How Automated Print Inspection Minimizes Waste, Improves Production Efficiency, and Saves Costs - Esko

February 17, 2023

How Automated Print Inspection Minimizes Waste, Improves Production Efficiency, and Saves Costs

As consumer demand for sustainable products rises, brand owners are being held accountable for optimizing the ecological impact of all phases of the product cycle. Increasingly, they are requiring packaging converters and printers to contribute to sustainability by reducing material and energy waste. While this task can seem overwhelming and costly, automated monitoring solutions offer practical and cost-effective tools to improve printing process efficiency. At the same time, these tools can create a more sustainable converting process.

Let’s explore how AVT, an automated print inspection tool from Esko, supports sustainability goals.

Implementing More Sustainable Practices

Making a commitment to a more sustainable production cycle impacts the full range of company activity. From process optimization, sourcing materials, and implementing new technologies, overhauling your current workflow can feel daunting at best. 

So, where should a converter begin? Implementing automated systems helps optimize current processes by identifying and minimizing waste as well as re-prints and overproduction in the manufacturing process. These solutions discover defects before they lead to rejected packages, thereby saving extra costs, and reducing overall waste from production.

Print inspection does much more than eliminate complaints from the print buyer. Simply put, savings go beyond the costs of rejected print. Let’s get to the specifics.

The Need for Automated Systems

Sustainability is not the only item on converters’ plates. Other challenges include shorter print runs, less skilled and trained operators, material cost increases and availability challenges, wasted material in both makeready and run-time, and pressure to improve efficiency and time-to-market. Whew, that’s a lot!

Here is where implementing automated inspection systems helps improve quality management, creates connected workflows, and enhances efficiency.

The Sustainable Benefits of Automated Print Inspection

Perform faster job changes with minimal waste

When it comes to register and pressure, manual efforts are time-consuming and waste-producing. Manual register and pressure can take up to 20 minutes and produce 500-700 meters of waste. In fact, every meter of wasted material now costs converters 20-40% more than two years ago! However, automatic register and pressure capabilities take just a few minutes and produce only 100-150 meters of waste. This results in the reduction of hundreds of meters of waste, saving valuable time and expertise.

Enable inspection automation

Without inspection automation, inspection setup is a manual process and takes time before every print run. However, with Esko’s AutoSet, you can connect prepress to inspection on press. This out-of-the-box connectivity provides converters with a touchless workflow for auto inspection setup from prepress to production, with no extra labor. For example, AutoSet ensures higher quality control, eliminates human errors, and starts inspection automatically from first copy.

Ensure the correct job is printed

AVT inline verification tools ensure the right job is printed, saving costly mistakes by catching incorrect or defective plates and incorrect revisions. JobRef compares and verifies the current job to the customers approved PDF file. It supports comparisons of single package PDF to all packages in the repeat. Additionally, it supports “multi design” jobs.

Use alerts to reduce waste and time 

Using software to alert operators of errors reduces defect lifespan. Automatic inspection tools identify any type of printing and production faults. These tools also mark, classify, and display the detected defects on screen. Defects are immediately flagged once detected by the inspection system.

Identify repeating/process issues and their source

Automated inspection tools help printers and converters focus on what really matters. This includes:

  • Differentiating between repeating defects versus random defects
  • Focusing on the most relevant defects in real time
  • Identifying source of defect: Plate defects, Anilox, CI Drum, etc.
  • Enabling better decision making on roll quality and waste removal

Automatically count good material printed

Automatic counting of good material printed, according to target substrate length or the number of packages, ensures the correct amount is produced, and no reprints are needed due to higher-than-expected waste levels.

Esko’s AVT Turbo HD inspection tool delivers excellent quality, every time, and assures no bad material leaves the floor. This includes complete reporting on everything inspected, monitored, and measured. Easily remove defects downstream with Workflow Link, enabling converters to always provide good quality, exact quantities, and consistent delivery times.

Overall, AVT automated print inspection increases efficiencies, determines exact quantity production, and provides real-time performance monitoring. The proof is in the pudding. According to AG3M (France), “We increased productivity by about 30%. We reduced material wastage, unnecessary re-prints, time, and machine stops. In term of quality, 99% of defects are removed now prior to shipment.”

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