Werner Kammann Maschinenfabrik GmBH & Co. KG and its subsidiary Kammann USA have built a reputation as a leading manufacturer and service provider of high-quality printing machines using cutting-edge technology for printing on 3-d items. Janice Gable Bashman reports on how these companies, despite ever-evolving technology, continue to meet and exceed customers’ expectations.
Printing has come a long way since Johannes Gutenberg created a book using movable metal type in the 1400s. Today, the printed word extends beyond printed matter such as books and magazines and can be found on virtually everything we use. It is rare to find an object, apart from blank paper, that does not contain some form of printed matter, either printed directly on or applied to the product.
For Werner Kammann and Kammann USA that means manufacturing and servicing high-quality printing machines that employ cutting-edge technology. It means remaining at the forefront of this ever-improving technology and conquering the company’s niche market – printing on 3-D items – which includes plastic or glass and optical discs (CD/DVD). It also means achieving the status of a market leader in all aspects of its business, staying ahead of its competitors, and meeting customers’ needs.
Kammann USA is a wholly owned subsidiary of Werner Kammann Maschinenfabrik GmbH & Co. KG. Kammann’s history dates back to 1948 when Werner Kammann built glass refractory systems in Germany to mold and decorate glass. Customers in the United States saw the need for this technology and purchased machines from Werner Kammann. In 1978, Werner Kammann started Kammann Machines, Inc. in Long Island, N.Y. with three employees in order to provide better service to its customers in the United States.
Werner Kammann focused its initial efforts on manufacturing and servicing machines that decorated an assortment of glass products. As plastic packaging replaced glass packaging, the company moved into decorating plastic for companies such as Clairol, Unilever, and Procter & Gamble. In the early 1980s, Kammann partnered with Procter & Gamble to create plastic no label look labels (using a label on plastic bottles instead of printing directly on the bottle), which enabled the machines to print faster using more colors. Kammann also introduced web screen printing at this time and started Kammann Machine Service in Newburyport, Mass. to provide parts and service for its machinery. In 1984, Kammann developed machines to print on optical discs, which at that time were CDs, and installed its first machines at Sony Music in 1986. These three aspects of its business – glass, plastic, and optical discs – continue to remain strong today.
In 2009, Kammann Machines, Inc. and Kammann Machine Service merged to create Kammann USA, which is located in Newburyport, Mass. To date, Kammann has installed over 2,500 machines in North America and employs over 300 people globally, including the United States and Germany.
The industry move from glass to plastic contributed greatly to Kammann’s success. “Plastic allowed more creativity in packaging design,” says Vice President of Sales & Marketing Steve Gilbertson, “so we created a new machine to meet the printing needs resulting from those changes.”
What’s interesting is that recent trends have brought glass back into some aspects of the traditional packaging industry because glass is viewed as more environmentally friendly. Kammann responded to this need by introducing UV curable inks and producing a machine that uses these inks for decorating on glass. “The new machines yield a 30-percent reduction in traditional materials used for printing and a 25-percent increase in productivity,” explains Gilbertson.
The use of UV curable inks (energy curable inks) produces a more consistent print quality than traditional inks, has a lower VOC (volatile organic emission compound) emission, and results in better shelf appearance than traditional solvents, whose ink colors are limited due to evaporation. “Traditionally, glass bottles were decorated with the applied ceramic labeling process but cadmium and lead were associated with that process. By using UV curable inks, Kammann eliminated the cadmium and lead from the resulting products and now offers its customers an organic and carbonless footprint printing package,” Gilbertson says.
As part of its ongoing innovation, Kammann has engineered a product it calls the K61-OS Web printing machine for combined screen/offset decoration, which offers performance, efficiency and reliability.
In response to the desire for digital printing (versus the traditional analog method), Kammann is producing a printing machine to provide customers with a repeatable and predictable printing process. This process will reduce waste, increase productivity, reduce lead time, and decrease the total cost of ownership.
All of Kammann’s manufacturing occurs at its three factories in Bünde, Germany, and the finished printing machines are shipped to locations throughout the world. The company builds approximately 23 different machines and is capable of manufacturing 30 to 50 units per year. In order to improve its global purchasing efforts, Kammann is looking to obtain high-quality parts at the best prices from suppliers throughout the world and ship them to Germany for assembly. “Right now, we purchase more from the United States than ever in history,” says Gilbertson. “We recognize that the quality is just as good as what we can buy anyplace else, the pricing is competitive, and the engineering is very good. We strive to provide the highest-quality product but we won’t sacrifice that quality for lower prices. There are companies in other parts of the world that build printing machines similar to ours, but the longevity of their equipment is significantly reduced when compared to ours.”
KEEPING IT MOVING
Kammann’s United States portion of the business consists of sales, service, and parts. The merger of Kammann Machines, Inc. and Kammann Machine Service into Kammann USA enables the company to provide better service to its customers, reduce some of the overhead in Germany, become more automated in its processes, and work smarter.
The company is in the process of developing a Web site that provides a virtual storefront where customers can obtain technical support, parts, or order service on-line 24 hours a day, seven days a week. “It’s a big deal that we provide better sales and service to our industry,” Gilbertson says. “We are providing better automation, and communicating better to our customers to let them know what is available, such as technology upgrades, rebuilds, tooling, and machine enhancements. What’s communicated to one customer will be communicated to all, so that each customer is informed on how to make his production most efficient.”
Kammann is also providing factory audits of machinery to determine efficiency uptime, which will enable the company to share with its customers what enhancements or upgrades their machines need in order to be most efficient. “Customers make money if their machines are efficient, and our goal is to make the machines as efficient as possible.”
Kammann’s new slogan is “we can.” That means that Kammann is more responsive, more innovative, and more forward thinking with its customers, striving to provide the best and most innovative products and service available.
Printing has come a long way since Gutenberg’s printing press, and Kammann, a recognized market leader in its field, proves that printing is a sustainable entity. “We’ve proven we are successful,” Gilbertson says. “And we plan to be here for the long haul.”