Esko takes digital finishing efficiency and simplicity to the next level
Tuesday, April 05, 2016
Press release from the issuing company
Ghent, Belgium – Esko introduces a fully enhanced digital finishing offering. The Kongsberg line of cutting, creasing and milling tables is presented in a new and simplified platform choice, complete with a collection of fully integrated software solutions.
Understanding market needs and trends
Esko has engaged with dozens of its customers and non-customers for a deep analysis of their production processes in the short run finishing market (sign making, displays and paperboard packaging converting). That analysis shows a clear overall demand for more output and control, so companies are able to better meet customer deadlines and realize higher operating margins and improved ease of use.
Frank Adegeest, R&D Director Digital Finishing, explains, “Our customers support brands and retailers in their go-to-market processes with the production of in-store signage and free-standing displays. The growing number of product variations has led to a similar growth in variation of signs and displays.
Suppliers of digital large format flatbed printing presses have responded to these changing market needs with significantly improved press throughput. The result is that digital finishing now risks being the production bottleneck. At drupa, we will show a range of innovations to our Kongsberg tables and digital cutting workflow that focuses on removing non-value-added time from the production process. We put solid operational control and management tools in the hands of our customers and set an industry benchmark for Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE).”
Simplified platform choice
Esko has streamlined and improved its Kongsberg table portfolio to help customers more easily identify the systems that best suit their needs, including predefined and fully upgradable configurations.
Customers can choose from two primary families – Kongsberg X and Kongsberg C – each having a range of table sizes and configurations.
These two distinct product families give customers a clear and simple choice between the greatest flexibility for versatile and creative jobs (Kongsberg X), or the best productivity for efficient production runs (Kongsberg C).
Kongsberg X offers the flexibility of upgrading to add more cutting, creasing and milling tools as the business needs develop. Kongsberg C is the number one choice for short run production, building on the existing Kongsberg C line, which has been extended with smaller table sizes.
Productivity, automation and operations management software are available to both table families, beginning with an entry-level system that has an upgrade path that will keep pace with growth over time.
Increasing production throughput
Today’s customers are running a larger number of smaller orders through their operations. Machine setup required between jobs is one of the biggest sources of non-value-added time in the production process: the machine is not producing while knives are changed and tools are being configured.
The new Auto Tool Adjust on Kongsberg tables uses camera inspection and digital image processing to adjust the tool in the machine at the start of each job. When a new job requires a different tool, Auto Tool Adjust automates setting up that tool for the selected substrate. This smart tool adjustment makes changeover less complex and much faster.
One of the main innovations behind the Auto Tool Adjust is the integration of a complete materials database. This database bundles decades of digital finishing expertise. The operator gets expert advice from the system on the selection and setup of tools and knives when setting up the job. Using this information takes guess work out of the finishing production, speeding up the changeover between jobs and the entire production and improves consistency. The risk of damaging expensive materials and quality variations is drastically reduced.
“Where previously changing over tools for different substrates could take up to half an hour; it now takes minutes,” Adegeest confirms. “This automation is a key requirement in short run production: it improves throughput and therefore margins. We measured that operators need 30% less time to set up a job, which improves machine throughput more than 10%.”
Better estimating protects margins
Esko understands from its customers that margins on short run digital print work are tightening. When a job is estimated and quoted, it is important to know how long the job will take to produce. With accurate job estimation, companies are able to communicate better quotes and forecast more accurate delivery times to their customers, ultimately protecting overall profitability.
The new Kongsberg Estimating software module delivers against these challenges. Packaging, signage and display designs are prepared, and production estimates are generated automatically, based on production metadata such as substrate type and thickness.
Precise production planning and prioritizing in the digital finishing operation becomes easier to manage. Esko has integrated its Kongsberg tables with its workflow automation software, Automation Engine. Automation Engine’s Device View gives better control over finishing production. Work in progress and the status and queues of all connected devices are clearly visualized on screen. The software determines optimal sheet nesting to increase production capacity. Operators use an intuitive drag-and-drop interface to prioritize table queues, insert rush jobs and even balance workloads between tables.
Adegeest concludes, “Esko’s digital cutting software, integrated with Kongsberg tables, takes digital finishing to the next level. It gives customers better control over their digital finishing operation and unlocks capacity of the cutting tables while taking critical tasks away from operators, making them more efficient and less error-prone. This is Packaging Simplified and Sign and Display Simplified at its best!”
Kongsberg C and X-series in action
Kongsberg C and X series tables are commercially available as of drupa. At the Esko stand, visitors will see demonstrations of the Kongsberg C24 with automated loading and unloading, the Kongsberg X24 with conveyer belt, and the Kongsberg X20 with felt matt. Esko industry partner HP (Hall 17) will operate a Kongsberg C24 with a conveyer belt for cutting and finishing digitally printed signs and displays.
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