05 September 2018 Finishing

Short runs for Kama means automation

German die cutting and carton folder specialist has focused on delivering short production runs from the outset.

Kama is the German finishing equipment supplier that has emerged as a leader in terms of fast set up and automated cutting and creasing.

It has a legacy in old and cumbersome East German machinery from pre unification days. But rather than try to continue with old style equipment, under new ownership and management, Kama has focused on short run and digital printing. The first fruits were the B2 TS 74 automatic die cutter which was introduced in 1999.

This has meant a focus on automation, on on board controls and fast set up. It started with cutting and creasing, added foil blocking and has subsequently developed a fast set up folder gluer for cartons. The hot foil stamping unit was released in 2002, followed by a B1 die cutter in 2004.

Automation is crucial to everything the Dresden company does as became apparent with the launch of the ProCut 74 in 2006. This forms the backbone of the range with B1 and B3 versions, this a world first when launched.

The sheet size has been revised upwards to become the ProCut 76, featuring a fast changeover platen system, and auto register system accurate to a tenth of a millimetre and magnetic system to hold filigree and intricate die shapes in position.

The die cutter/foiler will switch between the two activities in little more than 10 minutes with a heating element that heats only the die, which both minimises the energy needed and means that there is no lengthy heating up and cooling down period.

But this set-up automation is only halfway towards the sort of automation that is possible and which will be essential to cope with the increased volume of short run orders. This is where Industry 4.0 concepts come in, and as befits a German company, Kama is an enthusiastic supporter of Industry 4.0.

“Today’s challenge is to integrate the post-press machines such as the solutions for die cutting and folding/gluing in the workflow as well,” says Steffen Pieper, general manager of Kama, represented in the UK by Friedheim International.

This is where the Kama Job Manager fits in. It is the interface between the MIS or production network and the individual machines. It controls settings on the ProCut/a>, taken from a digital job file, and returns production data to the network: status of the machine, whether a job has been finished or how far through the work load an operator is. The operator can interfere with scheduling, but there is no need to load format sizes, the numbers required, the job specifications in terms of sheet format and any process related data such as pressure for die cutting or creasing and embossing are entered via a touch screen console.

With the foiling attachment, the Job Manager calculates the best foil feed to minimise waste and ensure smooth movement of the foil itself. The application will also calculate settings needed for the automatic stripping unit attached to the die cutter.

There is a Job Manager cockpit workstation, though Kama says that a standard computer can be used just as well. It can link to the platen/foilers and also to the FF 52i folder gluer. This was launched at Drupa 2016 and has hit the market as short run packaging has been gathering pace, and is relieving larger folder gluers from the hassle of setting up for short runs.

It was put through its paces at an open house in March this year attended by more than 80 delegates from across central European region. Managing director Marcus Tralau explains: “The goal is a networked workflows that manages especially in digital printing the increasing number of jobs safely and efficiently, including the applications in further processing.”

Using JMF, data about running speeds, job status, remaining production time, together with information about why a machine has stopped can be sent to the central production hub, or else displayed on a mobile device, a tablet or smartphone for a manager on the move to be able to track.

Once the job has been completed, details are sent to the MIS while settings are stored for recall in the event of a reprint. The XML file will also be used to refine estimates for next jobs.

The emphasis on short runs is working. In the financial year ending in March, the company reported sales of €15.6 million, a rise of 6% after an increase of 13% the year before and a margin that was close of its target of 15%.

Tralau attributes the sales success to the emphasis on automation. “The focus on solutions for short runs and thus also for the booming digital printing has proven to be a success.

“It is our unique selling proposition. We focus on innovation and have exciting projects in the pipeline,” he says.

Gareth Ward

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Kama’s open house earlier this year focused on automation and the implementation of Industry 4.0 techniques and was attended by more than 80 delegates from across the central European region. One of the products put through its paces was the Job Manager cockpit workstation.

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