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DriveTronic SPC has helped a pharmaceutical packaging company save over 450 working hours in two years

Small print runs are the norm in pharmaceuticals packaging, making short job change-over times critical to economic production. To address this need, Pharmacenter of the rlc packaging group invested in a KBA Rapida 105 with plate cylinder direct drives in October 2005. It was the first Rapida medium format press in the world to be fitted with a DriveTronic SPC (simultaneous plate changing).

With a workforce of 250, rlc’s Rüdersdorf plant produces both general packaging (Colorpack) and pharmaceuticals packaging (Pharmacenter). At Pharmacenter two six colour Rapida 105s with coating tower, delivery extension, carton board handling facility and SIS (SensoricInfeedSystem) operate side by side. One has a DriveTronic SPC, the other does not.

“Because we in the Pharmacenter have very small print runs, in 2005 we took the decision to invest in the Rapida 105 with direct drives for simultaneous plate changes,” says md Hans-Jürgen Katzer. “That made us the pilot users for the new drive technology from KBA, and probably in the market generally, and we have not regretted that decision once since then.”

Pharmacenter says its productivity and throughput have increased over the years. “With a normal press it takes about four minutes to complete a plate change. With the DriveTronic SPC we reduced this process to around one minute. This means that we save three minutes a job through the plate change alone”, says Hans-Jürgen Katzer. “Those three minutes that we save per job add up to a total saving of 450 working hours since the press was commissioned”, he calculates.

Since being commissioned, the Rapida 105 has already printed some 23m sheets across more than 9,100 different jobs. This means that the DriveTronic SPC has performed almost 36,500 automatic plate changes at rlc, assuming the minimum colour imposition of just four colours. It would be 55,000 plate changes if every job had been produced with all six inking units.

The DriveTronic SPC, though, is not the only tool for automating the printing process and quality management at rlc. Every machine, whether a Rapida 142 or Rapida 105, boasts non stop feeder and delivery equipment. The large format jumbos are integrated into fully automated systems for stock logistics. FAPC fully automatic plate changing, Inkline ink pumping and on-line networking to the prepress via KBA LogoTronic, as well as individual systems tailored to the specific packaging are part and parcel of rlc’s press facilities. DensiTronic S, the measuring and regulating system, is also a feature of every Rapida system in Pharmacenter.

To ensure 100 per cent quality control, the presses are fitted with KBA QualiTronic 2, the in-line sheet inspection system. A tag inserter installed in the delivery area marks incorrect sheets that do not conform to the digitally stored comparison master, so that they can be removed before finishing. A warning is also sent to the operators at the central control console, enabling them to intervene in the printing process to rectify the fault. This allows rlc at its Berlin Colorpack and Pharmacenter sites to meet the high quality requirements of its customers in the particularly sensitive packaging sector.

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