Networked solutions in quality assurance
The era of Industry 4.0 gives rise to a variety of ways in which quality assurance can further optimise production processes in web-processing industries. Packaging manufacturers, in particular, gain additional options for producing the quality that brand name manufacturers and consumers expect, in ways that are efficient, safe and resource-friendly. From the BST eltromat point of view, “Industry 4.0” stands first and foremost for an evolution. These days, it can be taken for granted that industrial companies are always striving for technical innovation. As a result of the Industry 4.0 discussion, however, practically the entire machinery and plant engineering industry is now working with remarkable intensity on integrating its systems throughout the enterprise and across value chains. For BST eltromat, integration isn’t a new topic. On the contrary, linking together quality assurance systems has long been one of the core tasks performed by BST eltromat for its customers.
A history of practical integration conceptsBST eltromat has developed a variety of networking solutions to allow its customers simple, cross-process integration of its quality assurance systems. With these solutions, customers can flexibly model their individual processes. BST eltromat has a lengthy track record, and for years, the company has been thinking beyond the individual process steps to show its customers potential for optimisation along the entire value chain. At Labelexpo Europe 2019, for instance, the company highlighted the benefit of combining the QLink workflow for 100% inspection systems of the TubeScan family with HYBRID software in label production and narrow-web package printing.
The current results of the collaboration with HYBRID Software, one of the world’s leading providers of innovative solutions for PDF-based pre-press-stage workflows and linkups to management information systems (MIS), enable greatly simplified and shortened setup processes – including quality assurance. One example is the new option of PDF comparison for print jobs directly in the printing machine. Machine operators will no longer have to scan proofs and then compare them to the specifications from the pre-press stage. This is possible because the PDF files for print jobs that the pre-press stage creates using PACKZ from HYBRID Software contain all the relevant parameters, including the requirements for inspecting the jobs that need to be printed. One outstanding feature is that all objects can now involve dynamic, variable data such as different barcodes or alphanumerical – even randomised – sequences. Label producers are printing faster than ever, and reducing the amount of waste they generate at the same time.
Likewise, the company years ago worked with ColorWare, the maker of the colour management software MeasureColor, to link the iPQ-Spectral module of its iPQ-Center with ColorWare’s pre-press stage solution. BST eltromat’s iPQ-Center includes four seamlessly integrated high-end modules for quality control and management in web printing – 100% inspection, web monitoring, colour measurement and workflow. With their range of functions, they cover virtually all of the market’s current requirements.
As part of the cooperation with ColorWare, engineers devised the option of preparing all the required data for the inline spectral colour measurement with iPQ-Spectral from BST eltromat in the pre-press stage. The job data is captured once in the pre-press stage. After that, it is available throughout the whole production process. The data is supplied either as XML or JDF files to the quality assurance systems, allowing these systems to be set up without additional intervention by the operator. As all the relevant job data is entered at the pre-press stage, and later made available throughout the production process, the set-up times are significantly reduced. At the same time, there are fewer problems arising from repeated entry of the same data at different stages in the value chain.
Converting 4.0 gathering paceThe concept of “Converting 4.0” has been steadily gaining importance since 2017. BST eltromat helped to found the Converting 4.0 network, initiated by the company KAMPF Schneid- und Wickeltechnik. The cooperation among companies in this network is now very successful. At the K 2019 plastics and rubber exhibition in Düsseldorf, for example, a simulation showed the interaction of a CLS PRO 600 digital line and contrast sensor from BST eltromat with a ConSlitter-type slitting machine and the the@vanced integrated platform from Kampf. The integration allows the sensor technology and the motor-driven knife axle of the slitter to be set up automatically. With this concept, the knives are no longer aligned with the sensor. Instead of this, the lines and objects on the webs are aligned with the knife axle and the sensor. The sensor automatically moves to the preset lines and then supplies information useful for optimising the cutting process.
Inspection and artificial intelligenceThe members of the network have been showing great interest in latest methods of analysis, such as the use of artificial intelligence for the classification of errors. Currently, members of the Converting 4.0 network are developing scenarios that describe how more added value can be generated by taking additional process and material data into account.
For example, in the framework of its cooperation with SeeOne Vision Technology, a manufacturer of surface inspection systems based in Florence, Italy, BST eltromat is linking information from film extrusion with quality data from the printing process. SeeOne's systems detect surface defects in different materials such as films, metallized films, paper or cardboard, and use artificial intelligence to classify them as holes or inclusions, or as foreign matter such as insects or dirt. The findings gained from surface inspection can be used in various ways to optimise production processes.www.bst.group