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FLEXO Magazine : January 2014
to specifically facilitate high definition technology. With process control comes more complex tasks. As an industry we need to be diligent about training people to be more knowledgeable and become exceptional manufacturers. With even greater quality and time demands imposed by a brand owner, workers in a plant will need to be smarter. FTA’s Flexography: Principles & Practices 6.0 explains how to control the many variables of flexo, from beginning to end. The FIRST Certification process and HD Flexo certification are other ex- amples of educational initiatives. These certifications are also a great way to be recognized by customers, brand owners and other printers. FUTURE ADVANCEMENTS So, where do we go from here? I see automation as the primary priority. Automation, be it communication, pre- press, manufacturing—anything—is imperative to further lowering costs. It is also an easier way to build a consis- tent and repeatable process and, with- out manual intervention, ensure that process will maintain itself. It delivers controls, for example, to colors. The other important automation priority I see is collaboration. The more supply chain partners communicate with one another, the more efficient the process becomes. For example, it’s helpful to alert a brand owner that a proof is arriving, and send a reminder to review and, hopefully, approve it. That communication is saved and returned to the converter or trade shop. An auto- mated communication process assures that information will be returned accu- rately and on a timely basis. Many complicated prepress functions can also be linked to different ranges of jobs, press conditions and customer requirements—all done automatically to ensure that all specifications are adhered to before a plate is burned. This assists the prepress operator and assures the brand owner that what they demand for a job—trapping, double line situations, etc. — is always built in. It is the best way to eliminate error, get an early sign off from a brand owner and insure that that processes downstream are vi- able for the manufacture of the product. This is occurring already. With the height- ened awareness of the cloud, who knows where collaboration is heading next? Creating a package requires many similar steps from one project to the next. However, because each job is different, there will always be change. The underlying process will provide an efficient means to adapt to these changes. As Steve Jobs once said, “The system is that there is no system. That doesn’t mean we don’t have processes. Apple is a very disciplined company and we have great processes. But that’s not what it’s about. Process makes you more efficient.” The flexographic industry is learn- ing—and experiencing—just that. n About the Author: Ian Hole is Esko’s vice president for market development. He currently serves on the FTA Board of Directors and FFTA Board of Trustees. www.flexography.org JANUARY 2014 FLEXO 19 1-888-478-0998 No Plate Lifting No Plate Mounting Perfect Registration Every time. Discover Your New Media Source for Seamless Imaging Photopolymer Sleeves Laser Engravable Elastomers