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FLEXO Magazine : April 2009
PLANTS & PROCESSES documentation are dismissed as time-consuming activities that detract from getting the actual job done and product out the door. They are looked at as an end in and of themselves. As a result, they die on the vine when money is tight. When quality management is fostered and nurtured, it becomes the culture of the company and the means to process improvement, qual- ity improvement, defect prevention, and improved process effi ciency. Quality concepts are related and their success is dependant on diligence, tenacity and the fundamental understanding that they are tools to improve productivity and profi tability. Many manag- ers are trying desperately to stamp out all the fi res that keep com- ing up: late deliveries, out of control costs, unexpected equipment downtime, exorbitant raw material costs, etc. The quality systems should be the fi rehose that makes fi ghting fi res manageable. The lesson is that sometimes it makes more sense to spend some money for process improvements that reduce (labor and raw material) costs, improve quality and increase effi ciency than cut out spending altogether. A time of low order intake is a great time to get organized, get processes and procedures streamlined, or- ganize production fl ow and perform preventative maintenance. It can be an ideal time to evaluate the condition of the anilox inven- tory. An anilox audit can help prioritize roll resurfacing or replace- ment. Damage can be identifi ed and tagged so press operators know which rolls should not be used for critical jobs. In addition, cleaning, storage or handling issues that may have contributed to damage can be identifi ed and addressed. GET THE KNOW-HOW Training is another common target for cost cutting, but train- ing is a key to process effi ciency. Poorly trained employees cut corners and make mistakes that have ripple eff ects throughout the company. They inadvertently damage press components or do a poor job cleaning them, causing wasted time and materials every time those parts are used, not to mention the added costs of repair or replacement. Shadow boards improve effi ciency, reducing maintenance downtime. Those who don’t know better may take the easy route using whatever rolls are in the press rather than taking the time to choose the right roll for the job. They might arbitrarily dump extenders and additives into the ink or ignore the ink alto- gether, allowing pH and viscosity to swing wildly. It wouldn’t be unexpected to fi nd that they cranked down blade pressure or impression, damaging the plates and causing unnecessary wear to the rolls. Their idea of installing precision gears and bearings may be beating them on with a hammer. What they don’t un- derstand is the damage they cause to both and potentially the roll’s journals. Untrained operators don’t perform routine quality checks to in- sure densities match targets or adhesive coat weights are correct. By not being properly trained, they damage a lot of expensive press components and produce poor quality or defective product that must be scrapped and redone. How much press time does your company lose because a job had to be rerun? How much ink and substrate goes into the dumpster rather than onto the delivery truck? How much inci- dental damage is done to your press components and how much of it could have been avoided. Training is available from a variety of sources including sup- pliers, trade schools and the FTA. Learning how to do things cor- rectly reduces defective product, damage to press components and waste. Training improves safety and product quality and en- hances our ability to produce in a timely fashion. If we don’t have time to do it right, we certainly can’t aff ord the time to do it over. If, for example, we are not resurfacing rolls because of prevent- able damage, then we would have more money available to invest in our process. We can invest in equipment that improves our process effi ciency and product quality such as standardizing or supplementing the anilox inventory, adding auto registration or automatic viscosity controls, blade systems and new high perfor- mance driers, anilox cleaning or digital platemaking equipment, or quality verifi cation instruments such as viscometers, densi- tometers, and spectrophotometers. 46 FLEXO APRIL 2009 www. f le xography. org