Kolbus partners with Manroland Sheetfed India

Kolbus is back and with luxury and corrugated cartons

Neeraj Dargan, managing director, Manroland Sheetfed India, Maximilian Schulte, area sales manager of Kolbus GmbH, and Kamal Vyas, general manager, Manroland Sheetfed India.
Neeraj Dargan, managing director, Manroland Sheetfed India, Maximilian Schulte, area sales manager of Kolbus GmbH, and Kamal Vyas, general manager, Manroland Sheetfed India.

Kolbus, based in Rahden, Germany, was the globally dominant supplier of book binding machinery and systems with a strong footprint in India, including the major book printing exporters. In January 2018, it sold the bookbinding systems to MullerMartini. Today, Kolbus has renewed its India activities with a sales and distribution partnership with Delhi-based Manroland Sheetfed India. Manroland Sheetfed will provide engineering and maintenance services for the Kolbus book case production and embossing, stacking, folding, and box case processing line for luxury machines including their previous models in the country while Kolbus, which continues to provide spare parts for many of its older machines, will supply these.

At a recent meeting at the Manroland Sheetfed office in West Delhi, Maximilian Schulte, area sales manager of Kolbus GmbH said, “Thanks to a partner like Manroland Sheetfed, Kolbus will now also provide service for casemakers and packaging machines; and in order to do that effectively, it is important to have engineers in the country. After-sales service is an important part of installing a machine.”

Luxury carton boxes made by Kolbus box making machine.
Luxury carton boxes made by Kolbus box making machine.

Kolbus has divested most of its binding equipment to Muller Martini to fully concentrate on casemaking and packaging machinery. “We see new scope for casemakers for the book industry. We have been selling casemakers for more than 50 years and with the right partner, it will regain recognition in the Indian market. In the last 20 years, we have sold more than 25 new casemakers in India and the number is much higher if you take into account the used machines. As for our packaging machines, we aim to become a well known brand in the industry,” Schulte said.

Kolbus, a company that dates back to 1775, started its venture into the packaging industry more than years ago. Part of that is a subsidiary company in the US called Hycorr, which makes equipment for flexo printing and rotary die-cutting of corrugated cartons. In 2018, Kolbus acquired UK-based box machine producer BCS Autobox Machinery, which produces very exciting modular equipment lines for short- and medium-run corrugated cartons including flexo and digital printing options.

Nevertheless, Kolbus remains a vertically integrated precision engineering company with a foundry, a parts manufacturing unit and a warehouse that are a all part of the Kolbus headquarters in Rahden, near Hanover. Its research and development activity is mainly in Rahden but also conducted in Krostitz near Leipzig as well as the Kolbus Autobox plant in the UK and its Hycorr plant in the USA. As of today, the company still produces parts for Kolbus book binding machines assembled and sold by Muller Martini.

Discussing the Kolbus plans for the near future in India, Neeraj Dargan of Manroland Sheetfed India said, “We already have experienced electrical engineers at Manoroland Sheetfed who can maintain Kolbus casemakers but we are still building up on the mechanical part. The mechanical engineers need to be trained at Kolbus Germany. Our plan is to get them trained before the first installation of a new Kolbus casemaking machine in India. We strongly believe that it will happen before drupa 2020.”

The Covid-19 pandemic led to the country-wide lockdown on 25 March 2020. It will be two years tomorrow as I write this. What have we learned in this time? Maybe the meaning of resilience since small companies like us have had to rely on our resources and the forbearance of our employees as we have struggled to produce our trade platforms.

The print and packaging industries have been fortunate, although the commercial printing industry is still to recover. We have learned more about the digital transformation that affects commercial printing and packaging. Ultimately digital will help print grow in a country where we are still far behind in our paper and print consumption and where digital is a leapfrog technology that will only increase the demand for print in the foreseeable future.

Web analytics show that we now have readership in North America and Europe amongst the 90 countries where our five platforms reach. Our traffic which more than doubled in 2020, has at times gone up by another 50% in 2021. And advertising which had fallen to pieces in 2020 and 2021, has started its return since January 2022.

As the economy approaches real growth with unevenness and shortages a given, we are looking forward to the PrintPack India exhibition in Greater Noida. We are again appointed to produce the Show Daily on all five days of the show from 26 to 30 May 2022.

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