WHEN considering investing in automation and data-connected technologies, it’s crucial to factor in the upfront capital expense plus the overheads that can be reduced significantly or eliminated. These include the annual cost to the business of press downtime to manually fix print quality issues and set up the next job, substrate and ink waste, expenses incurred by returns and reruns and losing a valued print customer due to quality issues.
Other returns on investment can be more difficult to quantify, such as the savings realised through monitoring and improving processes, retaining and retraining skilled press operators, the ability to remedy problems as they occur (rather than after the job is run), plus the value of comparison and consistency from press to press, shift to shift and facility to facility.
Baldwin Vision Systems’ latest data-connected technology targeting consistent print quality for wide web applications is known as the Defender inspection and defect tracking platform.
Its first workflow component is Defender 100% Inspection, which utilises self-learning defect detection algorithms to quickly classify each defect, monitor press capabilities and automatically apply optimum inspection tolerances to each job. Operators can quickly modify and save job settings, as well as reduce false or nuisance alarms by adjusting the sensitivity levels for multiple defect and substrate types. Defender Data Central is the second workflow component. Quality control operators can analyse for defect distribution, count and type using the visual maps of each inspected roll. The system also identifies out-of-tolerance areas for removal and generates job-based quality reports.
Defender Waste Manager is the third workflow component. It interfaces with rewinding, slitting and sheeting equipment to automatically control when they stop or reject defective material. Defect location data speeds up the converting process by allowing operators to fast-forward to the exact location of the defect within a roll.
For narrow web applications and the highly regulated security printing and pharmaceutical industries, Baldwin Vision Systems supplies Guardian data-connected workflow technologies.
Guardian PQV 100% Print Inspection inspects all types of materials and substrates, enabling printers to eliminate every defect with an efficient, accurate, data-connected workflow. The system provides ‘object-based’ inspection throughout the printing process, ensuring tighter tolerances and fewer false defects. Areas of interest can be defined on the printed substrate for enhanced or reduced levels of inspection. Operators can spot errors, make adjustments in real time and manage defects throughout the entire process. The system records defect positions and images, making them accessible to operators during multiple post-press processes.
Press managers can track and compare different production metrics and observe changes as they happen with the optional Guardian Real-Time Monitoring (RTM) data-connecting technology. RTM uses a central server to monitor, collect and display real-time inspection data on a simple dashboard. It can collect data for multiple presses and jobs or across several plants – helping management tie together how they control their processes, people and customers.
Ease of use is an important consideration for a fast return on investment and quick deployment of any advanced print inspection technology. Systems that require little training to operate will benefit the bottom line during commissioning and when staff turnover impacts the business. Aside from training, simple-to-use and powerful systems can deliver a daily boost to production efficiency and increase the ability to achieve perfect print quality.
Advanced data-connected workflows enable printers and converters to make strategic decisions based on facts. With a tracking workflow, it’s possible to make tactical decisions about which defects do and don’t need to be removed (based on customers’ specifications) and to eliminate all defects from outgoing products. The results are maximised yields and profitability job after job.