They say it takes a village to raise a child. Similarly, it takes the collective company to avoid wasting resources.
This is especially and unfortunately true with the anilox roll and wasted ink. In order to improve or eliminate the amount of ink wasted through reduced volume in an anilox roll, it is necessary for many hands to be in sync controlling numerous variables that directly affect ink density. By reaching this level of control, however, there will be a reduction of associated expenses, an increase in revenue, and improved consistency in print.
So how can your business actually confront and drastically lower wasted ink levels? If that is a question you would like the answer to, this is the place for you. To find the answer, we’ll begin with an introduction to the concepts and deal with some of the issues that stifle volume efficiency. We will also discuss how people are involved in the process and go over some recent developments in the industry that can assist you in your goals. Now that you know where we’re headed, let’s begin with some details about the process.
If you’ve been in the industry for longer than a few days, you likely already know that the anilox roll is called the heart of the flexo process. Because of that very delicate and important position, the anilox roll requires the cooperation of many moving parts to function properly. Beginning from upper-level management, and flowing all the way down to press helpers, there must be cohesion regarding the methods behind anilox care and preventative maintenance to ensure that all those parts work together. It is critical that every actively-engaged member of the team is educated so that each one thoroughly and uniformly understands the processes and equipment involved.
The anilox roll is a finely-tuned piece of equipment with thousands of cells designed for carrying ink to the plate and ultimately the substrate. When those cells become plugged to any degree, there is less ink being transferred. In other words, waste occurs when ink builds up in the cells and lowers their ability to take on a maximum load of ink. Think of it this way: a new roll arrives in perfect condition and is immediately put on press, hard at work creating revenue. Over time, tiny amounts of ink get left behind as the roll works its magic. What occurs eventually is a loss in volume as those cells hold on to leftover ink. Without intervention, this is guaranteed to cause a loss in efficiency and, ultimately, a loss on the bottom line.
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In order to get ahead of these losses, volume control must begin and end with an anilox care program. Without such a program in place, it will be nearly impossible to document, monitor, and control your anilox inventory in a way that is capable of perpetually delivering high quality print. By performing preventive maintenance, you are inherently increasing the value of your anilox roll and maximizing your investment, as well as enhancing your ability to consistently produce sellable product.
Two of the most overlooked ways to perform preventative maintenance are through collaboration with vendors and continued education within your company. Vendors should be thought of as an integral part of your team, not just someone you call to place an order. Consider inviting a vendor to perform an audit and help your in-house crew establish an anilox care program or revisit an older program in order to keep your rolls in prime condition. By bringing in someone with the experience and knowledge specific to your needs, you are furnishing your workforce with the tools necessary for success.
Anilox roll audits are not only a great way to gain information for press operators, but they are also the best way to establish and maintain tight control over your roll inventory. They provide amazingly detailed data regarding the functioning levels of your anilox rolls, and they do so with the backing of expert-level advice and support. Not sure if or how much your company is wasting ink resources because of plugged cells? An audit can point you to the answer. Pamarco has performed over 70,000 audits: 25% of rolls show wear, 10% show damage, and 65% have lost volume from poor cleaning. These are all areas that can be easily improved! Think of this example reported by one plant: saving fifteen minutes a shift on anilox cleaning related issues for dirty print. The time saved is worth roughly seven shifts of production, simply by using the correct technology and taking the time for proper maintenance. Now you can start to quantify how a plugged cell can affect your bottom line.
Lastly, recent advances in anilox roll technology also provide extensive solutions to plugging issues. Some of these include: innovative cell geometry that provides shallower cell depths, improved consistency of engravings, and new methods of cleaning, like the game-changing Cleaning Plate. Investing the time to discover new technology and educating your employees on ways to implement it is one of the greatest means of adding value to your company and investments. Rather than resorting to temporary solutions that only procrastinate or worsen the problem, press operators will be prepared and equipped to handle cell plugging with ease.
In conclusion, although wasted resources are a real issue that can harshly bog down your company’s bottom line, it doesn’t have to be that way. Invest time into a comprehensive maintenance program for your anilox rolls to see loss of revenue due to cell plugging become a thing of the past. Take advantage of vendor collaboration to uncover areas of waste within your anilox roll inventory. Engage your workforce in continued education through vendors and a number of available training programs. The possibilities for growing your care program are virtually endless, but it takes the collective to make it happen.
The proof is in the pudding: with a decrease of wasted resources and an increase of asset value, there comes a reduction of associated expenses, an increase in revenue, and improved consistency in print. Whether you’re already in the game or just getting started, it is never too late to begin this process and see your level of anilox volume change for the better.
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