HEIDELBERG Technology and Partnership Help Fuel Inland Packaging’s Growth and Success
Safety, Quality, Productivity: the three key pillars Inland Packaging, one of the U.S.’s largest privately owned label & packaging printers, has built its success upon since its doors opened in 1944. The award-winning printer, which was recently nominated for Wisconsin’s Manufacturer of the Year, has invested $18 million in growing its business into six production locations and over 400 employees in Wisconsin and Pennsylvania. While the company has doubled in size in the last eight years, Inland, under third-generation family ownership, is still fundamentally rooted in the principles it set forth over 75 years ago.
Focused on the betterment of its product and exceeding customer satisfaction, Inland has trusted in its long-standing partnership with HEIDELBERG – a partnership built not just on state-of-the-art equipment but on continuously improving the company’s people, processes, and technology. Its most recent investment, a Speedmaster XL 106-8+L, its sixth XL 105/106 in production, is Inland’s highest performing press to date and one of HEIDELBERG’s best performing presses in the world based on annual impression count. The press’s superior output can be attributed to Inland’s steadfast commitment to process improvement, which includes investing in efficiency & quality boosting technologies like CutStar inline sheeter and Prinect workflow and color management and understanding how to improve its production metrics through HEIDELBERG’s Performance Services.
At the Forefront of Technology
Historically known for producing cut and stack beer labels, Inland’s product portfolio has evolved to include pressure sensitive, shrink, and in-mold labels in addition to flexible packaging for the food, beverage, household goods, personal care, nutraceutical, dairy, pet, wine and spirits, and private label markets. Experiencing growth with its paper products, Inland installed a Speedmaster XL 106-8+L specifically configured to support the customers in its developing segments – especially craft beer and nutraceuticals. The new XL 106 replaces an old heatset press and is equipped with HEIDELBERG’s latest innovations including autonomous Push-to-Stop technology, AutoPlate Pro, and the Heidelberg User Experience. “Printing technology is advancing at a solid pace,” said Amy Mashak, Director of Operations, Inland Packaging. “Every company is looking for different ways to do things with less touch points and increase efficiencies. HEIDELBERG is doing a nice job of staying at the forefront and offering new advancements with quick turnaround.”
Since installation, the new press has reduced makeready times by 20% compared to Inland’s other presses, and the company has seen a 10% increase in press uptime. These efficiencies stem from a combination of the optimization of Inland’s upfront processes, its product flow routing, and the XL 106’s innovative technologies. The greatest productivity gains from the press, according to Inland, have come from the press’s job queue sequencing via Intellistart and the simultaneous wash-up feature. With Intellistart 3, all of the steps required for job changes are defined without any operator intervention –providing maximum transparency across all active and queued processes. Program-controlled blanket wash-up devices coupled with Wash Assistant, which intelligently and automatically selects the right wash-up program based on the LAB values of the ink in the press, make wash-ups faster, easier, and more effective than ever. According to Mashak, “With the press performing all of these actions at the same time, it takes the guess work out of wash-ups for our operators. They can move onto the next job much faster. It’s been a big driver in our overall efficiency improvement.”
Recently awarded a Silver rating by EcoVadis, the leading global advocate for sustainability and corporate social responsibility, Inland is dedicated to reducing its material waste and energy expenditures. Equipping all its Speedmaster XL presses with CutStar inline sheeters since 2008 is just part of the company’s commitment to this endeavor. Being able to adjust the sheet size at the press “increases throughput, optimizes substrate layouts, minimizes waste, and allows our operators to perform multiple external tasks while keeping the press running,” said Mashak. Its newest XL 106 includes the newest Generation 4 CutStar, which features enhanced automation to shorten makeready times when changing materials.
