UV FLEXO PRESS, EQUIPPED WITH DIGITAL DEFECT INSPECTION, LETS PRINTER TAKE CARE OF LONGTIME LABEL CUSTOMER
In 1905, the same year Wilbur Wright flew his “Flyer III” aircraft for 38 minutes, covering 24 miles, Albert Steinhauser opened a family-owned commercial printing company in Cincinnati. His son Wilbur would eventually become the second generation to run the company. In 1983, Wilbur’s son Bob would assume command, and in July 2005, Tara Halpin and her brother Trevor Steinhauser became the fourth generation to manage this remarkable printing company. Along the way, Steinhauser, Inc. has grown into a company of about 30 employees that prides itself on customer service, quality, reliability and responsiveness.
Steinhauser is a full-service commercial printer with two Komori sheetfed-offset presses, a Heidelberg direct imaging press, a complete digital prepress department and a variety of finishing and converting services which serve both their customers and the regional trade. Their products include in-mold labels, general commercial printing, self-mailers, packaging, and as of 2005, flexo-printed pressure-sensitive labels.
Why the decision to buy a new flexo press? “You can’t survive and thrive for a century without providing customers what they want and expect,” says Halpin. “Our largest sheet-fed customer indicated they were going to do an overhaul of their graphics. They told us what they wanted and what kinds of graphics they were looking for. We knew very quickly that the equipment we had at the time could not produce those labels for them.”
FLEXO FITS FOR NEW GRAPHICS
Kao Brands Co., formerly The Andrew Jergens Co., has been a Steinhauser customer for more than 60 years. Steinhauser has produced both cut-and-stack and in-mold labels for the Jergens® lotion product line for many years.
Kao Brands overhauled the graphics for its lotion line, which were to hit the market in mid 2006. “Offset lithography simply cannot produce brilliant colors on clear material,” says Trevor Steinhauser. It was shortly after Kao launched its restage initiative that Steinhauser began to investigate the feasibility of installing a flexo press to enable it to print the new graphics. They chose to commit to UV flexo as opposed to a waterbase or combo press.
“We wanted to be able to guarantee the quality level of the products we were shipping,” says Halpin. “Our customer’s stated vision is to become a premium health and beauty supplier, and we want to help them accomplish that mission through premium graphics. So it was very important to be able to provide consistent top quality labels.”
Said Steinhauser general manager Rod Baehner, “We considered several press manufacturers, but it became evident quickly that Mark Andy/Comco was the way to go. Not only for logistical reasons – as they are right in our backyard – but we also felt that the piece of equipment they proposed would best serve our customers’ needs in terms of flexibility and product quality. It turns out we were right.”
EXTRA SET OF EYES
Steinhauser managers knew the new press needed visual inspection capability, but they also wanted to take their inspection and quality control to a higher level. They wanted a proactive device on the new press, one that would allow them to manage the print process in real time and allow the operator to take immediate corrective action. They knew it was just a matter of time before all of their customers would be demanding capabilities such as automatic defect detection, color monitoring, and in-line bar code verification. Having these capabilities on the new press would give them an advantage over other flexo label printers.
“It became clear early in our evaluation process that BST Premius was the way to go,” said Baehner. “The company (www.bstpromark.com) was very flexible and willing to work with us to put together a system that would allow us to insure our customer that the labels they were receiving were meeting their high quality expectations.”
The l0-color Comco ProGlide MSP (www.markandycom) was installed in June 2005. The 16-in. Comco has hot- and cold-foil capabilities, rotary screen, in-line lamination, a three-station rotary die module and a roll-to-cut-sheet station. The unwind is equipped with a BST web guide, Wandress web cleaner and in-line corona treating unit. The list of extensive capabilities is topped off with a BST Pro Mark Premius Digital print-inspection system.
“The biggest advantage of this machine is the incredible flexibility it gives us as a supplier,” says Baehner. “Not only for our existing customer base, but also for customers in other markets we want to pursue. We are currently running pressure-sensitive material, but we have the capability to run unsupported film, SBS board up to 18pt., in-mold film and polypropylene. We can run just about anything you can throw at it.”
EVERY JOB, EVERY DAY
The press is equipped with a Premius Digital 3 Chip inspection system, with software modules that do defect detection, color monitoring, barcode verification, and roll reporting, all of which Steinhauser uses on every job, every day. “We are very careful about the quality of the product we produce,” says Baehner. “Defect detection is all about insuring quality. I like that it gives us an extra set of eyes on the product we are producing. The system has been an integral part of our Quality Assurance efforts, and it provides our operators with a valuable tool to assist them during the press run.”
Barcode verification is also very important to Steinhauser, according to Baehner. “Our customer’s domestic and international distribution networks have very stringent UPC verification guidelines. It is imperative that we provide our customer with labels that will scan accurately at the retail level.” The Premius system automatically locates every barcode on the repeat and grades them to ISO standards.
Steinhauser evaluates color in the LAB spectrum. The printer produces many special color matches for its customers. The Premius system monitors the actual print color on press, compares it to a preset standard, and then alerts the operator when the actual color varies from the standard’s acceptable range. “It gives us a considerable advantage in maintaining the level of quality our customers have come to expect,” says Baehner. “We have had a measurable decrease in waste and an appreciable increase in quality. The Premius system has been an invaluable tool thus far.”
Steinhauser looks forward to continuing to serve longterm customers, as it continues to demonstrate its commitment to quality printing and superior customer service. Concludes Baehner, “We do things the big guys cannot, and we think that’s the niche that will serve us well into the future. That is what we are all about-service and quality. “