So we really see an amazing trend in the industry. I will say that there are two important trends that actually influence the global environment. One of them is the fact that people would like to see more personalized items, so what we see is actually the industry going in to more short runs on demand services, getting really, really a tiny quantity, and the online business are also influence this environment, and this create a lot of change in our industry, in the packaging industry, in global both in the folding carton, and also in the corrugated.

In addition to that, what we see, we see suddenly the digital printing equipment starting to move from what we call the commercial printing market, and then go into folding carton, and also into corrugated. So we see more digital printing equipment going into this market, and obviously this also creates a change because when I have a digital printing equipment, the value of this equipment is about short runs, on demand and fast responsiveness, then I need to have very good equipment in my finishing sides, and this is today the missing puzzle of the industry.

The printing industry in general is a conservative industry, and certainly the packaging. The packaging industry, they have their own, I would say standard because they work with the main brand, cosmetics brand, and other brands, and they are demanding the quality. So for them to move, I will say from one production environment into another production environment, requiring a lot of test and qualification process, which obviously slow the penetration of new equipment and new technology into this market. So you’re absolutely right with your observation.

So the product portfolio of Highcon nominated four different products. We start with the Highcon Euclid, we introduce it during Drupa 2012, and this machine represent our technology ability to digitally cut and crease, and it’s targeting the packaging market and commercial market. The Euclid 3C is a big one for market and targeting the packaging and the commercial market.

So our first product was targeting the packaging market for a carton board, the substance ranges start from 200 micron up to 600 micron for the Carton board. And it’s also targeting the micro flute substrate up to 1.2 millimeter, it’s made and, the F and G flute.

Two years ago, during Drupa 2016 we introduced our new product, the Highcon beam. It’s much faster machine. It’s an average three time faster compared to the Euclid, and it’s targeting mainstream production. Again for the folding carton market. And lately, two months ago, we just introduced new machine based on our existing technology, recognized technology, targeting the corrugate market. The Euclid 3C, is unable to proceed the substrate starting to one millimeter up to three millimeter, only for corrugate. And do we see more and more increased demand for short run, customized product, both for packaging, for point of sales, for a display, and for shorter runs a with a customized approach.

Our technology basically on two parts. One is the laser cutting, second is the digital creasing. So in the laser cut, there are few competitor around and we learn our competitive products technology, and we believe that with our ability and technology, we can perform much better quality with regard to laser cutting. Plus laser cutter doesn’t have the ability for real crease, they can do half cut, but it’s not acceptable as a industry standard for packaging and for crease. We bring the ability to create real crease, mechanical crease with a unique technology, and you know, the best way to test the quality of crease is the process downstream. It means that if the product that came out from our digital diecutting and creasing machine can run on a folding , gluing, and then on a filling machine it means that you have great crease qualities, same as conventional. And that’s exactly what we have done.

The fact that we see more and more digital printing equipment going into the market will force the packaging manufacturer to use a digital finishing equipment because otherwise you lose actually all the value of your digital printing equipment. So I think it’s very true to say that what we see at the moment actually we are in the beginning I will say of a revolution in the packaging industry because we will see, and still it’s tiny in terms of the global production quantity it’s not a very big amount, but every packaging manufacturer that in thinking about his next press that he’s going to buy. He’s not thinking about analog, they’re thinking digital. He’s checking HP, he’s checking Dorst, [inaudible 00:06:25]and all the other that we’re familiar with and this will create a change in the market.

People understand very easily the comparison between digital printing and analog printing, and usually when you have short runs, when you need to produce something on demand, when you want to change batches very fast, when you want to improve your supply chain, you have warehouses of tools or you know, I can just move directly from the file to production. So there are a lot of value which are not really related only to the setup. And think about us, we are using today our I-phone and our smart devices, and we don’t even think to go back into the other phone because, hey, everything is here, how we can do it.

So we’re bringing extra value to the market which are not only the cost saving, yes, of course, there is the cost saving when you do the short runs, but also there are values related to premium product, related to your ability to improve your supply chain, and these kinds of things. So it’s much more than only cost saving.

With our ability we give new horizon to the design fantasy. You can design almost whatever you would like. Still, you need to produce the bread and butter, you need to produce, if it’s a packaging, so we need to put this boxes. You need to produce a display, there are some very simple jobs. So our technology is not just about a special design, it’s also about enable smooth production for very short run because you have the ability for very fast turnover.

So if you have short run, even for very regular boxes, you can in a matter of minute to change to new job, and produce less than 100 boxes, quick change and you move to the other job. So it’s not just about a special design and special product. It’s also about productivity, and the ability to get new jobs, that with the traditional way of production. You cannot do it because the setup is long. You need to wait to get your die cut plate, and then to to load the machine and start run for very long run.

Absolutely. You’re absolutely right, and when people are talking to me, I say, Hey, we’re not here to replace, maybe not now, maybe in the future, the analog finishing equipment, but it’s exactly as in printing. When you go to a printing shop, whether it’s in the States or Europe, what you will see, you will see an analog device of Heidelberg or KBA or Komori sitting next to a digital device of HP or Xerox and what the customer will do. he will manage his production flow in a more efficient way.

So when I can take my short run, on demand batches and move them into the digital finishing equipment, what actually do I do? Two things. First of all, I will save my costs because I can do it much faster in a more easy way, but also I will have more capacity on my analog device. So it’s actually helping me to manage my production flow in much more efficient way, and this is an extra value so I can utilize my analog device in a better way.

So and I will go back I think to the question you asked me before about whether this industry is conservative? So yes the industry is conservative but I believe that the change is here, and people are more open to adopt the change. It will take time but not a long time, and we see more and more digital equipment going into the production facility. We have today in Highcon more than 60 customer working with our equipment all over the world. China, Japan, Asia, Europe, America, Latin America, North America, producing with our equipment on a daily base product to leading brand owner, and they’re accepting the quality.

So I think that it’s here, still they are checking, they would like to make sure which is okay, this is fine. This is the way the industry is behave but the change is here and when people think, okay, whether I will but a digital finishing equipment first or digital printing equipment first, or sometimes they are not sure, but what we will see for sure is a revolution in the industry that yes, there is no sense to invest a huge amount of money in a digital printing equipment, and then rely on a totally analog solution.

Okay, so for some batches maybe it’s makes sense, but the market is changing, the brand owner are demanding a change, the customer are demanding a change. They want to have personalized product. They would like to order things through the Internet. We see Amazon going into the market, DOJ, we would like to use reduce your shipping cost, and have exactly the size of the box that you want. You want to have an unpacking experience.

We have a long tail in the production flow today, so there are a lot of things that are happening in our ecosystem that are influence the converter and they will create the change.

That’s fair to say, we’re an icon. We actually introduce our first product in 2012. in Drupa. We start to install it about a year after, the beta site in Europe and the United States and today, as I said, we have more than 60 installation. I think that we are leading the industry. We’re investing a lot in research and development, making sure that the quality of the product, as you said before, we match what the customer are looking for both in terms of creasing quality, cutting quality, folding folds, making sure that the customer will be happy with the service that we’re providing them, and I’m happy to say that when I see now new company coming and actually delivering similar message to what we said. Yes. Hey, you are welcome. I think it will help us-

Support the industry better.

Exactly, to support the revolution in the industry