Purchasing a Flexo Press: Machine Maintenance, OEM Support and Operator Training

Weyermann: MPS presses are being delivered with a modem on board. In this way, the MPS engineers can remotely see and follow what operators are doing. A fully equipped spare parts box is being delivered with the machine as well. The converter is being trained to replace these parts. Better uptime and machine performance are guaranteed in this way.

MPS presses are covered under a one-year warranty on all parts and labor. Additional training and application support are also available, depending on the service level agreement the converter has chosen to purchase. We will dedicate a specialist to startup and training with the customer employees. We will be with them from two weeks up to three months, if needed.

To become familiar with a press all depends on the operator’s experience. Usually within a week of training an operator should feel comfortable running the press. MPS offers different levels of training sessions. It also suggests breaking up training sessions to allow operators to develop their own habits. In the beginning, everything is so new and a bit overwhelming, so we want to space sessions a month apart, so that new questions can be formed, and deeper understanding can take place.

MPS provides a lifecycle performance guarantee on larger projects. It installs the “Talk to Me” program hardware and software into the machine. This technology allows the machine to be connected to the converter’s MIS (or ERP) system. Talk to Me technology will enable the prepress department to choose all press parameters, including print pressures per print station. This no longer requires physical job tickets! The machine, connected to the MIS, will be set completely and remotely from MIS.

Talk to Me technology also monitors and records the press behavior, so the operator does not need to fill in his performance into a (separate) system! The converter management, as well as the MPS service department, can follow exactly what the press is doing and how it behaves.

Smart glasses with remote connectivity, which help reduce machine downtime and greatly improves efficiency
Photo courtesy of Comexi

Buelens: Worthy of every converter’s consideration is Remote SupportService with Smart Glasses, available 24/7. Smart glasses with remote connectivity help reduce machine downtime and greatly improve efficiency. This interactive communication system allows information sharing between field technicians and the support department in real time. The use of these glasses has many advantages, including:

  • Giving the Comexi help desk a real-time view of the customer’s field of vision
  • Offering hands-free videoconferencing
  • Allowing the remote expert use of a red pointer to help and guide field engineers
  • Enabling the help desk to capture and edit a freeze frame of the video call, type notes and send them back to the field engineer

These glasses allow for the identification of spare parts, and help, through the simultaneous use of real-time text translation, to reduce language barriers.

Customers today can easily connect to cloud services, the cutting-edge digital platform for the converting sector, which offers the best decision-making tools and streamlines operating tasks. Customers are able to follow production in real time and know machine processes, with automatic generation of indicators for each production order, easing the detection of troubles related to production.

Production analytics and job-costing features, combined with maintenance assistant, allow the production team to analyze cost and consumer information during production generated by the energy modules and the ink weighting module. Comexi Cloud enables customers to access historical data and analyze production through key performance indicators (KPIs), allowing for visual and easy error detection, as well as improvement opportunities. Additionally, customers have at their disposal all machine documentation in digital format, as it is always available, updated and accessible from any device.

Hatzilambros: Our support is constantly updated, thanks to feedback received from software installed onboard the machines. The Uteco service team can generate troubleshooting procedures useful for all our customers. Machines are always provided with manuals outlining operation, maintenance and other procedures. They are specific with all the maintenance that is to be carried out for proper operation of the machine and everything is thoroughly explained. The manual is provided in disc and hard copy form.

Uteco also offers courses for maintenance training, operator training and process improvement. This can be in addition to what is already included with the purchase. There is also OEE software that can be installed on the machine that warns the operator of the need to carry out all the special series of operations to avoid unsuitable production and monitor functionality of the press.

“Automated impression and register systems are designed to enhance the equipment’s operation and reduce waste, not replace the operator’s expertise. Management needs to promote their use.”

Kurt Flathmann, North American sales manager, Allstein GmbH

Flathmann: The manufacturer will supply maintenance information on the press line. The optimum scenario entails a preventive maintenance and training program. This would have the manufacturer’s service personnel come in at fixed intervals to review any issues or concerns with operators and maintenance personnel. These would be addressed along with the preventive maintenance required at the time and simultaneously training would be conducted in how that maintenance can be accomplished by the converter’s personnel. A review of what was done and outline of any issues that could not be completed, or need to be addressed in the future, as well as any required spare parts needed in the future, should always be provided.

In addition to the previously mentioned recommendations, it is always beneficial to have the manufacturer’s trainer return some time after the startup of the press, when operators have had a chance to run a number of production jobs. Typically that is when they have experience working with the equipment and have specific questions regarding items that may be unique to specific jobs. A brief period of additional training at this point helps to ensure that procedures are being conducted correctly.

It is important to ensure that the operations staff makes full utilization of the features of the equipment. Automated impression and register systems are designed to enhance the equipment’s operation and reduce waste, not replace the operator’s expertise. Management needs to promote their use. Enhanced features like robotic sleeve change systems make changeover significantly faster, enabling operators to focus on other areas of the press changeover process, while the robot changes out the sleeves, bridges and/or anilox sleeves.

Tandon: We have dedicated project managers responsible for the machine from the time it ships to warranty end. By offering that one point of contact, we drive home the point that it’s advantageous to have the press manufacturer responsible for the entire rigging process. The customer simply needs to provide utilities and unloading/staging space. After installation and commissioning, production support and operator/maintenance training is paramount. Acceptance is typically done by running a mutually agreed upon production job.

Maintenance and operator training, done at the end of install, is an informal, hands-on training session—a combination of classroom and hands-on training is offered. This can be done in the customer’s facility or at the manufacturer’s headquarters.

Machinery is now commonly equipped with preventive maintenance programs that prompt the customer for different tasks at set run times. There is a prompt displayed on the operator screen, along with detailed instructions and photos. Customer maintenance has to sign off digitally after performing the task. A dedicated, 24/7/365 hotline at W&H connects customers to a live engineer with extensive experience working on presses. In-depth, remote support is available over the internet as well. This includes programmable logic controller- (PLC) level machine diagnostics.