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The Sustainability Warriors: Italiya Graphics Disrupts Digital Packaging Printing in Australia

With the first HP PageWide C500 in the region, the family business sets off on its mission to deliver high quality, sustainable print alternatives on a mass production scale.

from left to right: Paras Italiya, General Manager, Italiya Graphics; Vimal Italiya, Managing Director, Italiya Graphics; Bruce Caldwell, HP PageWide Industrial Sales Consultant for South Pacific.

Italiya Graphics will install the first ever HP PageWide C500 press in Asia Pacific. The HP PageWide C500 acquisition propels Italiya Graphics to the forefront of high graphics and sustainable digital packaging printing in Australia.

Based on HP Thermal Inkjet technology, The HP PageWide C500 provides offset print quality for an array of corrugated packaging and display applications on both coated and uncoated sheets. With the new installation, Italiya Graphics is uniquely positioned to drive mainstream production of high quality digital prints with ground-breaking time to market.

“We love disrupting the market. Being a water-based, single pass press that has inline aqueous coating, the C500 is the perfect press to ensure that our clients’ work is 100% recyclable & compostable, while meeting and exceeding their quality requirements,” said Vimal Italiya, managing director of Italiya Graphics.

“We are proud to partner with Italiya Graphics, a company that shares our bold vision to innovate and provide the best solutions for the world,” said Nick Price, Asia Pacific Business Manager, HP PageWide Industrial. “We understand the growing focus for brands to offer both high-quality and sustainable solutions, especially in the digitally printed packaging industry. Our PageWide Corrugated Presses are designed to promote and contribute to a circular economy, to grow our customers’ printing portfolio with true water-based inks and proven technology that open the doors to new possibilities.”

“With the C500 press Italiya and their customers can deliver packages faster to the market, meet tight deadlines, and with a higher flexibility to make last minute changes. Being a sustainable solution, there would also be less waste and obsolescence. This is unique to digital production which the C500 can provide to Italiya,” said Price.

Founded in 2017 by cousins Vimal and Paras Italiya, Victoria-based Italiya Graphics prides itself as being a family business. In recent years, Italiya Graphics has emerged as one of the most breakthrough success stories in Australia.

“We live by one rule: Can-Do,” said General Manager, Paras Italiya. “Quality is expected, but we go above and beyond for customer service, and we have trouble saying no to clients. We see our clients as family. This is one of the key reasons we’ve been able to see vertical growth even in Covid-19 times.”

To gain better understanding of the local printing business, Vimal and Paras had their start working in large format print shops in Australia. Over the years, with the experience gained working on all the major brands and with different types of equipment, Vimal and Paras bit the bullet to start Italiya Graphics.

“We knew right from the beginning that we needed to stand out in the crowd because we’re the new guys on the block. Australia is a very well established market, and very hard to break into. We could continue to try, and win with price, or we could try and be the best in terms of quality. But these days, clients expect everything to be the right quality at a low price,” said Vimal. “We quickly realised no one was really in that market of water-based, short to medium runs that is a family-type business with the ability to do the highest quality.”

Standing out in the Large Format Crowd

With its ‘Can-Do’ mantra, Italiya Graphics quickly became established in the marketplace for its point of sale (POS) material, which suited the company’s arsenal of flatbed presses. Italiya also has specially developed unique and proprietary construction methods – such as a ‘liquid laminate’ that provides an ultra glossy finish to eliminate the use of plastics – which earned the company confidence and loyalty from its clients. This led to opportunities in short run packaging.

“We work with a lot of major global brands for our point of sale display materials, and 99% of the work is cardboard. That's where our main strength is. We started getting inquiries for packaging from our existing clients, and we began picking up a few small orders from them. That's how we began to understand that there is a lot of growth in this area,” said Paras.

“There’s always a gap for short to medium run packaging. For many years, we’ve always done small to medium runs of packaging, but not in the scale that we could now get into. We never had the opportunity nor were we capable enough to offer our clients the larger scale service that they were asking for,” Paras continued.

