Windmöller & Hölscher Executives Talk Press Data, Automation, Connectivity

Short jobs, efficiently run, reliably produced, each and every day; all exhibiting robust, useable quality.

Those are the expectations put forth by Windmöller & Hölscher’s executive team.

CEO Peter Steinbeck, CFO Martin Schulteis and CTO Dr. Falco Papenmüller share a passion for innovation, stand committed to data-driven performance metrics, and see automation and connectivity as integral to the press manufacturer’s continued success. They said as much in the opening addresses at the organization’s June 22 Virtual Expo.

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W&H Board Officers offered their perspective on developments at the company’s June 22 Virtual Expo. Pictured, from left, are Martin Schulteis, CFO; Dr. Falco Papenmüller, CTO and Peter Steinbeck, CEO.
All photos courtesy of Windmöller & Hölscher

The trio outlined long-term challenges presented by the highly competitive environment and stressed that printers/converters and their supplier partners should always keep delivery of everyday added value in mind.

“Efficient production is a must!” they decreed in calling for digitalization of production. “Shared digital data can enhance production efficiency.” With that simple message delivered, the agenda turned to current products, their contributions to the cause and their fit into the corporate vision, which marries Industry 4.0 and Packaging 4.0 under the banner of the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT).

Smart Production

Julian Zurbrüggen, sales manager, spoke to IIoT’s impact. “Our focus is changing from speed to faster setup; simplified, intuitive operation and safeguarding quality.” As a result, the engineering and build team is perpetually in pursuit of major benefits, namely: increased uptime, reduced scrap and increased speeds. The mission: boost productivity of flexographic technology.

Zurbrüggen stressed application of what he called “intelligent quality control,” then stated, “Data is the new treasure. We have the process engineering to successfully digitize packaging production. With our new IoT system, RUBY, we provide you with a solution for the entire value chain to use your data in a simple, user-friendly way to improve processes and products. Look at it as a helping hand.”

Elaborating on the components and function—better production monitoring—of the new system, he continued, “It’s one platform—Go—with four extensions—Gain, Check, Flow and Track.”

  • Gain: Better film quality
  • Check: Better print quality
  • Flow: Better work processes
  • Track: Better production performance

Zurbrüggen defined RUBY as, “Your entry into the world of smart production.” Any W&H machine provides current machine and quality data and the RUBY IoT data system recommends improvements based on analyses, so he urged listeners to “Review and analyze the print inspection data of completed jobs in the office, then maintain complete traceability of the inspection data for at least one year. Compare the trending of all machine parameters and print defects. Get insight for better troubleshooting and process optimization.”


He promised the system is effective, efficient and transparent, bringing benefits of higher productivity, better quality, reduced waste and less downtime; all thanks to data-based error detection. Defects and bar codes are checked, RGB and L*a*b* data is collected, and PDFs are checked to verify everything happening during print production.

The required plug-and-play software was said to be open, offering connectivity to printers’ MIS systems; secure, because it is housed on their own networks, giving them control over data storage and access; and easy to use. To track productivity, reports generated examine Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE), Key Performance Indicators (KPI), trends on downtime and scrap; then benchmark and compare weak points—jobs, products, machine time, operator intervention, etc. All data generated is recorded.

Risk Removed

Sven Wüstefeld, technical sales manager, talked to advancements in press technology and lauded recent developments—namely: shortest changeover, highest speed, perfect, bounce-free print and minimum risk of rejection.

Citing examples, W&H’s Novoflex II central impression (CI) press was first up. “The CI section is the heart of the machine. Satellite deck arrangements combine configuration with center force technology and compact size. Inclusion of CFT anilox supports plate cylinder layout. The new printing deck design features automated bearings and hydropneumatic clamping devices. On this fast-running machine, stability of the deck increased by more than 100 percent,” he reported. “The space frame technology contributes to higher performance and quality.”

The machine can be equipped with Novoport Advanced for a fully robotic anilox and sleeve change, Wüstefeld noted, “Handling doctor blades comes via push-button control.” A powerful drying system, curing nearly 56 feet of material per second, has helped reduce solvent retention levels. The TURBOCLEAN Advanced E inking and washup system delivers ink pulsation free and cleans all decks within 3.5 minutes. The machine runs up to 2,600 fpm.

Moving on to the MIRAFLEX II, Wüstefeld acknowledged that it is the firm’s best-selling flexographic press, with more than 700 units sold. “Modern design and automated features assist the operator in being more effective.”

The machine is available in 8- or 10-color decks and is designed for all flexible packaging applications. Web width ranges from 34.25-in. to 59-in. Max repeat is 31.5-in. on MIRAFLEX and 44.5-in. on MIRAFLEX L. Depending on the configuration, max speed comes in at 1,300 fpm, 1,640 fpm or 1,960 fpm.

W&H’s most popular press, the MIRAFLEX II is a compact CI that can be configured with 8- or 10-color decks, a web width ranging from 34.25-in. to 59-in. and maximum repeat of 31.5-in. or 44.5-in., dependent on model. Maximum speeds start at 1,300 fpm and top out at 1,960 fpm.

According to Wüstefeld, “Integrated EASY modules for impression and register setting allow quick, waste-minimizing setup and job changes.” Intuitive handling is attributable to a fully integrated VISION system, complete with 100 percent defect detection. Modules and their attributes include:

  • TURBOCLEAN with diaphragm or electrically driven orbiting piston pumps guarantees the best cleaning results and most efficient ink and solvent usage
  • EASY-COL is W&H’s Integrated system for color adjustment at press, before starting the print job. Ink consumption is monitored permanently for ink savings, higher efficiency and improved sustainability
  • EASY-SET S supports impression setting before accelerating the press. The superior EASY-SET HD allows a fully automated, very precise impression setting based on the inspection of the actual print out during first pull
  • EASY-REG S uses sensors and labeled sleeves for a register setting at standstill of the press. EASY-REG M is a drag-and-drop system for highest flexibility to be used with any plate or sleeve. EASY-REG D is the most precise register system working fully automatic using inspection of actual print outs

Surveillance Is Simple

Marcel Schooneman, regional manager, technical sales, expanded on a topic broached by Wüstefeld—the VISION Inspection System. He noted benefits delivered include reduced setup, reduced waste, better quality print and more effective production.

Panels are available at the central console, unwind and rewind stations, according to Schooneman. “Digital info from prepress creates a reference image. On press, an intelligent error classification determines where an error is coming from. The PDF Check feature is the last preflight approval step.”

Finally, Schooneman explained that ProControl engages a zoom-in camera, matrix camera and linescan camera to put the image in real time, and affords direct information on everything going on in the machine.

Points reiterated by all speakers at W&H’s 2021 Virtual Expo clearly linked smart production with reduction in risk of rejection and simple surveillance. By consensus, they stressed that it is possible to, “Print more efficiently. Achieve reduced setup time. Generate high-quality product. And, of course, run every job with much lower production waste.”