Quality=Superior Color Management
Essential to the “Quality” component of Inland’s business practices is its superior color management. The company developed its own state-of-the-art color control and management system called InColor – a method, Mashak says, the company has worked with HEIDELBERG on perfecting for the past twelve years. InColor is directly integrated with HEIDELBERG’s Prinect Production Manager workflow, which includes Prinect Multicolor. A long-time user of extended gamut printing, Inland uses seven-color process (CMYK + OGB) to reproduce hundreds of spot colors thus reducing costs for itself and the customer and the number of wash-ups needed between press runs. To ensure customers know exactly how their jobs will look before they are printed, Inland utilizes Prinect Multicolor to convert the customers’ artwork into 7C and create an accurate on-screen proof of the design. According to Mashak, “HEIDELBERG has done a great job working with our team to optimize this experience for Inland’s customers.”
Once on press, Inland uses Prinect Inpress Control 3, the industry-leading inline spectrophotometer that automatically measures and controls color and registers on press at any speed, and Prinect Image Control 4, the color measurement system that spectrally scans the entire printed sheet and automatically balances out any deviations in the printed image, to monitor the color consistency and accuracy of a job throughout the run. Using Image Control to create a baseline color management target and Inpress Control to measure against that target in real time, Mashak says, “We’ve done a lot of work to ensure color consistency both within the run and from run to run.” Inpress Control not only cuts down on makeready time but also provides real-time data at the press Wallscreen – making the color even easier to maintain throughout the run.
Beyond the Printed Sheet
Gathering and analyzing data on a continuous basis is a main driver in Inland’s overall success and in its ability to fully maximize the output of its XL presses. While the company prides itself on tracking and measuring its own KPIs, Inland has been a user of HEIDELBERG’s Performance Services for the past decade. Speaking with a HEIDELBERG Performance Advisor on a monthly basis, the Inland team reviews any potential service or maintenance issues identified by Inland or HEIDELBERG’s Predictive Monitoring portal. Predictive Monitoring actively sends alerts should there appear to be something wrong with the machine. When abnormalities are found, HEIDELBERG’s team works with Inland to eliminate issues before they cause serious production interruptions. “I think the proactive approaches we’re trying for scheduled repairs versus unscheduled has been a huge benefit,” said Mashak. In addition to service issues, the Performance Advisors review Inland’s data and provide suggestions for how the company can maximize its output and meet its production goals. “We’re not just working on our concerns,” said Mashak, “We’re optimizing the performance of each machine and looking at proactive ways of how we can take our current assets and do more without just replacing another press.”
When a HEIDELBERG technician is needed on-site to provide service, Mashak says, “on both the electrical and mechanical side, HEIDELBERG’s team is very knowledgeable, communicate well, and work very well with our teams.” Recently, Inland has seen a shift in the HEIDELBERG personnel that has historically serviced its equipment due to retirements within the service force. While these types of transitions can be difficult, Mashak says, “HEIDELBERG has done a great job succession planning with its Apprenticeship Program – finding talent, training them at the appropriate levels, and getting them into customers to work on assets to build their knowledge with the people they are replacing.” In addition to on-site service, Inland has benefitted from HEIDELBERG’s Remote Diagnosis, which accesses the press software to provide remote troubleshooting.
Beyond the printed sheet, much of Inland’s finishing department is supported by POLAR cutters and cutting systems. With POLAR’s easy-to-use OptiKnife changing system, Inland’s internal maintenance department is able to service its own cutting equipment with minimal visits needed from a HEIDELBERG technician. The technological advancements of POLAR peripherals like joggers and stack lifts have enabled the company to maximize the throughput of its cutters to open capacity for additional work without having to add resources. “HEIDELBERG makes very good, solid products,” said Mashak, “but more importantly, they have listened to our suggestions and concerns over the years and acted upon them. I think that’s the value of a good partner: really listening and being able to act on what we’ve discussed. HEIDELBERG takes what we say to heart, which has created a lot of positive change for our business over time.”
The preceding press release was provided by a company unaffiliated with Packaging Impressions. The views expressed within do not directly reflect the thoughts or opinions of Packaging Impressions.