When Heidelberg introduced Push to Stop with a potted demonstration at Drupa 2016 switching between three jobs in the ten-minute slot to keep people’s attention, there was a fair amount of cynicism. People had seen fast makeready before and another German press supplier has already demonstrated a non stop press which dd not even stop.
What was not appreciated at the time was that what could be seen happening on press was just the tip of the iceberg for the technology.
The aim is to increase the availability of the press, to increase OEE rates from mid 30% to 70-80% that the best companies achieve. By pooling the data gathered from the press, Heidelberg will be able to help other users improve their production efficiency.
On press innovations such as Inpress Control have been followed by Intellistart to automate the sequence of actions needed at makeready, from cleaning ink ducts and blanket washing to setting air, side lays and so on. This has paved the way for the Push to Stop.
Jobs are organised in Prinect for maximum effectiveness, grouping those that are using the same paper and format to minimise changes. The sequence can be changed by the operator in order to accommodate a rush job, but as part of an automated operation, the decision on optimising how and when a job should be printed is left to the software.
Thus the operator needs only to check that the sheet is in colour before pushing to start the counter. Once the required number has been achieved, the operator will then need only to push to stop.
The press then starts the sequence of slowing to a stop, ejecting the spent plates, reloading the next while blanket washing cylinders and downloading the ink profiles for the next section to be printed. Two minutes later the press starts to print ready for the operator to check the sheet is in colour, after as few as 20 printed sheets.
There is no need to manage ink or water settings. The profile for that paper, assuming its has been used previously, is recalled automatically and the settings recalled through Prinect.
This saves makeready time and waste and helps create the space on press to achieve the improved OEE figures that is a driving force to Heidelberg’s approach. This performance is also helped through the use of consumables that match the press conditions, one of the benefits of using the Saphira products.
It is also a change in focus from being a press-centric supplier to a company that aims at helping its customer achieve the joined up thinking and data processes that are needed in future. The Push to Stop concept has been extended to the KH82 folder for example.
Having improved what it can on the press itself and minimised the need for operator intervention, at least within the bounds of what is acceptable and affordable, the emphasis is on improving the choice of jobs and flow of work through the plant.
Even where a company is already highly efficient, working with the same paper, Push to Stop can make a difference. At Stephens & George an 18,0000sph press will replace a 15,000sph machine and will generate a 20% improvement in productivity. Simultaneous actions, washing at the same time as changing eight plates, adds to the extra capacity.
Managing director Andrew Jones has predicted that the Push to Stop technology will become the machine dedicated to shortest run jobs. “We have a lot of work that is between 500-3,500 copies and the new machine is ideally suited to that type of work,” Jones says.
But this kind of production requires a process led culture in order to exploit the potential. So far the technology has been available on the high productivity machines, the XL106 and more recently the XL162. It is not yet available on the XL75 or CS92, although both can have automated palate change and Intellistart and be part of a Prinect networked workflow.
Smaller companies are expected to be less sophisticated in approach and have a wider variety of work than their larger press cousins. The additional cost is perhaps less easy to justify and the culture perhaps not as well suited.
A further gain from automation of this type is that less time is needed to manage production while also providing real time feedback to managers, providing more accurate information without having to wait for a production meeting or else walking the floor to ask the questions.
Anthony Thirlby, Heidelberg’s Prinect specialist, says: “With this knowledge behind them – we call this business intelligence – the management of a print shop can make better business decisions, for example in connection with investments, pricing and the product portfolio.”