by clicking the arrows at the side of the page, or by using the toolbar.
by clicking anywhere on the page.
by dragging the page around when zoomed in.
by clicking anywhere on the page when zoomed in.
web sites or send emails by clicking on hyperlinks.
Email this page to a friend
Search this issue
Index - jump to page or section
Archive - view past issues
Flexo Sustainable : Year End 2011
web flexo, set-up of any job requires multiple steps that have to be carried out precisely (over-processing and motion). This wasted both material and time. It wasted material because too much material (paper, ink) was needed to set-up the job and achieve "saleable" product. With material and consumable prices increasing, profit is eroded quickly. Time was also wast- ed because all of the additional steps and adjustments needed to be done before a run was even started (motion waste). Changeover times also reflect waste in traditional flexo processes. This leads to lower throughput per machine and reduces profitability. The multiple steps in the processes itself lends itself to errors and defects, making consistent qual- ity and throughput difficult to achieve. Training and keeping highly skilled operators who naturally avoid errors and cor- rect defects leads to a steep learning curve. What can be done about waste? Getting rid of waste entirely is virtually impossible. But if manufacturers make an effort to go Lean and eliminate waste, the pay-off can be like the pennies on a chessboard: small sums that add up to exponential savings. LEANER MACHINES "Lean" manufacturing is a term for preserving value while reducing or eliminating waste. The idea is to remove un- necessary processes and reduce waste without impacting the customer's experience with a product or brand. As the industry becomes more competitive, Lean continues to be a focal point for manufacturers. While the idea might sound obvious, the practice is often counter-intuitive. In order to be truly Lean, new equipment must be designed to be simple, fast, easy-to-use, and standard- ized throughout. Equipment manufacturers sensitive to Lean manufacturing spend less time chasing what is "techie" and "cool", and more time analyzing workflow processes to make machines that are smart, well-designed, and less wasteful. Indeed, some emerging flexo technologies have taken the challenge of Lean head-on. For example, new flexo machines feature improvements in: Adjustments. Multiple adjustments have been eliminated, and with fewer adjustments, there is less room for error and less set-up needed. Remaining adjustments have discrete, repeatable settings. Material consumption. Newer machines use ultra-short web paths, and require less material to set impressions. Many have servo-driven pre-registration systems, which means less material consumption while setting registration and fewer errors as well. Make-ready and changeovers. More efficient set-up and make ready reduces waste up to 50 percent. Job changeover waste is reduced drastically, and changeovers can occur more quickly. Operation. The newer flexo machines have more intuitive controls with fewer adjustments and repeatable settings. This means easier operation and less training needed for the machine. Of course, this list only focuses on newer flexo technolo- gies. But why would anyone want to invest in new machines in this struggling economy? Simple: in a tight economy, the Leaner competitor often wins. Nowhere is this becoming more apparent than in the short-run market. MEANER COMPETITION Customers are increasingly demanding short runs. Some- times this is due to increasing brand types or regional promo- tions; sometimes it is simply due to shrinking budgets. For some time, digital has been seen as the only solution for short-run needs. This need not be so: ultimately, customers are asking for cost-effective short runs, not digital solutions per se. Why has digital dominated this market for so long? Be- cause the comparison has been between slick new digital presses and flexo machines that are, well, older. To take an example, consider what the "break point" is for a single print job. The breakpoint for a traditional narrow web flexo machine is about 8,200 feet of material (8,883 square feet or so). Newer flexo machines, by comparison, can get this down to 1,100 feet by reducing waste and managing plate costs. To really drive a leaner process, new machine set up time has been drastically reduced to around three minutes for a four-color job. And with this speedy of a set up, material waste is cut to around 12 feet of material. Compare this to an older, traditional press using several hundred feet during a lengthy set up. Thus, some of the often-cited disadvantages of flexo---long set up times, set up and run waste, high plate costs, and the need for highly trained labor---have all been addressed with newer technologies. And, since these newer machines cost about half of what a new digital press costs, the payback time for investing in one of these newer machines is much, much shorter. GREENER PRINTING The direct impact a new machine can have on the bottom line (assuming the same volume of business) is up to $240,000 per year. Talk about pennies adding up! But, besides being more profitable, Lean printing practices mean that manufacturing can be more environmentally friendly as well. If less paper and ink is wasted, this means less waste throughout the supply chain, as well as less waste in our land- fills. While such measures do not affect short-term profits, they do positively impact the earth and the economy in the long-term. In short, the newer printing platforms are designed around Lean principles, addressing key factors in the flexo workflow. This new technology is making flexo Leaner, Meaner, and Greener---which means saving a kingly sum. ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Jeff Feltz has been with Mark Andy for more than 10 years, serving as director of product manage- ment for the past four. He is responsible for managing the company 's portfolio of leading brands, including Comco, Mark Andy, Rotoflex and UVT. His responsibilities include identifying and evaluating converter and market needs and uncovering trends to ensure the product lines are designed and executed to meet the ever-changing requirements of various industry segments. www.flexomag.com YEAR-END 2011 Sustainable FLEXO 15