by Amy Weiss | 1/20/16
On January 15, Muratec America announced its entry into the label printer market with a series of digital presses designed for short-run, high-definition color labels. The Precision Label Series (PLS) consists of the PLS-2112 digital press and PLC-2112F digital finishing system, and the PLS-5150 digital press and PLS-5150F digital finishing system.
The smaller PLS-2112 prints continuous-fed media or cut sheets up to 8.5 inches wide on a variety of media stocks at up to 25 feet per minute, while the PLS-2112F finisher offers die cutting for customized labels, with an average speed of 10 feet per minute. The PLS-5150 allows for higher throughput, printing continuous-fed media or cut sheets up to 12.5 inches wide at 30 feet per minute; the PLS-5150 finisher likewise offers faster speeds of 30 feet per minute and accepts larger sizes than the PLS-2112F.
“These products signal a new era for Muratec,” said Jim D’Emidio, president, Muratec America, Inc. in a prepared statement. “The label market is exploding year-over-year, and the demand for short-run capabilities is one of the hottest growth areas. Most dealers we’ve approached with our label presses were able to quickly identify current customers who could benefit from a short-run digital label press. With a background in on-site service, customer support and professional sales approaches, the office equipment dealer channel is perfect to distribute these solutions.”
The PLS-5150 digital press and finisher.
The PLS-2112 digital label press features an MSRP of $24,995, and the PLS-2112F features an MSRP of $39,995; MSRP for the PLS-5150 digital label press is $52,995, and MRRP for the PLS-5150F is $74,995. All are currently available.
We were intrigued by Muratec America’s entry into the label market and spent some time talking with the firm’s Director, Marketing and Sales Support Lou Stricklin, and Marketing Coordinator Andrew Jones about this new direction for the traditionally office-equipment-centric division of Japan’s Murata Machinery Ltd.
“We see it as a core growth initiative,” said Stricklin when asked about strategy. “We talk to dealers about diversifying their businesses, but we have to diversify ours as well if we want long-term growth.”
The need for the ability to print short runs of labels on demand has grown, says Stricklin, with the “Amazonization” of the world, in which almost anyone can create a product, label it, and be in business. The farm-to-table movement, in which smaller produce companies sell to restaurants is a good example, as is the burgeoning craft and micro-brew market. These type of businesses are Muratec’s sweet spot — the average job, says Stricklin, is 500 to 5,000 labels. “If they went to a label converter, they’d need to print much more — 100,000 labels. With the ability to print on demand they can print exactly as many as they need.”
The lack of waste is a big selling point for Muratec’s devices as well, as it eliminates the need to print vast numbers of labels that may then become outdated, or become discolored as they sit in storage. The ability to print short runs on media from matte to high gloss or polyvinyl, and then die cut and laminate, offers the level of customization small businesses are looking for. “This is your customer’s actual line of business,” Stricklin emphasizes. “You’re helping them sell their product, and deliver more value to what they’re doing.”
This leads to the sales methodology for the dealers themselves. How do Muratec dealers like the new line, and how different are the sales methods? It’s been going over well, says Stricklin, who notes that Muratec has spent the last six months building a support program. Dealers go through a three-day workshop, which includes both sales and service training. It’s fairly unique, he says, in that everything they do is through the dealer channel. “In the BTA space, no other manufacturers are doing what we’re doing.”
The sales methods, of course, are different. “The office equipment market is very important — you’re helping with back-end business products, etc., but the customer never sees that,” notes Stricklin, whereas with the label printers, “you’re engaged with them at their business level, helping them grow their brand and create market differentiation. For the sales rep it is important to have a conversation about, ‘I want to help you separate your business from the competition. I can give you the ability to update or change your brand overnight.’ It gets away from just a price conversation, offering efficiency and a solution that will really stand out from competitors.” It’s a much deeper conversation. But of course, Stricklin says, ultimately there are money saving benefits to be discussed as well — there is not a new art fee or a die cut fee when a design is changed, for example
Both Stricklin and Jones say they expect the two new series to be just the beginning. “We see new generations of the devices, we can see expanding, moving upstream with faster feeds and speeds and different finishing options.”
Although the label market is neither new nor unique, Muratec seems to have found new and unique angles for their entry into the market. If the initial success is any indication — quite a few devices were placed the day of our conversation — the firm may have an interesting new market to explore. We will be keeping an eye on Muratec’s new venture to see how it proceeds..