Watershed expands with Mark Andy P5E

The Watershed Group, one of Ireland’s largest labelling and packaging converters, has invested €3 million to expand, moving to new headquarters in Dublin and buying a Mark Andy P5E narrow web flexo press.

Patrick Murphy, director with Watershed and Liz Waters, CEO of Watershed, with the Mark Andy hybrid press.

Watershed was founded by Tom Waters in 1992 in Dublin and has grown steadily through acquisitions. This includes The Label Centre in Dublin, London Print Services in the UK, Etiko in Poland, and Romer Etikett in Germany. The new factory in Dublin gives Watershed twice as much space as before and is a major part of the Group’s stated aim of achieving €30m revenue over the next two years. 

Watershed currently runs 11 Mark Andy presses, including seven P5Es, the latest of which has just been installed at the new Dublin plant. This is an eight-colour 430mm model fitted with full UV, turn bars, delam/relam, chilled impression rolls and the QCDC die station.

In 2017 Watershed installed the first Mark Andy digital hybrid press in the UK and Ireland. This followed the acquisition of an existing speciality drinks business, The Label Factory, allowing Watershed to expand into the market for premium drinks labels. The hybrid press was chosen to help the company differentiate itself from other label converters in this market. The Digital Series, which is based on the modular P7E platform, has a 330mm web width and is fitted with four flexo units, one with reverse print option, along with the CMYK plus white inkjet engine, laminating and QCDC-SR die station. It runs at 70mpm. Patrick Murphy, a director with Watershed, explains: “We know how good Mark Andy flexo quality is, so the commercial possibilities and cost saving benefits of combining flexo with the flexibility of digital inkjet in one press was too tempting to resist. The digital quality matches the flexo, and if need be, we can bypass the digital engine and run the press all flexo.”  

The company also recently installed two Rotoflex HSI, pharmaceutical standard inspection rewinders, fitted with Eye-C technology for 100% accuracy. These give roll-to-roll label inspection, slitting and rewinding, in an operator-friendly horizontal orientation. They have a 440mm web width capability, and feature Servo eDrive and URC 2.0 control for production speeds up to 305m/min.

Liz Waters, Watershed’s CEO, says that the group was the first label company to operate Mark Andy presses in Poland, Germany and Ireland, adding: “We decided that building close strategic partnerships is a key element of our growth strategy and aligning our business with Mark Andy continues to be the right decision. As with all partnerships, it’s not been without issue, but both sides have benefitted from their commitment to work at a problem and develop the solution.”

Watershed has also opted to use a Label Traxx MIS, which Waters says is essential to running a multi-press operation, explaining: “The recent installation of Label Traxx MIS has provided us with so much quality information that we can evaluate the productivity and potential of each press in each plant to give us and our brand owners complete supply chain flexibility.” She adds: “For an operation like ours, which is margin driven, live accurate data is vital”

In addition, Watershed is also planning to install the first Vivo Colour Solutions system in Ireland. This colour management device from Flint Ink, which is Watershed’s ink supplier, should help to reduce waste and improve productivity through faster colour matching and control. I’ve already covered this here.

Watershed is also planning to expand through further corporate acquisitions this year, particularly in other European countries. You can find more information on Watershed at www.watershedgroup.com and on Mark Andy at www.markandy.com.

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