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FLEXO Magazine : August 2009
PLANTS & PROCESSES Savvy printers will also realize material savings through better use of their stock. This can be accomplished, for example, by using a splicer for staging rolls for quicker job changeover. And rather than scrapping leftover rolls, a splicer enables more effi cient use of butt rolls on repeat or future jobs. Another signifi cant cost reduction that automatic splicing enables is in labor savings. We’re not talking about reducing payroll by eliminating a press operator or roll tender (though that may be possible). There are many return-on-investment approaches to calculating how much labor cost is incurred during manual roll changes and how much will be saved with automation. In addition, consider the labor savings that automatic splicing can effect on subsequent processes. For example, Franklin Nice of Gintzler Graphics, Buffalo, NY, an FTA member, observed that, in addition to reducing substrate costs, automatic splicing affords substantial savings in post-press editing. “Just one manual roll change on a print job means more than 100 feet of stock has to be edited out of the print run,” he said. “That also means the loss of ink used to print that hundred feet of waste and extra post-press time required to edit that waste out of our fi nal roll. It can all add up to serious dollars.” IMPROVING PROCESSES Process improvement can be measured in a number of ways. In terms of net production speed, the addition of automatic roll changing typically results in increases of 10 percent or more. This is due to two primary factors. The obvious one is that the press no longer slows down, stops, and speeds up at every roll change. The other is that operators generally are more comfortable running the press faster—marginally in some case, signifi cantly in others—when they know that the roll changing does not require frequent monitoring or constant brake and tension adjustment. Measured in throughput, the improvements from automatic roll changing can be impressive, with reported increases in the 11 percent to 33 percent range not uncommon. Leroy Baker, owner of Labels, Tags and Inserts, Burlington, NC, reported that, since adding a Martin Automatic butt splicer and automatic transfer rewind to his Mark Andy XP5000 servo press, “We’re able to accomplish in a day what would otherwise take us a day and a half to do. It’s like adding extra hours of production capacity to every shift.” In addition to pushing more work through the press faster, automatic splicing can improve process quality. Running at a consistent speed has a positive effect, for example, on curing quality, as speed reductions on UV presses can often result in changes in UV power output and curing intensity. EXTENDING PRESS LIFE The evolution of materials toward lighter fi lm stocks has posed a challenge to printers. For some, whose presses may still be relatively young in terms of hours, it is painful recognition that these presses may have exceeded their marketable life. New press technology may be the only way forward. And in tight credit markets and uncertain economic futures, this means an investment that many simply don’t feel comfortable making. However, for printers whose jobs still run well on an existing press, an investment in automatic roll changing is both affordable and productive—an easy alternative to www.flexography.org AUGUST 2009 FLEXO 71