Lively teamwork between young and experienced staff; the basis for a successful development of digital printing.
Successful strategic partnership of European surface specialists under the leadership of Barberán.
Pfleiderer's "Primeboard®" brand, varnished with Kleiberit's "Hot Coating®", is currently on the lips of all surface experts. The "responsible" behind the technology of the machinery used for this is essentially a company based in Castelldefels (Barcelona). Due to its typical German thoroughness, the great need to promote innovation, the clear tendency to provide solutions with its modular construction system and the open collaboration with specialists from other companies, Barberán, S.A. (BSA) increasingly convinces customers in the surface finishing industry. This company is also behind the new brand "True Texture®". Together with other partners, BSA took a real step forward in creating surfaces that are as realistic as possible and that, Besides the appearance, they also had the real and tangible feel of nature's originals. Even experts can't always detect the difference.
The medium-sized company of 200 workers, not far from Barcelona, has a long tradition in surface finishing technology. Lamination, lacquering and wrapping have been part of its portfolio since 1929. Furthermore, "Single Pass" digital printing has also been a part of it for more than 10 years. With great flexibility, value, and many years of experience, BSA tackles the latest technologies and puts them to work quickly. Unlike large companies, you do not do everything yourself, but rather you seek the possibility of balancing your own interests within open strategic partnerships with strong partners. This includes freedom for everyone involved. The task is to take into account the client's requirements, the interests of the partners and the wishes of the team itself. Creatives and strategists sit here at the same table.
Anyone who has been able to lead such projects knows how "easy" it is to put everything under one roof, especially when it comes to developing new ground in the sector. Maintaining projectleadership and relying on your own core competencies is one of the keys to success.
A clear definition of objectives leads to project success
The exhaustive preparatory phases of the projects are one more component in working with BSA. Clients, Partners and the Team are brought to clearly defined objectives at different stages. In addition, a sample of the customer supports the mutual agreements. This is done in their own spacious test areas of about 15,000 m2, with separations for each of the 3 product segments. Ultimately, everyone involved knows very well the objectives to reach. This reduces risks and saves time and costs. The inevitable misunderstandings, especially emotional surface requirements, can almost always be cleared up or avoided comparing with real samples.
Projects by modules generates stability - Enthusiasm used as a link
When it comes to budgeting, use is already made of an extensive modular system consisting of standard machines that do not have to be specially developed in a time-consuming way. The owner-run BSA company is very careful to use its extensively proven solutions for each of its projects. Not everything has to be newly developed, manufactured or invented, says Sales Manager Dennis Van IJzerloo with a wink. Of course, you also immediately think about how attractive the delivery times of your systems can be.
In the case of innovations in the surface finishing sector, this advantage allows to concentrate exclusively on the project modules still unknown by the company, which creates confidence and acceptance in their feasibility by customers, even in their earliest phase.
To this end, Barberán has modularized its construction system in a very reduced way and has classified it in different categories, mechanics, electrics and electronics. In cooperation with a global electronics and hardware manufacturer, it is also possible to master the latest requirements in automation and digitization.
Successful developments in the wood sector require not only clear structures, systematic, a suitable modular system or experience. Today little is accomplished without the necessary affinity for "surface." You can feel this enthusiasm in Barberán. It is the link between all elements and people. It is particularly possible to engage and inspire both, your own team and its environment in new and innovative ways. The "surface" is at home here in all its facets.
Digital transformation for the benefit of the "surface"
The first stages of digitization have already been mastered - passing almost unnoticed by the market - experience has been gained and the next steps to be taken have been considered. Many systems are already proficient in monitoring the health of machines or lines through the cloud. In mechanical engineering, this is one of the first steps that must be mastered on the path to the digital ecosystem. This is also where relevant partners from this market sector come in. Information and data on systems and processes can now be consulted and analyzed on any mobile device (status monitoring). Ultimately, the quality of the interface benefits greatly from the data collection. Both, customers and BSA appreciate the new possibilities in industrial processes in lamination or digital printing, making the production data generated transparent and visible to evaluate and save it at any time and from anywhere. The data is then used in system maintenance or repair, quality assurance or other applications. However, the focus is more on ranking and evaluating the benefits of these "digital" services and many of the "cool tools" are being questioned as to whether they make sense or not. From Barberán's point of view, the gradual digitization of the furniture industry follows its "natural" path, although it may be a bit slower than in other branches of the industry. One of the consequences is that the sizes of the batches to be produced tend to be reduced and changes need to be made without extra costs. This development is a sign of the times in which we live. At this point Barberán emphasizes development, almost unnoticed by the large customer base in the coating industry. BSA sees itself as a market leader in the next 30 to 40 years, as it has gone through all the changes in the market, even influencing them.
