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FLEXO Magazine : April 2011
Plants & Processes Smyth: Old Company, New Tricks training leaves time for Flexing creative Muscle Although Smyth Companies is one of the oldest busi- nesses in Minnesota, there is nothing creaky in its approach. After four generations of business, starting in 1877 when Henry Martin Smyth founded the company, the label-making giant prides itself on being an early adapter. To witness: Smyth, a member of Flexographic Technical As- sociation since 1986, was the first label-printer in the U.S. to adopt computer-to-plate workflow, commercialize six-color, high-fidelity printing and bring clear polystyrene in-mold labeling products to market. Its recent investments in technol- ogy include a servo-driven Omet UV flexo/rotary screen press for producing shrink labels and enhancing traditional roll-fed pressure-sensitive label production, as well as an eight-color Mitsubishi press with interdeck curing capability to handle thin film used for in-mold and beverage labels. “ We like to stay on the cutting edge and be innovative in how we use technology,” says Kim Madigan, director of corporate color management at Smyth’s Minneapolis headquarters. “In terms of both the products we develop and the materials we use—software, hardware, equipment, supplies—we’re usually among the first to use them. We’re always pushing vendors to bring us their newest stuff.” With five production facilities spread throughout Minne- apolis, Minn., Bedford, Va., Austin, Minn. and Golden, Colo. , there is ample opportunity for the company ’s 350 employees to learn the latest techniques in label-printing. Smyth uses several processes, including roll-fed UV flexo and UV rotary screen, digital print and sheet-fed litho, to create in-pack and on-pack promotional labels. Smyth’s product line runs the gamut: pressure-sensitive, glue-applied cut-and-stack, shrink- sleeve and heat-transfer labels roll off digitized high-speed presses. The company makes the most of its staff ’s brain power, offering in-house design, prepress services, label management and inventory programs, concept development and proprietary application solutions. Smyth targets several markets, including personal care, household care, food and beverage, private labeling and beer, wine and spirits, and the company counts MillerCoors, Pepsi and General Mills among its clients. Photos: smyth companies 38 FLEXO aPril 2011 www.flexography.org Lessons Learned • Training saves time, which frees employees up to generate ideas and meet the challenges of new projects. • When day-to-day tasks become second nature, both management and staff can focus their energies else- where in the business. • FIRST training presents a learning opportunity for vendors.