As a regular exhibitor at drupa, strapping specialist Timo Mosca, CEO of Waldbrunn-based Mosca AG, has lived through and observed the changes in the printing and paper industries over many years. Together with Alfred Kugler, Head of Marketing and Sales at Mosca AG, he explains where new challenges and future markets can be found, how his company – predominantly manufacturing in Germany – can prevail in the face of worldwide competition and why he claims technological leadership in the strapping industry.
In what areas are strapping machines used in the printing and paper industries?
Timo Mosca: In an extremely diverse range of sectors and production contexts. The requirements our machines have to fulfill differ from industry to industry and application to application. Wholesalers, for example, require machines that are easy to operate and allow reliable overnight order picking and packing. This is an area where compact automatic machines are at home. The graphics industry requires fully automated, process-reliable machines, such as our RO-TRI, to quickly and efficiently process their orders. For the corrugated board industry, we supply high performance machines that can be integrated into a production line for smooth high- speed strapping of individual stacks or entire pallets.
What share of your sales revenues is accounted for by the print and paper industries?
Timo Mosca: These two sectors are our main customers. While they used to take an equal share, the corrugated board industry has now significantly overtaken the printing sector. This is also reflected in the shift of focus of drupa: corrugated board processors, which previously only had small stands at the show, now have a much bigger exhibition presence.
To what extent are changes in the corrugated board market important for strapping?
Alfred Kugler: There is a difference whether the corrugated board is processed as sheets to be used for purposes such as interleaving in logistics or whether it is intended to be enhanced into board for primary packaging. In the first case, the main concern is to achieve high-speed strapping, while the priority in the latter case is for gentle strapping. For high speeds, pallet strapping machines such as our KCK 131-26 are ideal. At a rate of 200 pallets per hour, this is the fastest pallet strapping machine in the world. Demand for gentle strapping is continuously rising. Using soft tensioning of the strap in single, double or cross-strapping, our technology creates a securely strapped bundle that protects the product and retains stability. Years ago, we developed inline strapping specifically for the corrugated board industry. In this method, the strapping runs in line with the board corrugations and not across them, ensuring very gentle strapping of corrugated board sheets.
Where are your future markets?
Alfred Kugler: In terms of the industries we serve, we aim to continue growing in the corrugated board sector and establish ourselves as market leaders. We are also looking along the production chain. Corrugated board manufacturers supply flat boxes to industries such as the food processors, which assemble the boxes and pack their products in them. For transport, these products then have to be palletized and strapped. Consequently, the customers of the corrugated board producers can also become our customers.
Timo Mosca: From a regional perspective, Asia – particularly China and Southeast Asia – is important for us. The corrugated board industry is growing at a rapid rate, especially in China, where China Green Paper is currently developing one of the world's largest corrugated board factories, utilizing high-quality technology for all stages of the value chain – including Mosca strapping machines. At the same time, we wish to continue diversifying in other markets and driving our developments in new industries – for example in the construction and ceramics industries.
You refer to yourselves as technological leaders in the industry – on what grounds do you base this?
Timo Mosca: We repeatedly bring new stimuli to the market. For example, we were the first company to use DC machines, powered by non-wearing direct drives – a system that has become a standard throughout the industry. The SoniXs technology that we developed is also unique. No other company manufacturers a strapping machine that uses ultrasound to seal the strap ends.
Alfred Kugler: It is not always quantum leaps in technology that make the difference. Frequently it is precisely the gradual improvements that become apparent only when you become more involved with the market and customers and which then lead to new applications. Take the oxidation-free SoniXs TRP-VA, which we developed specifically to meet the rigorous hygiene requirements of the food industry. This was possible only because we use ultrasonic strap sealing. The fish industry now, at last, has a sustainably working machine for strapping their fish crates that no longer need to be scrapped after six months because it has rusted away.
How do you deal with the fact that competitors from low-cost economies copy your technologies and machines?
Timo Mosca: It is naturally quicker and cheaper to copy something than to develop it yourself – and mechanical engineering is not rocket science. However, the key factor that distinguishes us, especially from the Chinese companies, is our comprehensive approach. We do not simply ask, "how do I construct a machine?" Instead, we look into what is the customer's problem. Working processes are simplified, but the complexity of the individual machine components increases. Continuity of the workforce is essential to be able to keep abreast of developments. In Asia, with a high rate of employment turnover, this is a problem. Our family company, by contrast, has built up the constancy and specialist knowledge that it needs to explore new developments over 46 years.
In addition to machinery, you also produce the straps. At drupa, you are presenting strap made from sustainable raw materials. Is this the future?
Alfred Kugler: PLA strap is made from a biocompatible polylactide polymer, produced from renewable raw materials, such as potato or maize starch, which can be industrially composted after use. The clever part is that the strap can be completely regenerated. Once produced, the PLA can be reused over and over again. There is therefore no need to continuously expand potato and maize growing areas to meet rising demand. The development has not yet been launched on the market, because the base material for PLA is currently more expensive than the raw material for polypropylene strapping, and we still have no customer willing to pay this added cost. This will not change until more pressure comes from end customers who support the use of renewable raw materials.
What will you be exhibiting at drupa?
Alfred Kugler: We are showing a new generation of machines: the SoniXs MP Evolution, a successor to our standard automatic model, which will give new stimulus. It is a further stage of development in terms of machine reliability and performance. We are going more and more down the road of modularity, based on high-quality assemblies. By doing this, we increase reproducibility – which means that we can continuously guarantee the same performance and reliability from the smallest automatic unit to the largest machine. Our electronic components create unique selling points for us, which the competition is unable to match. For customers, this is reflected in increased productivity at lower cost. The largest machine we will be demonstrating is a new version of the KZV-111 fully automated pallet strapping machine with optimized design elements and components. Use of a narrower strap track now makes it possible to strap even flat pallets.
Timo Mosca: We are also focusing heavily on the theme of reliable integration of strapping machines in production lines. To enable this, we offer our customers machines with full CE functionality, which can be used without additional structures, such as enclosures or perspex guards. In place of these, we manufacture operationally safe, user-friendly machines, safeguarded by light screens and light curtains. These features also benefit the service engineer, allowing access to the machine without first having to unscrew protective guards. At drupa, we will be presenting our entire portfolio, from the smallest automatic machine to the large high-performance machines and covering everything from PET, PP and PLA straps to service and advice.
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