SIX STROKES OF LUCK FOR A TRULY HAPPY ENDING

HiTech Ink. − Bekasi, Indonesia

For decades, Japanese-Indonesian ink manufacturer HiTech Ink. was an impenetrable fortress for Bühler. How then has it come to be that HiTech Ink. has partnered with the Swiss provider to realize a revolutionary new plant concept?

It’s a complicated story lasting years. A story of resistance overcome thanks to perseverance, knowledge, and passion. The heroes: Rita Suzanna and Iskandar Bongso. Suzanna is the Operational Director of HiTech Ink. in Indonesia, while Bongso is the Head of Sales, Advanced Materials. Our story revolves around ceramic balls that grind color pigments into micrometer particles and systems that mix them into high-end inks. For a long time, our story subsisted on hope alone. Out of curiosity grows trust that breaks the ice. And as is the case in any true tale, fate is also at play, entwined with strokes of luck.

Our story begins in 1996. A Japanese color and chemicals company expands, opening a subsidiary in Indonesia: HiTech Ink. The first stroke of luck: The Japanese parent company decides to task regional management with strategic development. Stroke of luck number two immediately followed: Rita Suzanna is hired as Operational Director. The third moment of luck: As a kick-start, HiTech becomes part of a joint venture with a small ink company, including the property, buildings, and machinery. It then purchases the Bühler agitated bead mill Boa 125 from the other partner. The Boa enters into the possession of HiTech in this indirect way, drawing attention to Bühler. The seed is sown. But, it will take nearly 20 years for it to take form.

HiTech starts with mini-scale production, manufacturing six tons per month. Right from the start, the company focuses on inks for noodle, cookie, chocolate, soap, diaper, and detergent packaging – primarily printed onto film or cardboard by its customers. The start-up quickly begins to grow and needs more equipment. As a business with a Japanese parent company, there is no doubt that the new machines will come from the Land of the Rising Sun. Solidarity among Japanese companies has proven itself for decades, a bond so strong that the Arctic will thaw before it breaks. At least for now.

Where inks get their quality

The Indonesian director soon begins looking for alternatives. She isn’t pleased that the newly delivered machines begin to malfunction after just a short time – the process zone giving out too quickly. “This kept us from growing,” the director remembers. She isn’t really impressed with the quality of the ink either. Suzanna reaches out to the Japanese parent company multiple times. At first, no one listens. Plus, she is lacking objective comparative data. The Bühler seed still hasn’t seen any sun.

To properly understand our story, we have to explain what quality means and where inks get their quality. First: Inks are an elixir of life. They are emotions captured visually. Flamered sunsets, deep-green jungles, warm-brown wheat fields:the richer and brighter the colors, the stronger the waves of emotion. Industrial chromatic printing requires another quality characteristic: flow properties. For all three characteristics – color saturation, gloss, color flow – there is one key criterion: the size of the pigment particles. The finer, the better.

The finer, the more light diffracts on the pigments and reflects the color waves to the eye of the observer; the finer, the better the ink flows, preventing the printing plates from clogging in production.

What others may tackle with grace, Bühler has elevated to a fine art. And what isn’t ground, blended, and dispersed on Bühler grinders and mixers? Wheat, rye, corn, cocoa and coffee, plastics, silver, carbon, pigments. All of these raw materials are transformed into flour, powder, dough, bulk, pastes, and inks in Bühler’s mills. Few have more knowledge of grinding. No one has over 150 years of Swiss tradition in grinding. No one invests up to 5% for research and development to continually optimize grinding processes – now more than ever with digital media. Bühler’s exceptional technological position is no accident. The enterprise’s global services, training, regional application centers, and solution expertise are just the icing on the cake.

HiTech still needs some time discover this hidden treasure for itself. Now queue the fourth stroke of luck: Iskandar Bongso enters the stage. As a new sales manager for ink machines in Indonesia, he brings with him fresh, new ideas. “I want to help our customers experience the values we create,” states Bongso. We’re now in the year 2007, a year of infinite expansion for the universe of ink.

Just as Rita Suzanna won’t budge in convincing her Japanese parent company, sales genius Bongso sticks to his guns trying to convince HiTech of the advantages of Bühler technology. Both are united in their fierce efforts to produce the best inks with the best processes. Yet they are still lacking evidence that could help the parent company in Japan to reexamine its stance on working with Bühler. Finally in 2012, after five long years, Bongso gets the idea to simply provide this potential customer with a test machine – a Cenomic 3 – for several months. Using their own formulas, HiTech will experience firsthand the difference in their own production environment.

Seeing is believing

And now it’s more than obvious – Cenomic 3 simply grinds better. In these dimensions of the microcosm, this is not trivial. Better grinding means better dispersion color intensity – meaning that up to 20% less pigment (an expensive material) is required to achieve the same ink quality.

The first proven experiences have the executives in Tokyo listening. They become curious. For the first time, the Bühler seedling begins to grow. And Suzanna is gentle with the delicate little plant. Initially, she discreetly requests to purchase two different machines: one from Bühler and one from a competitor. Suzanna’s plan is to keep a tight rein on the two machines as well as the existing equipment for one year – and then to decide.

May 23, 2013, is the moment of truth. Stroke of luck number five: Trust has set in. Dependable trust, between the Japanese mother company and its Indonesian daughter; and between HiTech and Bühler. The ice is broken. Suzanna may decide for herself on the equipment. They didn’t have to tell her twice. Right away, she orders the Cenomic 3 from Bühler. “For me, this was one of the most exciting moments in my life,” explains the HiTech Director.

Now, everything goes very quickly. HiTech orders exclusively from Bühler – two Cenomic 6 and one SuperFlow VCRZ200 in 2014, with additional Cenomic machines following in 2016. “Each new machine once again confirms that Bühler was the right choice for us,” states Suzanna with excitement. Supported by Bühler equipment, HiTech has joined the highest ranks among Indonesian ink producers – and is by far the quality leader. Six tons of “okay” inks transform into 1,000 tons of high-end finishing materials. The many orders and commissioning processes, the continual local support have another effect too: They have made the supplier a true partner. “HiTech and Bühler have become an unstoppable team,” says Suzanna. Is this the end to our story? It’s just getting started. It is early 2018, and HiTech continues to expand. The company is once again looking to invest, to take a leap – and if possible, not only boost its capacities, but its efficiency and quality as well. Along comes stroke of luck number six, and it has a name: SKID.

The concept revolution

“SKID is a technological leap, a concept revolution, an efficiency boost,” explains Bongso. To grind pigments even finer, Bühler has developed two completely new machines in the last few years: MacroMedia and MicroMedia. For the first step, MacroMedia grinds the rough pigments from 400 to 500 to less than 100 micrometers. Next, it’s MicroMedia’s turn, grinding them down to less than 5 micrometers. Bühler is the only supplier able to cover this range and freedom with only two grinding levels. Never before could inks shine with such richness. And that’s not all: Based on these two machines, Bühler is currently developing a modular solution with tanks, mixers, and automated systems.

For the first time, customers can take advantage of a standard solution for producing high-end inks that saves up to 10% raw materials thanks to finer grinding, one that requires up to 30% less energy, and cuts costs by up to 20%. SKID is not just a development in ink production – it’s a new generation. We will give you three guesses, dear readers, as to the first Bühler customer to order and use SKID across the globe. Stay tuned.

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