A clean sheet.
No customer excuses errors – and certainly not in the demanding world of packaging printing. But how do you keep quality high without also increasing costs? The answer lies in a combination of fixed standards and variable parameters.
Three seconds is all it takes for a supermarket customer to decide what to buy, so international branded companies that invest a great deal of money in advertising and product presentation are completely unforgiving. If they spot the tiniest flaw on a folding carton or label, they return the pallets to the print shop.
Three seconds is
all it takes for a supermarket customer to decide what to buy...
To prevent this from happening, production must be faultless. With increasingly complex jobs needing to be completed ever faster, this is a real challenge. Kilian Renschler, Head of Packaging Product Management at Heidelberg, has the solution: “The higher the degree of automation and the more integrated the inspection measures, the closer the print shop gets to the target of zero errors.” Prinect provides the necessary digital tools for this. Companies can use this workflow and assistance systems such as Intellistart to link their presses and color measuring/inspection systems into intelligent control loops and share data between all production steps. The objective is an intelligently networked production environment that automatically checks target values for each process step.
Pharmaceutical and consumer goods giants keep a very close eye on brand presentation to make sure it is exactly the same whether in Miami, Moscow or Mumbai. For suppliers, that means ensuring an identical print image across a number of sites and production processes. This can only be achieved with a standardized database. When an order is received, the job data is recorded in Prinect. This provides the one and only basis for all subsequent processes from prepress to finished product, such as generating the presetting data for press and postpress in an automated process. A precise description of the house and brand colors is also available in a central color database.
„Prinect enables workflow-managed production in conjunction with automated and standardized processes. This prevents an inconsistent approach and incorrect entries – the most common sources of errors in the printing process.“
The Primefire 106 accesses this data to ensure production meets customers’ exact requirements and rule out possible defects in the substrate before the ink is applied. Sensors scan each sheet for mechanical defects. After printing, four high-resolution cameras immediately behind the jetting unit have the task of inspecting a quality control strip. If they detect a defective sheet, this is ejected in the delivery and – this is the crucial feature – replaced automatically. “Perfect Stack” technology thus forms perfect piles of OK sheets.
Prinect enables all processes to be automated – from product development (creating the structural design) and prepress (processing individual repeats) to sheet assembly. The control units either rectify errors automatically or notify users, who can then intervene manually. This eliminates all the mistakes that occur during hectic day-to-day operations. The same applies to presetting data for press and postpress – it is generated and passed on automatically. Push to Stop thus becomes the norm for users. Operators navigate their way through the production process and the end result is autonomous production.
„Prinect provides a central data platform for job and color data and also the job settings for initial production – for identical results whatever the location or printing method.“
When performing offset production on Speedmaster presses, color measuring and control systems ensure precise, even coloring throughout the run. If Prinect Image Control 3 is used, operators can even check the values on the monitor of the Prinect Press Center XL 2 . This ensures that each and every repeat meets requirements, especially in the case of narrow tolerances.
As soon as production of OK sheets is up and running, Prinect Inspection Control 2 also takes over quality assurance. The inline inspection system detects the tiniest flaw at maximum printing speed. Two high-resolution color cameras check each sheet for material/pulling errors, hickeys, ink splashes and scumming. All systems generate reports documenting quality.
„Prinect links equipment and quality measuring systems into intelligent control loops. The components involved monitor the production parameters, detect quality deviations in real time and immediately trigger corrective actions.“
To ensure production is both free of errors and highly cost-effective, the press operator defines the tolerances for reporting errors during setup. Products for less exacting customers, for example, can be assigned higher tolerance values than packaging for high-end customers. It is also possible to define what to do in the event of imperfect sheets. Should they be removed immediately or marked by inserting an identifying strip? Or should only the defective repeat be disposed of – in the case of an expensive material, for example – and safely removed by diana eye prior to postpress? This offline inspection system has an incredibly sharp eye that even reliably spots defects on coated surfaces, films and holograms.
„The inspection quality for the pile of OK sheets and follow-up actions if defects are detected can be defined on the Prinect Press Center XL 2. The focus for each job is on economic considerations.“
The result is always the same – packaging that looks immaculate and meets all the legal requirements. “Standardized zero-error production strengthens print shops’ market position as reliable partners of brand owners,” stresses Renschler.