Ramón Serra: “Cardboard must be handled carefully
throughout the entire printing process to keep all of
its qualities intact”.
In an increasingly ever-changing world, customer demands and needs mean implementing
the latest technological innovations in order to offer a service that meets customer
expectations. Viewed in these terms, SERRA INDUSTRIES, a company that has been
dedicated to the machine design and production of corrugated cardboard for over 49
years, has decided to focus on innovation in international digital printing with the aim of
leading the packaging industry of the 21 st century.
In recent years, the R&D department at SERRA INDUSTRIES has developed a new easily
integrated module concept for handling cardboard before and after the digital printing
process. These perfectly compatible modules are able to offer the combined advantages of
extensive flexo-printing experience with the quality and versatility of digital printing.
All these R&D efforts have resulted in the Digital Printing Modules, easily integrated units
that respond to a superior strategy and provide an end-to-end solution to the digital
printing line. Ramón Serra, CEO of SERRA INDUSTRIES, discusses the company’s new
What is your impression of the corrugated cardboard industry today?
The corrugated cardboard industry is experiencing considerable growth, thanks to the boom
in recyclable and sustainable packaging. However, the sector needs to incorporate
innovations to continue to succeed in an extremely competitive market. To that end,
technological advances like digital printing, process digitalization and Industry 4.0 have
enormous potential for the sector. The incorporation of digital processes into the
production chain allows for more effective manufacturing and enhanced task planning. In
addition, digitization makes new ways to communicate with the customer possible.
Are you focusing your efforts on digital printing?
Of course, and without any hesitation. Digital printing is fast making its way into the
corrugated cardboard sector. SERRA INDUSTRIES collaborated with Barberán’s first single-
pass digital printing line together with Chimigraf in 2013, which earned the Gold Award for
Best Innovation in the Corrugated Paper Sector at the 2013 FEFCO Technical Seminar. Since
then, there has been a technological race among different newcomers to our industry
–including Barberán, EFI, Durst and HP– to develop the best digital printing line on the
From left to right: Clêo Vargas, from Chimigraf, Dennis van IJzerloo,
from Barberán, and Ramón Serra, from Serra Industries.
What has SERRA INDUSTRIES contributed to this technological race?
Our best contribution has undoubtedly been know-how. We have 40 years of experience in
the industry, we have over a thousand installations worldwide, 60 of which are already
modules incorporated into several brands of digital printers. Many of our patents are
currently used by numerous OEMs (Original Equipment Manufacturers).
As I said before, big companies have entered the sector as yet another player in the game,
and while they all have extensive expertise in digital printing technology, they’re just
starting out in corrugated cardboard, or “new substrate”, as they call it.
What is the most common mistake that people make when choosing a digital printing
I wouldn’t call it a mistake, if anything, it’s about a lack of knowledge. That is, I think all the
attention is always focused on choosing the right digital printer for each case —and it’s
certainly complicated, since the market offers excellent options— however, what people
forget is that cardboard must be fed into the printer and stacked post-printing with the
same standard of quality expected of the digital printer. A Ferrari can’t reach its maximum
potential on bike wheels, everything must be up to par: quality, registration during
transport, stacking, etc. Cardboard must be handled carefully throughout the entire printing
process to keep all of its qualities intact. It’s not that easy, and if we want to be successful
and win the race, we need a powerful engine and tires proportional to the power of the car
just to be on the track.
What do you mean when you say that cardboard must be handled carefully?
Cardboard isn’t completely flat, it has dust on its surface, its grooves may not be perfectly
symmetrical, the quality of the paper may vary and the cardboard curves slightly after the
Therefore, it must be treated with extreme care, avoiding rollers and other elements that
crush the flute between the paper, and in a digital printing line the cardboard isn’t crushed
against a plate, and therefore keeps its qualities intact better.
When it comes to ensuring the highest quality box, these and many others factors can only
be taken into account with the right technology. Printing is one of a series of important
processes, but it is during the handling of cardboard sheets when the quality of the box is
either put at risk or maintained intact. It’s just plain common sense that if we choose a high-
quality printer we must ensure that the rest of the modules along the line also meet the
same standards. Like I said, a Ferrari on bike wheels is useless.