"Hot Coating": Lacquer at 160ºC
Equipped like this, complex issues such as high-gloss varnishing can be dealt with safely. The long-term and close partnership with Kleiberit and the result of the current process such as the "Primeboard" from Pfleiderer (see also Surface Magazine 2017, page 30 and following) convinced the market in the long term. On the part of the Spanish, it has undoubtedly been the stability in the system technology and the numerous attempts to achieve a greater overall development of the applied PUR product. At the same time, the imperative market trend towards surface customization in the panel industry, as well as the simultaneous requirement to post-coat high-quality super-matte or high-gloss melamine surfaces, also helped. Many panel manufacturers wanted to offer attractive surfaces to compete with the well-known high gloss foil laminated surfaces. Here the markets were already generating pressure on the main panel suppliers. BSA and its partner Kleiberit were able to convincingly implement their special reactive polyurethane products, through a smooth, uniform and error-free application in form of inexpensive thin layers. However, there were a few steps to take before it was ready. From today's perspective, Kleiberit's future-oriented laboratory in Weingarten, equipped with standard BSA machine application technology with some modifications, is considered essential. This sped up and evened out the development effort at the same time. At both locations, Castelldefels (Barcelona) and Weingarten near Karlsruhe, both the technological application process and the product could be optimized at the same time always with close coordination and teamwork.
Many detailed questions, but only one answer
At this point, some critical questions should be addressed to the expert readers: Have you ever tried to varnish a melamine (KT) coated board using a high gloss product? Did you get it both economically and industrially?
What do you do when your traditional product doesn't adhere to melamine?
So, are you using highly qualified, expensive, complex application primers or sanding technology?
Have you ever machined these "Super-Matte" surfaces and applied the edges below?
In that case, did you notice mini scratches on the varnished surface along the machined edges?
Have you ever had to digitally print and adhere a decorative motif with UV ink onto a melamine surface and then apply continuous finish or even emboss afterwards?
Kleiberit's "Hot Coating" product and Barberán machines brilliantly solved all these tasks. Some other details, as the comments in the interview show, will always remain a secret. Bottom line: Only one book could be written on developing the grade of rubber used in our application rollers, says Barberán.
Digitally controlled cleaning and stabilized process
In course of developments, cleaning the application rollers at the end of the day was considered a challenge with objectives like ensuring quality, costs and reproducible processes. It can be challenging to clean a PUR applicator roller at 160 ° C while keeping all the important criteria in mind. This is no longer a problem today. All processes are fully automated and can be reproduced well and stably. Almost like our washing machine at home, there are programs ready to be used. Complete software packages for service, maintenance or cleaning intervals can be accessed at the push of a button.
To do this, the system continuously records data on the status and compliance of individual parameters and sends them to the cloud (status monitoring), where they are collected defined for later use. All Barberán users and customers trust these defined data about the process and the coating or laminating machine today. This documented and implemented knowledge of defined data is a stable foundation that grows almost every day. Creates great confidence in the ability to control often complex processes, procedures and contexts.
The long-term vision of the two partners, their resilience and broad willingness to cooperate have greatly helped to get to market quickly, as demonstrated by discussions with experts. This well-known and supposedly simple process of applying glue with a roller machine is an excellent example of a successful digital transformation that has also generated real benefits. The evaluation of the generated data brings advantages for the customer in the first place, but of course also for the manufacturer of the machine. As the first building block of a future ecosystem, this data is now available in a structured form to other potential authorized users. The glue application machine thus also becomes a data generating machine. As a result, in the future it may become the key component to serve as a model for a global digital process.