BPIF Technical Seminar: Maximising Productivity and Reducing Waste

John Bambery and Jon Hutton

UK A technical seminar titled “Maximising Productivity and Reducing Waste” was held at the Daventry Court Hotel on Wednesday 2nd April 2014. This is one of a series organised by BPIF Labels and designed to offer advice and guidance to converters about improving their productivity whilst reducing their waste output. The seminar was supported by several tabletop exhibits from well known suppliers to the label industry.

The seminar was ably chaired by John Bambery Executive Chairman of BPIF Labels who began the proceedings by outlining the purpose of the day and the benefits which attendees (52) from the label industry would gain.


The first presentation was given by Jean Paul Wheater of Vision In Print (the first of two) which is part of BPIF. He presented a current view of the label industry with regard to productivity. He pointed out that employee numbers had dropped by 19% whereas turnover had reduced by only 10% which begged the question is the industry more productive! He suggested that the label converter could improve their profitability by attacking waste in 4 important areas: materials (waste paper, reprints etc), labour (overtime, under utilisation, Time (waiting time, under utilisation of assets, Quality (lost opportunity, dissatisfaction from customers). Finally he said always measure your current performance and seek to maximise your organisations potential in delivering customer value.

The next presenter, Andrew Hewison of Reproflex 3, took a more technical view of improving quality and minimising waste by discussing how to improve the quality of flexographic printing by using the “next-generation flexo” technique. This depends on the use of CMYK process inks (which can currently cover 82% of Pantone colours) to replace spot colour inks. With the introduction of HD flexo technology higher resolution and higher densities became possible with the use of flat top dots and a textured plate surface. Savings on press stations would be considerable as only 4 colours would be used instead of say up to 7 (with 3 spot colours) thus reducing setup times. However to achieve this level of quality, commitment is needed from the whole production chain.

John Bambery stepped in to deliver the next presentation on behalf of Norprint which followed the previous discussion by illustrating a case study using TetraTone technology. The technique aims to deliver a controlled colour space using only CMYK inks thereby eliminating spot colours. It is claimed that up to 5 hours can be saved on a typical 12 hour shift by offering shorter make ready times, a reduction in ink consumption, fewer plates and less waste. Overall this technique gives a reduced carbon footprint which in turn also delivers environmental benefits.

Maintaining your anilox rollers was the message from Danny Goodwin of Sandon Global. He illustrated his presentation with several examples of faults that can be caused by poorly maintained aniloxes. He also stressed the importance of ensuring that the anilox cells are efficiently cleaned after every press run to ensure that they hold and release the correct amount of ink at every revolution of the roller. Mr Goodwin also outlined some new cell profiles which could help to improve ink transfer, one being the High Volume Process (HVP) configuration. Another was the i-pro cell which can be used for screen values up to 2000 lpi with no density loss at high press speeds.

Another area where savings on waste can be made is by maintaining the UV lamps used to cure UV inks. Chris Nuttall of GEW showed that by planning the maintenance of the lamps unnecessary waste could be reduced. This would result in improved system reliability and lower costs of replacements which in turn would lead to increased profit, improved staff morale and a reduction in management time spent sorting out the problems. He finished by saying that the converter should use measurements to monitor UV output and document any changes to ensure an efficient working practice.

The final presentation of the morning was given by Paul Macdonald of Mark Andy who discussed how to maximise in-line flexo productivity from the press manufacturers’ point of view. While older presses are still viable the longer changeover times, extensive setup waste, inconsistent print quality adds up to potential increased waste. He considered that new equipment must be simple and easy to use, which basically means making the presses LEAN. New press technology includes automatic positioning of all the operational parts. The elimination of multiple adjustments, repeatable press settings, servo drives to quickly set registration, ultra short web paths are just a few of the attributes the new presses should include in their design. Many new presses can save up to 60% on setup times and make ready waste levels can be reduced by up to 50%.

The afternoon session began with a hard hitting presentation by Jenny Whittle of LabelTraxx who confronted the converters by asking the question “Do you understand your waste?” she approached the subject from a management control viewpoint. More than 30% of the costs of a job are attributable to administrative activities so it makes sense to streamline the way in which orders are processed through to the final invoice. By integrating the many functions through from estimate to delivered job, considerable improvements can be made in productivity. Having a systematic approach to order processing and job costing can help to eliminate over or under ordering raw supplies for a particular job by using electronic ordering from the major label stock suppliers.

A short presentation was given by John Bambery on behalf of Lundberg who supply vacuum waste handling solutions. The efficient removal of waste from the narrow web press by vacuum and then the subsequent treatment using a cutter/granulator to produce a waste product was the main topic of this presentation. The final result would be a compacted granulated aggregate which could e used in other industries for instance as a basic material for cement production. A similar product line was discussed by Steve Lawton of Matho.

A very comprehensive discussion on managing energy costs was presented by David Hunter of Schneider-Electric. Following a very detailed analysis of energy supply sources throughout Europe including the effect that the current Ukraine crisis is having on gas supplies (10-15% comes from the Ukraine) he advised converters how they could minimise their energy costs. First eliminate brokers and hidden commission fees and know your energy costs. A 2013 survey of 504 printing businesses showed that 77% did not know what rate they were being charged for their energy! BPIF are organising an initiative to open up greater transparency to energy costs. This summary of the presentation only hints at the savings which can be made by addressing energy costs head on.

The “Zero to Landfill” project BPIF’s recycling project was discussed in some detail by Jon Hutton of PRISMM, BPIF’s partner in this initiative. (see interview elsewhere in this issue). The project was introduced last year in an effort to persuade printers to dispose of their waste in an environmentally acceptable form. The solution has to be cost effective for the converter and the waste converter, in this case Mid UK Recycling based in Lincolnshire. It is estimated that 170,000 tonnes of waste is produced annually by the label sector in the UK. The cost differential between landfill and recovery is £120 per ton and £90 per ton respectively.

The final presentation was given by Jean-Paul Wheater offering tools and tips for improving productivity. He identified 5 lean working principles to set the converter on the right track for continuous improvement. He then discussed the importance of measuring the cost of quality in the first instance followed by looking at the actual waste produced as a percentage of the material consumed. Jean-Paul suggested measuring how many times On-Time-in-Full (OFIF) orders are completed. A short audience quiz confirmed that the converter’s perception of on-time was very varied. Other important areas covered by his presentation included defining priority areas for improvement, analysing production flow for improvements, implementing those improvements, identifying the actual waste figures, standardising the production process and creating the right culture for addressing improving productivity.

The formal proceedings were brought to a close with a summary by the Chairman, John Bambery.

An additional presentation was given just before dinner by Ehidiamen Iredia of CPI (Centre for Process Innovation Ltd) and Mike Hopkins Project manger for CDi PrintYorkshire. They introduced in some detail the opportunities open to label companies for exploiting the world of printable electronics. Some very interesting working examples of the application of printed electronics were shown to the delegates.

 Go to the next page for the exclusive interview with John Bambery, Chairman of BPIF Labels.

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