Success is in the Details
“Anilox rolls are the heart of your press, and ultimately the heart of everything that happens in your plant,” says Andy Gills, General Manager of Provident Group. “When they aren’t properly cared for, you’re wasting time and resources.”
This may seem like a strong statement, but consider the job of your anilox rolls and how their condition impacts your operation. Each roll is home to a huge number of tiny cells, each sized to hold a very specific amount of ink. A press operator selects rolls based on a job’s requirements and assumes the cells on the chosen rolls have the correct ink capacity for the job. For example, for a job being printed on a film substrate the press operator might select rolls with cell capacities ranging from 1.6 to 2.2 BCM. The exact ink balance required for a job is then adjusted on press.
What do you know you don’t know?
But suppose a third of the cells on two of the selected anilox rolls are off by just 0.25 BCM. That’s a small amount, but still more than 10 percent of a cell’s ink volume. This can be accommodated on press, but only after adjusting doctor blades and ink mixtures to ensure the proper colors are achieved to meet the customer’s target of less than two delta E.
For such a situation, the question Mr. Gillis poses is, “How much do you know about the overall condition of your anilox rolls and the actual cell capacity of each roll?” If you are less than certain you may be burning dollars in labor and lost productivity.
Consider the time your press operator needs to get the ink right on press. He’s doing this for four or more colors using rolls of various ages. The rolls were presumably cleaned after the last job, but maybe not. So there is likely dried ink in at least some of the anilox cells. That dried ink takes up volume so those cells are not optimally productive across and around the roll. To some extent, this can be adjusted for on press, but by knowing more in advance those adjustments can faster and easier so your press guy is not guessing or shooting in the dark. Think about it like this: even if he is able to get a job running 30 minutes faster just once a day it saves 2.5 hours a week in a 1-shift shop, or more than 100 hours a year. And that’s not counting press time or the costs of extra colorant for the ink. Do the math for your own shop. And start thinking about your roll cleaning practices.
Is your cleaning program as good as you think?
Some printers and converters employ a host of best practices to help ensure their anilox rolls are always a known quantity. They have hard and fast rules for roll cleaning, handling, and routinely monitor the condition of their rolls, but things can still slip by. “We find many shops think they follow the best practices for roll cleaning but closer analysis often shows their rolls are not as clean as they hoped,” notes Mr. Gillis.
Unless the processes include regular measurement and clear marking and notation of cell volumes and capacity, press operators can still wind up guessing when they select rolls for a job. Printers and converters are increasingly turning to the Troika AniCAM, a device that provides the equivalent of an MRI for anilox rolls. The AniCAM provides detailed information on the technical condition of rolls, roll cleanliness, cell volume across a roll, and roll-to-roll comparison so your operator can select the best possible set of rolls for that six-color 60,000-foot job scheduled to go press next Tuesday.
‘But,’ you say, ‘we do a pretty good job of cleaning our rolls.’ And while many shops do, anilox roll health changes over time. Cell capacity declines and there are invariably times when rolls are put away without proper cleaning. Wiping them with a rag—something we’ve all seen—is probably not the ideal cleaning practice for rolls that cost hundreds or thousands of dollars. Multiply that for every roll in your facility and the investment in the heart of your presses quickly becomes a significant number.
Take a deeper dive into an anilox cell
The need for more detail on anilox roll health is why savvy printers and converters of all sizes are opting for objective measurements. The 3D scanning microscope in a Troika AniCAM can take a deep dive into every cell on an anilox roll, giving press operators the information they need to select rolls that will reduce setup time and waste, helping increase productivity and profitability. For example, variations in cell capacity across the width of a roll are time-consuming and waste generating factors in press set-up. Variations are usually due to poor cleaning or wear, but unless monitored and addressed can quickly become a cash sink. The AniCAM can be configured to feed the data it collects into an AMS — Anilox Management System — a database application that builds a roll and volume history that can be used to monitor the wear and condition of all the rolls in a printer’s inventory. Having this information readily available makes selecting the best possible rolls much easier letting jobs run more efficiently and increasing throughput. And, when combined with best practices for roll cleaning and care, the Troika AniCAM helps you get longer useful lives from your pricey rolls.
Printers and converters have long relied on rudimentary processes such as “echo checks” to get an approximation of cell volume, but still lack a predictable, reliable and quantifiable in-house means of determining the condition of their anilox rolls. While echo checks are better than not having any info at all, printers and converters who are serious about delivering the best possible quality work need definitive information about their anilox rolls.
“The Troika AniCAM gives printers detailed knowledge that was previously unavailable to them,” says Mr. Gillis. “It provides first-hand knowledge that lets printers save money, be more efficient and more profitable.”
To learn more about how the Troika AniCAM can help your business be more successful visit https://www.providentgrp.com/troika-systems or call Provident at 920-733-5415.