When the Covid-19 crisis hit and the world took a backseat, Italiya Graphics took this opportunity to re-evaluate its business and where it wanted to go.

“Do we just want to be another printer doing large format? We were always in this constant fighting in auction-type arrangements with other companies, and the lowest price wins the bid. We could win those jobs and no doubt be successful, but it could get stressful because we work 24-hours, round-the-clock, to make it work,” said Vimal.

“With the pandemic, we were given the chance to switch directions and specialise where the market had gaps. With all the big players here in Australia, they will always crush us in terms of pricing for the bigger runs. With the smaller runs however, clients were not getting looked after. During Covid, a lot of these clients were told they have to wait up to two to three months to get a delivery,” Vimal continued.

“Another feedback that I kept hearing from the clients is that the major players in packaging can be very difficult to deal with in terms of lead times and flexibility, especially if any kind of variable data print (VDP) was required,” Paras added.

“Our clients have been asking for more environmentally friendly processes for some time now and we needed to answer that call and leapfrog the traditional suppliers. We’ve identified this gap in the market for a truly green large format printer in Australia, because no one at the moment is doing water based, high volume direct to carton printing at all,” said Paras.

Checking all the boxes: HP PageWide C500 Corrugated Press

“We already had the HP Scitex 15500 machine and the HP Scitex FB7600 sitting on the floor already, so we were very familiar with HP. We started looking at water-based technology and talked to HP about what we were looking for, and were introduced to the HP PageWide C500,” said Paras.

“No-one was offering a fast, flexible, high quality and sustainable solution, and this is exactly the area we want to disrupt with a water-based solution of the highest digital quality,” said Vimal.

The HP PageWide C500 prints at 75 linear mt/min (246 linear ft/min) in top print quality with 1200 npi resolution using one million nozzles. It delivers sharp text and barcodes, smooth tone transitions and vivid colours for low to high volumes of sheets. The press’ unique corrugated grip technology offers the handling of industry grade boards for smooth production flow. It also utilises a virtual belt technology that delivers accurate dot placement and media motion for high-quality digital print.

“Another key advantage with the C500 is that the water-based inks are 100% free of UV-reactive chemistries meeting the most stringent food packaging standards, so finally there is an alternative to traditional offset and flexo that offers all the digital advantages that is food safe,” said Vimal.

HP true water-based inks will allow the company to further its sustainability position, and open it up for other opportunities. Italiya can now print the most sensitive corrugated box applications for food products and produce that come in direct contact with the inside of the box. The inks meet stringent food safety requirements such as USDA FDA 21 CFR, Nestlé guidance, Swiss Ordinance, and EuPIA.

Italiya Graphics can also take full advantage of VDP: “The ability to do VDP and vary the data sheet by sheet, that was a real bonus. We can literally change 100% of the image for each board if required, which will allow our clients to truly explore VDP and run split tests for marketing based on regions, demographics, product etc.,” said Vimal.

Another winning factor of the C500 against offset technology is the press’ ability to print direct-to-board and on a much bigger sheet. The reduced set up times and makeready can help to save costs while significantly speeding up time to market. Italiya Graphics can print a client’s proof on the press for the most accurate ‘real’ proof, while still being competitive for the many runs that would normally be produced on offset presses.

Bring Work Back Locally

There has been a growing trend of an onshoring of jobs, that Vimal added the company has been benefitting from: “At this stage we’re focusing a lot on producing offshore work locally. A lot of the work that would otherwise go to China, are now coming to us. There has been less confidence in China as it has become increasingly more difficult to deal with them of recent times. Lead times are being blown out not by days, but months, and costs of international freight has skyrocketed.”

“This year alone we have seen many large campaigns that are worth millions of dollars being revoked from China and assigned to us because when the cost of additional freight is added in, and our ability to turn work around fast, suddenly local production becomes a real alternative and the C500 will only improve this for us,” said Paras.

