Bema: Automation Cuts Cleaning Cycles in Half

LOUISVILLE, KY–Bema, Inc. has performed a trifecta. It has installed an anilox cleaner, a parts washer and a plate washer. All were bought in succession after the company realized how much more time it could spend printing just by automating cleaning processes.

Founded in 1957, the “Bema Transparent Bag Company” began with one bottom-seal bag machine. That one bag machine produced bags for clients such as Mars Candy and Jewel-Osco. In 1999, Glen Galloway purchased the company and changed the name to Bema, Inc. This new company has expanded its capabilities to include a fully integrated manufacturing process from creation of the bags to printing them on flexographic presses.

 Prior to introduction to automated cleaning systems, Bema team members devoted over six hours a day one day a week for a “big cleanup” where one to two employees would spend their shift manually cleaning their anilox rolls, press parts and plates. Continued cleaning lasted from Friday afternoon/evening and finished up Saturday morning before the printing on Monday began. Previously they would clean parts manually in wash tanks with alcohol. They also used a media blasting cleaning unit. 

 Bema connected with Flexo Wash sales agent Bill Malm at various trade shows in the area and saw live demonstrations of the cleaning systems. Bema employees then traveled to the Fox Valley demo center (now closed) with anilox rolls and press parts to clean them in Flexo Wash machines. Bema purchased the anilox cleaner in January 2017 and the parts washer in April 2017. 

 According to Production Manager Jason Galloway, “Faster wash up times for the press, better cleaning and less damage on the aniloxes were immediate benefits.” Also automating the cleaning process cut the cleaning time in half. 

Galloway noticed a difference right away. ROI was about six months, but in reality, it was less than that in actual working days.

 After success with both of these cleaning systems, Malm introduced the Flexo Wash Plate Washer to Bema in 2022. He brought it to Bema for to clean plates in the pressroom. They liked it immediately and purchased a plate washer in January 2023. 

 Now armed with a trifecta of Flexo Wash machines,  Jason Galloway states that they “allow us to run a clean press with less issues due to dirty ink pump parts, chambers, and drip trays.  It allows us to spend more time printing and less time cleaning week to week. Good reliable cleaners allow us to focus on printing with repeatable results.”