Interview with Lake Image Systems: “The digital revolution will continue its relentless march”
Print inspection and print quality is one of the most relevant and most underestimated parts of a label printing process. Without a well-functioning print inspection system, each print shop would lose a lot of time and thus, money. NarrowWebTech talked to Nick Khatri from Lake Image Systems about current trends, his opinion regarding automation and the “digital revolution”.
by Rosina Obermayer
Fortunately, press operators and their managers are becoming more and more aware of the importance of this part of the printing process. So, let us address a few questions to Nick Khatri, group marketing manager at UK-based company Lake Image Systems.
What is your company focussing on at present?
Nick Khatri: Lake Image Systems is providing print inspection solutions for the packaging, label and commercial printing industries. Our solutions focus on three primary markets:
Variable data verification: We identify, read and verify (including tracking, sequence checking and database matching) the variable data and symbologies used in an increasing number of print and packaging markets. These range from variable data labels to flexible packaging. This ensures that 100% error-free production is always maintained in order to minimize costly reruns, wastage and to mitigate business risks.
Production integrity management: When producing personalised, unique or variable data print products, authentication or shipping labels, tax stamps or bank/telephone plastic cards, we ensure that every item is finished in the right sequence/batch, and is complete, accurate and traceable. We automatically divert, jog, mark or tab suspect items and generate detailed reports (e.g. roll mapping) for offline correction and QC purposes. We can monitor and control the integrity of print jobs shared across several process steps to ensure duplicates are prevented and a full audit trail is available.
Print quality inspection: Manual print quality inspection or strobed video web viewing systems (which monitor only a small portion of the web) fall short of what is required for capturing defects before they start impacting your minimum quality levels. We offer print and colour quality inspection solutions for 100% of the web or sheet. These tools can be offered in combination with all other variable data and integrity functionality.
Where do you see the most growth potential?
Nick Khatri: With print variability increasing in labels and packaging, and to meet the growing demands for effective product/brand protection, traceability, authentication and security, our focus has shifted from our traditional mailing markets to meet the needs of food and pack labelling, pharmaceutical, shipping, security labels and currency printing industries for automated production inspection, verification and control.
What do you think of these automated production processes, also often known under the term “Industry 4.0” with regard to inspection and control systems?
Nick Khatri: The automation of production processes is becoming the norm in many industries. With advantages in image capture and processing, automating the inspecting and QC processes is becoming an essential component for the industry. We are well positioned to help label printers and converters to automate their print quality inspection and verification processes to create efficient smart print factories that self-monitors and corrects production, resulting in high yields, less waste and higher profitability.
Which trend(s) do you see happening during the next few months?
Nick Khatri: RFID is becoming an issue for label and packaging industries. We have seen a surge in business from printers and converters that need us to read, encode, track and verify data encoded on labels with embedded RFIDs chips and to match this data with the printed information during label and packaging production. Shipping, authentication and tag labels, and tax stamps are all starting to utilise “smart labels” with variable printed labels incorporating an RFID chip to strengthen its security and simplify track and trace functionality throughout the supply chain.
…and for the next few years?
Nick Khatri: The digital revolution will continue its relentless march to push label printers and converters to fully automate and streamline existing manual and inefficient processes in order to survive in an increasingly competitive, complex and data-driven market. In this environment, ensuring what you have produced is correct, accurate and auditable is essential to remain in business and to mitigate very costly business risks. Government and Industry regulations will further accelerate this trend. A good example is the EU’s Falsified Medical Directive (FMD) (2011/62/EU) that requires all pharmaceutical companies, manufacturers, and distributors to place, read and track a unique identifier (a 2D barcode) on all pharma labels and packaging by February 2019. Here the inspection, verification and logging every 2D barcode during production is critical to prevent downstream track and trace issues.
Another trend is the continued growth in inkjet printing, enabling label converters to cost-effectively print variable data labels on a variety of substrates. However, inspection of the print process is key as the technology continues to suffer from quality issues, which can both degrade print quality and more importantly the , and data integrity of a print run.