Decisive for the efficiency of modern machine concepts in label and narrow web packaging printing are flexibility in configuration options, as well as the ability to change printing processes and jobs quickly. This is underscored by a look at the trend landscape within label and packaging printing. How does the Gallus Labelmaster assert itself as the most recent product development of the traditional Swiss manufacturer in a market that is increasingly demanding more flexibility? An occasion to take a closer look at the market trends and compare them with the features of the machine concept.
Many of the recently identified macro trends  in label and packaging printing have an impact on label and packaging product design - and thus on the demands that machines such as the Gallus Labelmaster must meet today. The following overview of current developments and trends gives a more detailed picture of these requirements.
At the forefront of Macro Trends are changes in consumer behaviour as well as trends that can be attributed to fashion & design or retail development. For label and packaging printing, this is reflected in the increase in job changes and decreasing print runs.
The Internet of Things (IOT) is especially important for the macro trend technology.
The current trend in consumer behaviour towards simplicity in design does not necessarily mean that this also represents less effort in the requirements of the printing technology.
In the Gallus Labelmaster Advanced, all flexographic printing units can be exchanged by either screen printing, hot foil or die-cutting units. Additionally it is also possible to replace them with units from OEM manufacturers. (Source: Picture by courtesy of Gallus Ferd. Rüesch AG)
What technical characteristics do modern machine systems need today in order to meet these market requirements? The Gallus Labelmaster belongs to a machine class that offers a balanced degree of automation with high profitability for the operator. With its modular structure, it offers a multitude of configuration options and is therefore very much in line with market requirements: The Gallus Labelmaster Advanced is designed so that all process changes in the printing section occur at a level known as the primary process level. As a result, all flexographic printing units can be replaced by screen printing units, hot foil units as well as punching units. It is also possible to replace them with units from OEM manufacturers. A process change, i.e. changing one printing unit to another, requires less than 15 minutes for this equipment variant to "ready-to-print". This makes the machine system flexibly configurable for every job requirement. The Gallus Labelmaster Advanced does not have to be switched off during the process change, the process change takes place while the machine is running, which brings a time and therefore monetary benefit. Since all units are located on the same leading axis, this also offers control-related advantages over machine systems in which the screen printing unit is located on a rail above the flexographic printing units or added as drop-in station.
Although these machines also offer a certain degree of flexibility in principle, there are significant losses in changeover times, pressure stability and thus ultimately in the productivity of the machine solution. Process changes require considerably longer for such solutions, with rail systems a total of approx. 30 min (+ 100%), with drop-in variants even up to 45 min (+ 200%). If one assumes in practice approximately 2 process changes per shift, then this different time requirement for the process changes is expressed in annual savings of 38.400 EUR / year in 2-shift operation compared to a rail system, or 76.800 EUR / year compared to a drop In variant. Following macro trends, process changes will continue to increase and the shortest possible process changes will be even more important for the efficiency of a machine system in the future.
The basic version of the Gallus Labelmaster also offers the option of two interchangeable processes within the printing units, for example a screen printing unit and a hot foil stamping instead of two flexo units. Again, the change in any position of the machine is possible. Machines that were configured as a pure flexographic printing line at the time of purchase can be retrofitted with the option of changing two units, for example with a punch or screen printing unit. In this way, a customer can also use the machine for other applications / products and has investment security for a changing product portfolio. If one draws a cost comparison for process changes with machine systems of other types, this results in an annual saving of 12,800 EUR / year compared to a rail system, or 51,200 EUR / year compared to a drop-in variant.
Today's machine systems have yet to meet other trends. One of these trends is the sustainability of packaging, which will attract much more attention in the future.
Demand for a machine concept with low volume of paper wastage
Following these trends, the question arises as to how a machine concept must be designed that meets the requirements of ecology and sustainability. Low paper wastage is a weighty criterion not only for reasons of sustainability, but also for potential savings. In this case for the Gallus Labelmaster, the web travel from printing unit to printing unit is 1.4 m. This is made possible by the arrangement of all essential processes on the primary level, whereby no change to another level is necessary. The use of a screen printing unit on a rail, for example, causes an additional path of 4 to 6 meters. The arrangement of the printing units on the primary level, however, saves material, time and costs during setup and becomes even more important with increasing job and material changes.
For fast process and job changes, the user-friendly features of a printing press are crucial. This includes the entirety of the "easy-to-use" properties. For example, that during the process change on the primary process level no chain hoist is needed. Or stable printing units in which printing cylinders and anilox rollers are equipped with bearer rings. They ensure consistent print quality by eliminating the formation of gear marks that always occur over time with gear-driven printing cylinders.
The lightweight printing cylinders of the Gallus Labelmaster can be changed in no time at all. A machine with eight printing units requires less than 8 minutes to change, even less when two people are performing the change at the same time. For this purpose, a special clamping system has been developed to accommodate the cylinders. Also of advantage is the practical and ergonomic arrangement of the operating buttons, which, from experience, are installed where the operator expects them.
For maintenance, the printing units can be easily removed so that no machine failure occurs during such operations. When integrating screen printing units, it proves to be an advantage that they are designed and manufactured by Gallus itself and that a separate model is used for each machine type, which is integrated in the control system. Also noteworthy is the design of the chambered doctor blade, with robust ink chambers that require a very small amount of ink from 220 to 1,500 ml. The rounded shape of the ink channel in the chamber blade results in improved circulation of the ink with less tendency to trapped air and allows for easier cleaning. All of these criteria help to make a machine easy to operate for the operator and easy to change over.
With its concept for fully flexible process and job changes at a primary process level, Gallus is fully in line with the requirements of today's macro trends in label and packaging printing. In particular, rapid job and process changes are becoming significantly more important in order to remain competitive and produce efficiently. At the same time, a flexible machine concept means investment security for the user, as it can be quickly adapted to changing market conditions. Thus, it is worthwhile for printers to calculate the cost of day-to-day production on a label printing machine - over the entire life cycle of the respective machine solution. In the course of increasing industrialization in label and packaging printing, the productivity of the machine solution is becoming the main driving force for sustainable business success.
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