Lehner Sensor Systeme GmbH, the German manufacturer based in Kirchheim/Teck, has developed new automatic assembly and workflow technology for label production that is designed to improve accuracy and increase productivity in the narrow web sector of the market. Called FlexoMatrix, this comprehensive platform is the perfect solution for today’s label market that sees shorter run lengths, more frequent job changes, and the use of unskilled employees on the production floor.
Speaking for the company, CEO Lars Lehner said: “Today’s narrow web sector needs to be flexible enough to cater for a variety of substrates that test the creativity of those responsible for production. This often requires special solutions and changes to familiar work patterns and processes that challenge even the most experienced press and pre-press staff. To maintain commercial viability in such a challenging environment demands more use of automation to keep quality standards high. We see FlexoMatrix as the missing link in today’s production environment.”
Investment in technology for print in terms of register, colour, gloss, feel, and functionality are all well understood and largely catered for on an ongoing basis. What Lehner is doing with FlexoMatrix is re-focussing the target for investment on the workflow itself. By analysing the process and identifying the weak points in make-ready and job changeover, Lehner realised that few print shops have the experience and skills required to handle today’s increasingly complex and competitive market conditions. FlexoMatrix is designed to complement and improve the efficiency of existing technology and operator skills.
FlexoMatrix provides a 21st-century solution to issues involved with industrial label production by automating many of the processes associated with job preparation. One of the key areas is the accuracy of plate registration on the print cylinder or sleeve. FlexoMatrix offers it own smart adapter solution and air axes that allow all sizes and types of cylinder and sleeve to be processed quickly and accurately.
This includes a 360° register setting that not only aligns the plate when its mounted but also measures and automatically adjusts it all around the cylinder from leading to tail edge to improve quality and reduce make-ready time, without any intervention by the operator. The accuracy offered by the FlexoMatrix system also provides for a higher production levels as many existing customers testify. Leading edge of the plate but also measures the tail edge too and makes adjustments if necessary. This saves the operator having to intervene once the plate is mounted and speeds up make-ready.
Effective job management is fundamental to production efficiency, so FlexoMatrix’s ability to communicate directly with the print shop and independently load all job-relevant data, including job number, number of plates, direction of travel or offset, is key to fast and accurate set-up. Working with the integrated Lehner camera that identifies each plate, FlexoMatrix guarantees that only the correct plates for each job are used and they are installed in the correct direction. This makes the dangerous mixing of plates a thing of the past, and management is kept informed of plate progress during assembly. This provides real transparency in the workflow and creates a smart plate archive.
As Lars Lehner added: “We have identified areas of the production workflow that offer previously unseen possibilities for profit potential. FlexoMatrix matches registration in pre-press and printing and automates key steps in the workflow to set a new benchmark in industrial standards for label production. It allows the workforce to be integrated into the change and the print shop to benefit immediately from additional productivity and process transparency every time there is a job change. I’d say that’s a positive use of automation and an essential investment for those narrow web flexo converters looking to future-proof their business.”
With a track record of success that includes many of the leading international converting groups, Lehner can point to a level of user satisfaction that not only sees improved production efficiency, but with an ROI of around 12 months, makes a quick and significant contribution to a company’s bottom line. “We are not just supplying a machine but providing a tailor-made service that meets individual requirements – and we continue to support our customers as their business develops and their requirements change. The beauty of FlexoMatrix is that it’s not a ‘one size fits all’ concept - and that’s our USP!” he concluded.