Komori has been both early and late to the automation party. It was the press manufacturer that introduced automatic plate changing and later automated start up sequence, but has been slower about the collection of data about the state of a job or the press.
Now it is catching up. At Igas, the industry show in Japan this month, the company has introduced the KP Connect Komori Solution Cloud and opened the way to non stop printing, its Push to Stop equivalent and Industry 4.0 compliant technology.
The core idea is to automate, using AI technologies where appropriate, those tasks that are repetitive in set up and operation of a printing press.
The human resource will be released to focus on the creative tasks that are not replaceable by software, at least not yet. KP Connect was introduced as a concept at Drupa and has taken a step towards maturity in the years since. It will be the hub to link all manufacturing process to make them visible and introducing automation to release operators.
The location in the Cloud has advantages for the print company in that it can check on production from any location. For Komori the operation statistics of all connected presses, and other equipment, will provide a vast data set that can be used to optimise processes through comparison and pinpoint mechanical issues.
Komori points to the disconnected process steps that are the state of play in many print business, from prepress to plate making, arranging paper and inks, plate delivery and in how each operator will run the press. The latter can introduce variability and so is an opportunity for inefficiencies that KP Connect will reduce.
Knowledge of the production flow will increase velocity and allow the company to slot in additional jobs, especially important as production runs become shorter and turnarounds faster. This is based upon a single point of entry of data which can then be communicated to other production touchpoints.
Komori’s figures from across all printers suggest an average of 33% production time, 33% in make ready and 34% of standing time, much of this because management does not what machinery is available.
Komori hopes that KP Connect will make more of this fallow time available for production. Production status is shared in real time with the MIS to identify opportunities, sharing that data across the business. Operators can call up videos to check on how to tackle a problem on the press which is receiving full preset data from the digital job ticket and the files from prepress.
On the press itself the Advanced APC system has cut makeready to two minutes through simultaneous washing of blankets and changing the plates, altering ink ducts and so on. At an open house in March, Komori completed three jobs in less than ten minutes on a Lithrone GX40RP.
It has upgraded the Print Quality Assessment system to V5 to control registration, with automatic colour control and inline measurement and inspection of print quality, particularly useful on packaging print.
Registration is controlled in a similar way to a web offset press. Colour marks are printed on the sheet in a 14x5.5mm patch and a camera focused on these to pick and correct any variance and deviations. This picks up on vertical, horizontal and skew issues. It does not manage front to back register, however. Inline colour control works with a colour bar to make adjustments in density to achieve colour consistency.
The non stop print technology will be rolled out on the flagship presses to begin with. This includes a non stop feed and delivery pallet change options which automatically replaces the pallets at each end without operator intervention. Again this is functionality that will be welcomed on carton presses.
Makeready on the Lithrone has been minimised through KP-Connect to download settings for the next job and Autopilot to run simultaneous plate changing, washing and changes to other settings.