In the driving seat

17 August 2017

In the driving seat

Whether inspecting a line or roll to ensure it is properly aligned, or testing the run for defects or errors, controls are steadily becoming more important to operators and management. Any shortcuts will result in lost resources, reduced revenue and tarnished reputations. Converting Today examines why the control of precision converting requires selecting the best tool for the task.

Controls are in place to support and enhance the running of converting lines. While there are numerous branches of controls available – for example, motors, drives, weighing and measuring – this article will take a more generalist view. The field has a lot of movement but does not necessarily have the visibility of finishing or software. It is nonetheless a vital component that needs more publicity.

One way in which controls have appeared in the news this year is through the recent acquisition of the company Graphic Automation Control (GAC) by Goss International.

“Goss is focused on growing our after-market and service business for our installed base,” says Stan Blakney, chief operating officer of Goss. “This is the first of many expansions of those capabilities we see in the near term.”

GAC focuses on full PLC integration and control systems upgrades for printing and packaging presses. It also provides on-site service support, fill-in plant maintenance and press audit services. Additionally, GAC specialises in obsolete and hard-to-find electrical parts for the printing and packaging industries.

The acquisition will provide benefits by unifying the company’s after-market services network. It also serves to enhance Goss’ drive and controls upgrade capabilities, while strengthening its ability to provide service and parts to OEM equipment other than Goss. 

Dave Soden, vice-president of operations and product development for GAC, believes the acquisition serves to strengthen the services each company provides individually. “We are excited to be a part of Goss,” he says. “This partnership will enhance our capacity to provide excellent after-market parts, services and enhancements.”

Continued growth

One company that has seen continued growth and opportunity in the converting controls marker is Grafikontrol, a global leader in industrial control systems. All around the world in the publishing and converting markets, the company has seen a significant increase in turnover year over year, above all in the converting and packaging industry.

 “Last year was packed with trade fairs all around the world,” says Paolo De Grandis, Grafikontrol’s sales director and partner. “In particular, we took part in two of the most important trade fairs: drupa and K.”

Grafikontrol’s controls development culminated in 2016 with the development of the TQC-360° platform, which was launched globally at the 2016 drupa fair. “TQC-360° products can be integrated into any printing process. They also feature a modular design, which means you can start with a simpler configuration that can be supplemented at any time. Grafikontrol’s control systems allow you to improve print quality, reduce machine downtime and minimise waste,” says De Grandis.

 The platform consists of a range of products that support controls in the printing process.  The MATRIX web viewing and print inspection system reproduces the image of the printed web in extremely fine detail at full production speed. The system’s features allow the analysis of the barcode and delta colour monitoring. There is also LYNEX, a 100% print inspection system that assures real-time control of the entire print repeat, categorising and storing every defect detected during production. The PROGREX system combines the 100% inspection and web viewing systems, and helps press operators that need a tool to guarantee total control. PROCHECK is a unique and innovative system for real waste tracking through the entire production process, from print to slitting. The system collects information during inspection and transfers it to following processes to allow waste removal. Meanwhile CHROMALAB, an inline spectrophotometer, provides real-time measurement and colour correction on start-up and during production. Finally there are the CR33-CR34 colour register controls for packaging rotogravure and flexo presses.

Under current quality regulations, printers now need to equip their machines with automated quality control systems. “Starting from the customers’ needs, we have created equipment using high-precision, reliable cameras, which are capable of covering the entire workflow. We also cooperate closely with printing press manufacturers to make products that integrate seamlessly with the machine,” explains De Grandis.  Specialised engineers and technicians in Grafikontrol’s R&D department are committed to developing products that use the latest technology and provide maximum precision and reliability. “The latest innovative solutions for quality control in printing, such as the advanced PROCHECK system, mean that you can track defects, which opens up excellent prospects for 2017.”

 Direct mail

Moving from press to direct mail, Latcham Direct have used controls to improve their efficiency through the use of an Imprint-MIS direct-mail business control system (BCS).

Employing around 90 staff, Latcham Direct is a specialist digital print, direct-mail production, print management, document management and fulfilment operation. It offers a wide range of services including integrated digital printing, data processing and multichannel communications. The company works primarily for the NHS, membership organisations, housing associations, financial services, government and local authorities, trade unions, charities and commercial organisations.

The Latcham Direct system includes an estimating module that can handle multiple items and components of differing run lengths, including data handling and processing, with the ability to split out detailed pricing in a quotation. The system also handles laser and digital print click rates for simplex and duplex personalisation.

In addition, works instructions are produced with a user-definable format that makes it easy to enter and control orders, regardless of the number of components and whether they are produced internally, outworked or supplied by the client. Multiple cells and their individual mailing target dates and variable components can be handled and managed in one order.     

Within the BCS, the shop floor data capture offers more individual and immediate advantages, in one hit, than any other system with a choice of input devices such as keyboards, barcode readers or touchscreen. JMF data can also be received through Imprint’s JDF/JMF connector. Where a machine is not JDF enabled, Imprint’s SentinelNet machine monitoring system will capture performance data from almost any print, finishing or enclosing equipment. All data is captured live in order to access valuable real costs to a job and will also update production control and Imprint’s online factory viewing system.


Client-supplied items can be tracked and traced through barcode location and pallet labelling, and movements traced via handheld ‘palm’ computers and wireless networks. Campaign elements can be quickly located when required for personalisation, enclosing or delivery.

A costing area that is powerful in all departments is often underestimated in MIS systems. In the BCS, mailing costs are an important item, so full control is maintained over costs, even when split or spread over several mailing runs. Additional costs incurred can be identified, recorded and clearly displayed for easy client approval before and after invoicing.

Cost reduction

Stock control can be used on both raw material and finished goods. Often items are supplied while other items are produced in-house, all to be present and correct for enclosing.

Production planning includes scheduling for complete campaigns and multiple cells that can be controlled to ensure that all items reach the enclosing date together. These can also be updated live from multiple areas of the BCS.

Over the past three years, Latcham Direct has helped a number of corporations and local authorities integrate digital document production with archiving; for example, the provision of epayroll solutions, housing association website integration and employee benefit portals allowing employees to access documents, such as payslips and P60s, via a secure web interface. The benefit to local authorities and other organisations is significant reduction of postage costs associated with sending out regular communications.

“Our vision is to adopt a client-focused approach to helping our clients simplify complex customer communication problems using digital printing, cross media and secure document management solutions,” says Mike Hughes, managing director at Latcham Direct. “By integrating this with the new Imprint BCS we will have complete visibility of all jobs as they run through the business.”

Having the right system or technology in place can make or break an order. The right control supports and enhances the converting process by maximising materials usage, providing visibility over what jobs are where in the process, and allowing companies to inspect jobs as they are being completed. It also helps fix any issues inline before they become job or factory critical.


Privacy Policy
We have updated our privacy policy. In the latest update it explains what cookies are and how we use them on our site. To learn more about cookies and their benefits, please view our privacy policy. Please be aware that parts of this site will not function correctly if you disable cookies. By continuing to use this site, you consent to our use of cookies in accordance with our privacy policy unless you have disabled them.