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FLEXO Magazine : June2010
He quoted staff as saying the system requires “more ‘head work’ and less ‘back work’.” He added, “The hardest thing is changing and setting new expectations for how long it takes to start up a job; before we were talking in hours, now we’re talking in minutes. They also are learning how to keep up with the press in prepress, mounting, ink match and raw materials staging.” n Get them all! 1. Is there a story behind the origins of the smart- GPS technology? Why was it devised? How long did it take to develop and make commercial? The smartGPS technology is the result of more than two and half years of research and development lead- ing up to drupa 2008. Optical and on-press systems more or less duplicate what operator’s already do in the makeready process. The system was de- signed to radically change the way a job is started on a machine with remarkable reductions in waste and time. The drivers are waste reduction and ac- celerated return on investment. 2. In this article, there are photos from a recent Open House in Germany. Can you tell me a little bit about the demo that took place there? The goal of the open house at F&K in Bielefeld was to introduce the Flexpress 15S to the world—a machine that offers F&K technology to a much broader flexographic printing market. Despite the volcano in Iceland, a number of motivated printers made the trip and the open house was quite successful in reaching that goal. In demo, the 15S was shown side-by-side with a model 16S machine. The print job was changed between the two machines to show the advantage of the smartGPS. (See inset photos. Changeover occurred between the Jogger Gums packaging at right and the F&K Press ad at left.The web depicting the results appears on the floor for examination by open house attendees.) Waste on both machines, equipped with smartGPS, was approximately 45 feet of material from stop to saleable run. Since manual and competitive systems can generate up to 3,000 feet or more of waste since they are done on the press, this was the main focus of the demonstrations. F&K machines are renowned for high-quality print and high speeds. Customer expectations of 1,500 feet per minute and tight register performance is a given. The smartGPS has added a tremendous new dimen- sion of savings to the equation. 3. How many smartGPS-enabled presses have been installed globally to date? How many do you estimate will be installed by year-end? How many are in the U.S.? Worldwide, more than 40 smartGPS machines have been sold. More than 15 have been installed. In North America, between installed and to-be-installed, we will have more than nine smartGPS-equipped machines running before the end of the year. 4. Of the total installations, how many were retro- fits? About five. 5. How many and which models of presses is the technology available on? smartGPS is available on any new machine from F&K and as a retrofit on any gearless F&K machine. 6. What other industry suppliers are you partnering with on this technology, i.e. anilox rolls, plates, sleeves, etc.? F&K has worked in partnership with all the major sleeve suppliers to make smartGPS successful. 7. How has the technology evolved since its an- nouncement at drupa 2008? Were any adjust- ments or upgrades made to the technology since its launch? Our smartGPS technology is a game changer for the printer. We are very much gratified by the FTA’s recognition of this fact with the Technical Innovation Award for 2010 going to F&K. F&K hit a homerun with this feature - all technology evolves, but with waste on start down to as little as 45 feet, the quan- tum leap was taken at the introduction. Q&A With MichAel D’Angelo, vice presiDent, Web feD business units, bobst group/fischer & KrecKe gMbh Technologies & Techniques A special mounting device records topographical information from the sleeve and plate, and when combined with their durometers, calculates optimum print settings, encodes this information into an RFiD chip that the press then uses to set the print deck. 28 FLeXO june 2010 www.flexography.org FLX_June2010_mech.indd 28 6/10/10 9:38 AM