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Featured:     European Coverage     Production Inkjet Analysis

Graficas de Llinars ramps up with GSE Dispensing's automated ink logistics

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Press release from the issuing company

Brummen, Netherlands - Graficas de Llinars, the Barcelona (Spain) based supplier of flexible packaging for fruit and vegetables and member of the Daumas Group, has reduced waste and stock levels and boosted quality levels after investing in a Colorsat Slim gravimetric ink dispensing system from GSE Dispensing.

In fruit and vegetable packaging, strong, distinctive branding is crucial. Getting the right colour plays an important role in good branding. On the one hand, accuracy is required in achieving the bright hues associated with freshness and quality in this market sector. Moreover, consistency is vital, as brand owners expect identical look and feel for their packaging from one batch to the next.

Although Graficas uses four colour printing much of the time, it uses unique spot colours with increasing frequency. The latter are more difficult to reproduce. Traditionally, Graficas de Llinars had a dedicated team responsible for preparing the colours, manually, using complicated formulas prepared by the ink suppliers, and a precision scale. It was a slow, and error-prone process. The increased complexity of colour mixing meant it was necessary to invest in automated dispensing system. Mr. Ricard Costa, Graficas de Llinars' managing director, explains : "During a typical day, we usually perform about 16 to 18 job changeovers, and at least half of these are likely to include special colours. Changing each colour used to take about ten minutes, and there was up to 280 meters of waste per job, in order to achieve colour accuracy. The surplus colour that all too often remained after a job was completed was wasted.   It was clear we had to switch to automated colour preparation to reduce waste, and improve productivity."

The new Colorsat Slim dispensing system enables the company to mix even complex spot colours in under five minutes, to an accuracy of within 2 g of the required volume. The ink dispensing system provides all ink requirements for Graficas de Llinars's two eight-colour Comexi FW1508 flexo presses, which between them print 70 million linear metres of plastic film and netting each year for customers across Western and Central Europe.

The investment in the Slim replaces a lengthy, labour-intensive manual colour preparation process which could only be performed by one production team member, using the ink supplier's complex formulas.  Reliance on this method resulted in workflow bottlenecks, inefficient storage use and excessive handling times, as the production team was forced to prepare 24 hours' worth of ink requirements in a single shift.
Using sophisticated algorithms, the Colorsat Slim dispenser is able to calculate into new recipes any press return surplus inks from previous job runs. Previously, these would be too complex to be reused and would go to waste as a result. Graficas de Llinars is expecting to reduce its press return inks up to 9000 kg before Spring 2011.

Other reasons cited for investing in the system included stainless steel pipework, enabling precision ink flow, and a reliable pan-European distribution network.
The ink dispenser comes with a powerful Windows-based software package, Ink Management Software (IMS), which, apart from preparing ink formulas, also schedules production runs, tracks batch numbers, and produces a range of detailed management and forecasting reports.
Any 'press return' excess inks from a job are weighed, barcoded and booked into stock. The system prioritises their use in future ink formulas. The barcoding system ensures a regimented, well-organised stock system that uses space more efficiently.
As the system is easy to master, it only required a day's training session before several operators were able to master the dispensing system and its software package. For any teething problems, GSE Dispensing's helpdesk engineers are on call at any time of the day, for troubleshooting.

The software performs numerous management tasks beyond facilitating production. These include job schedules, monitoring production runs, tracking batch numbers and producing numerous management reports.

IMS also stores a catalogue of previously mixed recipes, recalled at the touch of a button. This is a great benefit to Graficas, whose mainstay is mainly repeat orders. With no need to re-mix from scratch or from memory, operators have much better chance of consistent quality, as the dispenser simply recalls the old recipe from the database and the machine does the rest.  Moreover the company will also be able to track and trace ink components, in order to meet the stringent health and safety demands, related to food and pharmaceutical packaging.

Mr Costas concludes: "The installation of the Colorsat Slim has enabled us to make significant internal efficiencies. We now have a well managed, slimmed down stock room, and we are confident of meeting our 9,000 kg ink reduction target by march. This has certainly helped us protect our margins in uncertain economic times."


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