Best practices: Best Practices: Implementing Inspection
The Apollo Turbo from AVT is designed for inspection of wide-web packaging.
An ISRA Vision inspection system in operation can help package printers better manage their workflow.
Detecting defects in a print run is an important element of installing an inspection system, says Brian Heil, president of ISRA Surface Vision. But, he says, that’s only one piece of the puzzle.
“If you really think the goal is to detect defects, that is totally misguided,” Heil says. “The defect detection in itself has no value. You have to be able to do something with that information to get some value out of it.”
The more important aspect of using an inspection system in a package printing or converting operation is to integrate it so it becomes a tool to help feed decision-making. One of the ways Heil recommends doing that is to make a classification system for defects.
For example, he explains that some defects are hardly noticeable on an end product and may not require stopping and restarting a job. Other defects however, require immediate action.
“It’s very important to not only detect the defect, but to classify it so you can make better decisions,” Heil explains. “Maybe it’s not such a bad problem if there’s a black speck in there, but if it’s got an insect in there and it’s a [pharmaceutical package] it’s a huge problem.”
In any business, saving time, material and resources is paramount. But when it comes to packaging, making sure a press is being run optimally is the key to productivity.
Guy Yogev, marketing director of Advanced Vision Technology (AVT), explains that using an inspection system can help package printers reduce the number of reprints they have to run because a mistake or defect went undetected.
Because the trend in the industry is for printers to take on more jobs at short-run lengths, taking time to generate reprints is more problematic than it was in the past. For example, Yogev says many printers will overprint a job by about 10 percent. But if a job’s waste exceeds that amount, using an inspection system can provide that information early in the process, saving valuable resources.
“If you … only find that at the end, at the converting stage or the rewinding stage, then it means that you need to do some reprint only for the small amount of footage that you’re missing,” Yogev says. “And that’s painful. That’s another issue that can be avoided.”
Heil explains that by implementing an inspection system, package printers will find both product and process improvement, again reducing wasted time and material.
If there is a repeating defect like a streak that is appearing on each impression, he says an operator will likely discover it. But using an inspection system can expedite that process so the waste can be drastically reduced.
“If you don’t have 100 percent inspection, the defect condition can run for several hundred feet and then maybe you catch it,” he says. “But in the meantime, you’ve made a lot of bad material. You have a lot of waste. You also have lost machine time. There’s a lot of cost there.”
More to Discover
In addition to monitoring the print quality, accuracy and consistency of their own print jobs, Heil explains that an inspection system can also help package printers keep their vendors in check.
For example, when printers receive a supply of substrates like paper, films, foils and plastics, they can use an inspection system to investigate the quality of these materials. This, Heil says, can help his customers keep their material suppliers accountable and better judge who among their vendors are providing them with the best product.
While inspecting the quality of print and substrates is a major selling point for inspection systems, Yogev says taking advantage of their ability to inspect accuracy is also hugely important.
He explains that at the start of the makeready process, AVT systems can compare the original art file the customer supplied to the current print. This can help prevent an embarrassing situation, such as an operator grabbing the wrong plates and printing a package in the wrong language or with an incorrect revision.
“That’s something that you hear a lot from printers,” Yogev says. “They sometimes print a beautiful, high-quality job, but it wasn’t the right job. If they are lucky, they found it before it got to the customer. But sometimes, they don’t.”
The Right Frame of Mind
Above all, though, Heil says package printers need to remember to view their inspection systems as more than a way to find defects in their printing. Taking the next step to using that information to improve the end-to-end process, reduce waste and save money is the best way to maximize the value an inspection system can provide.
“The people that use the system for process improvement and for converting decisions get more value out of it than if they just use it for one or the other,” Heil says. “If you’re saying, ‘I want to use this to make sure I don’t ship bad product to my customer,’ that’s good and there’s value there, but not as much as if you use it to reduce defect frequencies.”