Module XXX for XXX (complete)
How do the SERRA INDUSTRIES Customized Modular Units (CMU) help meet these high-
As I said, 40 years of experience in the corrugated cardboard sector along with remarkable
patented innovations, the result of our R&D, ensure that our integrated modules contain all
applicable technological advances and are optimized to guarantee the perfect handling of
the corrugated cardboard sheets to keep quality intact.
Overall, I can say that all the modules can be easily integrated into the best digital printers
on the market today. Fully integrated, that is, both mechanically and electronically so that
the digital printer controls the entire line. The modular concept makes it possible to
purchase the entire suite of modules together with the printer or gradually add them later
with the same quality commitment and assurance. Having modules from the same
manufacturer significantly streamlines maintenance and makes better after-sales service
When do customers turn to SERRA INDUSTRIES?
There are several scenarios when this happens. End customers come from the OEM of the
digital printer or they can contact us directly. Either way, we always work together with the
OEM of the digital printer to provide an integrated solution.
It is important to keep in mind that all digital printers come with a feeder and a stacker for
bundles and stacks. The end customer also comes to SERRA INDUSTRIES when their
expectations aren’t met, either because of a technical matter or factory space issue.
There are also those customers who want to complete the line with other modules that the
OEM of the digital printer doesn’t offer, such as a pre-feeder and a turning and stacking
Are there any real cases that could better illustrate the digital line solutions SERRA
I could give you several examples, but perhaps one of the most illustrative is the job we did
for a large group in southern Europe. The manager came to SERRA INDUSTRIES after
choosing the digital printer that best suited his needs. He had already bought several pieces
of equipment from us in the past and knew that he could count on us for complex solutions.
The customer wanted the following modules: pre-feeder, feeder, counter ejector and
stacker. The issue was that this set-up is usually 45-meters long, but there was only 34
meters of space available.
After working together with the OEM of the printer module and taking into account that we
had to add the feature of turning the sheets before and after printing, we came up with a U-
shaped design where the pre-feeder and the counter ejector are at a 90º angle. We also
designed a stacker robot to save even more space for the customer.
(imagen solución completa, atención tapar impresora) Estoy esperando que me den una
visión 3D de toda la línea.
Could you briefly explain to me what advantages SERRA INDUSTRIES modules have over
those of the competition?
Versatility is increased with our pre-feeders, since these prepare any sheet of corrugated
cardboard with a minimum distance between each sheet, regardless of whether the
printable side is on the top or bottom; it also increases productivity by allowing multiple
sheets to be fed. It is important to emphasize that our feeders are the only ones on the
market that can feed several sheets at once, since this is a technology patented by SERRA
INDUSTRIES. They also ensure the quality of the cardboard while preserving its resistance
when integrating the non-crush system technology.
On the other hand, the outputs of the bundle or stack ejectors optimize space; they’re the
most compact on the market. With the stackers, the customer gains versatility by being able
to decide if he wants the printed side on the top or bottom inside the stack and the robotic
solutions optimize factory space.
What other options do customers have for customizing their digital printing line?
The SERRA INDUSTRIES CMU (Customized Modular Units) can be modified, adapted to the
needs of the client, and we can even create new modules to satisfy a requirement from a
specific client. All our modules have the “mirror” option, which means the customer can
choose which side of the line (left or right) they want the touch screens and control panels.
Currently, we are working to provide special solutions to customers, such as a robot pre-
introducer and line rotary die-cutter.
I understand you have already done several installations. Where are they?
In fact, there are already about 60 modules installed and operating worldwide. Specifically,
in Europe, the US and Australia.
How do you provide tech support in places that are so far away?
The entire line has a remote connection system through which we can see the status of the
equipment and its performance. Should anything fail, both the OEM of the digital printer
and SERRA INDUSTRIES can go solve the problem.
Where can we find out more about the Digital Printing Modules?
We will thoroughly explain the modules for the digital printing line at AICC 2019 in
Charlotte, North Carolina (USA), at the end of February. You can find us at CCE International
in Munich 2019 in March, where visitors can see our modules integrated into several digital
printers and, of course, people can ask our team for all the information they need at booth