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FLEXO Magazine : November 2011
Industry Indicators Intelligent Operator Interfaces Making Flexo Faster, cheaper & More Efficient Tipping his hat to innovative thinking, Hans Deamer, president of Windmoeller & Hoelscher Corp. , publicly credited recent advancements in press technologies with strengthening flexography ’s competitive posture. Speak- ing at Flexographic Technical Association’s 2011 Fall Confer- ence on Wednesday, Oct. 12, in St. Louis, Mo. , he pointed to robotics; as well as automated registration, impression-setting and color-matching systems and then outlined the measure- able impact that they are exerting on pressroom productivity. Figures point to significant savings, according to Deamer. Estimates indicate that robotic applications on a single large press often generate annual savings of 560 hours in job changeover, as well as $200,000 in insurance costs. The story doesn’t end there. Analysts, Deamer among them, are estimating that automatic impression-setting and registration systems, now installed on many modern flexo presses, save 450 hours in time or labor, $230,000 in costs and 820,000 yards of substrate on an annual basis. Similarly, au- tomatic color-matching functions are said to save 840 hours in time, 66,000 pounds of ink and 1 million yards of substrate over the course of a single year. Deamer maintained, “Intel- ligent operator interfaces for blown film extrusion are saving $150,000 annually and typically generating 130 hours in make ready savings and 60 tons in raw material savings.” Reduced emissions are also associated with efficient modern presses. Deamer reported that some 70,000 kwh are being saved per press annually, representing a 15 percent to 20 percent reduction in air volume emissions. Systems on these same machines are also succeeding in achieving 100 percent solvent recovery. “Press productivity is a key issue in new press acquisition,” he told the crowd of approximately 300 listeners. “Pressruns are becoming shorter and shorter. Demands on printers continue to increase. The gap between flexo and gravure continues to narrow.” According to Deamer, “Tests have been conducted by press manufacturers to print at 3,400 fpm.. Newer technology allows presses to run at 1,000 fpm and up, with some ma- chines configured to operate at 3,000 fpm. The older, installed press base typically runs at a speed of 500 fpm. On many products, 2 ,000 fpm is now common.” He admitted, however, “T here are ink and plate limitations above 2,000 fpm. ” Current estimates place the actual number of flexo presses installed in North America at 3,000 , Deamer said. Of that num- ber, it is believed that 370 are sleeve-based, gearless, eight and 10-color models, all of which have been installed since 1998. “Utilization rates vary, with lows of 30 percent and highs of 85 percent, depending on equipment, age, run length, unions and management,” Deamer acknowledged. “ Substrate/ film quality has a tremendous effect on achievable printing production speeds. Superior film quality makes presses run faster, with less wander, bounce and variation. Experience shows that, in many cases, press productivity can be tripled. ” n PRESSES & PRODUCTIVITY • Robotic applications on a single large press gener- ate annual savings of 560 hours in job changeover, as well as $200,000 in insurance costs. • Automatic impression-setting and registration sys- tems save 450 hours in time, $230,000 in costs and 820,000 yards of substrate on an annual basis. • Automatic color-matching functions save 840 hours in time, 66 ,000 pounds of ink and 1 million yards of substrate over the course of a single year. • Roughly 12 percent (370) of the 3,000 flexo presses installed in North America are equipped with these and other intelligent operator interfaces. Hans Deamer See Page 22 fOr fall COnferenCe WraP-uP. 16 FLEXO novEMbEr 2011 www.flexography.org FLX_November11.indd 16 11/8/11 3:52 PM