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Featured:     European Coverage     Production Inkjet Analysis

First open house of the season for KBA

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Press release from the issuing company

On 20th March, KBA opened the 2009 season of open houses at its facility in Radebeul with an event placing its spotlight not only on the economic benefits of the latest developments in sheetfed offset technology, but above all on upgrades and retrofits geared to extending the performance and lifetime of existing presses – an interesting alternative for the branch where the current economic and financial upheavals stand in the way of a new investment. Over 60 users from Germany, Great Britain, Russia, the USA, Belgium, Poland, the Czech Republic and Italy took the opportunity to discover how even a moderate investment outlay could translate into immediate further improvement of their production efficiency.

Intelligent automation offers considerable savings potential

Ralf Sammeck, KBA vice president for sheetfed offset sales, welcomed the guests before passing the microphone to sheetfed marketing head Jürgen Veil, whose opening presentation “How much automation does a press need” addressed the key factors influencing production costs. Separate calculation examples illustrated the time and cost savings made possible by the various automation modules of the DriveTronic family. A single-button job changeover program and the saving of job-specific data on the press console are further contributions to dramatic makeready reductions and increased productivity for the users of Rapida presses. With KBA CleanTronic, the simultaneous washing of ink rollers, blankets and impression cylinders puts seven minutes back on the clock compared to alternative or older systems. Even greater gains in terms of valuable production time are achieved through the combination with DriveTronic SPC, where the use of direct plate cylinder drives permits plate changing to run parallel to the washing processes. Further cost-saving potential is drawn from the automated cleaning of the coating supply system, the automation of coating forme changes and automatic positioning of the delivery suction rings on perfector presses. 

The dedicated drive technology DriveTronic SPC already returns a time saving of 10 minutes during a relatively simple makeready process. In case of a more complex job changeover, this figure can be raised to even 20 minutes. It is thus evident that a high level of automation – whether on a new press or through the retrofitting of appropriate components to an existing press – is not merely good for the manufacturer's turnover, but also to the economic benefit of the user. 
“Who is checking whom? – Closed-loop quality control” was the topic of a presentation given by product manager Jens Baumann. One of the core aspects considered was inline colour control and sheet inspection with KBA QualiTronic (sheet inspection), QualiTronic ColorControl (ink density measurement and ink key adjustment) and QualiTronic professional (both functions in one system). A series of ROI calculations exemplified the influence of such quality control components on the payback period of a press for different average run lengths and with different scopes of otherwise integrated automation systems.
 
System retrofits – the alternative
Tim Hellwig, head of the department responsible for press modernisations and upgrades, subsequently described some of the possibilities for modular system retrofits. Statistics on the most frequently installed retrofits reveal that dynamic ink control, as an add-on module for presses with DensiTronic or DensiTronic professional, stands at the top of the hit list. This function is able to reduce inking-related makeready waste by up to 80 per cent by optimising the process of bringing the press into colour. By way of an ROI calculation, it was shown that an investment in this module is already paid back after just a few weeks. Retrofit installations of LogoTronic or LogoTronic professional produce a similar result. Ink zone presetting using CIP3 data is a basis for an extreme acceleration of makeready and drastic reductions in makeready waste. For these systems, too, the relationship between investment outlay and savings potential is so favourable that a positive return on investment is achieved in a matter of months. 

Alongside the wide range of well-known automation systems, many of the innovations which were introduced at and after drupa 2008 are similarly suitable for retrofitting to existing installations. Two examples are automatic suction ring positioning for perfector presses and the scanner function DensiTronic PDF, which permits direct comparison of the printed sheet against the original PDF file. This provides for faster checking of the job content and thus benefits both production reliability and fast makeready. The ROI for both of these retrofits lies at a little over half a year.

 
Remote maintenance – fast and cost-effective

Remote maintenance functionality has already been a standard feature for KBA sheetfed offset presses since 1995. “KBA can thus point to the greatest experience on the market,” said Steffen Gottschalk, head of the remote maintenance and hotline department, with justified pride. Whereas the hotline assists users by telephone, e-mail or fax, remote maintenance is a system for online diagnosis. The scope of applications is in the meantime very diverse, for example:

    * Checking of software versions
    * Software uploads and downloads
    * Determination of the press control system status
    * Full remote access to the console computer and to the decentralised controllers on the press itself
    * Recognition of errors in control system components 
    * Online operator guidance
    * Corrective measures and support for the service technicians performing repairs.

Prerequisite for all use of the remote maintenance functions is activation by the print company itself, dispelling any worries concerning data security. Once the function is enabled, it is even possible to diagnose errors during continued production. The remote access is implemented either with a direct modem link or via the Internet. All information relevant to the remote maintenance process is saved in a central database – in addition to corresponding amendment of the individual press records. Upon completion of the remote maintenance, the responsible service managers and project engineers receive a notification by e-mail. The remote maintenance process also offers clear-cut cost benefits. All remote maintenance services are free of charge for presses which are still under warranty. But even after the warranty period, remote maintenance is a cost-effective alternative to service calls by a technician.
 
Preventive service secures high availability

“Preventive service reduces unplanned downtimes, raises the availability of the press, and aids the transparent budgeting of maintenance costs,” said Anton Laubacher, head of spare parts management. Press inspections are one of the preventive measures offered by KBA. The state of the press and its components is recorded systematically, necessary service work is planned and minor faults can be rectified immediately. The result is a predictable schedule for regular maintenance, with fewer service calls and enhanced availability and productivity of the press. 
The use of original spare parts is no less important. As in the car industry, for example, original spare parts are matched perfectly to the printing press in question, and have been manufactured and checked to corresponding quality standards. The user can furthermore rely on receiving parts incorporating all the latest developments. KBA lists 1.2 million spare parts, all of which can be ordered 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Alongside the immediate availability of parts, fast delivery is a significant plus point, not to mention the function warranties which can be given by the press manufacturer. 
For medium and larger print companies, maintenance staff training is an interesting option. Detailed knowledge of all maintenance activities relevant to a particular press is an important basis for optimisation of the maintenance processes. Service packages combine fast response times, regular press inspections, unlimited use of remote maintenance, and many other tangible benefits. 
 
Fast makeready and quality control live

Practical demonstrations gave the visitors a first-hand insight into the potential for fast job changeovers on the makeready world champion, a ten-colour Rapida 106 equipped with DriveTronic SPC and further modules for process automation and quality control. Many of the solutions are also available as retrofits for existing presses. Ten typical commercial jobs were printed in the KBA customer centre in just 43 minutes. A job changeover was performed every 500 good sheets, getting the press back into production within minutes in each case. 
 

Parallel to this impressive performance, a large-format Rapida 142 was to be seen printing a demanding packaging forme on 0.35 mm aluminium-coated board. Opaque white was laid down in the first unit, followed by the process colours, an effect coating in the sixth printing unit and a subsequent UV finish in the coating tower. After a job changeover with fully automatic plate change, the press went on to print a second job with packaging for hair colourings. For this production, the first unit with opaque white was disengaged from the rest of the press at the press of a button on the control console; the colours and coatings in the other units remained in use. Product manager Anja Hagedorn showed how the printed sheet is scanned and compared to the original pre-press file using DensiTronic PDF. Throughout the demonstrations, video screens mirrored the press console monitors to enable the visitors to follow the functioning of the KBA QualiTronic and DensiTronic PDF systems. 

 

 

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