Arti-Bau is a fast-developing label printing business in the lower Silesia region of Poland with its head office in Ślęza. From the beginning of its business activity the company has invested in the most modern solutions for digital inkjet printing. We asked Monika Stefańska, the chairperson of the board, about the company's most recent purchase of the technologically advanced Xeikon PX3000 model.
Q: On its website, Arti-Bau claims to be the first digital roll label printer in the lower Silesia region. How did you achieve this position? Can you tell me how you attract your customers and how you keep your advantage in such a competitive market?
Monika Stefańska: Arti-Bau Label Printers was founded in 2012 when our first digital inkjet Jetrion 4830 UV machine proudly took place in a commercial unit of an area of 65 m2 in one of Wroclaw's residential buildings (it was replaced a year ago, following 7 years of use by Xeikon's PX3000 model). We started out with a lot of enthusiasm and hope for success, although at the time we did not have a single customer in reserve. At the time, the digital inkjet web press technology was still in its infancy and machines were only just entering the market, most often in the form of a backup for big flexo printers. We dived into deep waters and decided to print using this technology only when we saw its huge potential on the national Polish labels market which finally gave us the right to use the title of "first digital label printer in the lower Silesia region" and perhaps in the whole of Poland (although the latter is just a presumption).
In a relatively short space of time the choice we made turned out to be a good one. Our customer base grew from one month to the next, but it was only in 2014 when we moved into our new head office which had full warehouse facilities that we were able to spread our wings. Once maintained full warehouse levels of fastest moving substrates, we were able to serve our customers at very short notice. This, combined with the knowledge and experience of our production crew, makes our product competitive. We believe, it is our quality of customer service and not price which makes a business stand out in today’s market. We know that we are very reliable; our word given to our customer is the most important thing to us. It is widely known that planning production in even the most organised companies can be problematic, but our business model allows us to serve some very big entities who choose Arti-Bau because of the short delivery time we can achieve for their orders.
Q: Let's get back to the grassroots. Following the purchase of the first machine the company started to gradually conquer the digital printing market. How did the development of Arti-Bau progress?
Monika Stefańska: Our first inkjet press quickly started to work two full shifts but we were still not fully satisfied. We were getting ready for new investments, engaging more operators and pressmen "on our way up", in order to prepare us for the delivery of a greater number of orders. In 2016, we extended our production hall where our hybrid machine proudly stood – digital and innovative on a worldwide scale, the machine also combined elements of analogue printing. Amongst other things it enabled the production of peel off labels in digital inkjet printing technology. It was the first solution of its kind in Europe and we were able to offer our customers a lot more than was possible until then using digital technology. In those days all labels in Poland were peel off ones, with the overprint on the side using glue or cold stamping. These were printed only by flexography printers and, in addition, at low volumes and high prices. We put our bets on the brand new concept of inkjet printing which utilises the ease of printing several files whilst using elements of the flexo technology process. Therefore, we had a trick up our sleeve no one else did.
In 2018, we became aware that our first machine was no longer meeting market requirements in terms of quality and speed of printing. We then commenced our search for a new partner. We believed four areas were key: ease of access to service support, a good service contract and, importantly quality and speed of printing. We opted for Xeikon as their offering delivered on each of the four factors listed above.
Q: What opportunities are available to you today thanks to the investments you mentioned?
Monika Stefańska: Today Arti-Bau has two fast printing machines and two die-cut and confectioning machines. Our development concept to date, gives no room for additional finishing machines. We are able to print on almost a full range of substrates which are utilised in flexo printing: BOPP film intended for PET bottle labels, as well as substrates for printing sachets and tubes. Naturally, this includes all kinds of film on silicon and foil bases, as well as paper substrates. Xeikon’s innovative software allows us to print variable data on labels, such as text, numbers and QR codes, in a simple and intuitive manner. In the past we were only able to offer this service with two passes which was not cost effective.
Q: What kind of customers do you serve and what kind of assistance can they expect in preparing an order?
Monika Stefańska: Nowadays more and more customers are demanding creative quality products with short delivery times and short runs, so we have adopted the strategy to pamper them every step of the way. We have a staff of three in our graphics department whose main task it to maintain continuity of production. One of their most important duties it to check whether the files sent by customers have been prepared in compliance with the artwork. Customers often expect a comprehensive service so we also provide support at the project preparation stage. Occasionally, at a client's request, we will swap variable data on the labels which, in our opinion, makes them even more attached to our company, since not every printer has its own graphic designers and external ones can't always be reached.
Q: Looking back on recent months, how do you regard the purchase of the Xeikon PX3000 machine?
Monika Stefańska: In opting for a Xeikon digital label press we had our customers' needs in mind. Our second machine does best with relatively long runs but we needed one offering high print quality and speed when fulfilling orders, and at the same time would be user-friendly and capable of processing a large number of files for a single order. We were also guided by our knowledge of the print heads used by Xeikon in the PX3000 model. They are "long" print heads which means that with a width of 330 mm we have only two-colour combinations which enable high quality printing with full backgrounds. Thanks to these the size of droplets when combined with lower density ink is excellent when printing fine texts, especially on contrasting background. A key advantage is Xeikon’s PX3000 software that allows printing of variable data, such as text, numbers or QR codes, in a simple and intuitive manner. To date, our experience of Xeikon’s post-sales service has also been very positive: fast response and the fact that its service engineers are based in our country allows them to reach us within 24 hours if required.
Q: What direction are you intending to take Arti-Bau? How do you see the future of your company and the label printing market in general? Perhaps you would like to look at opportunities in another niche area?
Monika Stefańska: Arti-Bau is a family business which has been working with many people for many years, which in turn helps us to serve them. We understand their needs and high levels of requirement and expectation. Our operators are experts in digital technology and installation of new machines always goes to plan as was the case with Xeikon’s PX3000 press. At Arti-Bau we closely follow technology news and trends so as not to miss any opportunity for development.
Xeikon has provided us with a modern, clever machine that has allowed us to be even more flexible. The PX3000 digital label press prints long runs very fast whilst maintaining cost effectiveness even when printing short runs.
Today, both the world and Poland are facing difficult challenges related to the coronavirus pandemic which besides the obvious health risk has hit every sector of the economy with no warning. It has turned out to be an exceptional time and has proven to us yet again that the investment we made in 2012 in this very technology was the right thing to do.
Michał Kuczkowski, Xeikon, Poland Sales Manager says : “Xeikon is the only company worldwide to offer both digital technologies: toner and inkjet. Thanks to this we were able to select a model suitable for Arti-Bau's needs. We create the software for the machines ourselves, we can therefore configure optimal packages for our customers, as well as integrate their databases. Our companies have a lot in common because Arti-Bau is a fully digital printer and Xeikon has been producing solutions solely for the digital printing process for over 30 years now. This has impacted on its fast implementation and is a good sign of our continued co-operation.”