- September 01, 2002, Nsenga Byrd Thompson, Staff Editor
The phrase “knowledge is power” might be a bit cliché, but when it comes to inspection and defect detection systems, industry leaders agree converters must know what they need and what kinds of defects they have before purchasing any type of system.
Wayne Storts, a designer at Summit Engineering, Cullen, VA, says, “The single most important thing that converters who are looking for inspection or defect detection systems need to do is take the time to define what their defects are and then make a conscious decision based on those defects.”
Storts maintains it's about making good business decisions. As he puts it, “Many converters end up with 18 wheelers, when all they need are panel trucks.”
John Thome, VP of marketing at BST Pro Mark, Elmhurst, IL, also encourages converters to know and understand their waste stream. “I can't tell you how many converters don't go through the basic process of understanding what are the root causes of the waste they are trying to deal with and quantify those root causes.”
In addition to converters educating themselves on their inspection needs, other factors also must be considered. Jim Doer, president and CEO of TruColor Vision Systems, Lagrange, GA, contends that “operator usability” must be factored into any decision a converter makes about inspection/defect detection systems. “As with any machine vision or inspection system, if the setup and operation is time consuming and even moderately difficult, the system will not be well received by a majority of operators.”
Thome also adds that features and functionality are essential. “It probably sounds like a given, but you would be surprised at the systems out there that don't have some really basic, what I consider absolutely essential, features. For example, purchasing a defect detection system that is primarily automated without full visual capabilities is a major mistake. What would you do during makeready? How do you see the web, if you don't have full visual capabilities?” argues Thome.
So what's the buzz in today's inspection/defect detection systems? According to Gal Shamri, marketing manager at Advanced Vision Technologies (AVT), Hasharon, Israel, one of the biggest trends in automatic defect detection is the systems have more capabilities. “These systems are doing a lot more than they used to; during the same time the system is looking for defects, it can look to see if bar codes are working correctly and if your register is in place; and it can create reports, too.”
Shamri notes the combination of process control and quality assurance is a growing trend. “By combining these two important elements,” he says, “defect detection is much more effective in reducing waste, eliminating customer rejection, and improving product quality.”
According to Thome, digital cameras and technology that allow converters to see the entire web at widths of 56 to 60 inches are available now.
So what does all of this mean to the converter?
Says Doer, “With the introduction of proper web inspection technology into the printing/converting process, the converter can expect an almost immediate and quantifiable impact in the areas of waste reduction, increase in press speed, reduction of makeready time, increase in overall product quality and press room productivity — all of which increase the converter's bottom line…profits.