FTA Member Coveris Shares Experiences of 80+ Personnel Completing FIRST Individual Certifications

FLEXO: How has certification helped you better understand the relationship between inks and films, or chemistries and their impact on quality in different formats (pouches, sleeves, bags, etc.)?

Garrett: It increased my understanding of inks we do not use or do not use much, such as UV.

Spicer: One area I wasn’t very familiar with was ink makeups. Now, if I am having an issue with dirty print, I can call the inkroom and ask what the formula is and troubleshoot a way to correct the dirty print problem.

“I would say everyone in my position needs to go through this certification. It provides a very detailed understanding of the entire process, from press to final print production.”

Graphics Manager Johnny Sammons, on FIRST Prepress Operator Certification

Hall: It gave me a lot more knowledge on the chemistry. We are not really trained on this, so it was helpful from that perspective.

Wilson: It was great to learn about the various pigments, carriers and solvents. It just gave me a better understanding of how the inks are developed.

Maye: How to formulate inks for different jobs was very helpful for learning how to improve the overall quality. Very detailed training.

Odem: It gave me a better understanding of how inks move and work, and how they are applied to a substrate.

FLEXO: Is there a particular aspect of flexography about which you now feel more knowledgeable or better understand?

Garrett: Plate making and preparation.

Scott Tullis

Spicer: The relationship between ink and film, and having a better understanding of the prepress process.

Hall: The chemistry of inks and films. I didn’t know a lot about that before the training.

Wilson: UPCs—The training is very in-depth on UPCs.

Maye: The differences between flexography and gravure.

Odem: The chemistry of inks and films.

FLEXO: How would you describe FIRST Press Operator Certification to a press operator at another printer?

Garrett: It helps operators gain greater knowledge of the different types of flexo and applications for flexo. And it provides basic understanding of the different variables involved in flexo printing.

Spicer: There might be quite a few areas you already know, but the training will give you greater understanding of those areas, as well as a bunch of aspects of flexographic printing you don’t know about. It will help you to be a better operator.

Hall: It’s a good tool to learn. It’s very user friendly and definitely worth the time to go and do it.

Wilson: FIRST is beneficial for sure. You need all the training you can get, no matter what you do. I think it would be more beneficial to newer operators than someone who has been doing the job for 10 years, but learning even a little bit of new information is a plus.

Maye: I would strongly encourage you to do it, especially if you are a new operator. I think a new operator would get a lot more out the certification than learning on the job for the first time.

Odem: FIRST is informative and I highly recommend it. I think someone just starting as an operator should take the course. It covers a lot of information, it would give them more understanding and reduce their learning curve.

FIRST Implementation Specialist Certification

FLEXO: What was your reaction when you heard about FIRST Implementation Specialist Certification?

Steve Dam, senior process engineer: I was glad, because I have had other people in the industry ask me why I hadn’t done it yet.

“While many employees may not have experienced anything like FIRST’s online self-paced learning format, they easily adapted to it after the first module. As they progressed through each level, FIRST content soon became the subject of many breakroom conversations, as employees began to expand their industry knowledge and quiz each other.”

Corporate Continuous Skills Development Manager Sheri Hudachek

FLEXO: One of the central tenets of Implementation Specialist Certification is improving communication externally—with customers, printers and suppliers—and internally—with coworkers. Have you noticed a change in your interactions with others in the supply chain and in your office?

Dam: On the floor, we can now have discussions with our operators that are more in-depth and detailed. It also provides us more discussion points to have better external communication with designers on element improvements to make graphics more printer friendly.

FLEXO: How does the certification impact your ability to do your job effectively?

Dam: It reaffirms a lot of the beliefs I’ve had over the years with regards to printing flexo. Having that kind of reaffirmation makes you feel more confident in your knowledge and ability.

FLEXO: What’s something you couldn’t do well before Implementation Specialist Certification, that you can ably handle now?

Dam: FIRST will help you understand how all of the pieces of a flexo job fit together, from where it starts to when you see the finished product on the shelf.