Customers expect efficient and reliable quality control

13.10.2017

bsb-label is one of two beta site customers to participate in an extensive field test of BST eltromat's innovative POWERScope 5000 web monitoring system. As a manufacturer of high-quality roll labels, bsb label covers a particularly wide range of market requirements. As a result, many new tasks have emerged for the POWERScope 5000 since August 2016.

"The word 'impossible' is not part of our vocabulary," Brigitte Alers says in regards to bsb label GmbH's particular attention to customers' needs. Book, screen, flexo and digital printing - with their ten printing machines with various technologies, the roll label specialist from Bielefeld can pull out all the stops for their customers when it comes to labeling, marking, and decorating products. "In eight of our ten printing machines, BST eltromat's web guiding systems ensure that the printed material passes perfectly," states the managing director. "In addition to that, we verify the print quality in three of our machines using the manufacturer's video systems." The bsb-label systems from BST eltromat are also used for the high-speed stamping presses rom Feldbaum + Vogt and inside the converting machines of Grafisk Maskinfabrik.

The collaboration between the two companies goes back to 2008. At that time, bsb-label had the existing web edge guiding systems and web monitoring in its narrow-web Gallus ECS 340 flexo printing machine replaced with solutions from BST eltromat. "The sister company bsb-proprint, which specialized in sheet printing and silk screen, had been using systems from BST eltromat for years already," remembers Alers as she talks about how their relationship began.

 

Over the years, the relationship became stronger and reached its preliminary culmination at the end of 2014 with the introduction of the SHARK 4000 LEX complete inspection system. This system is integrated into a converting machine, which bsb-label uses mainly to inspect large label rolls. Being a complete inspection system, the SHARK 4000 LEX receives masters that are used as a reference during the verification of labels that the matrix are properly removed and print defects found.

True partners

In Spring of 2016, BST eltromat asked bsb-label as one of only two international companies if it would be interested in participating in a beta test of its then brand new POWERScope 5000 digital web monitoring system. In August of 2016 it was installed in the Gallus ECS 340, which bsb-label uses to produce a wide variety of different roll labels. "Many customers expect us to have complete control over their products. Having well inspected label rolls is a requirement to fully utilize their machines' productivity," stresses Peter Bellmann, bsb-label's head of printing department, as he refers to the importance of quality assurance in the production of roll labels. Considering the requirements of the market, having the latest technology is all about improving quality and reducing waste.

Therefore, field testing the new POWERScope 5000 was just fine for bsb-label. "We simply call BST eltromat if we have any requests concerning web guiding and quality control. So far, all of our inquiries have been taken care of quickly and in an easy way," says Alers. This was another reason why bsb-label was happy about the beta test request.

BST eltromat developed the POWERScope 5000 completely from scratch: the responsible team analyzed and scrutinized the individual technical details of the predecessor, the POWERScope 4000. All key components were to be improved, starting with the traverse where the camera is mounted and positioned in the printing machines, to the camera and software, which included the user interface. BST eltromat introduced this new system for narrow and medium-width printing processes at drupa in 2016.

User-friendliness further improved

In light of the variety and complexity of the market requirements, bsb-label places much importance on the ease-of-use of its production systems. "BST eltromat simplified the user interface of the new web monitoring system to include only the necessary functions, which resulted in a particularly clean design," points out Daniel Dießelhorst, who is responsible for strategic purchasing at bsb-bentlage, about the improvements of the POWERScope 5000. Machine operators only need to enter a few application parameters into the menu, such as format lengths and widths. They can accomplish that by either selecting shortcut keys on the external keyboard or by using the multitouch screen. Depending on spatial conditions and customer requests, the external keyboard can be mounted flexibly inside the printing machines.

On top of that, the POWERScope 5000 reduces the number of work steps for machine operators. "For example, we can save camera positions including image sections, zoom, and other settings, which we can retrieve anytime thereafter. The camera automatically moves to the requested positions. Our machine operators need one to two minutes at most to set up the system for each job," says Bellmann. With three to five job changeovers daily on this machine, this yields a tremendous amount of time and costs saved over the course of a year.

