Software Automation in Rotogravure – A Case Study

This year’s Annual and Packaging & Decorative Conference of the European Rotogravure Association, took place on 21-23 September in Thessaloniki, Greece. BEL joined the conference to announce its latest development of the Overprint MIS which is optimizing the engraving and management process of gravure cylinders. The complete solution was highlighted with a case study in actual production. 

Gravure cylinder production comprises of several steps, and while processes are evolving towards more automation, there is a great demand for the automated management of the cylinder production workflow. The challenges that engravers are facing are focused on two main subject matters: cylinder identification and real time tracking, and automating and monitoring the engraving production workflow.

The solution that we provide through our Overprint MIS system enables full management of the engraving production process.

When a gravure printer is placing an order of cylinders, detailed specifications are communicated, essential in accurately designing and producing the gravure cylinder. While the prepress department is preparing the artwork, the engraver’s customer service departments capture all cylinder technical specifications in Overprint MIS.

Detailed specifications are entered, related to the print job and cylinder manufacture including the cylinder technical drawing. The press information is also captured in detail, which immediately populates several cylinder design specs in every future order for the specific press.

Once the prepress files are prepared and approved, the Job Ticket is created containing all the cylinder technical specifications and the order details needed for the engraving production.

Overprint MIS provides for an accurate planning of all the job tickets to be produced, based on each cylinder’s technical specifications, resources availability and load, operations set-up gain and customer deadlines. Production Planning is vital in meeting delivery deadlines, optimizing equipment efficiency and minimizing idle times within work shifts. Using Machine Learning technology, the algorithm is using data from previous production cycles, constantly improving job prioritization and gain control, regardless of last-minute changes or production-related issues.

Furthermore, in the Production Tracking module, the use of the job ticket in combination with shop floor data collection terminals, ensure seamless flow in production with real time monitoring throughout all stages. Shop floor data collection terminals allow the collection and registration of valuable data in real-time such as time and material consumption, idle times, maintenance intervals etc., which is used for Business Intelligence and reporting purposes. Job order management and production planning and tracking features built in into Overprint put an end to endless paperwork and proprietary production management tools.

The first step in processing the job ticket, is to create the cylinder base. Once the cylinder base is manufactured a very important step takes place, the cylinder ID tagging. BEL has incorporated the concept of the Cylinder ID tagging, which contains all the information incorporated in the job ticket. The Cylinder ID is always available, throughout all engraving production stages, ready for scanning.

The benefits of incorporating a Cylinder ID tag are numerous. One of the most profound is the possibility to easily identify a cylinder wherever this is placed, but also to validate that the correct cylinder is used in every production stage. This tag will follow the cylinder throughout its lifetime, enabling system users to identify the cylinder using RFID scanners and gain instant access to cylinder related info, such as the job ID, dimensions, color, production stage and in general, a complete cylinder history.

During all following engraving production stages, the customer service department can monitor the status of the job in real time through the MIS and report the progress to the customer upon request. The system also incorporates Quality Assurance technologies, validating job specifications against actual cylinder attributes, ensuring that the final product is flawless and ready for packing and dispatching.

Overprint MIS through its Warehouse Management module has simplified picking and packing procedures, as well as inventory and warehousing. We have developed a variety of mobile apps to facilitate all warehouse procedures, while retaining a simple user interface for ease of use in warehouse facilities. Utilizing the RFID tag to collect data, it is now possible to perform one click inventory using handheld terminals, a valuable feature especially when cylinder stock may count thousands of pieces.

Since the shipment of engraved cylinders accompanies barcode and RFID tagging, this simplifies the receipt on the printer’s side and allows for quick checking of the received products and immediate storing within the printer’s warehouse.

Furthermore, the use of the Cylinder ID can play a vital role during the printing process. Using RFID scanners, printers can quickly locate the correct item for each job, by scanning directly on any cylinder from the bunch. Also, within the scanner application, printers can gain access to the extended information that resides on the engraver’s cylinder database, allowing them to manage their cylinder stock easily, and plan cylinder re-usage.

Implementing our vision of The Connected Converter, as seen in this case-study, the technologies used allow engravers and converters to digitize and automate most of their day-to-day processes while remaining connected with their circle of customers and associates.

In addition to the benefit of managing the production lifecycle efficiently, as well as the production monitoring and data collection that provide invaluable statistics and insights, innovations like RFID tagging and production automation, result to saving hundreds of hours of searching and tracking cylinders as well as thousands of Euros from errors in production.

 

 

 

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