Quality: Checks & Commitment
Gonzales says, “Quality is extremely important to us. We have many steps in the process to identify and measure quality.” Quality control begins when the order is placed, and does not end until the customer has received the order. Standards are set at every step of the process, and at multiple points. Quality is checked against those standards. Once on press, quality control is the responsibility of the operator.
To achieve the quality demanded by technically challenging labels, the company must live the commitment to quality at every level of the organization. Each person in the company must work toward the same quality standards. Everyone in the organization must understand how, as individuals, they directly and indirectly affect quality, and then commit to the result.
Fast Turns Facilitated
In the case of Vintage 99, quality standards apply to product quality, service and customer support. Gonzales says with a smile, “We have always had fast lead time. It is second nature to us. We tend to be able to turn very high quality, very quickly, and our customer service employees are always getting rave reviews on their interactions with customers.”
Due to economically attractive costs, Vintage 99 was able to make a major investment on a multi-faceted inspection system in 2019. It installed PowerScope visual inspection systems on every press, as well as TubeScan 100 percent inspection systems on both flexographic and digital units. Both systems were also fitted to the rewinder, then everything, including the quality control department, was linked using the TubeScan Workflow.
Components and the roles they serve include:
- TubeScan is used on press to provide 100 percent inspection of defects, register shift, print quality, foil quality, emboss quality, and all the other quality parameters
- PowerScope is used on press to visually monitor critical print areas during the run
- All of the TubeScan systems have WorkFlow, and are linked to the rewinder
- WorkFlow tracks every defect on every roll and job
- WorkFlow is also linked to the quality control manager’s desktop computer to permit review of any job, or any roll, at any time, and provide the ability to edit jobs prior to finishing
- TubeScan WorkFlow automatically sends signals to the rewinder to stop the machine where defects are to be removed
This combination of technology and philosophy allowed Vintage 99 to effectively identify and manage print quality during production, and effectively allowed it to remove all defective labels during finishing on the rewinder. The cost of the TubeScan systems made the investment and the potential payback reasonable and attractive.
Impact on Operations
Overall, plant productivity has seen the greatest improvement. Since the inspection equipment was installed, Vintage 99 Label reports:
- Greater productivity on press—it nearly doubled on select jobs
- Greater operator confidence in print quality from the press operator and rewind operator
- Steven, a press operator, says that he now produces less waste than before, as the TubeScan alerts him whenever a defect is found. This allows him to take immediate corrective action
- Faster speeds on the rewinder—up to 10 times faster on some jobs. WorkFlow tells the machine where defects are. It automatically stops the machine at the proper location. Previously, the machine would start and stop continuously, and jobs took longer to finish
- Eliminated waiting—operators no longer must wait for jobs to complete finishing on the CEI before starting the next job (in case the quantity was short)
- Vintage 99 now makes delivery quantity counts without having to put jobs back on press
The result, according to Gonzales, “was one of the best capital equipment purchases we have done. It has been a complete success, and has exceeded our expectations.”
About the Author
John Thome retired from BST North America in April of 2020 after spending more than 28 years with the company. John served as the director Latin America sales and marketing for BST Eltromat International, and ended his tenure with the company as regional sales manager. He has been in the printing industry since 1984, and involved with web inspection and print management technology since 1992.
John has spoken in the US, Latin America, Europe, India and Australia. His presentations have covered trends and changes in inspection systems and technologies over the past 20 plus years and he has conducted and presented studies on color measurement, register and pressure and the impact of 100 percent inspection. John has published more than 150 articles in printing and converting trade magazines in more than 15 languages. His work has earned him the designation of expert on the subject of print inspection.
TubeScan, sold by BST North America, is available in multiple configurations to fit customer needs. It can identify defects as small as 0.01-mm2. Available options include integrated workflow, variable data inspection, color monitoring and bar code verification.