‘Our bespoke cap printing machine can change beverage marketing’: SACMI

Caps produced using SACMI's ColoraCAP digital printing technology at Interpack 2014

SACMI insists its machine to produce limited run bespoke plastic beverage caps via digital direct printing will change the way brands can market products.

Vezio Bernardi, general beverage manager at SACMI, spoke to after Interpack 2014, and told us that the Italian company is poised to sell its first ColoraCAP digital printer in 2014 after finessing the technology.

The printer allows brands to upload pictures and print them in sequence on caps and closures, dispensing with the need for print plate swapping, and allowing unlimited cap customization.

“We’ve promoted it a lot, and think it will change the way to market the bottle,” Bernardi said. “The ability to change in real time the message that you can print on the cap is something that didn’t exist until today, and opens a new window for the marketing guys.”

‘Small price difference for a new market approach’

Bernardi agreed that digital direct printing onto bottle labels – or indeed bottles themselves, technology Krones offers – is currently too expensive, but insists SACMI’s ColoraCAP technology offers an intermediate step.

“The question you have to ask is: 'Does the small price difference justify a new market approach?'” he said.

“I think yes, because the difference is very big – you can also run use this digital printing technology for a specific marketing promotion, alongside normal technology for higher volume runs.”

Talking more generally about SACMI’s beverage business, Bernardi said its specialisms are waters and CSDs. “We are the last comer in the market. Today you can’t compare SACMI to KHS, Krones or GEA. We are smaller, smaller in terms of our ability to offer a portfolio of applications.

“These companies can work in CSDs, also aseptic, beer, processing. They have the ability to span the whole beverage world, and SACMI today is not like that.”

Waters provide promise, but fierce competition

But Bernardi says SACMI is happy to take on these bigger rivals because company growth is connected with the “experience and the history you can create with the market, the customer, the aftersales relationship with them over the years”.

Waters are clearly a growing global market – Zenith International predicts 382m liters of volume sales by 2018, compared with 283m last year – but Bernardi warns that there is more competition, since the entry barrier is lower than for, say, aseptic.

“That makes it a bit more competitive – because there are the players you mentioned before [KHS, Krones, GEA] but their rivals, and also local players – I can think of 20 Chinese companies,” he said.

“So today it’s vital to have a very high level of quality and maintain price competitivity – many companies are trying to sell plant at very low margins, or even losing something,” Bernardi added.

“Once they’re in there, they try to make it back through spare parts, servicing, etc. But this is not our philosophy. But we’re working on being more competitive on price, more flexible and active on the after-sales point of view,” he said.

Wine is another SACMI specialism, and Bernardi said the firm had a thriving market for its small footprint labelling machines among micro-wineries in France and Italy.

‘Wine is a really interesting market for us’

The company launched an aseptic rotary filler for bag-in-box at Simei 2013, a Milan wine fair, and Bernardi said: “The bag-in-box filler in wine is very synergistic. We could sell this machine to our existing database, and it could also help us sell more labelling machines, so it’s very synergistic.”

“Perhaps wine is too niche for Krones or KHS, but for us it’s a really interesting market. SACMI has a lot of smaller, standalone companies, and we have to be strong enough to stand for ourselves.”

SACMI machines on show at Interpack 2014 included a CCM32 compression molding machine for closures that can produce 1,000 closures/minute with only 32 punches and a sub-2s cycle time.

Sleever promises 20% total application cost savings

Formsleeve+ a roll-fed labeling machine, was also on display (see photo above), a sleever machine that creates the sleeve inside the machine, seals it using a natural solvent then lowers it onto the bottle.

“This is a very interesting technology that saves a lot of energy and money,” Bernardi said, since SACMI’s machine uses machine-directed oriented (MDO) film as opposed to traditional transverse-direction oriented (TDO) shrink sleeve.

“You start from the roll or coil, cut the labels and create the tube directly in the machine, instead of buying the tube from the converter, so that is a huge advantage,” Bernardi said.

“We have one machine like this already working at San Benedetto in Italy with a huge bottler. They’re using this machine with Pepsi – they’re a Pepsi co-packer,” he added.

“The machine that we showed at Interpack will be shipped to Mexico, where it will be used by Coca-Cola for cans,” Bernardi said.

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