Saving Green & Going Green
The “pros” printers see from the Sitexco Laser Anilox Cleaning System cover a wide spectrum. Improved and more consistent cleaning are table stakes. With better cleaning comes superior print quality, greater ink density, and an easier time attaining and matching brand colors. Because there is no need for chemicals, water or cleaning consumables, costs are reduced. By keeping track of the major events each anilox undergoes and maintaining a history, roller life is improved, press downtime is reduced and there is no need for dedicated supply chain management. And a nice side effect is all of these things can improve employee morale.
A number of those benefits—no waste generated by cleaning the anilox rollers, overall ink waste decreased, overall substrate waste decreased, a reduced carbon footprint from no freight associated with sending rollers for cleaning—fall under the umbrella of “sustainability.” But what go hand in hand with sustainability for a flexographic printer, Mulheran says, are process improvements, and getting both from the same machine has been what’s led a lot of businesses to cut a check.
“Instead of a printer having to quarantine its existing cleaning technology to a slop room in the back of the building, it can now have its cleaning needs met right next to the press,” he explains.
Reflecting on its overall appeal to environmentally minded printers, he continues: “What’s often overlooked when discussing sustainability are these process improvements, employee/community enhancements, overall cost and waste reduction, the strengthening of a brand, and building of long-term viability. However, there is very rarely a technology or process that can deliver all of these things. The Sitexco Laser Anilox Cleaning System is that technology; it can help companies achieve their corporate sustainability goals and targets.”
It was the Sitexco Laser Anilox Cleaning System’s ability to follow through on these promised printer benefits that led Eaglewood Technologies to submit it for consideration in the 2018 Technical Innovation Awards. “We’ve always been impressed by this technology,” Mulheran explains, “but when we saw the reactions from flexo printers around the world, we knew we were onto something special.”
He says one such printer was able to cut its water consumption costs in half by replacing its existing technology with the Sitexco; another has been able to increase press speeds, cut ink waste in half and increase uptime by 15 percent.
“We previously utilized ultrasonic anilox cleaning, but it did not yield the results we needed to consistently produce the images our clients have come to expect from us,” wrote a printer customer. “After testing various types of anilox cleaners and different brands of laser systems, the Sitexco Laser Anilox Cleaning System was the only system that gave our rolls the deep clean we were looking for. The low power use and no consumables fit very well with our company sustainability initiatives. We are able to use older aniloxes for colors they could not previously attain since they were new.”
Another customer who described itself as working to improve efficiency, customer satisfaction and operations, while taking care of the environment, said that “With the Sitexco Laser Anilox Cleaning System, we have achieved our goals,” so much so that it is eyeing a second unit.
As with any new piece of machinery, return on investment (ROI) is a crucial consideration. Mulheran lists out another collection of printers who have purchased a Sitexco Laser Anilox Cleaning System: Those who have seen a six-month ROI by removing the costs associated with operating their prior cleaning technologies along with the downtime they experienced due to their prior anilox cleanliness issues; those who saw a longer ROI but knew they were eliminating the handling of caustic chemicals by their employees and valued that change over a short payback period; even those who just wanted to improve their print quality and, after a three-month trial, made a purchase solely for that reason.
“Whether a flexo printer wants superior cleaning, a more sustainable solution, a lower cost of operation, more consistent results, a solution that is safer for not only its employees but also the environment, or something that’s more automated, this technology checks all the boxes,” he states.
If It Ain’t Broke, It Still Might Be Broken
“Innovation” is not some buzzword around which FTA all of a sudden decided to create an award. For more than 20 years, the Technical Innovation Award has sought to identify technologies that bring together a host of benefits in new packages, and it will continue to call attention to those innovations for at least another 20.
That’s because innovation—in any industry, not just flexography—is essential, inevitable and unavoidable. Mulheran says that whether it’s consumer trends driving changes or innovation on the equipment side, flexographic printers need to adapt. They can do that through a new capital equipment purchase (and certainly Pete will be happy to sell you a Sitexco), but in the same breath he mentions process improvement and advanced personnel training (and certainly anyone at FTA will be happy to sell you a Level I FIRST Individual Certification course). What the investment is made in is the second question to be answered; before that, it is essential to answer the question, “Should I make an investment?” in the affirmative.
“The old adage of, ‘If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,’ isn’t applicable anymore,” he says. “I can’t stress enough how important it is for companies to see what’s out there, to attend trade shows and seminars, and to learn about what is available to you. Never stop learning.”