Quality control at all times

With the split-screen function, machine operators can view paused live images from production to reference images on the 21.5-inch wide multitouch screen and compare them with the live images. When doing so, the electronic zoom feature allows distortion-free enlargement of the image sections. This means that machine operators can specifically view the details of the printed labels, such as the quality of the registers, and reliably detect any irregularities thanks to the excellent image quality of the video system. Even the punching lines are clearly visible in the images. The digital camera provides high resolution, while the high-performance LED flash illuminates the webs homogeneously.

LED technology offers the benefit that its illumination intensity will remain stable over time. Even with the electronic zoom, there are no wear parts that eventually need to be replaced depending on the camera usage.

"Thus far, we haven't had a single malfunction with BST eltromat systems," says Dießelhorst regarding the reliability of this manufacturer's technology. Not surprisingly, the new POWERScope 5000 has also been operating reliably since its commissioning. The software of the web monitoring system is as easy to use as it is fast to update with new releases. The machine operators simply insert a USB stick containing the new software into the controller and push the "Software update" button in the control menu.

New challenges keep coming

The test has been completed for some time. Yet still, bsb-label regularly approaches BST eltromat with new requirements. Bellmann: "We are glad that we are given the opportunity to express our wishes." As an example, for his technical labels a customer is requesting a distance of precisely ten millimeters between where the image starts on the label and its border. BST eltromat is currently working on a solution with which bsb-label machine operators can reliably and immediately recognize whether or not they meet the customer's specification. "The development department at BST eltromat regularly contacts us to see if we have any new requests," Alers praises the company's commitment.

It is possible that bsb-label may also retrofit other printing machines with the new web monitoring system. In this decision, the compact design of the camera unit will come into play, since it offers the benefit of taking up little space in the printing machines.

Additionally, bsb-label is considering the wide array sensors from BST eltromat in the near future. These sensors with measuring ranges of up to 460 mm make it possible to, e.g., optimize the web guiding with changing web widths, unlike sensors with traditional web edge guiding systems which need to be adjusted manually. Speaking of web guiding: bsb-label uses traditional rotating frame guides in older machines, and CompactGuide newer machines. These are made for web widths of 100 to 500 mm and can be modified differently, depending on the requirements. For example, a CompactGuide in an MPS EF 340 flexo printing machine with ultrasonic sensors guides the mono foils that bsb-label processes through this machine.

Print quality no longer a cause for concern

Dießelhorst: "We always ask our customers about their requirements and only then we invest in the appropriate machine technology." At the end of the day, many customers simply don't care what machinery their product is fabricated on. For them, it's all about the end result. Particularly for just-in-time deliveries that go directly into our customers' production, steady quality is also a criteria of reliability. "Our production process is designed to ensure that our customers are able to manufacture safely even during the night shift," says Dießelhorst.

"With the high production speeds of our machines, our printers need systems that reliably detect the quality of the print, including the register. The systems from BST eltromat work so well that we don't have to worry about the print quality anymore," Bellmann summarizes the experiences of bsb-label with his supplier's technology. Our customers no longer receive defective labels. For particularly demanding customers, such as those from the automotive industry, bsb-label also finds it easy to document the quality assurance process thanks to these systems.

Center of competence for labels, signs, and lettering

The bsb group maintains an in-house research and development department that is equipped with all kinds of technical refinements, so that it is able to test, e.g., the UV resistance or adhesive strength of labels and signs. Some customers send their products to this department, so that the experts can determine what kind of label or sign best fits the requirements. "New products are tested in every conceivable way before they are sent out. Labels frequently have to last ten years or more. Even when they are exposed to tough working condition such as with agricultural machinery," explains Alers.

This combination of know-how gained over the course of decades, the wide-ranging production process that consistently focuses on quality as well as the in-house R&D department are some of the factors that give the bsb group its unique market positioning. The company is also able to set itself apart from its estimated 450 competitors in the German market alone with its extensive stock of special materials, serialization capabilities that include a proprietary test to check for duplicates, and UL certification (Underwriters Laboratories) for the North American market.