Expert Talk.

Smart drive for shorter makeready times.

The blue of Nivea, the red of Coca Cola: although spot colors are an important brand hallmark, they are also the biggest obstacle to productivity in the makeready process due to the frequent color changes – although Hycolor Multidrive is set to change this. The smart inking unit drive for the Speedmaster XL 106 shortens makeready times significantly. Product Manager Arnd Westermann explains how this works and what else Hycolor Multidrive can do to increase output and economic efficiency.

Mr Westermann, let's kick off with a very specific question: how much time does Hycolor Multidrive save when changing over a Speedmaster XL 106 that is printing spot colors?

Makeready times of less than five minutes are possible in principle – including changing the color. This is confirmed by our customers. We did a live demonstration at drupa of how makeready times can be reduced from 15 minutes to 5 minutes. However, it is not possible to generalize about how much time each individual operation will save. The longest step in the makeready process is washing the inking unit. It thus plays a central role in shorter makeready times at the printing press. Hycolor Multidrive therefore parallelizes makeready operations in an intelligent way.

Parallel instead of consecutive makeready processes: how does that work?

Thanks to Hycolor Multidrive, the inking and dampening units can operate independently from the main drive. Washing the inking unit can therefore take place in parallel to changing the printing and coating plates or at the same time as washing the rubber blankets and impression cylinders. The synchronous workflows make this particularly time-saving when working with several spot colors or a print varnish.

Addressing the topic of “intelligent technology”, to what extent does the inking unit drive think for itself, and what are the benefits for the user?

The integration of the Speedmaster XL 106 into the Prinect workflow and the Intellistart 2 machine software result in many benefits for our customers and users. The software plans and controls the print jobs and during a job change determines the shortest makeready process, including the best possible use of Hycolor Multidrive. It knows the parameters of the next job and proposes the optimum inking unit cleaning process from the point of view of time and quality. The operator can see the proposed makeready steps at all times on the Prinect Press Center XL 2 machine control station, and can adapt them if necessary. The Speedmaster XL 106 then starts these steps automatically and executes them promptly. The high level of automation also frees the operator from routine tasks. Instead of having to take care of the individual makeready operations, he can be already preparing the next job.

Faster and easier operation is one thing. What other intelligent solutions does it provide?

Another benefit is the intelligent shutdown of printing units when they are not in use. This is also done without the operator’s intervention. Because Hycolor Multidrive detects which printing units are not needed based on the absence of a color assignment for the new print job. The rollers remain stationary during these jobs, and are thus protected against wear. A manual application of oil or a protective paste is not needed either. Therefore no additional washing is required before the inking unit is put back into operation. Hycolor Multidrive manages without a clutch here. As a result, there are no waiting times for engaging and disengaging when a unit is shut down or put back into operation. The level of detailed intelligence in this small but refined solution is illustrated by another feature: to prevent sticking of the rollers or pressure marks, Hycolor Multidrive advances the stationary inking units a little at regular intervals. It’s very important to mention that the actual printing process always takes place via the main gear train of the press. And this in turn ensures the best print quality.


Speedmaster XL 106 simultaneous makeready processes.

How do customers feel about Hycolor Multidrive?

It goes without saying that benefits like time savings, operating comfort, and protection of rollers are very popular. In fact, interest in the system has been so strong that in addition to the full equipment level where Hycolor Multidrive is used at all printing units, we are also offering a partial equipment level. This means that customers can equip individual printing units of their Speedmaster XL 106 with Hycolor Multidrive. The high demand from the packaging segment indicates how economically worthwhile this is. But commercial printers also benefit: our field test customer “Kunst- und Werbedruck” uses the advantages of Hycolor Multidrive in combination with the Push to Stop technology including AutoPlate XL 2 and Intellistart 2 to reduce their makeready time by around 40 percent.

Are there even more benefits to Hycolor Multidrive?

The deep cleaning would be a benefit for packaging companies in particular. And the latest software function now also allows in-production washing of the inking units which are currently not in use. I’d be happy to go into these topics in greater depth during the next expert talk.

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