Taking the lead in packaging with KBA

Trio of fast Rapidas at El Safa in Alexandria

(PresseBox) ( Würzburg, )
The Orient is famed for dream worlds such as those portrayed in the tales of 1001 Arabian nights. Even so, the print companies in Egypt prefer to base their marketing strategies on hard facts. One good example is El Safa For Printing & Packaging in Alexandria. Having installed three mediumformat Rapida presses from KBA since 2006, the familyrun business has been able to underline its position as market leader in packaging print. El Safa continues to grow steadily. Turnover has in the meantime reached €32 million, and 12 million printed sheets are output every month. Paper and board consumption lies at around 28,000 tonnes per year. The successful partnership is now to be extended into large format in 2011.

El Safa was founded by Samir El Bialy in 1979. He had previously spent many years as production manager at Moharam Press, the largest and oldest print company in Egypt at that time. With professional skill, business acumen and futureoriented investments, he soon established El Safa in the front row of the Egyptian packaging scene. Certification to the ISO standards 9001, 14001 and 18001, alongside numerous awards from satisfied customers and partners such as board supplier Mayr-Melnhof, confirm the success story of the company, whose reputation today extends far beyond the borders of Egypt itself. Samir El Bialy has in the meantime placed executive management in the hands of his sons Sherif and Karim, but still remains closely involved in further developments.

Threepronged concept for success

Sherif El Bialy, the new man at the helm at El Safa, studied in Germany and has ambitious plans. "The success of El Safa is founded on the three columns training and knowledge, cooperation and motivation. Our 380 employees are professionally trained and are all committed to our goal of offering national and international customers the maximum possible service, on the basis of the most modern production technologies available. We today dominate the Egyptian packaging market, and we are in the meantime exporting around 28% of our production to 22 different countries - not only in the Arab region, but also to Iran and Pakistan, to various parts of Africa and to European countries such as Germany and Sweden. We are working for international brand names in the food, pharmaceuticals and laundry detergent branches, for example Nestle, Unilever and Kraft, and we are growing with their success. Not least for that reason, we must be able to meet all the quality and delivery demands of our customers."

Convincing technology and service

Sherif El Bialy keeps a close eye on the latest trends in prepress, print and product conversion: "The permanent objective must be to increase productivity and to develop attractive, costoptimised and ecological solutions for our customers. We used to work with sheetfed offset presses from other manufacturers, but our visits to the KBA predrupa event in 2004 and then to the customer centre in 2005 convinced us to switch partners and to work with KBA in the future. And we are still benefiting from that decision today."

Rapidas the key to growth

El Safa installed its first sixcolour Rapida 105 universal with inline coating in 2006. "This flexible and wellappointed mediumformat press matched our demand profile in every respect. Raised on a 375 mm plinth and with a doublelength delivery extension, it helped us to secure a decisive competitive advantage, and was at the same time an ideal complement to our existing prepress and postpress machines. In fact, it was already quite a sensation in the Middle East at that time, with its highspeed package for production speeds up to 16,000 sph, CX board handling accessories, SAPC automated plate changing and ErgoTronic ACR autoregister, not to mention the colour measurement and control system DensiTronic S and a CIPLink interface via LogoTronic. We were very proud of our pioneering role and ordered a second press in an identical configuration just six months later."

The investments in this successful Rapida mediumformat duo marked the beginning of lasting cooperation between El Safa and KBA. At the end of 2007, a few months before drupa 2008, the company took delivery of a sevencolour coater press which was to eclipse even the outstanding performance, production flexibility and ease of operation to which El Safa had become accustomed: The world's first Rapida 106 of the new 18,000 sph generation.

First Rapida 106 in the world

Sherif El Bialy: "The opportunity to install this press before its official market launch was a decisive breakthrough on our quest for maximum productivity. The configuration with fully automatic FAPC plate changers, rainbow printing accessories, automated coating forme changers, washing systems for the blankets, ink rollers and impression cylinders, and automated pile logistics at the feeder and delivery opened up a whole new realm of possibilities. What impressed us most about the press, besides the high production speed of 18,000 sph, was the substrate flexibility from extremely thin papers to the most varied grades of board or metalcoated materials. This KBA press has even permitted us to gain a foothold in securities printing."

"The Rapida 106 has built up a reputation in the trade as makeready world champion. This attribute is naturally important, but it is only secondary in our particular case. We print mainly highvolume jobs and are thus more concerned with output and quality. Our operators received two weeks of intensive training in Radebeul to acquaint them with the capabilities of such a hightech press, and they, too, are thrilled with the performance potential and the simple handling."

Printing in a different league

"Compared with earlier years, we are today printing in a different league. Our experience with the KBA presses and the service provided by the manufacturer form a good basis for further cooperation with KBA in the future. Our management plan includes provisions for two further presses to be taken into service in 2011, and it has already been decided that these investments are to be another KBA Rapida 106 and our first ever largeformat model, namely a Rapida 162a, which is earmarked for washing powder packaging and the like. We are looking forward eagerly to this further strengthening of our machinery base in medium format, and of course to our new venture into the largeformat class."
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