“We love helping our clients, we love winning work against China and providing jobs to locals. Combine the C500 with some of our unique processes, we will be able turn work around even quicker, while providing more opportunities in the short to medium run packaging, while improving our position with point of sale material," said Vimal.

The HP Service Factor

COVID-19 not only gave Italiya Graphics the opportunity to change its business trajectory, it highlighted other pain points that were not as prevalent before. One of which were the importance of servicing. When Italiya first took on the packaging jobs, it had been using several of its European flatbed presses.

“With these flatbed inkjet printers, we have had quite a few problems with parts and support which became even more obvious during the pandemic. We realised we needed to partner with someone we could get round-the-clock, 24-hour support for all the parts and servicing we need. If HP does not have the part right now, they put it on a plane immediately and they get it here very quickly. HP has been very much instrumental in that whole process,” said Paras.

“When you make a huge investment in a HP machine like this, it is a big commitment. With this, also comes the investment for the finishing equipment. We were looking at a few digital presses from other top manufacturers, and to be absolutely honest, HP was the only one that was able to cover us when we really needed it. Getting back up and support is just as important as the actual mechanical machine itself,” added Paras.

“At the end of the day, I’m sure all the presses do a great job. But if you can’t get the support, you can’t get the parts when you really need them, there’s no point in having the press since it can’t work. That was one of the key strengths with HP – it cares about its clients’ uptimes. What became obvious throughout the process of evaluating the press was that HP are true partners in the journey and they are truly committed to creating the most sustainable solution that allows for a high level of future proofing,” Vimal continued.

“It’s fair to say in terms of press evolution and technical specifications, we were well advanced with the HP PageWide C500. With the HP Scitex industrial machines that Italiya Graphics had on site already, we were able to give them first-hand experience with the level and quality of our servicing, so that was helpful. It was great that they were able to experience HP from a response point of view, and it clearly helped with their decision,” said Bruce Caldwell, HP PageWide Industrial Sales Consultant, South Pacific Region.

“What really did it for us was how the relationship was with Bruce and the entire HP service team. They’ve become a part of the family, and once you’re in this circle, we’ll sit down and have a meal with you and break bread with you. It’s a family business! That’s how we treat our clients and our partners as well,” Paras continued.

The Green Road Ahead

The HP PageWide C500 is set to provide the best truly sustainable water-based solution for Italiya’s client base of many of the world’s biggest brands.

“Italiya aims to be a one-stop sustainable shop for brands. We want to be the market leader and at the forefront in the direction towards totally sustainable, green printing. It’s not just about the machinery, it’s the entire packaging process that we also take into account. The aim is to become carbon neutral, without the need to purchase carbon credits,” said Vimal.

There are plans for a 900+ KW Solar panel installation that will be followed by a 400 - 500KW battery installation to help ensure their carbon footprint is reduced significantly. In addition, Italiya will continue to invest efforts in its plastic-free alternatives, water-based adhesives, and minimal wastage initiatives.

With the C500 at the centre of Italiya’s green roadmap, Vimal and Paras has also adopted the ‘Printing with Conscious’ philosophy, highlighting their goal for Italiya Graphics to be market leaders in digital sustainable printing in Australia.

“We want to provide that extra service We want to make sure we’re ticking all the boxes in service, pricing and turnaround. We want our customers to feel at home with us, we emphasise our family business values and helping to bring print back to Australia whilst being sustainable. That’s really our whole idea,” said Vimal.

Any last words? “Yes, although we retain a relaxed attitude, we deliver on every aspect of professionalism across our business to ensure the customer’s journey and expectations are met on every level,” said Vimal. “That said, anyone planning to drop by Italiya Graphics, make sure you come during mealtimes. We’d love to have you share a meal with us and our kitchen is always open!”


First published in Print Innovation Asia Issue 12/2021.

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