Digital data workflow for cutting production costs
The background to print data
If you track the flow of data during the creation of a label, the processing stages can be roughly divided into prepress, press and finishing. Each production stage generates different data and information. In many companies, the areas are separated both spatially and in IT terms, but there are nevertheless strong links between the individual production steps. Every activity is dependent on the quality of the previous step. For example, if errors in prepress are only identified during press setup, then the print process and, therefore, the delivery of the production job may be subject to considerable delays.
It would be preferable if the individual areas could exchange information and access and build on existing data. For example, it would be helpful if a printer could display the current order directly on the press, namely from the prepress stage in which this data has already been prepared.
As mentioned above, data is generated in each production step. During press setup, the individual printing units have to be configured, the printing plates, inks and substrates have to be installed, and a large number of settings have to be made on the press itself. It would be entirely possible to make these settings in advance instead of during the setup phase itself, as is the currently the case.
The digital data workflow deals with this issue. Activities that do not have to be performed on the machine itself are outsourced to external stations. In this case, a job editor can be used to enter machine settings in advance in a file, which can then be loaded onto the printer at the touch of a button.
Cost-effectiveness pays off
Average changeover times for a job change range from 30 to 50 minutes. Assuming that 5 minutes can be saved per job simply by outsourcing activities that can be performed elsewhere, this would result in a considerable productivity increase in the press over the course of a year.
Based on an average mix of five print jobs per shift and three-shift operation for 225 days a year, some 175 additional jobs could be produced each year simply by saving 5 minutes per job change, a figure that is more than realistic thanks to the digital data workflow.
Overview of the digital data workflow
This overview shows the data that could be exchanged via an integrated system. Every system involved in production takes data from and writes data to the integrated management system. Any number of terminals can be used to edit, generate and monitor this data.
Production under control at all times
This centralised system for capturing production data can also be used to visualise all the information. Visualisation enables the production manager, for example, to identify bottlenecks early on and to introduce the measures necessary to counteract them.
If several machines are integrated into this type of system, the machine display shows which job is being produced on each machine at any given time and how long the scheduled job will take to print. The display also shows whether the scheduled end time can be met at the current machine speed or whether it will be exceeded. If production exceeds the scheduled production time, this can also be visualised.
Machine display: Shows the current production job and the scheduled or estimated finish.
In addition to continuous press optimisation, which, of course, is still a top priority today, it is equally important to improve the production process. Simply saving 5 minutes during the setup of a new job pays off by enabling several hundred additional print jobs. These savings do not include the extra time saved by avoiding incorrect entries or the delays resulting from having to wait for missing data or materials.
At Labelexpo Europe at the end of September, Gallus will be using the Gallus RCS 330 to demonstrate how presses can be integrated into the digital data workflow. See for yourself how effective this solution can be in Hall 5, Stand 5B50.