Automating Your Print and Packaging Processes: Reliable Results with Lower Costs, Less Labor

    Posted by Rob Gladstone

    Jan 11, 2017 4:15:13 PM

    Vinyl-Printing-Press.pngEvery industry is looking for ways to maximize production and reduce costs without impacting quality. Packaging manufacturers and printers are no different.

    Achieving these goals in packaging and printing can be difficult, though. Clients expect quicker turnaround on projects in order to get more products into the marketplace at a faster rate. Inks, materials, and specifications can vary greatly from job to job, leaving many projects vulnerable to human error. And the growing popularity of specialty packaging and print jobs introduces even more variables into the printing process.

    So how can printers effectively meet these demands and deliver quality products with the quick turnaround that their clients expect?

    The answer for your process could be automation.

    Workflow automation solutions use control systems and technology to remove human touch-points in printing and packaging processes and streamlines operations. It effectively eliminates repetitive tasks to minimize errors and increase efficiency.

    But where exactly can you use automation in your print or packaging process? Let’s take a look:

    Content Management Systems

    More and more assets – logos, images, text, etc. – in printing and packaging are being managed digitally. Oftentimes, the development of these assets will require input from marketers, copy writers, graphic designers and clients, who all need to collaborate and offer input throughout the production process.

    Content management system (CMS) give both clients and printers access to supporting documents at all times, speeding up editing and approval processes. With open access to digital assets, a collaborative environment, and automatic preflighting, a CMS can automate and streamline nearly every step of the prepress workflow, while helping to ensure each project meets quality standards and client specifications.

    Prepress Production

    Software programs have evolved to allow users to automate nearly every action in a workflow. These programs can ensure that all digital files, fonts, color proofs, high-resolution image files, coating finishes, and other requirements adhere to project specifications.

    Automation systems can incorporate processes like flexo platemaking and digital finishing operations are integrated with the prepress workflow, allowing operators to monitor job statuses and prioritize the functions of all connected devices.

    Ink and Color Management

    We’ve used our blog to discuss a number of issues that inadequate control of ink viscosity can cause: color changes, smearing, adhesion problems, and more.

    If you’re still monitoring viscosity via Zahn cups or other manual devices, you may occasionally see one or more of these issues in your print jobs. Manual measurement methods may not give you the precise reading that a specific job requires, and even the most well-trained and experienced operators won’t be able to catch viscosity changes that occur between measurements.

    Automated tools like viscometers and viscosity sensors will consistently monitor your ink’s viscosity to ensure it falls within the optimal range to deliver quality finished products.   

    Quality Control

    Let’s face it – as humans, we are bound to make mistakes. And with all the design approvals, prepress setups, and other specifications involved in each of your projects, there’s a chance that a detail could be overlooked as the finished product rolls off the line.

    Automated print packaging quality control can help to speed up your process while ensuring accuracy. These quality control solutions use advanced artwork and text verification technology to analyze original and revised files in order to detect any errors and verify the finished product aligns with design requirements.

    Some of the helpful automated quality control solutions include artwork and text inspection software, braille and barcode inspections, PDF spellchecking, label management solutions, and color and measurement tools.

    Automation systems and software aren’t one-size-fits-all solutions for printing and packaging manufacturers; they should be flexible and complement other equipment in the process. By identifying any bottlenecks or issues in their production process, operators can work to optimize each step before determining where automation systems would provide the most benefit.

    Automation isn’t a guarantee that your business will grow and your bottom line will improve. It will, however, help to streamline your processes to make your work easier, your results more reliable, and give operators the ability to save labor and cut costs in the long run.

    Make your production more efficient: Analyze your process and pinpoint areas for improvement with this free calculator.

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    Topics: Printing

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