Quad to Install Two Fully Automated Engravers in Oklahoma City
Monday, December 15, 2003
December 15, 2003 -- When gravure operations start up in Oklahoma City next fall, the plant will be two steps closer to realizing Quad/Graphics’ goal of a "lights out" manufacturing platform, thanks to the installation of two fully automated Hell Gravure Systems Helioklischograph K6 gravure cylinder engravers. The new engravers are "so technologically advanced, they can practically run unattended in the dark," Quad/Graphics President & CEO Tom Quadracci told attendees at the October 29 grand opening of the Oklahoma City plant. Fully automated from cylinder loading and calibration through engraving and delivery to the cylinder storage system, the model promises to cut engraving time in half and free operators to focus on more important pursuits, namely quality reproduction. The K6 model - an improved version of Hell’s K406 model, which we currently employ in Martinsburg - fits up to 16 HelioSprint engraving heads, features a bigger bed to accommodate wider cylinders and facilitates faster spiral engraving. Minimizing the Manual The most notable improvement, however, is that the K6 engravers will rely less on our operators for manual tasks. Communicating directly with our scheduling system, the K6 engravers will direct our cranes to cylinder storage to pick up the blank cylinders and load them into the machine. Next, it will clamp the cylinder into the bed automatically, adjusting the engrave heads to the correct page width and cylinder circumference. With a beam of light to measure distance, the K6 engravers will center the cylinder in the bed and begin the calibration process known as testcuts (more on that later). Once the testcuts have been completed, the engravers are empowered to initiate final engraving with no direction needed from the operator. After engraving is finished, the machines will stop and unclamp the cylinder, lifting it out of the bed with the crane, and deliver it to cylinder storage, which connects directly to press side. Adding to the "lights out" vision, the engravers are capable of being directed remotely from our other two Gravure Imaging sites in Lomira and Martinsburg. CellGuard Technology Yields Testcut Consistency Where operators would have had to input value settings in older models, the K6 engravers will be able to perform testcuts automatically based on preset engraving data. During the process, Hell’s CellGuard technology uses a camera to record the cells’ geometry for highlight, middle tone and shadow values. This "next generation" of testcut analysis, as Hell calls it, automatically adjusts the cells to target values much faster and more accurately than can be done manually. About the only thing the K6 engravers cannot do is maintain themselves, thus operators will still play a vital role in maintaining the engravers’ diamond head cutting tools to ensure the best quality cells are cut and, in turn, the cylinders reproduce well on press.