- Heidelberg's XL VLF Series presses represent
a quantum leap forward for the VLF market in many ways. Market
studies conducted during the development of Heidelberg's XL VLF
press platform, for example, revealed a huge opportunity to
dramatically shorten makeready times. Customer performance data on
Heidelberg's Speedmaster XL 145 and VLF 162 VLF presses
subsequently showed that automation and synchronization of key
press functions, together with elimination of makeready steps,
results in the systematic reduction of waste, time and material
associated with setup and changeover on new and repeat jobs.
Customers the world over repeatedly attest to the validity of
Heidelberg's claims in this regard.
In the U.S. Proteus Packaging's (Franklin, Wis.) executive
vice president and CEO Tim Wayman observed, "Even at high speeds,
the feed table with central suction belt adjusts automatically to
the format and printing stock, greatly minimizing our makeready
times. Prinect Inpress Control permits faster inking up and
eliminates the need to stop the press for sheet pulls and color
measurements, dramatically reducing our setup waste."
Likewise, said Tom Frankowski, senior vice president of
manufacturing for the Quad/Graphics plant in Radzymin, Poland,
which installed the country's first Speedmaster XL 162 with Prinect
Inpress Control in 2010: "The key success factor is to produce the
highest quality available with the lowest possible paper waste.
This is crucial for the environment and the balance sheet. The
Heidelberg VLF press was designed to meet these requirements. Our
machine operators call the Speedmaster VLF press 'a printing
machine for printers' because there is no other press in the market
that meets the needs of printers in a better way-it is fast,
reliable and easy to handle-all at the same time."
Shortly after the 2010 installation of a 6-color Speedmaster
XL 145 with dual coating and integrated material logistics at Karl
Knauer KG in Biberach, Germany in 2010, Production Manager Gerhard
Kammerer noted that the company had stipulated that the new press
should be ready to produce packaging orders after 250 makeready
sheets, representing a considerable savings in time and material
for average run lengths of 7,000 sheets. "We are still performing
optimization tests to raise the efficiency of the machine further
still," Kammerer said at the time, "but we have already achieved a
30 percent improvement in capacity over the previous machine."
Elimination of Makeready Steps
Standard features on the 57" Speedmaster XL VLF 145 and 64"
VLF 162 include:
- A single-suction belt feeder that is a zero-makeready element
- air settings are preset automatically and no rollers or hold
down elements need to be set.
- The proven ink fountain liner that enables fast, clean ink
changes as the operator doesn't have to wipe down each fountain
with a rag.
- Fully automatic plate changing - on a straight press, all
plates are changed in less than 2.5 minutes
- Convenient coating plate changes - designed to be completed
by one operator in less than 2.5 minutes
- In addition, extensive presetting of all ink, air, format and
dryer settings via the high-performance Prinect Press Center
dramatically speeds makeready on first-time and repeat jobs
- The innovative, process-oriented Intellistart navigation
system streamlines and standardizes makeready procedures from
operator to operator and shift to shift, significantly boosting
Parallel processes also cut makeready times: each press comes
equipped with dedicated impression and blanket cylinder wash-up
devices - i.e. blanket and impression cylinders are washed at the
same time. For shops with frequent ink changes, a separate drive
can be added to specific individual or to all inking units -
allowing the washing of the ink fountain roller and the inking unit
at a higher speed while the press washes the blanket and impression
cylinders at a lower speed.
As for print quality, the fully integrated, inline Prinect
Inpress Control system automatically measures and controls color
and register in the control strip on the fly, at any speed - again
cutting makeready time and enabling the operator to focus on the
sheet itself, rather than on the process of producing the sheet.
Customer reports for Speedmaster XL VLF presses equipped
with Prinect Inpress Control show the following averages for
4-color makereadies, including a coating plate change:
Value of Makeready savings
- Average time of 16 minutes including four minutes for color
- Makeready waste of between 180 and 250 for 4-color process
sheets, depending on customer and job requirements, until a
deltaE of 2.5 or less is reached
- Washing and inking unit will add around 4-6 minutes to the
Shortening each makeready by one minute might not sound
significant, until one considers how fast those minutes add up. At
2,400 makereadies each year, for example, shaving one minute off
each makeready represents a time savings of 2,400 minutes or 40
hours. Moreover, Heidelberg technology typically saves much more
than one minute; compared with other current technologies, savings
might add up to 15 to 20 minutes per makeready, boosting the time
savings to 600 to 800 hours per year. At an average hourly rate of
$500, that corresponds to between $300,000 and $400,000 per year.
Repeatable Savings in A Production Environment
As run lengths get shorter, Heidelberg's VLF series presses
offer systematic savings by eliminating makeready steps, automating
manual processes, and by synchronizing key functions. It then locks
in those savings with an unparalleled network of local technicians
and remote services, and a full line of Saphira-branded
consumables. The resulting gains in productivity are key to success
in the folding carton market and enable the ultimate design goal of
this press: Peak Performance in VLF.