Vision-Based System Wins the Battle Against Defects

The technology currently being developed and utilized by the Israeli military is among the most sophisticated in the world. The transfer of this technology into industrial equipment and business systems is an important by-product of that country's advanced scientific community. When Zalman Zohar, printing manager for Ultra Flex Packaging Corp., Brooklyn, NY, was looking for a print defect detection system, this cutting-edge technology caught his eye and led him to Advanced Vision Technology (AVT), based in Hasharon, Israel.

AVT says it has incorporated elements of the military's vision-based technology into the PrintVision/9000NT system, which is designed to automatically detect defects in the printing process.

Ultra Flex sells to Fortune 500 companies within the food service and textile industries. The company has more than 250 workers and has been in business for 25 years. It runs polypropylene, polyethylene, and polyester substrates on six- and eight-color presses. A complete prepress department handles inception, design, process color separation, and platemaking. (Materials and equipment are proprietary.)

Range Plus Speed Equals Value
According to Zohar, the investment in the new system paid immediate dividends. He says the PrintVision/9000NT vision-based system monitors print output on any type of material, including flexible and transparent substrates. Zohar adds that the alarm system-which can be audio or visual-alerts press personnel of a problem or defect even when the press is running at top speed.

Zohar particularly is pleased with the system's range. "It prevents defects such as color variances, misregistrations, streaks, splashes, hazing, and misprints."

He explains that it allows press operators to run jobs at much higher speeds with confidence. "It used to be standard practice to have people on press to visually detect printing defects. This obviously wasn't the best utilization of our people, and we had to run our presses more slowly. The PrintVision/9000NT eliminated this labor intensive effort."

"If something goes wrong," Zohar continues, "operators are alerted by yellow or red lights. A yellow light indicates that the run is borderline, while red indicates clearly that something is unacceptable. Now a pressman can devote his attention to other issues, confident that if something goes wrong he'll have plenty of warning. Because we can run at higher speeds, we can run more jobs per hour, and that translates into more revenue for the company."

Zohar says it's like driving a fast, well-built sports car and feeling secure and in control all the while. "No matter how high the speed, you feel very safe," he says. "Today's market demands consistent high quality and lower prices. This system delivers."

Making Good (and More) on Promises
Zohar also points to a significant reduction in waste. "Even though we're running at faster speeds, the warning lights allow us to make decisions about quality while the job is running. In the past, if there was a defect in the middle of the roll that we couldn't detect visually, it would end up in the garbage. Not any more. For example, if a bar code number is lifted or smeared, the system will identify the problem instantly, enabling us to fix it promptly. We run jobs as much as 35 percent faster than before with a sharp increase in quality."

Zohar says he would have been happy to get 50% of what AVT promised when he bought the system. "Instead," he says, "I got 120 percent."

Ultra Flex has so much confidence in this print defect detection system that it bought three of them. The company also intends to employ the system on a new press it plans to purchase.

Supplier Information
Advanced Vision Technology. Hasharon, Israel; +972-9-7614444; fax: +972-9-7614555;

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