February 9, 2004 -- Austrian print enterprise Die Drucker Agens & Ketterl in Mauerbach, near Vienna, was recently the showcase for new printshop networking software developed by another Austrian company, Rogler, in association with KBA.
Rogler, a leading provider of software to the print industry for over ten years, has 1,500-plus workstations in action at more than 50 companies. Not long ago it teamed up with KBA to create a production management tool to support workflow optimisation and total printshop networking. Launched to widespread acclaim, Plant Monitoring Network (PMN) is a cross-system program encompassing Rogler’s MIS program, technoLOGIC, its production scheduling program, technoPLAN, and KBA’s production management system, Logotronic Professional. Third-party consoles and presses can be linked to the system via JDF.
Die Drucker Agens & Ketterl is a sheetfed offset operation with a staff of 150 and a fleet of B1 and large-format presses. Last December the Mauerbach plant took delivery of its second Rapida 130 size 5 press. Roughly half the jobs run on the two big Rapidas are eight-section posters whch, along with commercials, are the company’s main product lines.
TechnoLOGIC software, comprising technoPLAN, technoBDE and technoCSC modules, has been running successfully at Agens & Ketterl for some years. The company commissioned the Logotronic Professional system in December 2002, embedding it shortly afterwards in the existing technoLOGIC MIS network via an ODBC (open database connectivity) interface. Last December Agens & Kettler installed the first JDF-based PMN program worldwide.
The key component: technoLOGIC
Dedicated software determines the quality of JDF-based data exchange throughout the entire operation. This applies both to the quality of the data exported by the program and the evaluation of feedback.
The software enables spreadsheet data from the calculation department to be exported to the production schedule, where it is made available to the Logotronic Professional system via PMN. Open communication with the console is maintained throughout the production run, with job status logged and visualised in the schedule.
Uninterrupted data flow
With technoLOGIC, feedback from the production line takes the form of economic evaluations and statistics by the controlling module. Data exported to the production line are generated by the technoPLAN production planning and control system (PPC), which splits the job schedule into three stages: preliminary (checking press availability and reserving a time frame), sequential (co-ordinating pre- and/or post-press activities) and final (filling in the details).
TechnoLOGIC generates a precise description of the production sequence for the purposes of cost calculation – a capability which also enables the system to handle changes at short notice. Presses featuring a JDF interface receive the data directly from the host computer via PMN. Press feedback is either via an existing JDF interface or a data capture program such as technoBDE (Betriebsdatenerfassung = operational data capture).
JDF workflow at Ketterl
At Agens & Ketterl the production schedule is exported to the Logotronic Professional system and updated right up until the job starts running on the press. This is a useful feature because it allows the scheduler to make last-minute changes or accommodate rush jobs. Job status – ready, started, interrupted and finished – is colour-coded in the schedule for instant recognition.
Once the data for the print job have been exported to Logotronic Professional the corresponding CIP3 data are downloaded from pre-press using hot folders. The presetting values for the ink keys are calculated using machine-specific conversion curves which factor in the type of substrate used etc. A job schedule is displayed at the press. After selecting the job the press operator can access all the presetting data or, in the case of repeat jobs, setting data.
Following job completion, all the operational data are exported back to the central software for evaluation by the costing module (controlling). Standardising the software and defining neutral data formats (JDF, CIP4) makes the system equally accessible for staff in administration, production and distribution, which enhances co-ordination and thus efficiency.
When developing its Plant Monitoring Network (PMN) Rogler pushed for the adoption of JDF because it supports the company’s ongoing policy of enhancing the process reliability, flexibility and transparency of its workflow management systems. KBA and Rogler are also heavily engaged – along with more than 30 other media players – in a multinational strategic initiative, Networked Graphic Production (NGP), which was launched by Creo with the aim of promoting JDF, CIP4 and cross-vendor platforms designed to automate production processes and support systems compatibility from design input to distribution.
TechnoLOGIC – enhancing productivity and quality
Heinz Müller, joint managing director of Agens & Ketterl, explains: ”TechnoLOGIC is a high-precision tool for automating scheduling processes. It even allows us to insert rush jobs and respond to unexpected circumstances. This is a key competitive advantage because it make us much more flexible in meeting customer deadlines.”
TechnoLOGIC enables manual tasks to be automated, simplifies the flow of data, information and material, cuts production times, eliminates multiple inputs – a prime source of errors and waste – and co-ordinates production and administrative processes.
”TechnoLOGIC’s 100 per cent interoperability and advanced level of automation, in tandem with Logotronic Professional, guarantees a fast, error-free communication of all job data,” confirms Rogler md Hannes Rogler. ”Together, KBA and Rogler have made a valuable contribution towards rationalising and optimising the production workflow in order to create production processes with long-term systems compatibility.”
In addition technoLOGIC embraces automatic cost calculation software for sheetfed and web offset, continuous forms and digital print production. First of all the cost estimator keys in the relevant product: size, job length, printing process (sheetfed offset, newspaper web offset etc), paper type and finishing. From this the program calculates press time using standard industry-specific logic, and also uses the product description to determine all key parameters such as number of plates, ink changes, raw sheet size, direction of sheet run etc. With technoLOGIC, the key values for frequent job types can be predefined as standard settings, so that for similar jobs only the run length need be added, and this speeds up the process substantially. A job schedule is generated based on the production times and costs calculated, outsourced work included. Alternative schedules can be costed and compared just as easily. The calculated data automatically form the basis for all job and production documentation.
Job dockets are also generated electronically to promote a smooth, glitch-free production workflow.
TechnoPLAN – the electronic schedule
The schedule is managed via the mouse, using drag and drop. The system automatically calculates time changes caused by amendments to the schedule, and shifts the jobs accordingly. It also monitors sequential co-ordination with upstream/downstream cost centres, and delivery dates, flagging any conflicts that arise. The display is freely scalable, ie it can be expanded from one day to several weeks simply by dragging and dropping the relevant fields. The software supports a variety of scheduling methods including ”backdating from delivery”, ”soonest possible”, ”factor in periodicals” and ”specified dates”.
TechnoCSC – applying chaos to maximise efficiency
Organising a store-room logically takes time. Instead, TechnoCSC (Chaotic Stock Control) determines whether sufficient space is available for an incoming consignment of material and assigns that space irrespective of location. Rational stock management optimises the materials flow in every plant.
TechnoBDE – electronic data capture
The feedback of production data from cost centres with no network interface is effected via technoBDE. Clock-in/clock-out times and job-related time input are logged as per the industry norm.
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